there, there: an installation (part 1)

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.

 

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