Tyler Shields, Train Tracks (2013)
Museum quality photograph
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Edition of 3
Courtesy the artist and Maddox Gallery
American Tyler Shields is best known for his controversial photographic work that includes celebrities naked, bloodied and bruised; a nude black man hanging a cloaked Klansman; two nuns kissing; and the wanton destruction of luxury items. The latter includes a six figure Hermès Birkin bag chain-sawed then set alight, a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow engulfed in flames, and a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes hack-sawed and then set ablaze.
The controversy does him no harm. He delivers mainstream advertising campaigns for organisations such as Nike, Adidas and the luxury Swiss watch maker Gergé but also produces fine art. ‘Train Tracks’ is from the Suspense series, which includes figures leaping, falling, tipping and flying.
A self-portrait, Shields explained that he didn’t want to ask anyone else to do it because they would land on rocks; having been a professional inline skater, Shields’ knowledge of how to land was undoubtedly key. The monochromatic, minimalist image of the clothed figure falling onto (or vaulting across) train tracks is unusual in that it’s not colourful, violent, sexual, shocking or provocative – hallmarks of so many of Shields’ images – and that might be why it’s a personal favourite of the photographer’s: “It’s one of the photos that I can honestly say I love.”
For more information, see maddoxgallery.co.uk
Hedge, issue 43, November 2016, pp66-73