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Phillip Bedwell – Echoes (2016)
By Daniel Holmes
A length of rope bookended by two nooses. One ensnares a mammoth block of ice. The other, Phillip Bedwell’s neck.
In Echoes, Phillip attempts and inevitably fails, to lift and suspend the block using himself as a counterweight. He strains and adjusts as the ice dangles before him. We witness his struggle as the weight becomes too much. The ice falls. He breathes. He sets. Sometimes he weeps. Then he tries again. The cycle continues.
Phillip beautifully delves into dichotomies. Warmth/cold. Life/death. The attrition which melts the ice, making it easier to lift, simultaneously breaks his body. Mostly, however, it is Phillip’s disrupted identity which captures the mind. His body is a form of hyper-masculinity, he is a Roman legionnaire, swelling and muscular, a demonstration of the power and strength conceptualised to the male form. Yet, in his struggle, he exposes his frailty, his vulnerability, his weakness. These are the antiseptic of conditioned manhood, that we have been told to be so afraid to admit.
The melting ice stains his skin as it turns to water, leaving traces of the battle in which he forges himself. Perhaps he too is changing state, defining himself a new man in the conflict.