Hollow/Stuffed, Market Law

Artist: Damian Ortega
Location: White Cube Gallery, Mason's Yard London
Completion: 2012

A three metre long submarine, with a structure made entirely of industrial food sacks, stainless steel cables and salt, is suspended from the gallery ceiling and looms out of the darkness.

Time passes, however, and closer inspection reveals that there is a hole at one end of the submarine from which the salt is slowly, but irresistibly, dripping out to form an ever growing, conical mound.

As the salt drains, the form of the submarine deteriorates with the final result resembling some crumpled sacks hanging from steel cables - which it is. The submarine is then re-filled and the process starts all over again.

The artist's primary intent was for the piece to refer to methods used by drug traffickers where homemade submarines are used, surprisingly regularly, as cargo vessels. The particular event that inspired this piece involved a submarine made out of plastic sacks, patched together, which, somewhat inevitably, leaked during the voyage.

Allusions to the ultimate fragility of modern global bastions, once assumed indestructible, such as political power, military dominance and global economics are also suggested. Although the submarine appears solid and robust at first glance, once its true structure is revealed, the inevitability of its failure becomes worryingly apparent.