Title: Flatpack Force Feeding Chair
Dimensions: width: 100cm, height: 150cm, depth: 140cm
Notes: birch plywood sculpture / performance
Country: United Kingdom
Amy Powell graduated in Fine Art from the University of the West of England. She grew up in South East England and is now based in Bristol. Before university she worked as a mental health support worker, a year of which was on a psychiatric ward. The experience developed an interest in institutional control and structures designed to promote conformity. At university she was introduced to a Marxist-based view on society and was particularly inspired by the ideas of Foucault. Her dissertation explored whether art can be subversive focusing on the Russian art collective Voina.
Throughout her life Amy has sought to understand the world around her and the ways in which people behave, using her own internal landscape as the basis. Amy believes that situations are complex and that narratives told by the media and society simplify and moralise reality. She uses the philosophy and methods of Tantric Buddhism to gain greater clarity to the nature of our conceptual mind and response to duality. She seeks to relate to cultural and political events through stories of their impact upon the individual. Humour is a key part to her work it opens difficult dialogues and shakes people out of habitual ways of thinking. For her life is a process of understanding and relating to others, she looks to move beyond the beliefs and structures that are built around us to find greater insight and liberation.
Amy Powell explores how systems of control operate on an individual and societal level. She plays with definitions of normality and how these are perpetuated and enforced. Her works are a series of experiments where she translates ideas into tangible objects or performances. Her objective is to resonate with people and make them think beyond their automatic responses, often using humour to open up a dialogue about taboo topics.
Amy is interested in instances where economic, cultural and legal systems of control are revealed. This could be the message in an advert, a cultural practice or a political event that shows the ideology of controlling systems. Themes of control and freedom inspire her work, coming from the experience of managing her own inner world and a growing awareness of society’s processes. Her work is a comment upon these systems and how we seek liberation from them.
Amy’s latest piece came from seeing a re-enactment of the force-feeding protocol at Guantanamo Bay. She was fascinated by the role of the chair, a piece of medical equipment used to over ride the patient’s consent. It symbolised the states necessity for apparatus of restraint to enact power and gives a visual manifestation of the way we are all force fed the ideological basis of modernity and consumerism. This has become so integral to the infrastructure of society that Ikea could make a flat pack version of this instrument of control.