Sarah Lucas is one of the greatest contemporary British artists. In her latest exhibition Nuds featured in the Museum of Cycladic Art until September, Sarah Lucas presents sculptures made out of nylon stockings. While in the past she has dealt with realism this time her sculptures suggest a certain primitivism. ‘It was such a mythical time before the separation of sexes and things could have evolved quite differently’, she says. Her humour and allusive references in both her works and words, let us free to discover the world of Sarah Lucas.
How do you feel exhibiting work in the Cycladic Art Museum, a space that presents ancient pieces with timeless value?
Well the fact is we all have to look at this stuff in the Now. Looking at the Cycladic sculptures we feel faced with a great mystery. What do they mean? We ask. People ask me what the Nuds mean. I don’t know what sort of answer they’re expecting. What the Nuds mean is what they are. Exactly that. They don’t illustrate an idea or refer to other art. They’re primitives.
We liked the definition of ‘Nuds’ in relation to ‘nudes’ in your talk ‘In Conversation with Gregor Muir’. Could you please explain the concept to our readers?
A three letter word is the nub of the matter. I’m thinking God, Mum, Dad, Sex, Art. The Nuds, being primitive, required a three letter designation, I felt. We have a slang expression in English, ‘in the noddy’ or, ‘in the nod’. Later, for fun,
mutated into, ‘in the nud’, bearing a resemblance to naked or nude. Probably also winking at the time. And a digit of some kind. Nud.
Do you think that the raw representation of the human existence mirrors real life or reflects your own feelings-world?
I don’t set out to be autobiographical. Actually I didn’t set out to make the Nuds. It would be more accurate to say they happened. Having said that I can’t leave myself out of it entirely. I’ve found while listening to music as I make, something of the mood finds its way in to what’s made. That must be even more the case with my own self but it’s somehow difficult to pay attention to it and potentially very embarrassing I suspect. Perhaps making is a sort of thinking, best left in its own terms. I’m wary of explanations – too much like trying to get a square peg in a round hole and ending up with a shapeless tool or something that merely conforms. Suffice it to say, as their agent, my fingerprints are all over them.
Are the Nuds the knots of male and female?
They’re pre-gender. It’s hard for us to imagine a world without the division into male and female. That’s what we know and all our meaning is founded upon it. But there was such a mythical time, before the differentiation of the sexes, and
it could have developed differently. The Nuds are babies really. Impossible to tell from here whether they’ll ever grow up.
Did you get any inspiration by the mythology of Lovecraft?
Possibly. I use Lovecraft, in his honour, as a descriptive term which, in addition to conveying the philosophy of love and craft, also connotes the supernatural and fantastical elements, especially in nature. These I’m always on the lookout for. The dingle factor.
How do feel that your work is exhibited in the same space and time with Louise Bourgeois? Do you feel that your expression is continuing Louise’s vision?
I’ve been asked this question a lot lately and what I keep omitting to say is, I’m Working Class.
Sarah Lucas’ interview was held some weeks before Louise Bourgeois passed away.
Sarah Lucas ‘NUDS’, Museum of Cycladic Art until 12/09.
Ιnterview:Kiriaki-Domenika Chandra and Eleni Malami/ Photography: Nikolas Ventourakis