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Cornelia Parker-The Expert of “Violent Transitions”



By: Sarah Zhong


Cornelia Parker, a British artist, used to place coins on nearby railroad tracks to watch them be violently transformed – crushed from plain usefulness into something more precious: a work of art. Parker did not simply squash a penny. She explored her imagination.


Cornelia Parker is a fascinating and talented artist. She has produced some of the most striking works in contemporary art by using everything from snake venom to steamrollers. Once, she even persuaded the British Army to help her blow a garden shed to pieces.


Tate Britain, an art museum in London, has assembled nearly 100 of Parker’s sculptures, installations, and drawings. “Everything just sort of weaves together,” Parker says to BBC Culture, reflecting on the sight of so much of her creativity gathered in one place.


For The Distance (A Kiss with String Attached), Parker wrapped Rodin’s sculpture with a mile of string. Like all the other works Parker creates, there is more than meets the eye. Her choice of a “mile of string” is a reference to a famous prank played by the pioneering French artist Marcel Duchamp, who used the same length of string to web the inside of a museum displaying works by his fellow artists in 1942, making it extremely awkward to walk around and see the display.


Another one of her works, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, which suspends the shattered contents of a garden shed Parker had blown up in 1991 with an invisible string, is dazzlingly lit up by a lightbulb positioned at the center of the fragments of bikes, garden tools, paint pots, and toys. Their silhouettes are projected onto the outer walls of the gallery. A BBC article says, “Observers of this piece find themselves suddenly entangled in the energy of the endlessly suspended explosion, as their own silhouettes are also thrown into the delicate lantern dance of shadows on the outer walls.”


These stunning works of art are not the only brilliant pieces that Parker has created. If you would like to have a look at silver pieces that have been run over by a steamroller, brass-band instruments that have been crushed, or splotches of snake venom and antivenom working together, you should see Cornelia Parker’s fascinating works for yourself.

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