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Corpus Slip II

Live performance with clay, mars violet pigment and paper
Assisted during the performance by Cally Trench

Performed during the closing event of Corpus, a group show organised by HRL Contemporary
29 September - 19 October 2009
at The Old Chapel
St. John's Wood

The exhibition included an installation of twenty-one ceramic
torsos entitled Slab Torsos IV


During the closing event ofCorpus, a show focusing on the abject or deteriorating body, the body in extremis, Philip Lee performedCorpus Slip II.

Private Preparation- In a room on an upper floor of the venue, Cally Trench covered Philip Lee's naked body in white clay slip and then she threw mars violet pigment randomly over the surface of the clay.

Philip Lee is interested in the nature and effects of materials on the body. He uses China clay slip (a simple mixture of powdered clay and water), which has the consistency of double-cream. This is poured carefully and randomly from his feet to the top of his head. It is a very messy process. As soon as his head is covered in clay, Philip Lee goes into performance mode, even though there is no audience. Naked but for the clay concealing his identity and blocking his ears, he becomes more aware of his body and distanced from the world around him. He stops being Philip Lee and becomes the performer. The encasing effect of the clay changes the way he moves - he moves slowly - he is cold and shivers - these are important elements of the performance.

Public Performance- Once his body was completely covered, he walked through the venue to the main exhibition space to stand in front of his installation of ceramic torsos. Then he walked purposefully and in a loop through the audience, returning from time to time to stand in the central position. The pace of the promenading was ritualistic and steady like a religious procession. At times he stopped, surrounded by people and scanned from side to side, looking at people directly in the eye. The audience's responses ranged from giggling, nonchalance, concern and rapt attention, embarrassment and fascination. Some people used their mobile phones to take photographs and/or videos. After two looping promenades Philip Lee then stood waiting while Cally Trench rolled out a sheet of paper 2m by 5m, fixing it with heavy bricks, ready for him to print his body, with arms and legs stretched out - on hid back and then on his front.

Collaborationis essential to Philip Lee's practice. He works with a number of talented artists whose extraordinary skills in photography, and video filming and editing, have contributed essential documentation and photographic and video stand alone pieces. Clearly, without photographic and video documentation, Philip Lee would not be able to appreciate his performances from the perspective of an observer, vital for analysing performances and developing new work.


In the main gallery of The Old Chapel, St. John's Wood, Philip Lee installed twenty-one ceramic torsos for an installation entitledSlab Torsos IV. To make these, Philip Lee covered men's and women's bodies in mars violet pigment and slip, which they then printed onto sheets of clay. The printed clay sheets were later manipulated, without altering the detailed prints, so as to reverse the indentations made by the chest, nipples, genitals and so on. Some of theSlab Torsoswere suspended from a scaffolding frame with steel cables, some leant against the wall or scaffolding, fixed by more steel cable, and others were fixed to black-painted steel stands.

Philip was assisted in the performance by Cally Trench.

Video filmiing by Alex Dewart.

Photography by Romain Forquy.

Additional photography by Julia Davy-Brown, Clarisse d'Acrimoles and HRL Contemporary.

Philip Acknowledges practical and conceptual input from
Henry Little and Cally Trench, in the development of this work.

Philip Lee's Artist statement for Corpus

Lee'sprima materiais his own body. Most of his work, in a range of media, is the result of his obsessive investigation into the nature of bodies and particularly his own.

He has made installations, combining ceramic sculptures, video, photographs, and body prints, throughout the UK since 1999. The live performance is an essential element of his work. He uses clay, and other materials, to cover his body so that it becomes the sculpture, showing the male body transformed, and arguably, anonymous.

Philip Lee uses ritualistic transformations to convey ideas about masculinity, loss and the body's deterioration. He sees the body as a link between our internal and external worlds. His intention is to let the viewer project onto the work their concerns. His live performances engage people and move them to think about their own corporeal existence.

Corpus Publicity

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