Jess Flood-Paddock unravels the emotional and cultural values woven into everyday objects and practices, constructing a ‘biographical life of things’ that is at once fantastical and incisive. She injects the comedy and tragedy of scale into work that also explores values held by various social demographics. As Lizzie Carey-Thomas notes: ‘In Flood-Paddock’s world, the touchstones that anchor us have been displaced and physical and mental limits between things brought into question.’ The result is an Alice in Wonderland-like sense of disorientation that prompts a fresh look at what may have been previously taken for granted.
Flood-Paddock’s 2010 exhibition Gangsta’s Paradise evoked the selfish contemporary Eden of unconstrained appetites sought after by so many today. Its centrepiece, BigLobster Supper (2010), did so with Kafkaesque black humour. The work takes the form of a giant fibreboard lobster awkwardly attempting escape from its confines, its bound claws piercing a backdrop of clouds and blue sky (Truman, 2010). This deceptively solid boundary is related to that which encloses Jim Carey’s character in a false suburban paradise for the delectation of a television-watching public in the 1998 filmThe Truman Show. Flood-Paddock’s work links the unthinking consumption of a human being for light entertainment to what David Foster Wallace argues is the barbaric practice of boiling lobsters alive for the purposes of gustatory pleasure in his essay ‘Consider the Lobster’.
Flood-Paddock’s 2011 installation Fantastic Voyage deals with similar themes. Here, tie-dyed pink drapes of fabric portray the lining of the human skull; this welcoming environment houses a giant-sized baseball cap of the brand New Era that, in a similar metonymical shift, takes the place of the brain. These objects constitute an attempt to recreate the immersive anatomical displays of science museums that allow visitors to take tours of human internal organs. The work itself shares a sense of wonder at the human form despite the ostentatious presence of the New Era cap’s gold sticker, which suggests our competitive, status-driven society’s degradation of the utopian potential of technology.
Jess Flood-Paddock studied at the Royal College of Art (2003-5) and the Slade School of Fine Art (1996-2000). She lives and works in London, UK, where she is represented by Carl Freedman Gallery alongside Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam. Solo exhibitions include; Art Now: Jess Flood-Paddock, Tate Britain, London (2012-13); Fantastic Voyage, Carl Freedman Gallery, London (2011); X, Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam, (2012); and Gangsta’s Paradise, Hayward Gallery project space, curated by Tom Morton, London (2010). She has recently been shortlisted for the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award and took part in British British Polish Polish a survey of contemporary British and Polish art’ curated by Tom Morton, CSW Ujadowski Castle, Warsaw. She has collaborated with fashion designer Jonathan Saunders for Britain Creates 2012, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, (2012), and with Phyllida Barlow at The Russian Club, London, (2009. She curated the exhibition £5.34, Carl Freedman Gallery, London, (2013).