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Ian Haig: Sick – art is a pathology

One of my memories as a kid is when I was 10. I am sitting in the back seat of my friend’s dad’s car, my friend’s dad was a cop and kept a gun in the glove box, which my friend showed me when his Dad wasn’t around. Afterwards for no apparent reason, I stabbed my friend in the thigh with a sharp pencil, as I watched the pencil lead break off under his skin, I thought about the gun in the glove box. Whenever I see pencils I think about this moment.

The gallery is like a hospital, the white washed walls, the halogen lights, the hushed tones and vacant contemplation, like a sterile hospital ward. If the gallery is a hospital then art and artists are the diseased, sick and injured. The whole idea of making art is indeed a kind of pathology. Creativity a form of sickness, art as a disease.

Baudrillard has a good point when he says the sheer volume of artists in the world, is like a form of art obesity. Contemporary art as an overweight bloated body. Artists with who knows what kinds of diseases.

Art is that pesky irritation that just wont go away no matter how much ointment you put on it. Art is like a thrush infection, or eczma, an itch that just won’t stop. Like a disease art produces a kind of restlessness with the world.

To make a series of work about art as a pathology, it had to be pencils and paper. There is something rudimentary and remedial about them, they are the kind of materials that prisoners or the committed are allowed to use. There is also something about pencils and obsessive behaviour: pencils are chewed down, leads broken and snapped in two, like someone’s brain, pencils are easily damaged.

Drawing, unlike any other media, is the medium to get that creative thought out of your brain and into the world as quickly as possible, a direct and unmediated link with the brain. Drawing as a weird form of brain body channelling, a kind of kinaesthetic relationship of synapsing firing and fingers twitching.

The drawings in sick are not drawings of sick people, but rather drawings of sickness, bodily mutations, mutilations, and human transformations. After all sickness and disease is the ultimate subjective transformative state, your body literally becomes an other. Sick is therefore about that other. My images of sickness have stupid non human nerd names, mutated from Star Wars, Dr Who and Blakes 7 , further extending their alien otherness, not quite of this world. I have always been interested in nerd culture, its fanaticism and obsessive behaviour, itself a kind of pathology.

Having a drawing show makes sense to me. My work has always explored notions of devolution and psychopathology. On one hand a pencil and paper is the perfect expression of a form of devolution, instead of advancing as an artist with more sophisticated media and tools, I have deliberately gone backwards. I have perversely devolved.