In Clean Walls, Sam Clague offers a meditation on value and baseness, tracing a connection between unconscious scatalogical facinations and their expression in artmaking, language, and the accruement and exchange of capital.
In Freudian theory, one of our early developmental stages involves a fascination with shit and its materiality - the materiality of the first thing we can retain and produce. How we pass through this stage, and whether fascination becomes fixation is thought to affect our personality- whether we develop expulsive or retentive characteristics. These predilections we develop as children, regarding releasing or retaining material, track both to how we accumulate and spend cash and how we talk about it. The shit/material/gold/value connection is apparent throughout language; in English a miserly person is often called a ‘tight-ass/arse’ and in German slang the euphemisms abound, with the anus as ‘goldmine,’ the toilet as ‘stock-exchange,’ and toilet paper as ‘securities.’
In these paintings Clague leans into the more expulsive scatalogical character of paint as material, playing up its unconscious connection with shit. Accompanying these works are cast sculptures of ‘Dukatenscheißer’ or ‘Geldscheißer’ (literally ‘coin/gold shitter’), a kind of folkloric character motif that can still be found adorning banks in Germany.