Stills from ‘Objectivity Tropes / Objectivist Poetry / Presto Objectivity’
More Information and Images here: Nathan Walker
Stills from ‘Objectivity Tropes / Objectivist Poetry / Presto Objectivity’
More Information and Images here: Nathan Walker
Rub A Tub Senior - Invisible Wash
Domestic - belonging to home or family; enjoying or accustomed to being at home; private; tame; not foreign; a servant in the home.
Tableau - a picture or vivid ‘pictorial’ impression; a suddenly created dramatic or impressive vivant; a moment or scene in which action is frozen for ‘dramatic’ effect.
In 1999 Susan Walsh curated Domestic Tableau, participating artists were Mary Fedden, Lubaina Himid, Julie Fu, Jill Morgan and Shani Rhys James. In the catalogue she wrote:
"No longer do we have to express the drudgery, mundanity and unequal labour that domesticity has often overwhelmed us with. We now, as we near the 21st century can, if we choose, decide to celebrate our gains, both psychological and physical, in this ongoing battle over space, its uses and our presence in it.
We already know about the struggles and claustrophobic effect women have had to endure over centuries of domestic imprisonment but now we can transform ourselves, our spaces, our language, our thinking, in order to change the meaning of ‘domestic’. The domestic picture can be one of luxury, grandeur, pleasure, support, indulgence. It can be productive, creative and open.”
"Something hidden away might become something to be opened: something invisible might become something to be touched: something entombed might be brought to life. It is the relation to the past which creates the possibility of anticipation; the present is merely a hinge between these worlds of memory and desire."
Susan Stewart - An After As Before Deep Storage 1998
In 2004 in the catalogue for Naming The Money Lubaina Himid wrote:
"The strange thing is that now that the work is almost finished, its painted, it stands up, is photographed, now that the one hundred texts are written and the music is being added to them, now that one hundred people are really people whome I seem to have invented, summoned, writtten into being and made real, I realise that this work is much more about naming than it is about money. It is an attempt to get to the bottom of the dilemma of losing your name, being relieved of your real identity, being saddled with another more convenient or less embarrassing identity and how you then have to invent something else equally real simply to survive, to make sense of being alive.
It is the story of the slave/servant, but also of the leper, of the emigre, of the refugee, of the asylum seeker.
If it is true and people are more real in who they are and therefore more important when their name and family history is written down and they live in the same place for generations, if this is really what makes you worth something then this is what I have tried to do here in this piece with these people.
Each cut out has a name, a real name, each one is able to say who they really are and what they used to do. Each one lives with their new name and their new occupation attempting somehow to reconcile the two. Every one of the cut outs in this installation is trying to tell you something, each has a voice that can be heard on the sound track playing in the gallery space or read on an invoice attached to each back.
I thought I was talking to a firm of accountant in order to help them get the books straight, to get them to record the contribution, in figures, that we from somewhere else make to this place, this wealth, but I was wrong to try to do this.
What happened was that gradually I realised that a hundred people were talking to me as if I was a records clerk, telling me to write a sort of registry of names as proof that they existed as individual named people with real lives and real identities. I did as I was told.
Perhaps I am a records clerk employed by a firm of accountants.
intelligent clashing has taken up residency at PSL and work has started on the hunter gatherer publication.
Rub-a-Tub Senior - Invisible Wash
They that wash on Monday Have all the week to dry, They that wash on Tuesday Are not so much awry. They that wash on Wednesday Are not so much to blame. They that wash on Thursday Wash for very shame.They that wash on Friday Wash in sorry need. They that wash on Saturday Are lazy sluts indeed. (1)
Saar constructed two towers of washboards in 1998, Lest We Forget, The Strength of Tears, Of Those Who Toiled and Lest We Forget, Upon Who’s Shoulders We Now Stand. Photocopies of vintage photographs of domestic workers - cooks, laundresses, field-workers- are collaged to the undulating metal surfaces of the washboards. The vertically stacked washboards form a timeline suggesting strength and generational interdependence. At the top is an elegant period photograph of two black women, one holding what appears to be a diploma, framed in a silver frame. Just as the frame dramatically contrasts with the rustic quality of the washboards, the photograph contrasts with the oppressive depiction of domestic drudgery. (2)
Cotton, Wool, Silk, Chiffon, Satin, Velvet,
Nylon, Rayon, Polyester, Denim.
The soaps of the time had a tendency to turn whites yellow, and blue was a lump of dye used to counteract this. It was tied in a piece of cloth and then mixed well through the water before the clothes were added. If the laundress mixed carelessly the clothes came out marked with yellow and white streaks. After the blue rinse, the sheets and linens were wrung out for a third and final time, and hung up to dry. Thus, the first - and simplest - load of laundry took one soaking, three washes, one boiling and four rinses: eight different processes. (3)
Patterns - Stripes, Polka Dots, Flowers, Paisley, Zig Zags, Circles, Swirls, Diamonds, Checks, Spots, Triangles, Squares, Droplets, Spirals, Ladders, Rope, Stars.
