“…cultural experience is located […] in the potential space between the individual and the environment.”
D.W. Winnicot. Playing and Reality, 1971.
My responses are usually inflected through a sense of the contextual and the surety that there is something missing and something more to know. Listening out for unspoken and untold stories, observing subtlety in material things, in their proximities and interrelationships. Effectively turning over every stone to look for detail, to build upon and embellish meaning through multiplicity and complexity.
Two recent projects illustrate such in-depth, archive-based research explorations. The first began as an exploration of the life and work of artist James Wilkins, who in the late 1840s created a scroll-panorama titled The Immense Moving Mirror of the Land Route To California. The second was an extended exploration of the archive of the Chicago-based performance company Goat Island (1986–2009). Both projects grew from extant archival evidence, the residues of creative activity. In both situations, however, the work itself—the performances and the processes that produced them—are missing. Like lived experiences of all kinds, the work is ephemeral and has ceased to exist beyond the event. And any chance of an easy historiography is paradoxically confounded by the absence of an artifact.
Working through photography, video, performance, and installation, as a teacher, writer, and curator, I have taken up the enigmatic qualities of material evidence many times. The aim of my research and material studio work is to foster issue-based and community connected approaches—to facilitate points of cultural connection where personal and social experiences intersect with and inform content and meaning.