Work > 2014/2015: Shadow Things

Mausoleum (Installation shot)
Mausoleum (Installation shot)
2015

These first images are from my recent exhibition "Shadow Things" at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.

The title of this exhibition is taken directly from a passage in “The Invention of Solitude”, by Paul Auster. Auster writes:

“And he wondered at this trick his mind continued to play on him, this constant turning of one thing into another thing, as if behind each real thing there were a shadow thing, as alive in his mind as the thing before his eyes, and in the end he was at a loss to say which of these things he was actually seeing. And therefore it happened, often it happened, that his life no longer seemed to dwell in the present.”

That vision is not solid, that we cannot trust the present moment as fact, and that the past is an ever present spectre are ideas that loom large in this body of work. Auster’s words were already alive in my mind before I travelled to Berlin this past summer. Two pivotal transitions occurred during this time. One was the realization that the situation (position with respect to conditions and circumstances) in which things exist forms the whole of perception; it became important to think of the work as situational rather than removed, individual objects. The second transition occurred upon my visit to Weissensee Cemetery, the largest existing Jewish cemetery in Europe. This cemetery not only made the compression of time feel tangible, but also was filled with physical “situations” that created a sense of unity within the space. The immense graveyard become not about a specific person but about the collective group, and the total environment created by each individual unit.

I had already been referencing urns in my work, as an object that signifies both death and ornament (one sees the urn sculpture in cemeteries and palace gardens). The urn emerged as more significant, obvious motif in the pieces that were created when I returned to Charleston in August. In creating “Shadow Things”, the connection to a Jewish cemetery, and therefore my own history, became palpable. “Mausoleum” was the central sculpture - I knew that I would need to create some of the work inside the gallery as a response to the presence of this piece. The space is about the situation, the marriage of past and present, the passage of time, the strangeness of perception, the pathos of life: Shadow Things.