Simone Slee makes work that has its origins in sculpture, producing installations, photographs, videos and objects that have a performative outcome or potential. Failure, humour and vulnerability continue to emerge as key concerns in her practice; her sculptures fail and fall over, others exist for just a moment as sculptural-thought-bubbles in space. Indeed, space—private, public and institutional—provides the context in which her sculptural gestures are performed. Through this practice she has invented a neologism ‘abfunction ‘to describe the unexpected or surprising functions and effects of objects or actions in art (in contrast to concepts of multifunction or dysfunction).


While earlier works derived from the deployment of her own body in relation to space, time and objects, Slee’s practice over the past decade has constituted a negotiation of the problems and questions raised by sculpture—and Modernism—more broadly. Such questions as ‘How can a sculpture stand up?’, ‘What shape should a sculpture be?’ are posed and then tested in Slee’s work, generating effects of absurdity, embarrassment, instability and endurance.

Rather than evoking a binary where sculptural forms can either succeed or fail, her practice seeks to provoke new ways of seeing objects and their functions. To explain this tendency within her work Slee coined the term ‘abfunction’, which she describes as ‘using the wrong things for the right things or, its inverse, using the right things for the wrong reasons’.

This circles back to notions of failure and vulnerability, which Slee sees as not only important to the practice of sculpture, but useful for questioning how society typifies success in very conventional (and often economic) ways.

Tiarney Miekus, Art Guide, November 2017