The oeuvre of British artist Steven Claydon spans sculpture, installation, video, performance art
and painting. A central theme of his work is the challenging or reappraisal of dominant thought
patterns, canons and taxonomies. What is it that makes a mere "thing" a work of art, and what influential
role does history play in it all? Claydon questions these relationships with playful precision,
working with a diversity of materials and within a broad aesthetic spectrum. Artefacts are
juxtaposed with everyday objects, replicas with originals. The form of presentation, which is always
part and parcel of the work, evokes the exhibiting traditions of Natural History museums and
prehistoric collections, inevitably triggering questions about how collections and archives are
structured, and how art is curated in general. Claydon's works often relate to the genius loci of the
exhibition venue. Frequently, they embrace the theories and concepts of people who in, their
thoughts and actions, offer viable alternatives to normative ideologies and power structures. Thus
it is that The Passage of differentiated substance of 2012, created for his solo exhibition at firstsite
in Colchester/UK, is graced by the face of Alfred Russel Wallace, whose own under-celebrated
contribution to the theory of evolution prompted Charles Darwin to publish his book On the Origin
of the Species in 1859. Formed as a relief, Wallace's face looms eerily out of the side of a large
barrel, which seems to have been cast in iron, but on closer scrutiny turns out to be made of ceramic,
its shape at once reminiscent of a modern steel barrel and an ancient Roman burial urn.
Mounted on a Formica pedestal, it stands high in the midst of an assemblage of two rail-like girders
and three motorbike wheel rims made of ceramic and a forth wheel cut from a wicker effigy of
a Harley Davidson motorbike. Lying at the end of one rail is a enlarged one cent coin.
Claydon's aim is not to illustrate or quote from ancient history but rather to create works that confront
the viewer with a sense of the inevitable arbitrariness of all historical "knowledge". He builds
up associations, creating a "climate" that defies all attempts at linear interpretation or a finite reading.
Steven Claydon (*1969) lives and works in London. His international solo exhibitions include the
following: Culpable Earth, firstsite, Colchester, UK (2012); Mon Plaisir...Votre Travail, La Salle de
Bains, Lyon, France (2011); Goldene Zeiten/Golden Times, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2010); The
Ancient Set and the Fictional Pixel, Serpentine Pavilion, London, The Ancient Set, International
Project Space, Bournville, Birmingham (2008) and Courtesy of the Neighborhood Watch, White
Columns, New York (2006). Claydon's solo exhibition Culpable Earth at firstsite in 2012 was accompanied
by a publication with the same title.