in my house 6 26/7/20
One aspect of curating an exhibition in a domestic environment is considering the atmosphere that the space naturally provokes without artistic intervention. A house or home is usually a familiar space, and is an inhabited place designed for comfort and vulnerability. Each room has its own character and identity, and this feeling of being 'at home' comes from our relationship to the things we put in these spaces. A gallery or museum likely doesn't conjure up this feeling in the same way and isn't inhabited in the way homes are. Much like the living room television can be a vessel for total engagement or escape from a stressful reality, so can artwork, if placed in this space, act as a momentary visual relief or distraction from the constant populated quality of the home. Many people decorate their homes with art outside of the gallery construct of curated display, so it is always a recurring interest to consider art's purpose in a domestic space vs a gallery.
I've had 5 shows where i have explored the rooms in my house and displayed a range of different artworks that challenge/complement/influence these spaces. It has been interesting to see how art behaves in different ways when presented in different locations. For In My House 6, my aim was to delve a little deeper into the nuances of the home and its textures, surfaces and defining architectural features to really consider how these less identifiable areas can be used; focusing less on the room and more on the overarching atmosphere. I also wanted to explore a correlation between activities and actions performed in the home and how the artworks in this exhibition could align with the inhabited nature of the space.
The four artists included in this show, whilst their practises are visually very different, employed a similar theme of exploring surface and visual texture through process based art, photography, painting and video. Each artwork had a visceral and gestural quality that was captured in a unique way that i wanted to accentuate in this instalment.
Beth's work involved an engaged repetitive motion of moving objects across a photocopier and producing unique images that are created through chance. The piece attempts to capture motion and we are left with the remnants of this process that are made with intention but with limited control over the finished product. I wanted to accentuate the inconsistencies in these chance gestures by projecting them onto uneven surfaces and invite another layer of texture and palpability. I also wanted to mimic Beth's repetitive gestures with the locations of the surfaces i used to suggest a relation to repetitive processes or activities often done in the house. For example walking up and downstairs, opening and closing blinds and curtains, cooking meals etc. Each of these domestic actions are completed multiple times throughout the day by the inhabitants of the space, and it made me consider how these images and surfaces are static representations of a physical gesture. By presenting them on uneven surfaces, some of this movement is reintroduced and distorted. The accent features like the kitchen tiles, blinds and banisters also retain a repetitive quality in their design, and gave an interesting compliment to Beth's process of capturing duration.
With Joanna, her work is focused highly on texture and sculptural form. She sent me images of her material based sculpture pieces. My initial idea was to present these photographs as printed images and install them on the wall in the hallway or on the floor, but i felt that would appear too flat and inauthentic to the focus on form in her practise. I then had the idea to print the images onto a thicker card and scrunch them up to try and mimic the contours in the sculptures. This gave the works more of a physicality against the grey wall, and cast some interesting shadows that elevated the work further. The visceral texture became more ambiguous through this process, and looked more visually interesting than a flat photograph. I chose the bedroom space for this piece because i think it is a room that has a lot of contrasting textures; the neutral tones in Joanna's images contrasted to the monochromatic palette of the bedroom and made the piece have more of a presence. Joanna shared with me how her process is influenced by trying to visually represent material contradictions and i feel the sensitive nature of the bedroom helped reinforce this. There is contradiction in the soft bed quilt and the veneered bedside table, the thick polyester curtains and the cold chrome curtain pole, the soft and delicate fabric depicted in Joanna's photographs and the thick scrunched card they are printed onto. There was an element of play that resonated in this room.
Julie's painting practise is concerned with the environment and climate change, with her work often depicting glacial landscapes or the ocean. I chose her piece 'Glacial' to present for this show and my initial interpretation was that the colour, composition and landscape reminded me of Friedrich's "Wanderer Above the Sea of the Fog". I imagined the figure in this painting as the viewer of Julie's painting, and wondered how i could recreate this powerful perspective with her work as both pieces try and present a similar symbolic idea. There is an interesting space above the stairway that i've wanted to use for this project for a while, and i feel this piece worked perfectly for it. It involved a level of effort to view; to look up at it from the bottom of the stairs and be confronted with the illuminated image, or to observe it before you descend down also made for a powerful viewing. Both viewpoints could become quite intimidating or confrontational. The stairs don't have quite the same impact as if you were standing at the edge of a cliff face, though i think the composition and intention is suggested. Julie's work is beautiful yet unsettling, she aims to capture the hostile environments like glaciers that we think are beautiful yet are still damaging as a species. Bringing them into the home feels emblematic. Another correlation i made with Julie's painting was James Turrell. The way the cool blue hues illuminate the space mimic Turrell's skyspaces, which feel as though you are gazing out of a window or into another dimension. This chosen location of the stairway acts as a transient space from one level of the house to another; the presence of Julie's work provides a sensory interactive experience of this movement and gives the piece a transformative quality that parallels how we are transforming our environment through climate change.
Roberta's work was the only video/film work in this show. This was also the last piece i installed, mainly because i was still unsure of where i wanted to place it to retain its authentic subject. The framing of the video was very narrow and cinematic, and i felt placing it within a room would disrupt the work too much. The concept felt too huge to try and contain in the house either by projecting onto a white wall or streaming it on a tv or monitor. Roberta's work depicted the expansive and boundless elements of the ocean, and i considered if there was a space where i could honour these themes. The garden seemed like an appropriate area to explore with these ideas in mind. I also wanted the space outside to influence the piece, and the architecture of the brick wall and the surrounding houses to complement the vast open ocean within the video. The beige of the brick was a great contrast to the cool blue of the ocean. The work has a meditative quality, and explores the transformative qualities of the outdoors (in this sense the ocean). There was also an expanse of space to be explored within the garden that resonated with the boundless quality of Roberta's video. The piece had a beautiful musical accompaniment that was allowed to echo throughout the garden and be heard by neighbours or passers by, giving the piece further sensory impact. Whilst logistics required a low light level in order for me to document the video, the dimming sunset gave an intimate and ethereal quality to the experience of viewing this work. The ocean is a body of water i personally find very terrifying and expansive. It is a space we know so little about and is such an intimidating and unpredictable space. It has no real boundaries or limits, but as Roberta wades into the water and floats, i am able to still appreciate the beauty within it. It pays tribute to the sublime landscape and the conflicting emotions that are felt when viewing such things. (It must be why people choose to lay in sensory deprivation tanks.)
This group show allowed me to evaluate the house and delve deeper into the textures and surfaces within it. These four artists created work that was so different in its conceptual influence and execution, but there was a lot visually that aligned so well. The rippling water in Roberta's video is reminiscent of the random durational gestures and colourful ripples within Beth's work, and also juxtaposes the harsh icy glaciers in Julie's painting that give two conflicting yet strangely similar perspectives of our environment. The tactile quality of Joanna's piece can also relate to the physical gesture of Beth's photocopying process and Roberta's journey into the ocean through manipulating its surface with her body and the paddles. It has been one of my favourite shows to curate so far.