Brancusi - Endless Column
(1) The Victorian House - Judith Flanders
(2) Betye Saar - Jane H Carpenter
(3) The Victorian House - Judith Flanders
c822 textile sample (egyptian section) // celia-9.jpg (mary manning)
I’m publishing a book in response to the Artemis archive/repository ——- which will be produced throughout the project from a studio space built within the gallery space of PSL.
The publication will be a visual essay/dialogue between images of items found in Artemis + images gathered from NYC based photographer Mary Manning’s blog - Unchanging Window.
Pre-orders available soon.
For HG I’ve been making a three-channel video, using the Artemis meeting room as a studio I’ve been filming various arrangements of objects from the collection. The objects are placed on brightly coloured (primary) surfaces and the resulting images are reminiscent of educational television programmes of the 1970’s and 1980’s. My attention has just be drawn to John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ BBC series - specifically Episode 3 ‘Collectors and Collecting’ (see UBUWEB’s John Berger Page).
Around this process of filming and editing I’ve been producing writing, relying heavily on found language within Artemis and my chosen objects: a peach glass ashtray, a bakelite darning mushroom, a carabiner, fools gold, a colourless mineral, a metal bear money box, a flat iron stand, a bull ring pull, WW2 arm band, and a large piece of amethyst from Brazil. As the video’s are concerned with organisation and arrangement of the objects so to the writing uses process that purposefully abstract and anagram the arrangement of words - often using systems of indexing and categorisation (alphabetically or numerically through word length) and also using online translation applications (like Babelfish) to translate the texts into other languages and then back into English which creates a kind of broken and re-ordered text - an example of which is below:
We make work about the invisible and the unrecorded. Usually Susan thinks about people with transient lives, the objects they rescue, carry with them and treasure in a new place. Lubaina overpaints old objects with patterns, portraits and texts to make new readings of established histories.
We have worked together making films about artists lives, old houses and museum collections.
Between us we have explored behind the ‘scenes’ at the V&A Museum, The Bowes Museum, The Hatton, The Geffrye Museum, The Tate, Stoke Museum and Platt Hall, so Artemis sounded like fun because we could take things away.
We were looking for large mahogany tables and fine walnut wardrobes but these were probably the only things they didn’t have. However we are fickle and fell in love with Rub a Tub senior and Albion.
For some time the wall above my desk has collected a series of paper-based ephemera that for some reason or other I consider important enough to white-tac there.
'Planting Lily Bulbs' (Cigarette card) has been there for about 3 months and has now been relocated to a collage. This card is important as it depicts various practice-based interests in my work: arrangement, visual language, paper-based objects, the relationship between image and text, and the body in art work (or more specifically the artists body in their own work).
It’s only today that I realise the extent of it’s influence on my response to the Artemis Collection for Hunter Gatherer. The hand enters the frame. The objects are (re)arranged. visual language appears and disappears. I think I thought I knew it was from somewhere else, the children’s television programme, the antiques roadshow, a semiotic chess game, late night tv poker championship, museum display cases.
The first object of interest I found was a Primitive Physic and Receipt book by John Wesley (1780 edition). Subsequent research has shown this to be a popular text that is still published today as a relevant work in the history of medicine. I was interested in the book for several reasons. Firstly the structure of the text; often ailments have several suggested and seemingly unrelated treatments as if one could be substituded for another. This resonated for me with the structure of the repository, which is very pragmatically grouped around curriculum subject areas and also with Nigel suggesting that if I wanted an object I should also request alternatives in case the specific item I wanted was unavailable. Wesley’s book is essentially a compilation of accepted medical treatments from the time; these groupings seem a bit like the Artemis groupings of objects. Another appealing element of the Physic book is it’s terminology with ailments called things such as an ‘Ague’ or ‘St Anthony’s Fire’ (both types of fever) which are described in asterisked footnotes. There’s something about the formality of the language and its terminology I find appealing too.
Using text to describe an absent, figurative image is quite a common approach in my work as is writing short texts in series to build up to a larger work. The Physic book seems to do both although it does not describe the body as such, but things to be done to it. This realisation led me to select some other anatomical objects which are another form of stand in for the body (though quite a literal one). I am interested in shifting understandings of the body and of subjectivity. The anatomical models which ‘open up’ the body show a different understanding than the treatments in the Physic book which are still seeming involved on older ideas of there being four humours in the body (bleeding being quite a frequent treatment). I may display some things like photos, cameras, spectacles, curling tongs too although I am undecided on this. They would be included for their potential to signify around ideas of identity, image and representation.
Other objects I have chosen, mainly from the Natural History section, have been selected simply because they appealed to me. I seem to have selected lots of little fragile things - moss, a selection of birds eggs. They remind me of the kind of objects I would have gathered in my garden and kept in little piles for a while as a child. Some of them are interesting because they are displayed in series, so several objects are in a box together because they are classified as being like one another. This idea of classification and being ‘like’ something may play a part. This is possibly related to medicine and the idea of cause and effect vs. analogies made for other reasons. However my links are possibly getting a bit tenuous here!
I have decided to exhibit my thinking process, so the initial objects I have chosen will all be displayed along with text exploring or creating possible links between them. Objects may be gradually added or excluded over the course of the project and I hope to make a series of drawings/diagrams/photo-text works which could ultimately exist separate from the objects themselves.