Hungry Eyes

Monster Chetwynd

31.10.2023 | 04.11.2023
Pièce Unique

On the eve of Halloween, Monster Chetwynd took over MASSIMODECARLO Pièce Unique with a performance entitled HUNGRY EYES. A new body of five glass sculptures will then be presented at the gallery, alongside a painting in an elaborate frame and the performance costume, until November 4th.

At the heart of Chetwynd’s practice are humor, spontaneity, and unbridled joy. Pouring her energy in the mystical spectacles that she orchestrates with her performers, Chetwynd is wholeheartedly dedicated to these moments of free, pure expression. Nurtured by “high” and “low” culture - ranging from The Futurist Cookbook to South American Realism Magico, Dada, happenings of the 1970’s, performance according to Chetwynd is a form of offering, or in her own words, a form of “sacrifice” of her art, for everyone to experience. The notion of “sacrifice” after all comes from the Latin “to make sacred”, elevating performance “as a medium” to a higher, priceless art form.

Chetwynd’s HUNGRY EYES at MASSIMODECARLO Pièce Unique was a celebration of desire, of women and all those who identify as women’s freedom from social conventions. In 2018 Chetwynd was invited to design the Winter Commission and decorated the facade of Tate Britain with huge Slugs and their glittering slime train. The slugs represent a non-genderbianary existence and the Leopard Slug in particular has a very exhilaratingly sensual sex life, to be admired!

Chetwynd has built a large costume of a Velvet Worm, a creature that lives in the undergrowth, who feels out its prey in the darkness of night and then sprays the victim with a glue that traps it so that it can devour at leasure. The communion between the Velvet Worm and its preys is both a terrible moment for the victims as much as a moment of supreme lust for the predator.

The sculptures presented at the gallery are glass slugs, mounted, animated by tiny liberated female figurines which seem to crystallize the event that took place at the gallery the day before. The glossy, solid surface of the glass, the joyful postures of the little women riding the colorful slimy ceatures are incarnations of nature’s whimsical, instinctive freedom, freezing the unpredictability and joy of performance in these precious figurines.

Known for her exquisitely otherworldly performances, Chetwynd constructs her costumes using cardboard, glue, paint, paper and cloth with an untamable enthusiasm. As if emerging from the wall, Chetwynd also included ‘Performance Painting 2’ in her presentation, a painting from a new series of work initiated in Zurich for Helmouse 2023.

Depicting a key performer, it is made both from the physical materials and the immaterial memories of a past performance. The two small holes in the surface of the painting are the remnants of the event. The frame is a bright pink sculptural structure, adorned with giant reproductions of indigenous Scottish moths. Chetwynd recently discovered that there are thousands of moth species in contrast to the relatively few butterfly species and that the moths compare to butterflies in range of colour and markings. Moths and butterflies are both labelled under the title Lepidoptera.

Inspired by John Anster Fitzgerald’s (1819–1906), Fairies in a Bird’s Nest, in the collections of Tate Britain, this frame alludes to the delicate intricacies of Anster Fitzgerald’s lace-like wooden frame.

Prolonging the moment of the performance that took place the day before, each element inhabits the gallery with the aura of the joyous, electric energy of Chetwynd’s unique capacity to create performances that are moments of sheer life, laughter and creation.

The Artist

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Monster Chetwynd

Monster Chetwynd (b. 1973, London) lives and works in Zürich. 

Chetwynd graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in painting (2004), following a BA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Art (2000) and a BA in Social Anthropology and History at UCL (1995) (all London). Known for her exuberant and fun performance pieces, featuring handmade costumes, props and sets. Chetwynd describes her work as ‘impatiently made’, often re-using materials that are easy to process and to use by the many performers she invites to participate, emphasizing the notion of collective development that informs much of the artist’s work

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