Michael Dean
shores shored (Working Title)

The sculpture shores shored (Working Title) makes reference to the human form. The two sides of the sculpture are distinctively different, with the rear showing an anamorphic-corrugated structure, the front suggesting the human form, making perhaps an unconscious reference to Giacometti or Barnett Newman. But whereas their work suggests immanence, Michael Dean refuses any notion of transcendence, remaining rooted in presentness. Through the inherent sense of interaction and participation with the sculptures, the spectator becomes another object when walking around the artist’s installations. shores shored (Working Title) is part of a series of sculptures Dean began with an invented typography. Using the letters as the structure of the work — the transformation of words to material — the viewer is nonetheless unable to decipher the hence constructed words in the series. The basis of this series is the words shore and shoring. The seashore was important to Dean growing up in Newcastle as it was a place of rêverie (suggesting escape) and also a barrier. The shore is a liminal space, just as these sculptures hover between abstract construction, letters, human form and landscape.

Michael Dean (b. 1977, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom) collectively engages with performance, sculpture, writing, publication and installation in a process where each method practice mutually informs the other. Working with ‘poor’ materials: concrete, corrugated iron, steel, sand and pebbles, Dean’s installation recall shantytowns. The artist’s 2016 exhibition Sic Glyphs at South London Gallery was held at the debut of the media’s fixation on the immigration crisis. The installation of the exhibition echoed this media phenomenon. Blocking the normal entrance to the gallery, the visitor had to find their way around the back of the gallery, capturing glimpses of the interior as they navigated their way through barriers of sculptures. Through this, Dean attempted to evoke the same sensation one might feel in the chaos of an immigration settlement, such as the internment camp ‘the Jungle’ in Calais, France, where one is almost granted asylum, yet denied entry. The do-it-yourself materials employed by Dean further recall the emergency housing built by asylum seekers. While Dean’s practice is deeply rooted in the contemporary socio-political milieu, the artist equally explores the forms and history of sculpture from Giacometti through to Arte Povera.