Image Analysis (Opinion): Real Life Glasgow #1, Ross Sinclair

Real Life Glasgow #1, Ross Sinclair, 1994

       This image marks the inception of Ross Sinclair’s Real Life, a continuous durational project begun when the artist had the words REAL LIFE tattooed across his back in 1994 in a tattoo parlour in central Glasgow. 

By being tattooed with the name of his project, Sinclair is using his body as canvas, and turning himself into art. Wherever he goes now he carries “REAL LIFE” with him. He turns himself into the object by which the ideas of “REAL LIFE” might be brought before an audience in order to develop dialogue. In this way the tattoo is a question as much as a statement.

This image is one of a series of six black and white photographs, and one of many Sinclair has taken in this position over the subsequent years. He is facing away from the camera which breaks the normal conventions of portraiture, especially self-portraiture. This positioning of his body says that his tattoo is a more important factor of himself than his face, making this less of a portrait of a person and more of a portrait of a moment or mindset. The placing of the figure in a rundown setting questions the common notion that only lower classes experience “REAL LIFE”.

The project as a whole takes many forms from installations such as Real Life Rocky Mountain to participatory pieces such as The Real Life Gordons of Huntly. Real Life project explores the nature of real life, asking what is it, where is it, what does it comprise of? What are the “every day” things that make up “REAL LIFE”? Sinclair’s work is primarily about ideas, he spends a lot of concerted effort into his Visual Art works as opposed to his music which he approaches with a freer mindset. Sinclair is very invested in having creativity in every day and sees “REAL LIFE” as not being the day to day, working a job you hate, but as something that with a bit of creativity can be much more than the sum of it’s parts.

        Initially I felt very sceptical towards Sinclairs' Real Life collection of works. However as I expand my own practice, and in particular my ongoing project This Is (Not) Art I am beginning to understand the ways in which you can be gripped by an idea, and there can be more than one outcome or application of the idea which is relevant. I can see now that REAL LIFE is a concept through which Sinclair views the world, and is a way for him to play with what he sees around him in the same way that I utilise This Is (Not) Art to approach the world and life as it happens around me on a day-to-day basis.

       The longevity and success of Real Life is apparent in its' applicationary nature. Real Life is both big and small and can be interpreted and twisted into many shapes and forms - ultimately, though, coming down to individual experience and perception.

** During semester one of my Second Year of Contemporary Art Practice, we were set eight images to analyse in order to practice Art Writing. I will present the series backward. This is image six. **

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