Public amenity panelling, vacuum formed plastic, aluminium, neoprene foam, 255 x 230 x 30 cm
Nicholas Deshayes’ work takes materiality as a figurative locus for a discussion surrounding interactions between humanity and syntheticism. This multi-panel work, composed of a mixture of ready-made and handcrafted materials, explores the intrinsic human fear of microorganisms, dirt and the innate shame of human existence. It contains layers of fetishism embedded in consumer-capitalism, mass production and a Freudian sense of scatology. Public Material examines the social-constructs that increase the distance between humanity and the primordial filth, from which it crawled.
Its compositional elements of public amenity panelling, vacuum formed plastic, aluminium, and neoprene foam are immediately synthetic and sterile. However, Deshayes transmutes the manifest and creates a connotative narrative. The methodology of vacuum forming, which is applied to the plastic, provides a visceral tactility, instantly organically epidermic. This biological element protrudes from the canvas as an inescapable reference to human presence. The process of production is also evocative of the food-packaging industry, which smothers hunks of meat, fish and vegetable matter in a synthetic skin, bequeathing upon it an unnaturally long existence and expressing the fundamental relationship between the organic and the man-made. The title, Public Material, is emblematic of Deshayes’ practice and oeuvre; there is an emphasis on the presence of humanity placed in conflict with the products of it’s labour. The materials are not simply independent entities but are embedded into human interaction.
A scatological narrative runs through the work, as the public amenity panelling exists as a wipe clean surface – forming the four walls of a bathroom stall, the place where shame is most dramatically represented. There is a digestive chronology expressed through the act of consumption, which represents a variety of interactions between humanity and material. This consumption relates not just to food but also to the greater social and cultural structure of object interactions.