Shadows of the Paradox
On the Most Recent Sculptural Works "… elsewhere" and "big mama"
Andreas Höll

"Art is true insofar as what speaks out of it – indeed, it itself – is conflicting and unreconciled, but this truth only becomes art’s own when it synthesizes what is fractured and thus makes its irreconcilability determinate. It must testify to the irreconcilable as a paradox and at the same time seek to reconcile it." (Aesthetic Theory)
According to Theodor W. Adorno things are not simply black and white in a successful artwork. On the contrary: Content and form become governed by ambivalence and synthesis, conflict and reconciliation, divergence and homogeneity.

Julie Hayward’s work, too, is governed by the volatile unity of the disparate. Here everything relates to the dialectic of technology and nature, life and art, the conscious and the unconscious realm, the rational and the empirical, something found as opposed to something invented. The artist develops imaginary topographies which are already alluded to in the title: "… coming home" refers to home as something alien, while a more recent work bears the title "… elsewhere", suggesting something uncanny, but a somewhere else that is somehow familiar.

Both works revolve around different poles: introversion vs. extroversion, light vs. dark, psyche vs. biology, creation vs. destruction, myth vs. machine, tranquility vs. movement. While in "… coming home" the balls are protected in a futuristic shelter, in "… elsewhere" they appear to be spit out on long threads only to be caught again in dishes. These cell-like pearls can be interpreted as a biomass, but they could just as well be seen as visualizations of the self, of something excreted and then carefully collected, held together and protected.

The sculpture "… elsewhere" might also evoke a fire-spewing volcano which has coalesced into a static state. This association with an eruptive process of creation could be contrasted with the alleged lack of motion in "… coming home" which could be over at any moment. Yet, first and foremost, the polarity of both sculptures is reflected in the colors used and in the material. While "… coming home" has a finish of white lacquer, "… elsewhere" is covered with a layer of black vinyl.

Not just the imaginary topographies created here play with the metaphors of black and white, light and shadow – which in Hayward can always also be interpreted in psychoanalytic terms. Also the anthropomorphisms conjured up in several works, when machines have been given human names, function according to this principle. "TV-Baby" radiates in a skin-like pink, whereas "big mama" is black and, thanks to the artist’s use of vinyl, assumes a sexual, fetish-like quality. In "big mama", by contrast, a further dialectic is conjured up, namely that of eros vs. thanatos. This piece is reminiscent of both a canon and a grave.

In this connection it is interesting to note that it was primarily the drawing that served as the point of departure for this piece. It shows a room with an empty face that towers over it. On the inside there are caskets under which a room opens: Small balls fall out to be filled in pipes. Machines that happen to be standing still at this moment come to mind.

The stylized face also recalls an Islamic woman wearing a veil and only having a slit out of which she peers. In this sense, Hayward’s drawing also has a topical political reference in that the sculpture is abstracted to the point of being unrecognizable. It is thus not possible to identify the face as such at first glance, and the caskets have vanished.

"big mama" and "… elsewhere" create a contrast to Julie Hayward’s early works – not just in terms of color as well as formally and aesthetically. Yet they are both contradictory and complementary, representing shadows of the paradox artwork which, as Adorno put it so nicely, "synthesizes what is fractured and thus makes its irreconcilability determinate."

Printed in:
Julie Hayward, Skulpturen und Zeichnungen / Sculptures and Drawings, self-publication, Vienna 2005, ISBN 3-200-00322-7