In Morely's book 'The Contemporary Sublime', 2010 he writes -
“The sublime experience is fundamentally transformative, about the relationship between disorder and order, and the disruption of the stable coordinates of time and space. Something rushes in and we are profoundly altered." (Morley, 2010 p.12).
Artists and photographers; being observers and creators of visual and conceptual objects and ideas, seek to deliver an experience to themselves and to their audience; to ask questions and to some bring about change. Yet there is difficulty in representing a sublime or in the case of this essay a toxic sublime experience. The artist needs to ask themselves several aesthetic and moral questions about the work they are making and evaluate whether or not the work made addresses the issue of toxicity within the sublime and then continues to do so within a gallery setting; surrounded by clean white space and within a safe environment. Is the value of the toxicity reduced once viewed in a gallery setting? What is the artist saying about toxicity within the sublime? Does the toxic within the sublime risk becoming too safe and therefore creating a space for complacency?
My personal interest in this topic has grown from the increase of fly tipping within my community in Hertfordshire. Being witness to large amounts of waste piled up within beautiful forests, I wondered about the sublimity of the waste, having experienced something of the sublime when I encountered the scene. I wanted to explore this feeling and ask how we can understand the toxic sublime in art.
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