Ripper Teeth A-F (A/P)
Taking things out of context â€“ recasting a functional object in a non-functioning capacity, letâ€™s say â€“ is a familiar trope of twentieth-century modernism that the work of James Capper both addresses and amends. Capper makes new objects that suggest existing ones (hydraulic pumps, cutting blades, ploughs), and by doing so generates a new creative function for that object: the making of marks on a surface. These, then, are drawing machines, their actions gouging or scraping new forms in a receiving material, and sculptural forms too, their forms abstracted, almost modernist. The Ripper Teeth act as locomotive elements attached to an existing machine: thrown out in front of it into deep or difficult terrain, they pull the machine along by dragging. The motions of the Teeth are recorded, both in the earth itself and, often, through video documentation, as components of a performance of sorts. That performative element brings up the organic allusions central to Capperâ€™s work. These are, unmistakeably, claws, dinosaurian in their shape and implication of hugeness.
Nipper (Long Reach)
Painted steel, hydraulics, plaster
130 x 32 x 80 cm/ Base: 130 x 40 x 100 cm
Nipper (Long Reach) is like a crabâ€™s claw designed by an industrial engineer; both threatening and familiar, it parallels organic and mechanical movement in a mutually enlivening way. Capperâ€™s works treat the mechanical as aesthetic. Their occupation of space is an active one, their traces â€“ in soil, on stone, in air â€“ the delicate and deliberate marks of a drawing hand.
Text by Ben Street