Michael Flaherty

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A Precarious Moment in Ceramics

2008
Saggar-fired stoneware tiles and ink
150x120cm

A Precarious Moment in Ceramics is a parody of Richard Notkin's All Nations Have Their Moment of Foolishness (shown in an exhibition titled A Precarious Moment in History), a 2006 portrait of George W. Bush, in which I have replaced Bush with an image of Notkin himself. Notkin writes that his work is a "visual plea for sanity" and I consider mine to be nothing less. Primarily, my piece is a critique of an entire sub-genre of ceramic art, arguably epitomized by Notkin's work, wherein the focal point for the political content is imagery. I contend that political imagery does not necessarily equate to political action and that therefore such representational work is passive and ineffectual within the political sphere. As progressive contemporary artists with social consciences we must question how passiveness can be reasonably tolerated given the potential consequences of inaction. If we must shatter the conventions and pretensions of ceramics in order to do so then all the better.

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