Original cigarette packets on cotton board. 140cm x 93cm
"Smoking is the most wonderful thing I was happy to quit"- Fuller
Fuller's bold new art piece, DUTY PAID, is an investigation into the subtle power and invisible influence generated at the nexus of nicotine and branding. Produced with great care and at great expense by modern masters of seduction, cigarette brands combine bold primary colours with luxury metallic golds and silvers to promise status, sexiness, confidence and calm. Yet how strong is their power? Fuller investigates by reworking cigarette packaging into tombstones - an unmistakable sign of death and visceral reminder of the settled science linking smoking to cancer. The sobering result: viewers, including the artist himself, look past the memento mori - as serious as a funeral - to the warm, familiar comfort of their favourite brands.
Inspired by the plain and standardised cigarette packaging legislation which has now begun in the UK.
Fuller's piece prompts larger questions. To what extent do brands influence our decision-making? Is the use of sophisticated marketing techniques for cigarettes unethical or should we respect individual choice? And, even when cigarettes are sold in plain packages, will it be enough to counter the siren call of the major cigarette brands, entrenched as they are in our psychology and our society?
Fuller is mostly known for drawing contemporary and personalised maps, prints of his work have recently been acquired by The British Library and Museum of London. This new work shows a new direction for the artist, keeping the social commentary of his complex and multi-layered maps but stripping the concept down to a single, intensely relevant, modern societal concern.