The Immigrant - By Carl Plackman

Some people appear to move and act as if they were completely at ease in the world. I have always felt ill at ease; my body fitting as awkwardly as my clothes, the space in which I move just that little too empty or too full, the air too hot or too cold. 


Some people seem to have confidence, others are always uncertain, constantly attempting to find their own space in the world - questioning their very identity.


Things are never what they appear to be." 

Carl Plackman, 1975


Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the amazing Carl Plackman.



Plackman is an artist who has fallen into relative obscurity now, but is an incredibly important person within the History of Art.


Known as the Godfather of conceptual art, Carl’s work is the LIVING EMBODIMENT OF of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’


Carl was a prolific sculptor of his day and was an influence teacher at Goldsmiths Collage, London where he taught many of today’s best known artists – including Damien Hirst!


His work consists of sculpture, drawings, installation and occasionally photographs. In many cases his work is an attempt to examine how people communicate with each other and how objects often get in the way.


Here is a drawing which shares the same title of one of his better-known sculptures, The Immigrant, which depicts a strange assortment of objects, which appear to have little or no relation to each other.


They are struggling to interact.

To communicate.

To co-inhabit the space as one.


What does the tower represent?


Is the chair knocked over from a failed attempt to climb it?


Does the empty coat stand represent a space ready for arrivals or departures?


Have to occupiers left in a hurry?


Or, does the rake which stands to the side of the tower represent a tool which will help ‘clean –up’ the mess.


So, you see, from a drawing which initially does not give anything away. It asks you to look closer and ask any and all questions about what you see.


So, my question to you – what do you think the work means?


I’d love to know in the comments below.


The Immigrant is currently part of Tate’s collection; however, it remains in storage.


Jo McLauhglin, Jan 2021

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