I’m working on my There, there installation for Antfarm. It’ll be up for just the one evening (First Friday, March 5), which is both exciting in its ephemerality and a little sad for all the work that goes into it.
There, there started with an idea, well, really it was a feeling. The man who raised me like a dad (sans official title) died recently. His death (coupled with a recent viewing of Hiroshima Mon Amour) started me thinking about false memories and contrived nostalgia. I found myself wanting to describe him, to preserve him by writing down everything I could remember about him– his blue truck, the wart on his nose, his chipped front tooth, a particular velour shirt, his split thumbnail, and so on. (Note: this could seem like a list of negative associations, but that’s not the case. I think of us all as big pink blobs and the flaws are the things that make us neat.) We’d been estranged for a couple years (due to life paths, not animosity) and in my mourning I felt a need to catch every memory I had left.
So I started writing, but found myself getting tripped up by false and exaggerated memories. He became a little more loving than he actually was, a little more proud and supportive than he actually was. I kept on writing and he became extremely good at his profession (repairing tractors), extremely devoted to my family, beloved by the entire state of Maine, a decorated war hero, a man who sat in a particular chair while we kids gathered ’round just to gaze at him. Before too long I’d knitted myself a heavy warm afghan of nostalgic lies and I didn’t care. It was comforting.
This installation is a physical interpretation of that comforted (willingly deceived) mental state. At this point I have nearly assembled all the materials I’ll need. I’m finding textiles to be really important to this work, I think because of their connection to domestic life (and, as Carl pointed out, their comforting tactileness). I went shopping at the thrift store recently and found some treasures–including some tacky jewelry that’s inspiring me.