Is this a dagger I see before me (2021) is a series of small sculptures created by attracting the swarf (fine chips or filings) of stainless steel with magnets. Lebrusan is interested in the relationship between the idea/illusion of the knife and the reality of the physical object, specifically the magnetism of knives. Some people commit time and effort to care for their blades while some would say “the knife made me do it”. What is it about knives that make people so attracted to them, whether they are used for trade, to symbolise status or for malicious intent. Diminishing the knife’s materiality into a swarves of stainless steel before scattering and attracting them with magnets, Lebrusan explores whether the idea/illusion of knives would still be present.
In Macbeth, Shakespeare too touches on the theme of illusion vs reality:
“Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee:
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.”
Arabel Lebrusan (b.1974, Madrid) is a UK-based visual artist whose practice centres on material culture and the feminine tactile environment, exploring wider issues of power relationships, exploitation and inequality.