THIRD EYE CENTRE
He’s a former Edinburgh politico-punk who likes to take life slowly. But the freaky thing about sculptor KENNY HUNTER is his uncanny ability to see the future. Words: Helen Monaghan
hat is it with Kenny Hunter? He makes a
sculpture and then something disastrous happens.
When we meet in Edinburgh University‘s Playfair Library. the Musselburgh-born sculptor is discussing his space-travel inspired works. Two days later. the space shuttle Columbia disintegrates shortly before it's due to land. This is not the first time this kind of ‘coincidence‘ has happened.
Time and Space Died Yesterday (2000). the white. cartoon-like sculpture of a rocket crashing into a wall. had its obvious associations with l I September. And his public art piece Citizen Fireﬁghter — located in Glasgow‘s Gordon Street — became a monument to the lost ﬁreﬁghters who died in the terrorist attack. He was making a bust of Bin Laden in What is I‘list()r_\‘.’. long before he was a household name for the wrong reasons.
‘People are worried now when I say I want to do a sculpture about them.‘ says Hunter. ‘I don‘t make any claims to have a third eye. but I think I am attracted to pivotal points in history.’
Works such as Time and Space Died Yesterday and Ham Hiking the G’s — both included and reworked in Freester Monamental.’ at Edinburgh's Talbot Rice Gallery — question the pace of civilisation and the role of technology. Hunter shows in his work that technological advances occasionally turn against the very culture that developed it.
‘For a lot of human history speed is seen as something
14 THE LIS'I’ 13—27 Feb 2003
good. that it can only be of benefit if things happen faster.’ he says with slow deliberation. ‘Spced as a desire. as a goal. ultimately results in a non-reflective world — we don‘t want to consider or contemplate. But certain things are done better slowly. for example cooking or sex.‘
With a calm. modest and laid-back manner. Hunter is one of those people who likes to takes his time. not least in his work as a sculptor. Looking at his work forces us to consider and contemplate. His choice of materials - reinforced plastic glass — shows a denial of the artist‘s hand. In the same way as the high classical sculptors. he leaves no visible tooling marks. creating contemporary sculpture with a plastic toy aesthetic. reminiscent ofAlessi product designs.
And then there’s the subject matter. Dab Mmmment features a bust of a black head with afro sat atop a dub sound system. In his reworking for the exhibition. Hunter has added another layer. raising the sculpture onto some crates to create a hybrid between a sound stage and a monument. lts deliberate positioning among the Talbot Rice's 19th century bronzes speaks of the implicit racism that has shaped art collections and informed the classical sculptural tradition. In Calf. Hunter explores the end of the relationship between man and animal. or the raising and slaughtering for food.
The political overtones found in Hunter’s work are partly infonned by his punky days growing up in Edinburgh in the 70s. ‘lt was a very political time. but the punk thing had so