Since 2008 I have organized my studio practice around Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. It is considered Shakespeare’s most problematic work and is the only one of his plays not performed in his lifetime. I chose a “failed” work because the play’s obscurity creates unpoliced cultural bandwidth that I can occupy without incident. For each character in the play I produce a distinct body of work based on contemporary associations, resulting in a collection of related pieces composed of separately considered parts. Timon of Athens allows me to build an entire imaginative universe--in the manner of William Blake or Matthew Barney--from one discarded 17th-century play.
Timon of Athens is a corrupted text of indeterminate history, questionable sources, and a dubious relationship to the respected canon. That is to say, it mirrors my own position in the art world perfectly. The asymmetry between Shakespeare’s reputation and my own will likely remain intact. But there will come a time when Timon of Athens will be known as mine instead of his.