Passing Through

I am predisposed to holding onto things.
I make objects that take time to create. I like objects that show their age.
I like to own things, keep things, treasure things.
I think this might have become a problem for my work.

Yesterday I spent an hour in conversation with artist Doug Jarvis. We were discussing a future project but also the recent residency I attended. He asked what seems like a simple question.
Did any changes come about from the time there?
I have been so consumed by what to do next, I had barely considered what I have just been through and what it might have changed.

Many of the workshops I gave during the residency were not of the “How To” nature. I ran several workshops that were concerned with the temporary. Using found materials, collage that is not stuck down, drawings that can be erased and documenting temporary interventions in the space. Yet, my own work is often labour intensive and precious. I think the idea part of my brain and the making part are at war.

The final piece that I did was an impromptu wall collage, tacked up with pins and tape. It was a different process for me and at first was just for fun but it developed into something from the pieces of what had come before. The piece can never be permanent but it can be recorded, documented and recreated. I think that this is perhaps more interesting to me than the previous pieces. It is an act of letting go and trusting that the work will continue through other forms, such as this blog.

This process of letting go could be seen as a reaction to the constraints of a residency. There is only so much time to make, no collection of materials to fall back on and a limited amount that can be returned home without considerable expense. The opportunity to be just passing through a place allows for a more fluid way of working and alleviates some of the pressures to make work that fits into a predetermined methodology.

But I think this shift may have been coming anyway. My work with string figures, that I have had on a back burner for a while, is all about making and letting go, releasing a form after it has taken shape. It resembles an utterance more than a written text and since my proposal for working with these forms involves their relationship to the document, I think some connections are starting to take form. In October/November of this year I will be working with Open Space on a string figure artist book project. I wonder whether I would have made progress with the project if it hadn’t been for the residency experience that I just completed.

The moral of this story is that I need to allow myself to reflect and to embrace the moments of just passing through. Too many years in education has left me anxious to always be on a tight schedule of assignments but I am not there anymore and must get used to finding my own pace. More walks and more talks may be the cure.

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