Tim Noble and Sue Webster
curated by James Putnam
The Freud Museum, London
8 November 2006 to 7 January 2007
According to Freud, young children are, by nature, "polymorphously perverse", which is to say that they can display sexual tendencies that adults would regard as perverse like finding erotic pleasure from their own bodies. Education however quickly suppresses infantile sexuality but it is retained in the unconscious mind of adults. This term is the title of a new exhibition by Tim Noble and Sue Webster at the Freud Museum. Appropriately sited in the room of Anna Freud, the founder of child psychoanalysis, Scarlett is a worktable on which numerous bizarre mechanical toys are working and seemingly in the process of being made. It is as if we are peeping in on someone’s covert hobby, a nightmarish wonderland of repressed sexual and sadomasochistic fantasies and transgressions. In Noble and Webster’s ‘garden of earthly delights’, innocent children’s playthings have been bastardized into objects of apparent perversion. Simultaneously humorous and disturbing these specially modified toys display a cornucopia of Freudian references.
Scarlett, utilizes the actual workbench from the artists’ studio, which they have used extensively over the past decade. Noble and Webster’s table becomes like a laboratory to test out Freud’s theories about the pressures of childhood instinctual forces emanating from the unconscious mind and there is a fascinating parallel with the psychoanalyst’s desk cluttered with his favourite objects to inspire his writing. Another work in the exhibition called Black Narcissus, has been sited in Freud’s study next to a bust of the psychoanalyst. A characteristic Noble and Webster work, it comprises a sculpture on a tall plinth whose cast shadow creates a silhouette of the artists’ facial profiles. Made from dark matter, Black Narcissus is a plethora of silicone rubber casts of Webster’s fingers and Noble’s member in various states of arousal.
This exhibition coincides with the launch of Wasted Youth, a comprehensive new survey of the artists’ work over the last ten years published by Rizzoli, with texts by Norman Rosenthal and Jeffrey Deitch.
For further information & images, please email James Putnam or
T: +44 (0)7952 682530.
The Freud Museum 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SX
opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday (12 - 5 pm)
T: +44 (0)20 7435 2002 www.freud.org.uk.
youtube link to 'Scarlett' -