The Gift – neon art

This neon and coal sculptural art work questions dualistic and contradictory relationships with coal as a fossil fuel and resource.

Being bilingual in German and English for me the word “Gift” has two meanings: Firstly in English the word “Gift” with the article “the” refers to the ‘present’ but secondly in the German language (and with the article “das” ) the word Gift’ translates to mean ‘poison’.

“The Gift” is also the name of a famous book by the sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss – and refers to his social theory of the gift exchange, to reciprocity and mutual obligations arising from giving and receiving.

‘Coal’ as a resource enabled the Industrial Revolution which lifted billions of people out of poverty, out of the dark literally into the light – in a way its a gift from nature, but of course it also has many dangerous aspects and very destructive impact on the climate, nature and environment. it is these relationships that I question and am interested in as I transform the rather anti-aesthethic material nature of coal into a work of art. This piece was informed by my research and engagement with people from the community of Morwell/Gippsland Australia and how they were impacted by the recent Hazelwood coal mine fire.