Beach ball filled with air from the lungs of a dying man

Philip Newcombe


Object, ø 60 cm.
Materials: ball, object to expire over time

Collection: Courtesy Maria Stenfors, London & Philip Newcombe.

The central work Newcombe brings along to El Hotel Eléctrico is a time-based project: Beach ball filled with air from the lungs of a dying man (2010). The title is as riveting as it is self-explanatory. Is the air in the ball that of the artist himself? And while the aspect of the colourful beach ball evokes visions of kids innocently playing at the seaside play, the title divests it from anything idyllic. The creation of an animation film or a moving artwork is often described as "blowing life into dead matter." Here Newcombe applies the metaphor quite literally, with paradoxical effect. Without sacrificing playfulness, the ball becomes a performative and narrative element in the mind of the beholder. The mortality of mankind is then, in a way, shared with that of the ball. The inflated ball is destined to dwell only temporarily in the space, before eventually and inevitably deflating, dying if you will. In short, a simple accessory of childhood here becomes transformed into a metaphysical object.

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