Cambridge artist Lawrence Epps invited visitors to the 2013 British Ceramics Biennial at Stoke-on-Trent to participate in a ceramic critique of corporate culture with Take Stock (September 28 — November 10). Brick-like ceramic figures depicting office workers in varying states of ennui were installed in towering stacks at the Ibstock Brick Pavilion for the duration of the biennial. The blocks show a number of office workers grinding out an eternity of menial office work—a couple workers have bad posture, another looks like he’s fighting the onset of a migraine.
Epps frequently works with industrial extrusion, which uses pressure to force material through a mold. Epps sees this process as a metaphor for the rise of corporate culture and its effect on individuals. Clay is his material of choice for this project because, according to him, it is “low status, dirty, and tactile”—ostensibly the opposite of cubicle life. The installations he creates are often formed from masses of smaller figures; these amalgamations speak to the piecemeal but connected quality to global culture.
Over the duration of the six-week show visitors were each able to take away one unit of the sculpture. People taking the blocks away were photographed. Once the last piece was gone, the installation was replaced with a projection of the disappearing sculpture. However, the video was played in reverse so that it appeared as though the viewers/takers were building the troubling stack from the ground up, recreating an office building full of workers trapped inside their ceramic cubicles, stuck in front of their computers.
Above image: Lawrence Epps, Take Stock, 2013. Ceramics. Photograph courtesy of the artist.