Sophie Sutherland

Playground of Failure, Bad Jokes and Other Forms of Resistance

Master of Visual Arts Performance Sculpture Sound Temporary Practices Visual Arts Crafting Failure Hand-made Humour LGBTQI Play Queer

A sculptural project investigating the potential of failure to challenge and re-evaluate value

This practice-led project explores the lengths that failure can be used as a sculptural tactic. The modalities of failure and success are positioned as examples of dualistic norms that create prejudice and competitive expectations. Installation practices explore the potential of failure through the relationships between objects, material, and action. Utilising an amateur methodology and provisional methods that celebrate failure, possibilities of refusal against normal modes of value arise. Through strategies of repetition, diagrams, queering, and play, I have explored the potential of labour, failure, and humour as forms of resistance to heteronormative value production.

Playground of Failure, Bad Jokes and Other Forms of Resistance is a sculptural project that looks at ways objects can perform failure, resistance, and redundancy. Through the making process I have been attempting to pull out the humour and absurdity of everyday competition and expectation. By celebrating failure through amateur methodologies and queering forms I assembled an ambling experience of playful relationality. This project accumulated in a way that focused on the wavering middle ground between dualistic norms like success and failure, or work and play. There was a lot of effort involved in working in this contradictorily considered space that laboured at unravelling normative values and expectations.

The materials I worked with often were chosen because of their availability which brought in an element of chance and movement. Each work I made throughout the project informed the next. These processes and methods meant I was working in a way that wasn’t necessarily goal orientated but rather a weaving path that allowed space for adjustments, learning, failure, reworking and enjoyment along the way. I became more aware of the collaborative and collective nature of making and the material friendships that form when slowness is a tactic. I also incorporated the film Slacker as a methodological lens. The refusal of societal norms and sliding connective nature of the film led me to work with contingencies and translate the figurative relationships between objects, space, materials, and intentions.

The action that resides in the objects of the installation is poised in a position of performativity. There is a subversion of expectation through the inability to realise the objects performance with a human body. The objects themselves hold and retain the action, embracing the failure or refusal through passivity. Through the latent possibility of the objects in this final iteration of the project there exists a resistance to the normative requirements and rules of success. A not-so-serious, playful re-imagining of a mutable version of success is explored through this project and aims at eroding the systemised rigidity of value.