Category: Appropriation (Art)
Artist Stephen Irwin (1959-2010) worked in sculpture, drawing and installation, but he is best known for his work altering vintage pornography: using steel wool to rub off a magazine page's shiny coating and taking most of the picture with it, Irwin lovingly isolated fragments of the image. Censoring much of what might have been shocking about the original photographs, Irwin's images suggest instead a more expansive erotic landscape of tenderness and perversion, chastity and lasciviousness. Before his death, Irwin asked that his ashes be compacted and turned into graphite for pencils. Although this ultimate performance never materialized, the gesture and thought is a testament to his creative and conceptual mind, one that fully grasped the delicacy and absurdity of life.