FEATURED ARTIST | TINTIN COOPER
Could you tell us a little bit about your art practice. Why choose specifically sporting figures in your work? The sports figures are actually a recent thing- they carry on from previous works, such as the ‘Testosterone Paradise’ video installations, which remixed footage of famous action heroes like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Lee. You’d walk into a room and be caught between these two larger- than-life projections, communicating to each other through grunts and power snorts, competing to do pushups or pumping iron like it’s the end of the world. Those older works were outright funny as many of the gallery goers would testify. There is still some element of humour in the newer sports collages. Except I’d say that they have a subtle ‘spirituality’ (for want of a better word) about them. Perhaps the positions of the hands in prayer and the fragmented faces have something to do with that.
You’ve stated that the starting point for your work are “icons of masculinity, heroism and male identity”; do you want to question the hierarchy of these figures in your work, if such a hierarchy exists? Hmmm I can’t remember writing that… (perhaps a gallery wrote that long ago…yes, can I blame them?) There is no hierarchy as such between the figures, or any that I intend. But each image that I choose is in a sense an image of power. Of course the source is from the news and the media so it is natural that these depicted individuals would have something that makes them stand apart.
How do you approach your collage work? Does the manner in which you mask or weave the image change depending on the photograph? It always depends on the image yes, but if an image really grabs me I might use it in several different ways. Its weirdly psychological- sometimes I’ll make something and it kind of shocks me at how ugly/weird it is afterwards. The box constructions especially are like that, and it’s a shame they haven’t had as much recognition as the flat ones.
The idea of playing with images is especially relevant today with photographic manipulation and the internet. Yet many of the images of football players are from the past, is this juxtaposition an intentional part of the work? The images are mostly from the 80s at the moment. I think its partially because imagery from that era is less complicated and more romantic in a sense. I was also born then, so perhaps that’s why it really sticks! Also, people in images now can sometimes look too plasticky, or else there’s a lot of sponsorship/advertisement around it. I can’t find any interest in over- plucked eyebrows. That’s why Arsene Wenger is so great!
Moving on to your sculptures, such as The Manager Strikes Back series (2011), what fascinates me about this work is the range of influences from Star Wars to Ancient Rome. Why did you choose these diverse references and fuse them together in this way? I happened to be watching Star Wars during the time I made those heads (for the first time ever, can you believe? People ask me where I’ve been living the last 25 years, but that’s another story). Anyway, I was watching and I thought…this is great! And so these images naturally came together- The Jedi, the Sith….Arsene Wenger the Emperor of football…all these paternal figures, influencing the masses. Then there was the Caracalla head that’s in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I was completely struck by how relevant it is for us today, with our constant press and televised imagery of powerful leaders. Everything from the gestures to the propaganda-like repetition, and of course the downfall which is practically in-built. That’s the moment that is so fascinating- when the emperor and the empire teeter on the brink of destruction.
Lastly, what are your current projects? Well, I’m really happy to be included in a recent issue of Granta magazine (119), and their upcoming exhibitions this summer. I’m also currently in some group shows with Jotta at the AAF 2012 and with CUSP in Leicester, and have a show coming up in India in the summer.
Text: Daniel Griffiths.
Full interview in BITE Magazine Issue 04/Rinse & Repeat.
Available to view & purchase online now.
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