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Cornelia Parker RA, Alter Ego (Boat with Reflection)

Alter Ego (Boat with Reflection), 2010

Cornelia Parker RA (b. 1956)

RA Collection: Art

Alter Ego (Boat with Reflection) is one of a series of ‘alter ego’ works consisting of a silver-plated object and its flattened ‘unconscious’, suspended together from wires. The series includes Alter Ego (Object with Unconscious), which was exhibited at the 2017 Summer Exhibition.

Parker has used silver objects throughout her career, particularly as a material to be manipulated. This is primarily accomplished by crushing it , as in her celebrated early work Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988-9, Tate), although in other works silver and other metals are melted down and used to create ‘drawings’ in their liquid form.

The artist has traced her flattening of objects back to a fondness for crushing coins on a railway track as a child, reasoning that ‘I wanted to change their meaning, their visibility, their worth, that is why I flattened them, consigning them all to the same fate … you couldn’t spend the money afterwards but you kept the metal slivers for their own sake, as an imaginative currency and as physical proof of the destructive powers of the world.’ In this way Parker found discovered for herself one of the key tenets of modern art: artists habitually take objects which have a use value in the world and, whether by materially altering them or simply by exhibiting them as artworks, bestow upon them a new ‘imaginative currency’.

Object details

Alter Ego (Boat with Reflection)
Object type
Copyright owner
Silver plated

155 mm x 250 mm x 100 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Cornelia Parker RA accepted 1 July 2014 Diploma Work given by Cornelia Parker RA accepted 2014
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