I’ve been collecting these…Things, as they’re delivered to my home. They appear on the backs of advertising circulars, below coupons for discount pizza, power tools, hearing aids. Over the course of a year, dozens. I’ve polled my neighbors, who say that these advertising papers go immediately into the trash (“sorry, no, the recycling!”) without a second glance.
What am I doing with these Things? Building an archive, sorting for pattern. Staring at them, quite a bit. I’m interested in the way the images have gotten smaller over the past few weeks, taking up even less space near the address line, leaving more unoccupied white space on the page. The way that some images, some people, repeat. Their power to unsettle, when you really think about them- that these are images of real people, who no longer occupy their homes spaces, their accustomed contexts. The primacy of sight in the question: Have you seen me?
There are clear patterns, too, in whose images are repeated, whose images are smaller than others, which subjects are afforded age-progression sketches. These signal that some missing bodies, some missing persons, are more important, more valuable- more missing. More missed.
I tend to work in series, in multiples. As with the ongoing Dante Project, I also work with developing processes, producing both art and a record or archive of a developing skill. Language, visual language. Motion. The work in drawing and in audio exists in liminal spaces, in the thin boundaries between drawing and investigation, the thin boundaries between language systems.
The fingerprint images function both as traditional drawings, and as markers of motion; fingerprints stand in for individuality, for identity. The idea that only one person could have made these prints is both useful and reductive. It’s also false. Fingerprints must be interpreted into meaning, and are assigned identity based on what are called points of comparison. These points of comparison are subjective, debatable, and always moving.
So too, these images. I think they work best when they suggest motion, something that has already happened but is still happening. When they suggest, rather than describe. To apprehend a subject is to catch a person, to stop that person from performing an action by taking them into your custody. To apprehend an idea or an image is to understand it, to stop it from shifting in your perception, to catch it through naming and describing, by constructing a narrative. Yes, this. And then this. And then this.
I’ll be at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) as part of a discussion on Art: The Language of Healing on Wednesday, April 19.
Montgomery Ward Gallery, Student Center East, 750 S Halsted Street
Creativity and art have long served as a place of refuge, a therapeutic tool, and a potent vehicle of expressive communication and healing. Please join us for a conversation with a panel of artists, art educators and art therapists who will discuss the ways in which they use art to respond to trauma and pave a path towards healing for ourselves and others. Some of the themes to be explored: relationship between art, trauma, and healing; art as a tool for advocacy and awareness; art as a safe space for expression.
Refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.
Artists Against Hate, at Uptown Underground in Chicago, kicks off on Inauguration Night (1.20.17). There will be fire spinning, belly dancing, music, magic, and art. The event is 21+. All proceeds will be donated to the ACLU.
You can buy tickets here.
Artistic License, at Studio 659, opens on 1.22.17.