Severed Hand [Evidência #003a]

 

Game Art exhibition, Touring Show
Sire specific sculpture in collaboration with Johan Strandahl

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Severed Hand
Sculpture - wax and oil paint: John Paul Bichard in collaboration with sculptor Johan Strandahl.

Severed hand is a waxwork model of Bichard's severed right hand, captured in the position of holding a computer mouse. The piece was cast and methodically created by sculptor Johan Strandahl. But the piece is more that a mere waxwork or replica, it is a realistic portrayal of a recently severed body part, pale, livid, drained of blood. Sited within the aftermath of the Inverse Forensics performance, the hand rests quietly beneath the stairs in the blood soaked post-game environment.

Severed Hand is an ambiguous focal point within the minimal game/evidence context of Bichard's work. On a judicial level, amputation of the hand has long been a punishment: for stealing, adultery or 'self abuse' (...if thine hand offends thee, cut it off) a brutal and direct means of removing the offending affector of temptation. In the context of war, amputation is used as punishment, torture or a means of strengthening loyalty as in the case of child soldiers in recent West African conflicts. Captured children were given the grizzly task of amputating family and friends hands before being conscripted into rebel armies, literally severing their links to their loved ones. As a solitary object, the hand signifies a crime or accident, demanding further investigation and analysis.

More recently, amputation has found a gruesome voyeuristic home on the web: sites that show personal amputations of digits and body parts are not difficult to find and have been been cited as one of the reasons for the increasing popularity this form of body modification. Whether as a result of psychosis, attention seeking, self improvement or masochistic pleasure, self amputation is a curious and definite resolution to a supposed need.

In the context of the Bichard's evidencia series, the severed hand plays on one level with the context of the first person shooter. The hand sits as it would in the video game with the chunks of carrion that result from a 'frag': a successful hit with a rocket launcher or grenade. In a broader sense, the severed hand indicates ' game over': removal of the mouse hand signifying a removal of the primary means of interfacing with the computer or games console. Whether to bring to an end an obsession with gaming, or merely to act as a prop in a video game or constructed crime scene, Severed Hand rests as a silent, grizzly enigma in Bichard's post-game world.

Severed Hand [Dismembered]
Sculpture - wax and oil paint: John Paul Bichard in collaboration with sculptor Johan Strandahl and persons unknown.

The Evidência #003 performance and installation went to Bildmuseet in the Northern Swedish city of Umeå for the second leg of 'Art Game'. Severed Hand was shown as part of a new installation and closed performance work in which Bichard constructed a bloody scene that included a monitor with the original Inverse Forensics video playing and the remains and evidence of the new performance.

The show took an extraordinary twist when someone systematically dismembered the very fragile and grimly beautiful severed hand, spreading the fingers around the gallery. This act of destruction marked a bizarre and ironic stage in the short history of the hand. Already slightly damaged in Stockholm by a curious gallery visitor, the delicate work would seem to be provocative.

It is perhaps ironic that a work that set out to explore fictionalised violence and the notion of punishment should be subjected to an act of real violence. It is a double irony that the constructed crime scene within which the work was situated became the scene of a real criminal investigation.

 

Inverse Forensics was commissioned and first shown at Mejan Labs - Stockholm in August / September 2007 as part of the Game Art exhibition curated by Bj√∂rn Norberg and Peter Hagdahl. The exhibition has toured to Bildmuseet in the Swedish town of Umeå. The reconstructed hand is due to be shown in Luleå in late spring

Severed hand was cast and constructed by artist Johan Strandahl at Konstfack, Stockholm.

 

Johan Strandahl

Johan is a patient, meticulous sculptor who is know for his obsessive attention to detail and skill in casting. Best known for his constructed table in which he sought out the tree, cut down the timber, seasoned it for a year before painstakingly crafting the piece, his work refers to the details and processes of manufacture. In the construction of Severed Hand, Johan experimented with the techniques of constructing waxworks, resulting in a remarkably uncanny likeness.

 


 

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