Life In Marble

Life in Marble is a photographic exhibition exploring the role the of classical antiquity in configuring the notion of Whiteness and problematise the adoration of white marble within western culture.

When I first moved to live and study in London, I was loved having daily access to the classical art held within the national galleries, my favourite rooms were the ones that held the Greek and Roman statues. With their stories of triumphs and tragedies told through poses and gestures all constructed in smooth white shimmering marble. I was shocked when I first found out that originally in ancient times these statues would have been painted to add a greater sense of realism to the artworks. I felt like the addition of colour would have detracted from the simplicist and natural beautiful of the marble material itself. But then I started to question why I was so seduced by the whiteness of the statues and reading the writing of Dan-el Padilla Peralta I started to understand that mine and others adoration of this white marble material has a disturbing connection with the development of white western civilisation, to the elevation of Greek and Roman art over that of other cultures and to the elevation of white bodies over other peoples.

Within this series I re-enacted the works of Italian Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova by re-imagining the myself as each sculpture. Exploiting my own fat queer body with its physical limitations, and flawed characteristics and mimicking the seductive shimmer of marble with a cheap polyester body suit. In my re-telling of Canova faultless sculptures, I want to deconstruct the fantasy of Whiteness with its perfected moralities and idolised beauty standards which these and similar marble sculptures represent I want the realism of my own body to create a sensitive re-reading of these sculpture as fallible and injudicious and not above scrutiny, and to raise questions about the motivations behind placing them at the centre of our national collections.

© Clare Bottomley