Sam Melser

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In Masterton, when I was a kid, we lived near a paper factory and we used to go and get rolls of paper to draw / paint on. Whenever I was bored (or when my brother was not there to fight with) and I would say : “I’m bored, what shall I do” mum would say - “draw”. I would unravel a roll and get into it. I am a bit of a hoarder with a distaste for organisation (although I’m working on it) and have always accumulated heaps of bits of paper (including photographs) and have used them as source material or inspiration. As I have moved around so much in my life, images and photos etc. have always meant I have been able to take my past with me in my backpack. When I was younger, I would attach anything and everything to my bedroom wall. Once we found a pile of porno magazines and blue tacked them to the wall, along with Real Estate signs that I had stolen from around the neighbourhood. My friends would come into my room and be quite shocked. For me, it was an early obsession with control - of bringing the whole world to me - like a curiosity cabinet, cabinet de curiosite or Wunderkammer.

The below works have been done over the past 20 years or so. They are selections from many different series. After having worked with feminist scholar Claudine Cohen in Paris, I became inspired to exorcise these “Femmes icons” or iconic women. Motivated by the story of an act of iconophobic vandalism by a nun in the Avignon convent La Chatreuse, in Villeneuve lez Avignon, (who scratched out the face of the devil with her bedroom key, during the 15th Century on a now famous painting), this series of collage works represents a critique of the objectification and commercialisation of the female gender – and other things. Other series too anchor recurrent themes of religious iconography alongside science and sexuality.

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