BODY ARMOR is Frank Ammerlaan’s fourth solo exhibition at Upstream Gallery. Since his last exhibition Particles of Dust in 2017 Ammerlaan’s chief medium became the world’s physical matter, excavated from the ground or fallen down from the sky.
The exhibition title borrows its name from a series of Ammerlaan’s leadworks, realised in a material that is contaminated with meaning, poisonous and alchemical. Lead, used as protection from radiation in hospitals and nuclear power plants, chemically is the end result of millions of years of decay of the unstable Uranium element. According to Ammerlaan, ‘physically the material is soft and seems to be as malleable as reality itself, whilst being used to protect the flesh against its former radioactive self’. The square lead tiles overlap in rudimentary landscapes to construct spherical, protective layers, akin to an armour or a roof. Through the process of alchemical transformation, which stretches over time, lead creates resistance against its own radiative movement.