is there any body home? 2018

Artist Statement

In this installation, three groups of work are shown and occupy the entire space. The first series titled Sensuous Re-Awakenings consists of six small sculptures resting on two tables and displayed in the centre of the space. Facing them and on opposite walls, a series of six poems titled Unfoldings are pinned to the wall and mirror two shelves on which rest the third series, comprised of six petri dishes and titled Anything lived into long enough becomes an orchard. 

The design process surrounding this body of work is mostly rooted in physical recollection. I was inspired by the idea that I could make use of objects to physically re-experience loss (either by transference or transubstantiation). Being attentive to sensuous, physical indents, impressions, smells, tastes, vibrations of previous experiences, or traumas through materiality facilitated reconnecting with the fleeting memory of loved ones who have passed. By provoking sensuous re-awakenings, I became enthralled with enlivening memories of lost ones by reconnecting with my own physical record of their presence.

I rummaged through old souvenir boxes in search of meaningful mementos passed on from generation to generation. Motivated by a desire to steer away from language and embrace materiality in order to physically remember, this quest was spontaneous and non-reflective. I chose and revisited each keepsake for its potency to transubstantiate vivid memories of past encounters. I then invested in them physically with touch, smell, and taste in pursuit of appropriation. A porcelain cup thus was no longer my grandmother’s cup. Rather it became, through physical and emotional transference, a vessel of vivid emotional resonance.

The six semantic offerings of Unfoldings recall former experiences related to the chosen mementos. Printed on velum paper and pinned to the gallery wall as whispers, the poems are constructed from chimeras and hauled along by fragments of past emotions. These slanted utterances are designed to stand-alone or guide interpretations of the exhibited sculptural forms.

Finally and manifesting through bacterial form, cultures in petri dishes become portraits of the deceased, plentiful, and life-generating occurrences. Swiped from the same mementos used throughout the installation, spread and then left to grow on agar-agar, this last series is created to offer respite in knowing that loved ones are still with us, through objects, in the most unexpected places and unusual ways.

As I manipulated objects, I sensed new creative outlets connecting to the most vulnerable parts of myself. Delving further into each emotion, the process became deeply personal as I began feeling exposed and vulnerable. Incidentally linking sculptural forms to deep emotional states, I began to correspondingly investigate how I could inflict residual pain, succumb to tenderness, inject joy, conjure melancholia; these became the intended goals of this specific work.
 

My aim here is to quilt together expectations, personal history, and kindred spirits, as well as olfactive and tactile memories associated with objects. Upon death, as physical presence disappears, mementos often provide the deceased with a social presence amongst the living (Hallam 2001) and become a bastion against forgetfulness. These keepsakes - worn garments, mundane objects, letters, photographs - reveal that the processes related to remembering may be even more than the dead and became pretexts to highlight states of physicality associated with significant, lasting events in my life. My intent through it all was to recreate sculptural immanence, indwelling for the mind anchored in physicality and matter.

 

Generated by contemporary considerations of the human body and its relationship to the natural/material world, I attempted to steer clear of considerations foreseeing the body as a mere product of cultural factors and claimed their affiliation to an earthy embodiment. By recounting bodily experiences and phenomenological impressions of significant objects, I aimed at redefining my knowledge of fleshy bodies, transgressing amid known boundaries of representation, and suggesting a more encompassing view of the corporeal.

 

The challenge was to create metaphysical instances that would be ultimately visited by consciousness. These material vessels serve as bearers of memories and experiences. Negative spaces were invested, making them potential receptacles of physical presence, meaningful voids awaiting interpretation. I explored geometrical forms (shapes echoing motifs observed in nature) to nest the imprints and infer internal, pre-cognitive, and ontological logic to the process. 

 

Likewise, by experimenting with creative writing, I linked the sculptural to unfathomable emotional states. The departed slowly manifested themselves through my body’s memory, unexpectedly and forcibly. I felt on the verge of forsaking imaginary constructions as I got in touch with palpable, embodied presences I have been carrying (and negating) on my own skin. Centering my practice around my body’s own ability to feel and experience sensually connected me to my own surroundings, but also to others, more efficiently and facilitated connecting to memory of those long passed.