THE SOMETIMES OBSERVED LIFE OF A DISCO GIMP
an exhibition by Tom Hall
January 3rd – January 31st, 2020
I started this project at a difficult moment, but with help, my wife and through the work things change.
The Sometimes Observed life of A Disco Gimp is an expanded investigation into the difficulties of being an adoptive father. Disco Gimp Dad is a persona and extension of myself, a reflection of the past and a tool by which I can test where I find myself. He is an amalgam of many masked figures put on me at different times of fatherhood: Superhero, Wrestler, and compliant Gimp to name a few significant ones. They are a reflection of multiple contradictory roles and emotions I struggle with as a father who has been tested by the intense swings bring up adopted children. In this show there is a considerable amount of re-contextualizing past encounters or memory. In a work like Product of Thailand a series recalled gestures, of reaching out a hand to swing a child or a gentle touch to feel a heartbeat, these are now made concrete, reused to hold or lift a child-like 25lb bag of Jasmine, or sticky rice. Partly emotional memory and part mourning the loss of parental responsibility it is a staged escape narrative to navigate beyond the boundaries of nostalgia. Inevitably much of this reflection has become about portraiture and the want for your children to hold the good parts of you. Portrait Of My Young Son is the first image my wife and I ever saw of our eldest child. The drawing is made from thousands of hand made hooks, a labor of love, and is ready to snare, snag, receive or collect new experiences. The inky waters of parenting encourage comparison with our own dad’s actions and decisions, playing with ideas that contrast between childhoods as well as a critique of our fathering success. Similarly this new body of work consists of objects made and played with. Interactions with these props describe and try to separate out meaningful roles and parenting experiences. Hay Dad consists of three megaphones with simple commands mosaicked onto the side, which prompt children to question the authoritative figure in the room. People are welcome and encouraged to scream cathartically at me “Hay Dad” “Why Dad” and “Not My Dad”. At some time these props will be filmed, photographed and presented along side objects, remnants and residues from performative acts. Any resulting installation will, I hope, be able to ‘breath’ in scale and number, expanding and contracting within different iterations according to place, space and context.
It is this, all this, I am now attempting to examine. My endless want to be Dad and to be called Dad. Their endless want to grow and find their independence away from ‘Him’ and what ‘He’ stands for, and the inevitable failure for one of these things to come true. The investigation is read as a series of mythical sagas, a series of works, sculptures, Installations or films that inform the growing whole. Sometimes a father figure who is both a super hero and subservient jester discovers bits about himself. Is He on a quest? Or is He being tested by something from the outside? Much of the reflections in the work is manifested in the form of mirrors and is due to the dual role of any father, that of likewise being a son. And the position of this knowledge is correspondingly the knowledge of his eventual failure to transcend his role.
“They fuck you up, your mum and your dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.”
This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin
For more information about the artist, please visit their website: www.tomhall-artist.com