In early October it was time to take down the “In the periphery” exhibition. The weather had changed and aged the pieces in interesting ways. The wax had gotten sunburnt, some of the jars was filled with water, little algae and rust was climbing up my grandmother’s mazarines, only her hat acted as if nothing had happened while the moss grew around it.
They live in the window of my studio for now.
When we emptied grandmother’s house 3 years ago, I saved some of her everyday-things. Keys, shoes, her cane, the hat that was hanging by the door. This summer I’ve made casts of some of them for the exhibition “In the periphery”, in Koster’s Sculpture Park at Sydkoster, an island on the west coast of Sweden.
Here is part of the process of the keys.
Some of her keys, nobody knows what they once opened.
Dementia can be like opening doors with the wrong keys. Everything gets mixed up, all the places you’ve been and all the people you’ve met behind every door, or behind no door anymore.
First test: concrete.
Result: a fossilised feeling, time has stopped.
Second test: molds for wax casting.
Result: ghost key, fragile and blank like her fading memories.
Ghost keys stuck in concrete.
Saved in jars the keys loose their function even more.
In theory the island has a clearly defined border. But where is it? The shoreline? In that case: low or high tide? Stormy weather or calm waves? Do the rivers belong to the island or to the ocean? And what about islands that are connected during low tide but separated during high tide?
Line: shellac and steel
Tunnel: shellac and fabric
Ocean: shellac and concrete
Tunnel with hand: shellac, fabric and hand
Melting: shellac and fabric
The amazing beauty of shellac in sunlight
As the Explorer I stood on top of the cliff, right where Tenerife ends and the ocean begins. I looked out over the strait towards La Gomera, the neighbour island, its green pointy contour completely dominating the horizon. I could probably swim there if I wanted it badly enough. Still, there was no contact between the original populations of these islands. Why is that? How could they stand not knowing what was going on on that other piece of land, the only other piece of land visible to them?
Casting silicone cubes
Silicone in concrete
Concrete and silicone
Everything changed a little bit to the left.
I wake up at the subway with no idea of where I’m going. Who was I when getting on this train? I look out the window. We create this hard world. Then we create shoes to walk on it without damaging out feet. Lights passing outside in the dark while I’m trying my shoes against the floor.
Everything will move back again to the way it was and they will tell me what station to get off at.
Shellac and fabric box
Collapsing cube of bandage and shellac
Bloated cube of raw hide and concrete
Skin on a tree. I started stitching. Stitch by stitch and piece by piece I started covering something once living with something now dead. A branch lost from the tree needs another layer of protection.
Day 1. Where it used to belong to the tree.
Day 1. Connecting pieces.
Day 2. The first fork.
Day 2. The hide is drying as I sew.
Day 5. There is always another fork.
Day 7. Almost done now, only the tips left.
Day 9. Finally done! All dressed up, the next step will be to remove the branch and let the skin remember it.
I find the most difficult part of a project to be when I’ve finished one part and it’s time to start over again with the next. It is this strange situation of being done and not even having started at the same time. To get back into the process I usually just start doing something, anything, trying things out without so much thinking. Maybe take an element from earlier in the process and play around with it to see if it gives any clues.
Like stacking bags of concrete side by side
And let the light shine through the cracks
Or making thin layers of silicone and shellac
Just to see if it leads anywhere.
We sometimes get stuck in definitions. Definitions can help us see our next step but it can also shut us in. We are shaped by our textualized culture to want to understand everything. We loose the point of the things we don’t understand but that does something else to us. It has been a mistake to see knowledge as immaterial. Nothing can be separated from material.
Is it just these people I’m outside of, or is it everyone?
You raise us as islands and teach us to see ourselves as individuals, separated from the rest of the world. You isolate us in little compartments, stacked close together in big buildings, but separated so completely as if existing in different dimensions. We live on controllable islands of sameness in an ocean of otherness.
But you’re forgetting that there is no word for the difference between me and the world.
Or am “I” that word?
Doubtfully, The Introvert
Stack of concrete compartments
Stack of velvet compartments
Group of cages/city scape
Stacking compartments close together
Where do I end and you begin? Everything is just the same kind of materials, repeated over and over and reused over and over. How can a division ever be made? Or is it the division that makes the materials relevant? Without division no change, without change no time and without time no life. Without you no me.
Yours truly, The Inside
Drying raw hide, sewn on to cast concrete
Dried hide, revealing the structure of the concrete underneath