a sudden extinction of light

A Sudden Extinction of Light, 2014. silkscreen on goatskin, acrylic, galvanised steel. Photos: Sam Drake

A Sudden Extinction of Light is a drawing together of the nineteenth-century photographic iconography of hysteria and extended research into Alvar Aalto following identification of Aalto furnishings in the archives of the Freud Museum, London. The work’s title is taken from an image caption in Freud’s mentor, Jean-Martin Charcot’s staging and documentation of hysteria. The image illustrates how a hysteric woman might be induced into a cataleptic or lethargic state via a bright light.

The silkscreens depict five of Aalto’s iconic lighting designs; A110 (Hand Grenade), A881 (Snow Bell), A338 (Bilberry), A805 (Angel Wing), A331 (Beehive); and are an attempt to collide these abstract designs and their colloquial names with the materiality of goat – an animal known for its sharp peripheral vision and erratic behaviour. The surface texture of the aniline leather goatskin on which they are printed makes the lights appear to also be made of leather, bringing the designs into contact with the black fields they inhabit.