I used to find dead insects in your pockets
I used to find dead insects in your pockets functions as an archive in flux, by attempting to make the absent visible or the lost tangible. Sue Breakell describes the fluid nature of working with an archive as having no “fixed meaning … we may know the action that created the trace, but its present and future meanings can never be fixed.”1. By choosing what to emphasise and what remains concealed, I seek to add further layers of meaning by re-contextualising these objects. I may manipulate them and so disrupt familiar associations, alternatively I may reproduce and repeat, the object then becomes the formal representation of a relationship; a social object.
These social objects allow me to figure out my relationships; I find ceramic fragments and mangrove seeds in the bottom of the washing machine when removing a load of my children’s clothes. Objects discovered and kept carefully in pockets, collected, valued and also forgotten. Relationships, traces of care and attention are entangled and mirrored in objects. Shells collected with Nana, or was it my friend or with my daughter? The objects resist conventional classification or containment. The process of working with these objects maybe what re-establishes intimacy and connection, as distances are crossed, memories slip in time and place. New modes of connection are added to the old and bonds are strengthened or left to slip away. It is the traces of ‘this life together’ which remain in the objects I have installed.
Fetish-like, these objects potentially offer up the spirit or trace of a relationship (debris) from a moment or place. Performing as prompts for memories, Marie Shannon notes that “ordinary objects can be very powerful”2 The everyday object is embedded in daily life, the small rituals we participate in most often. Stories are told and retold about the shells, the hair, skinks, seeds, et cetera. The blanket, folded and unfolded appears to be at rest, leaving traces of careful hands folding neatly and putting to one side. Storing the objects and living plants in jars evokes intentions of care, collection, and preservation. Living ferns and empty shells share space, resisting formal containment and classification.
Physicist David Bohm believed that shared meaning created through dialogue exchanged is the ‘glue’ that holds us all (people and society) together, allowing bonds to form over time.3 Working with my extended community so as to create an archive of objects becomes a kind of social practice and a way to work out and understand relationships, ‘meaning making’ and ‘sharing meaning’ in the form of a dialogical exchange that Bohm describes.4 This time the exchange and sharing happens between object and person, then person and person, and again between person and object. It is this kind of connection and exchange that has informed my practice, permitting many different forms across time and place, as seen when sewing Nana’s net curtains. It may result in many traces in the form of objects, as objects can hold meaning and significance across generation and place. In particular, I am working with my Nana, my children and my intimate circle of friends, as we exchange a type of care dialogue.
Please use the jug to water the ferns, if they are looking dry.
1 Breakell, Perspectives.
2 Monsalve, The Art of Domestic Life
3 Bohm, On Dialogue.
I used to find dead insects in your pockets
List of works:
Golden Oyster, not a true oyster, golden oyster shells, brachiopods, cats eye shells, cockle shells, unidentified seeds, feathers, cicada skins, green jewel beetle, dragonfly, white cabbage butterfly, cicada, moth, monarch butterfly, kauri gum, kauri cones, bird bones, pink clay pebbles, Ron’s hair, Angela’s hair, fishing nylon, oil paints, ceramic fragments, unidentified rocks and fragments, wishes, sea urchins, sea stars, kina, coral, aquarium pebbles, marbles, glass fragments, dust, sea weed, sea sponges, preserved algae, skinks, salt crystals, fossil trilobites, clover buds, kauri snail shell, paper wasp nests, matchbox truck wheels, mermaids purses, paua shells, limpet shells, empty birds eggs, sea dollars, plastic ballerina, wentletrap shell, kelp holdfast, fan shells, sand, purple sunset shells, dried leaves, silver dollar seeds, crab back, cocktail umbrella, sea glass and box of rocks and wooden print blocks.
On the smallness of things, Angela’s maidenhair fern, Fränzi’s maidenhair fern, Jeremy’s maidenhair fern, Jodie’s maidenhair fern, Mum’s maidenhair fern, Luna’s maidenhair fern, Ron’s maidenhair fern, begonia, asparagus fern, monstera, and water weeds from Whau Valley Dam.
Keep care, nylon net curtains, dyed with avocado pits and skins, taffeta curtains.
Time on her hands, orange curtain off-cuts, embroidery thread.
Catch stitch, Nana Joy’s blanket, Angela’s blanket.