Charlotte Colbert

Benefit Supervisor Sleeping

23 Jan – 18 Feb 2018

UNIT9 is pleased to present ‘Benefit Supervisor Sleeping’, a new large-scale video sculpture by Charlotte Colbert (b. 1985, New York). The work is from Colbert’s series of anthropomorphic video sculptures which explore contemporary approaches to portraiture through moving image:

“I was interested in capturing the surreal intimacy of being with someone. The tiny details of silent communication.”

– Charlotte Colbert

The subject of this portrait is Sue Tilley aka “Big Sue”, the Benefits Supervisor launched into the public realm through a seminal series of paintings by Lucian Freud after the two were introduced by Leigh Bowery in 1990.

Colbert’s work stages Sue Tilley within the original studio where Lucian Freud first painted her, creating a temporal vortex. On this Colbert comments, “The paint splattered on the floorboards would have been the very paint that painted Sue.”

Through the decades, Sue has remained iconoclastic as a counterpoint to the mainstream models that populate our screens. Speaking of the rusted corten steel that encases the subject of the portrait, Colbert likens the texture of the frame to that of ageing skin.

Examining Freud’s iconic series and exploring the mystery of its subject, Colbert uses 3D technology to zoom in on discrete observations of Sue Tilley. Slowing down footage and stretching the encounter between artist and subject, Colbert’s work uses technology to extend the gaze. Through the process, object become subject:

“I like the idea of turning the tables. Subverting the male gaze. Sue is now looking at us.”

– Charlotte Colbert

Shot entirely in black and white and without sound, the work plays with the notion that technology is – by default – continually dated. This meditative work serves as a momentum mori that hopes to encourage observation, recognition and self-reflection within the viewer.

Charlotte Colbert (b. 1985, New York) is a Franco/British artist and film-maker who lives and works in London. She completed her Masters at London Film School in 2009. Selected solo exhibitions include ‘Ordinary Madness’, Gazelli Art House, London (2016); ‘In and Out of Space’, a public commission at 90 Piccadilly, London (2015) and ‘Stornoway’, Wilmotte and Tristan Hoare Gallery, London (2011). Selected group exhibitions include ‘The Body Issue’, Now Gallery, London (2017); ‘Modern Penelope Collective’, Palm Tree Gallery, London (2017); ‘From Selfie to Self-Expression’, Saatchi Gallery, London (2017) and ‘Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick’ curated by James Lavelle and James Putnam, Somerset House, London (2016).