David Sherry draws attention both to the ordinary events of everyday life and the intricate structures of the art world, by subtle interventions or absurd exaggerations. Working mainly as a performance artist, Sherry takes a playful approach to his drawing, painting, photography and video work too. His work presents social awkwardness as an important and often painful part of being human.
In Electrical Appliance (2011), an enormous plug and thick wire are attached to Sherry’s head. As he lies on the floor, passers-by are welcome to step over him. Absurd in a way that is typical of Sherry’s work, the work also touches on serious ideas. The link Sherry makes between the human and the electrical reminds the viewer of our own relationship with power. Whether we decide to ignore the ecological and economic problems we have produced is up to us. The bright yellow prongs of the plug jut into the air, creating a comic spectacle. Whilst the artist lies still on the ground, passers-by must make a conscious decision whether or not to avoid him. Why is the plug not in use? Is the artist also commenting on the way we all can ‘switch off’ or zone out? This vacant state of mind seems to be of recurring interest to Sherry. Just popped out back in 2 hours (2008) consists of a chair, the artist, and a post-it note. The post-it note reads ‘Just popped out back in 2 hours’, and is stuck to the artist’s head. With a glazed look in his eyes, he sits gawping as the viewer walks around him. To read the note, the viewer must lean in quite closely.
David Sherry does simple things that other people don’t think to do. Although much of his art plays with a detailed knowledge of recent art history, and in particular our expectations of performance art, it also touches on everyday emotions, embarrassments and frustrations. We can see ourselves in his work.