Grey Granular Fist

Chair, sensor, audio player, headphones, audio work (21:34 mins), from the Afterlife series

  • Grey Granular Fist, The Whitworth, Manchester. Photo: Jonathan Keenan

  • Grey Granular Fist, The Whitworth, Manchester, adjacent to R.B. Kitaj's Hellebore for Georg Trakl, 1965 (© R.B. Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art). Photo: Jonathan Keenan

  • Grey Granular Fist, Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry.

  • Grey Granular Fist, Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry.

After your final breath, imagine your own decomposing body sitting in a museum, visceral and invasive, and subject to the systems and people responsible for the maintenance and conservation of the art. You experience the afterlife of your body, where the conservation measures compete with the natural processes that would liquefy your flesh and harm the artworks. Your slowly mummifying body is taken into the collection and cared for as though a sculpture, ageing over time, until your body and the artworks inevitable obsolescence.

Grey Granular Fist is experienced by sitting on one of three specially-constructed ‘listening’ chairs installed in an art gallery or museum.

The London Open, Whitechapel Gallery, 8 Jun – 26 Aug 2018
Kills 99.9% of Bacteria, Centre for Contemporary Art Derry ~ Londonderry, 20 Jan – 10 Mar 2018
Afterlife at The Whitworth, Manchester, 8 – 25 Mar 2017

‘Strangely embodying… deeply calming and uplifting.’ – Aesthetica Magazine

‘Sat on a chair in the gallery,… I feel like I’m on display alongside the paintings and prints. I glance up awkwardly at other visitors and feel blood colouring my cheeks. Halfway through listening to the piece, a group of schoolchildren gather nearby, their lively chatter buzzing underneath French & Mottershead’s descriptions. This is the productive tension in the work: between the sensations of life and the calm, quiet knowledge of death.’ – Exeunt Magazine

‘… as centuries pass and that sense that you are still together, that you are still almost the physical being that you started as, sitting in the chair, I found that amazing, actually.’ – participant feedback

‘Where it worked really well was when the conservators make a decision because then you accept you are an art work, being there and being part of the place within the collection, and (realising) that you are not accidentally there.’ – participant feedback