Michael Dean: Government

12 April – 17 June 2012

Exhibition in Galleries 1, 2 and 3

Michael Dean's (b. Newcastle 1977) tactile concrete sculptures quote from and transform the Institute's galleries.

The sculptures newly commissioned for Government are either the perfect size to be carried or they quote their surrounding architecture, where they are then to be found lurking, propped against gallery walls.

Made from cast concrete, the surfaces are veined and ridged, they invite us to touch them. Tactility is an essential sculptural quality for Dean - he wishes us to first 'touch with the eyes, and then allow ourselves to touch with the hand'.

The concrete floor has been covered with a thick, wool carpet – transformed into something to be touched, the new surface changing the visual and sonic experience of the space.

At the entrance to the galleries, the door handles have been recast as forearm-sized sculpture, titled ‘yes’ and ‘no’. These flat, grey, concrete bodies leave themselves no choice but to touched, their patina changing as the raw, unsealed surfaces pick up traces of each person's hand.

Single, precise words are always the starting point for Michael Dean. His sculptures spell out their titles in an abstracted typography; here at the Institute the words he uses are government, yes, no, education, health and home. The term 'government' refers to the way human conduct is regulated. Dean is interested in how impersonal systems rapidly become personal when their direct impact rubs up against everyday experience.

Writing is an essential part of Dean’s work. Sculptures in this exhibition are accompanied by intimate, observational texts exploring the object-like qualities of words. Visitors are invited to tear out pages at will to take away and read at home - the books will be replenished as soon as the last leaf is removed.

Like government papers, these texts are subjective – documents written with a specific thought in mind that are open to interpretation by the reader. Once a day, Dean’s words are read out by Institute staff. Placing the spoken word in space is, for Dean, as much a sculpture as is any object.

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

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