Preview: Susan Stockwell at York St. Mary's

Exhibition: Susan Stockwell – Flood, York St. Mary’s, York, June 18 – October 31 2010

The cutting edge of technology in 1020, the year York St. Mary’s is thought to date from, was the astrolabe. So it may come as a shock to find the medieval church soon filled with obsolete computer components.

The wires and machine parts spill down into the nave in a pillar of sparkling colour a myth from some Bible of the future. The work is called Flood, but as yet no ark is in sight.

The rising tide, according to artist Susan Stockwell, is consumerism. “The computers have been dissected, their innards exposed, revealing the underbelly of the machines we take for granted, an autopsy of our consumer society,” she has said.

She also claims a “toxic exquisiteness” for her overflowing waste kit. Four tonnes of power supplies have been sourced from a local recycling centre to which they will be returned after the 19-week exhibition.

The installation is the fifth site specific installation at York St. Mary’s since the building opened as a contemporary art space in 2004. It has been commissioned by York Museums Trust with funding from the Arts Council.

Susan Stockwell has previously created installations with computer power supplies and mother boards, as well as industrial toilet tissue and tea bag paper.

Astrolabes do not come into it. Broken and disused charts of the heavens have, apparently, never posed an ecological threat.

Written for Culture24.

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