Work

Twit: I'm Not My Usual Self

2016

Helium filled 36" balloon, jute string, ceramic. Continues her deployment of animal forms – rabbits, dogs, birds – and the use of string, rope and balloons, to explore her interest in transitory states, ephemeral objects and attenuated movement. The joy of the party balloon is short-lived, a sudden, loud report and the party is over. In Riley’s work it functions as an absurdist tragicomic memento mori, a trope for the all too brief transience of life, like the rather more obvious human skull in seventeenth century Dutch still lifes. In I'm Not My Usual Self the balloon fills the void of a gargantuan and monstrous owl, fashioned from obsessively woven string, a three-dimensional rendering of a flat 1970s macramé ‘Owl Kit’, originally formed around a 24” balloon. Now engorged with a 36” balloon, the owl-eyed creature takes on the aspect of a bloated drunk, replete with intoxicating liquor, wavering on its unsteady feet – the balloon is filled with helium and sways in the small movements of air caused by the viewer, like a drunk trying to regain her balance. The gas gradually escapes into the air of the exhibition – like the ‘hot air’ spouted by the inebriate – so that the balloon needs to be periodically replaced, like the alcoholic who needs to constantly refuel her cargo of intoxicant. The ancient Greeks ate owl eggs as a cure for hangovers, so perhaps this cannibalistic ‘over-blown’ owl will have to eat its own young in the morning. Richard Dyer © 2016

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