Heavy Metal, 2018 Sculpture
This series of adapted ready-mades incorporates Transformer robots from the artist’s own collection. Mass produced as children’s toys, for Patel these transforming figures have held an important role in shaping the fictions and realities of his identity, by offering freeing propositions. As avatars these anthropomorphic vehicle bodies are symbolic of the desire to escape the marginality of ones own skin, along with the ability to disguise oneself, to become invisible, in this case as a car or truck. For these works the plastic toys have been painted to imitate bronze – the material typically used to commemorate important figures in history.
This transformer series is additionally linked to Patel's film, Trinity. The film’s main character Mina is a young British Indian woman that uses Transformer figures as both identity avatars, and as stand-ins for deities - alternatives to Hindu idols that are used in her mother’s prayer rituals. The sculptures in this sense are not film props, but instead refracted manifestations from the film.
This series was initially commissioned as part of American Export exhibition, curated by Christina Millare. Photographs show installation views at the Library of Birmingham's Shakespeare Memorial Room, where the Transformers took residence, seeking equal footing in a setting deemed significant to British cultural identity.
Plastic, acrylic paint—