Robin Collyer

Things Men, 1991

Robin Collyer
Things Men
Dimensions and medium
Plywood, fiberboard, styrofoam, metal, plexiglass, black-and-white transparency, light box, inkjet print, 109.3 × 215.4 × 151 cm (table), 91 × 69.8 × 52 cm (panel)
Gift of the artist
Artwork description
Things Men, by Robin Collyer, is part of a group of installations produced between 1990 and 1992 under the theme of the Gulf War, and in particular, how the conflict, as seen in North America, was conveyed by the media. The installation brings together three main elements: a large table fabricated from construction materials and industrial elements and loosely resembling a service station’s overhanging structure; a photographic light box attached to one of the legs underneath the table, which depicts a deposit of atomic bombs and leftover military equipment belonging to the National Atomic Museum of New Mexico; and a sign with an image of toy figurines from the Vietnam war, where a female Vietnamese woman is shown giving a bath to an American soldier. This piece demonstrates how effectively Collyer manipulates signs and objects to convey a specific message within an otherwise minimalist piece. Here, references to the Gulf war (gas station) and the Vietnam war are implicit without resorting to images of the events. Instead, the artist points to the ideological context underlying representations of war. In the work’s title, Collyer reverses the expression “men’s things” to play with connotations of masculinity that are associated with war, as with the merchandising of the toys seen in the sign.

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