Linda Aloysius: New Model Army @ Madder 139

Madder 139 presents the first solo show of Scottish artist Linda Aloysius, ‘New Model Army’, consisting of fourteen mixed media sculptures.

All exhibited works are made of everyday life objects, items that no longer have a use. The gallery literature explains that these assemblages represent a clear feminine identity, which Aloysius engages as an opposition to the omnipresent male dominated art scene of the 1970’s onwards, avoiding at the same time feminine clichés. The female distinctiveness of the sculptures is evident not only by the title given to each of them (named after words normally used for women) but also by their static appearance reminiscent of elegant poise. Although the height of the sculptures (averaging around 1.85m.) is redolent of a -conceivably intimidating (the constrictive gallery space does not help either)- masculine nature, we must point out the artist’s ability to recreate the human figure in an abstract mannerism.

The employment of a collection of materials that echo a former use, a previous life, generates a stimulating visual language. Each of Aloysius’ figures is re-born with an unprecedented idiosyncrasy, an added verisimilitude. I cannot be certain whether these entities are meant to be joyful, depressed or simply unresponsive but they do have an impact on our perception of life and its inextricable representations.

Linda Aloysius talked to REVma -/+ about her exhibition:

REVma -/+: In your work you employ an array of media to represent your narrative. What is the process of choosing and determining which medium is most adequate for each of your sculptures?
L.A.: I spend a lot – perhaps an unusual amount – of time looking at things and thinking about them, including human beings and their similarities and differences to and from materials and forms. I also walk a lot to clear my mind, especially during writing my thesis. During those walks there’s a sense in which the materials and objects choose me, rather than the other way around – I’m often several paces ahead and then stop and go back – and that they have already started to become sculptures before I find them. I never deliberately go out looking for anything, but I am always alert to the potential of things and what it seems that the stuff itself wants to do. Really it is as if the materials just need a suitable human to join them together, and to be sensitive to how they can become included as a construction without compromising their original form. I suppose I am suitable because I have spent most of my life being fascinated by objects and, in a different but related way, by language – including poetry. The ‘selection’ of the objects is really about my wanting to show my respect for their poetical and philosophical qualities. I am particularly interested in why some things are considered ‘masculine’ and others ‘feminine’ and seem to naturally want to draw out ‘feminine’ qualities from so-called ‘masculine’ stuff; if this is a form of feminism, then it is as much in appreciation of masculinity as it is of femininity and a belief that both are subjugated, not merely women. That said, I do consider the sculptures to be ‘feminine’ ultimately.

REVma -/+: The dimensions of all your works in the “New Model Army” resemble the human form. Do you feel that each sculpture functions as an independent entity or is there an underlying perspective of social behaviourism?
L.A.: I think that they attest to the idea of individuals in (non) communication with one another, although I did not in any way set out to illustrate that ‘idea’, that is not at all how the works came about. Of course one way of interpreting their (non) communication is to relate this to the question of (non) solidarity amongst women today – and I don’t mind such interpretations, but again that is not what I set out to do.

REVma -/+: The exhibition literature suggests a context of a reversive monumentalism and masculinity in sculpture but avoiding, at the same time, the clichés of femininity. How easy or difficult is it to balance your narrative between these terms and to what extent do you think your audience may be able to interpret your chosen visual language?
L.A.: There is no ‘narrative’ structure to the works, however I suppose they can be interpreted in terms of systems, albeit highly idiosyncratic ones. It is as easy and as difficult to configure these systems as it has been to live my life and to work as an artist – by this I mean that one encounters the effects of monumentalism and phallocraticism daily and, depending on how one perceives those effects and how one responds to them, then one’s work as an artist, and the quality of one’s art practice has already begun to be determined – for me there is not ‘on and off’ about being a sculptor, it extends into all and every aspect of living, except that the physical contact with my work is massively important to me, vital to everything. In terms of the extent to which an audience may be able to interpret the works – for a long time now the female form and the art object have been one and the same thing for me; by this I mean that their is a voyeurism inherent in art looking, one that coincides with what women often experience – ultimately I am not the ‘sculptor’, the viewer potentially is because I am asking he/she to ‘make’ the work by looking at it. By the way, I’m not into “reversive… masculinity” – I’m fascinated by what masculinity is and I think there really does need to be a time when we understand how to differentiate that from phallocraticism, for the benefit of all genders and not just women.