Casual Room With A Microwave was an installation you made in December last year. Since lockdown this installation has come to my mind as if it is still there, it's almost emblematic of the closed building and all of the abandoned artwork in it. Looking back at it now it feels almost prophetic. But even aside from the current situation this work seemed to evoke a sense of abandonment, of ruin but also a sense of anxious anticipation. Was this something you were conscious of when you're making the work?
Yeah, definitely. Making that piece became an exercise of trying to escape dread. But if you're actively trying to escape it and paranoid about it you become consumed by it. My work is very personal and I was making it in this very public space. Reflecting on it now from a distance it does feel like an odd premonition.
The space it occupied is in the foyer of the Fine Art building so it's the first thing you would see when you come into the building and it's the last thing you see when you leave. So you end up having two different experiences of the piece, one as an entrance, an approach and one as an exit, a departure ... of course the work remains the same but our experience of it changes. This doubling is echoed in the red window that covers and frames the window of the building behind.
Yes. Originally, I was focused on the window as a motif. The space for such a small room as several different windows and many doors in it. I created another wall with another window which is supposed to be purposefully redundant and illogical. This idea of travelling through and past the work inside and because of the central location of the outside window you could also see the red window in the installation from the street. You notice it from outside but once inside you have to acknowledge it. It’s very still but large and foreboding so it becomes confrontational.
Three elements of the work, the tree, the window and the shoe or I should say ‘sneaker’, reappear in other works and begin to appear like cinematic objects, or even protagonists. I used the Americanism ‘sneaker’ as you seem concerned specifically with Americana and cinema more generally.
I’m actively making decisions to incorporate different elements of Americana into my work with architectural features like the timber cladding, the pine tree, and then the sneaker. This personally has to do with my physical distance from the US. I have become so disenchanted with America but recognising the immense influence that specific cultural elements have from a distance has been a very strange experience. With the sneaker for example it becomes a signifier for American adolescence, of buying into a highly materialistic social system.
So there's something about a kind of attachment to, what's the word I'm looking for… aspiration?
Yeah, absolutely, and inclusion. Unfortunately, so much of the high school experience revolves around things like what sneakers you wear. These possessions enter you into a very specific class system, what brand, their legitimacy. So much of this is projections of different desires and then the object becomes extremely divisive. I used the sneaker in Casual Room With A Microwave as a signifier to perpetuate this feeling of adolescent dread for such a prized possession to be discarded in this scene it’s a presentation of abandonment. I made the sneaker in such a painstaking way, carved wood, there's this uncanny relationship between honouring this object of desire and then its disposal. I’ve also used a branded shoe in Men’s Size 10 (Used), a different style of shoe marketed for an older consumer, but a very similar concept with the shoe being a signifier for the owner’s desires, their socioeconomic status, and that the shoe embodies these projections.