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Liste 2019
Sebastian Jefford
Booth 1/6/4

Sebastian Jefford’s work is dealing with the reconstructed, the re-animated and ideas in which time, histories and image become inextricably tangled. Throughout this line of enquiry, artificiality becomes unavoidable. What appears to be a heavy, clay-like material that’s riveted together, on closer inspection reveals itself to be more similar to a leathery garment or bespoke tarpaulin, held together by plastic snap fasteners. These works aspire for power and weight, but are inherently soft and delicate. 

A veneer of nostalgic images and narratives, once cosy, now tattered and soiled, cover an unknown, burgeoning mass beneath. Whatever sits under this spongy covering, appears to have been patched up as soon as it might push through – the unknown (or the complex) smothered by simplicity and homely notions of good and bad. This is a toxic nostalgia always on the brink of collapse, barely keeping at bay minds and times that might prove the old stories wrong, irrelevant, tired and dangerous. The reanimated corpse of simpler times, of pastoral lives where children played on village greens and the rivers flowed with butter. 

These objects are almost pathetically performative – in that their ‘friendly’ or ‘cosy’ fronts are distracting from their raw, unseen underneath’s. There’s a humour that comes with giving a dumb, mute object human characteristics, particularly ones that are perceived as negative. Can an object be blinkered or hysterical, and if so, what does that look like?

The numbers on the work are an attempt at the impossible – the futile exercise of trying to quantify the present and make more time out of time. This figure is the number of days since day 1 of Year 0 AD (worked out using the website timeanddate.com). This attempt to thicken time, to wade in it, actually reveals a rather disappointingly, and now inaccurate, small number of days, in the face of the oldest law that is the clock of deep time. Disappointment and apathy sit quietly at the dinner table of this body of work. Humans and animals lie resting in the face of warning signs so ubiquitous they are quite literally part of the landscape.

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