Sludge Factory Exhibition: An element of the person imbued within the object.
Sludge Factory was a collaborative exhibition that took place in Buster Mantis, a restaurant bar in Deptford. This was a great opportunity to get to know our groups work and organise an offsite show that utilised a different space to the studio. Seeing our work in another space and environment was particularly useful to pick up on varying strengths and weaknesses of the pieces we had made as well as to adapt work to suit the surroundings and get an idea of where we would situate future works.
My piece Granny’s’ Box worked well in this space as it relied heavily upon a small projection that was dependent on the surrounding light. The low level lighting in the bar was perfect for really allowing the projection to stay clear and prominent. The intimacy of Buster Mantis was reflected in the closeness of Granny’s Box. Being only 20x10cm and containing old postcards and a mini projection, Granny’s Boxdraws the audience in and encourages a sensitive handling of the postcards.
Reflecting on my piece retrospectively I was able to appreciate various other aspects of it, relating it more in depth to my recent research.
This specifically was applicable to the application of my grandmother’s decorated box, which was the focus of the piece. Initially implemented as part of a practice compartmentalising accumulated items, I began to recognise more personal and supernatural elements. As Bruce Hood discusses in Supersense, part of human nature is to feel that there are certain aspects of the owner imbued in an object. Despite religious dispositions, most of us will have some sort of belief that objects carry an aura or association with the previous owner. Hood addresses and illustrates this in his book where he talks about a social experiment in which he offered a class of people a cardigan to try on. Most people raised their hands to signify that they would try it on however when Hood then told the class that the cardigan had belonged to Fred West, no one would try on the cardigan. By association, people felt connected to someone via their possessions and therefore connected to – in this case – the heinous crimes of that person also. This form irrational belief system falls into the supernatural, and although not supported by physical evidence, is a common mentality and reaction.
Being able to identify with this supernatural belief system made it clearer for me to contextualise Granny’s Boxas well as identify motives for other pieces of work I have made. The compulsion to use certain objects and re use materials – particularly images, has been a prominent part of my process and visual practice however I have struggled at times to really verbalise why this is.
As I looked at in a previous blog, we either consciously or subconsciously have a narrative that we are trying to forge through the items that we accumulate and this explains why we think this is a successful mission as we project onto others based on their belongings also.
Had another box been used besides that that previous belonged to my Granny, the whole piece would have a very different meaning. It’s value sentimentally would be significantly reduced as well as any potential monetary value. The uniqueness of the item and the fact my Grandmother who is no longer alive painted it makes it a true original, unable to be replicated or mass-produced. Perhaps this is what I am drawn to (besides being emotionally closer to my grandmother by association through the object of course), because after all, what artist doesn’t want to create original work?