Heather Phillipson to present a major new commission spanning 80m for Art on the Underground on 7 June 2018

In June 2018, Art on the Underground will present a major commission by British artist Heather Phillipson for the disused platform at Gloucester Road Underground station. Phillipson’s commission will be unveiled on 7 June 2018, and will fill the 80m platform at the station.my name Is lettie eggsyrub will be Phillipson’s first public commission in the UK, and will be on view for one year. As a focal point for Art on the Underground’s 2018 programme of exclusively female artists, the artwork will be Art on the Underground’s most ambitious temporary project to date. The year-long programme forms part of #BehindEveryGreatCity – a major new campaign by the Mayor of London.

London-based Phillipson works in video, sculpture, online media, music, drawing, poetry and what she calls walk-in collages. Relationships between human and non-human animals are a recurring theme in her work and for this commission she will focus on the egg as an object of reproduction, subject to human interference. In her space-filling sculptural and video installation for Gloucester Road’s disused platform, Phillipson will use video game-style layout techniques to magnify eggs and avian body-parts to monstrous proportions.

Phillipson states: my name is lettie eggsyrub enlarges the egg as a nucleus of conflict. I wanted Gloucester Road station to become a parallel ‘scape’ – a subterranean disturbance, in which hyper-real, creaturely simulations and analogue counterparts dwarf passengers. Using the bold, simplified visual techniques of early computer gaming graphics, both stylistically and as an organising principle, the passing platform becomes a sequence of overlapping vulnerabilities and escape tactics, in which so-called human and avian – winner/loser – roles might reverse. We too begin as eggs. According to this logic, humans are also at the mercy of weaponised food, exposed embryos, dangling, leaking and mechanical equipment, unignorable disorder and potential revolt. Throughout, the egg recurs as a harbinger and taunt – not only as one of the most fundamental forms in mammalian reproductive systems and as representation of fertility, strength, birth and futurity, but also, crucially, (over)production, consumption, exploitation and fragility.”

Assembled across the disused platform, this work will feature various large-scale fiberglass sculptures including two 4-metre-high 3D eggs, a huge automated whisk, twelve 65″ video screens and 16 printed panels alongside oversized suspended images. Computer game aesthetics featuring egg sandwiches, scientific diagrams of chicken foetuses, and tomato ketchup and custard tarts speeding through sci-fi graphics, suggest a present tense of menace and dominion.

Phillipson’s installation at Gloucester Road Underground station will conjure many understandings of the egg – as new life and possibility, as clichéd reference, as human-animal consumption, as cultural projection, as online anonymity in reference to the former default Twitter avatar, and as indicative of a widespread detachment from foodstuffs and their origins. Phillipson uses surreal and at times comic, at times uncomfortable, images to blast assumed positions. In all her work, humour appears in subversive and provocative manners to question dominant power- and thought-structures.

Heather Phillipson, my name is lettie eggsyrub, video still from forthcoming Gloucester Road installation, 2018, commissioned by Art on the Underground