Monday, March 29, 2010 - 6:00am - 7:00am
Recita Hall March 29, 2010
As an undergraduate student studying craft and studio art, I developed a passion for textiles, which was so strong that the recollection of it still makes me ache. My experience of material was sensual. I believed in making, and my regard for the everyday was something close to sacred. After graduating, in an attempt to insert my textile practice into my lived experience I opened a production studio. I wanted to produce meaningful textiles that anyone could afford. In the end, I created a sweatshop. Demoralized, I turned towards art as a place where one could, at least momentarily, and sustain a distance between making and the spectacle of consumption.
Since that time, my work has developed in two main directions, both of which function by re-enacting labour (as commemorative and generative), and deconstructing capitalism (utopian movements and excess). The first trajectory derived primarily from working with masses of potent materials that were laden with memory. These installations, constructed with used clothing and human hair required teams to construct them and existed only for the duration of the show. Both monumental and ephemeral, the installations evoked absence and loss and tended to be read through the filter of my Jewish identity. The physical and emotional demands of this work were almost overwhelming, and I developed another method of working as a counterpoint. This work was more cool and distanced, and was generally produced from stock materials, out of house. It came out of a need for hope, even failed hope, and utilized art historical references such as Constructivism and ready-mades from popular culture: most significantly Coke cans. Using Coke cans was dangerous in that people wanted me to take a strong position for or against the Coca-Cola Corporation. Yet I was working towards developing a way of thinking that stepped outside of such dualities. The challenge for me is to tease apart the ideology that coke espouses in its advertisements from the capitalistic system that produces it and link it to more primordial forms of exchange. This enables me to revitalize the excesses of capitalism rather than lamenting the mode of production.
Attached image: “Candy Mountain”, Coke cans, cellophane tape, Coke residue from “Coke Dump” demonstration, 2007, Latitude 53, Edmonton. Photo Credit: Jessica Tse