Mandeep Dillon’s sculptural works draw on a personal malaise to explore iniquities imposed on the human body and to consider its fragility, vulnerability and ultimate mortality. Her creative processes are intuitive, responding to her subconscious. The surfaces she creates are fleshy, subcutaneous, and abject. There is an unnerving sense of animality to them – a departure from the religious doctrine, biological classification and philosophical thought of past centuries, which have centred on anthropocentrism, placing humans as separate from and superior to other life forms. Dillon’s sinuous forms are all but dignified; they are uncontained and uncontrolled, evoking a sense of pathos. Indeed, the current global pandemic is an indelible reminder of a universal monism, of our connection to our animal others.
Dillon uses materials such as wax, silicone, magnets and steel to create objects that have both industrial and biological attributes. Steel is bent into angular forms, conjuring chaos, violence and disquiet. This is the skeletal structure on which fleshy fragments precariously hang or are draped. The viewer is invited into an encounter which is abstract and visceral, with nature in freefall, spilling and collapsing. Some of the works become interactive in response to approaching people, their movement triggering the unstable and more delicate components to uncannily bob or sway, attracting and repelling one another.
The act of making these works can be painstaking, requiring an intricate layering of materials and a range of techniques. This in itself becomes a performative act, with the various processes intrinsic to the finished piece.
Dillon’s sculptures are often accompanied by video installations, surreally contrived photographs, and Dada-esque collages, adding a more political bent to her work. Here, she examines the idea that not only are humans becoming increasingly dehumanised, but animals – as a result of industrial farming – are becoming ‘de-animalised’.
In particular, she focuses on the chicken, something little more than a unit of production, a thing to be traded, and no different from an inanimate widget.
From a posthuman perspective, there is no demarcation between human and animal – we are all biological matter with universal subjectivity, needs and desires. Dillon’s work captures this sense of a diminishing physical world, a merging of human and animal, as the homogeneity of the digital becomes the only ‘real’ thing that we know.
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