SOMETHING BIG., by artist Elisabeth Pointon, is a custom-made, 7 x 1.3-metre inflatable work that reads ‘WHOEVER.’ It’s black and pillowy, huge and soft and in direct contrast to the refined jewellery made by Tiffany & Co, which commissioned the work. SOMETHING BIG. is delicate, but in a different way to the jewellery: one poke from a diamond and the whole thing would slowly deflate.
In part, Pointon’s work is a response to the brand’s 2015 ‘Will you?’ campaign, which featured a diversity of relationships; she was also intrigued by Tiffany & Co’s mission for inclusivity.
Please note the full-stop. Some of Pointon’s previous work has centred on the language of commerce and sales. At one point she worked in a luxury car dealership, which prompted several works playing with sales-y superlatives. A Pākeha-Indian artist, she found the dealership very white, very male and very insincere, as seen in company-wide emails celebrating achievements, which always ended in a definitive full-stop – ‘Good job.’ Or, ‘Well done to all.’ In SOMETHING BIG. the full-stop is key – a subversion of that masculine power.
But SOMETHING BIG. is also a reaction to Martin Creed’s 2019 neon work atop a building in Auckland. One of Creed’s biggest works, WHATEVER is visible from many places and has an ambiguous meaning – it could be inclusive, or it could be a shrug.
Pointon’s work is a subtle dig at an expensive installation by a major male artist. “My work becomes a meditation on art-market values,” she says, “and who gets space to speak in such a generously funded and public forum.”