Artist research: Cornelia Parker

6 September 2017. Cornelia Parker (*1956, UK), another Turner Prize nominee, is well known for her concept art and installations, in which she often uses great physical force to transport her interest in transformation and resurrection, as e.g. in “Thirty Pieces of Silver” from 1988/89 (Delaney, 2003) or “Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View” made in 1991 (Tate, n.d.). Parker explains that by suspending the individual objects from the ceiling she takes away the pathos the objects would have, if they were still on the ground (Tate, 2014). It is interesting to note how the position in space of a display of objects will transform its meaning. I think that I would not have understood Parker’s intention, if I had not listened to her audio. To me the suspending of objects can have several meanings, depending on what, and where, is supended. It can add both great drama or lightness, provide a solution or add a complication.
My tutor, however, pointed me to her use of multiples and sequences made of everyday discard materials. In “Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View”, none of these apply really, because what is suspended from the ceiling are the remains of an intentional explosion of a wooden shed. To me the installation looks like a snapshot of one moment during the explosion, frozen in three rather than two dimensions. Matters are different in “Thirty Pieces of Silver”, where discarded silver objects (if silver can be discarded at all) were pressed to make them look similar, then arranged into a grid representing the 30 pieces of silver used by Judas to betray Jesus. To Parker silver feels commemorative (Delaney, 2003), a feeling no doubt shared by most people, so this aspect probably does not need further explanation. The arrangement itself feels solemn, so it supports a subject, which is probably not immediately obvious, in contrast to “Cold Dark Matter”, which leaves little space for misunderstanding.
A general image search of Parker’s work made me realize that some of her suspended work is genuinely beautiful, both on the surface and at heart, e.g. the remains of destroyed churches floating like the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, or the wave-worn bricks of a house, which collapsed due to cliff erosion in Dover (Neither From Nor Towards”). It makes me aware of the all-encompassing truth behind Parker’s resurrections. Everything there is will eventually be transformed, not to be gone forever, but to make something new. A comforting thought and an approach to art I will want to treasure.


Delaney, H. (2003) Cornelia Parker, Thirty Pieces of Silver, 1988–9 [online]. Tate, London. Available from:
[Accessed 6 September 2017]

Tate (n.d.) Cornelia Parker, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View [online]. Tate, London. Available from: [Accessed 6 September 2017]

Tate (2014) Cornelia Parker: Cold Dark Matter – Still explosion [online]. Tate, London, 10 June. Available from: [Accessed 6 September 2017]