“Labour without joy is base, labour without sorrow is base, sorrow without labour is base, joy without labour is base.”
Paul Stanley’s latest work “John Ruskin Repeated” sees Stanley repeat the above Ruskin quote again and again. It does what it says on the tin, so to speak. Over the last six months Stanley has been copying and recopying the same words, firstly filling a pad of A4 paper with his scribblings and then trying to find as many different ways to reproduce them.
Faxing pages from and to the different public libraries in Manchester, photocopying and mailing pages and ultimately paying for a full-page ad in Cabinet, seeing Ruskin’s word reproduced and disseminated to Cabinet’s 30,000+ readership.
“John Ruskin Repeated” playfully tackles the notion of the artist’s relationship to their work in the age of the mass produced image. Stanley compares his own practice and its reliance on imagery repeated through the modern media with John Ruskin and his concept of craft.
At first glance the work seems to say the two concepts are from separate and opposed ideologies. Yet in its own way Stanley’s conceptual work can be read as a contemporary attempt to recapture the direct link between the artist and his audience. To open up a dialogue between the two, examining where it is that the art resides. Perhaps echoing something of the radical aims of Ruskin and his contemporaries, if agreeing to disagree over the means.
“John Ruskin Repeated” is the first of three artworks that make up [deletia] 3. Part 2 by Brian Reed will appear in Cabinet issue 24 and Part 3 by Oliver Plender will appear in Cabinet issue 25.
editor @ deletia.org.uk