In 2019 I tried to deal with a long held fascination with metaphysics, with a focus on memory and the spiritual realm. I employed objects not just as symbols but honoured their psychic energy. In particular my work emphasized existing outside or between places, what I call the "threshold".
When something exists in a neither region, such as behind fabric while also being seen on the front of it (like a ghost coming through a wall), you experience its eternal presence. I want the familiarity of 'something' in my work to mirror a personal divinity to the viewer.
I’ve always been a bit seduced by the idea of amnesia - I think of it almost like a rebirth, with some mystery behind it. Not dissimilar to your first birth, just that you know for certain there was another life before the one you’re experiencing now.
I believe the telephone is a form of telepathy. Someone told me a while ago that tele means “from far away”.
I like how the cord connecting the receiver and the body of the phone ended up looking like an umbilical cord once I covered it in cotton batten.
The arguments people have about arguments are the best. I love it when one person says “See! You’re doing it right now!” and the other person is like “What? Doing what!” right as they are pulling their favourite trick.
Perhaps you’re having a little fight with me now. You’re looking at the hands and thinking, “You’re a fraud, those aren’t your hands. They’re concrete poured into dish gloves”. Well, what if I told you I once poured myself into the same dish gloves. Why can’t I exhume the skin of a memory and fill it with something concrete, to reveal a form the truth once took?
We think of being young as tender, but my heart never used to feel anything for jazz.
Now I’ll listen to it and cry.
I don't know how to read music, but I think this is what it would look like if I was trying to explain the sound of myself.
While Nabokov wrote Lolita he toured the countryside with his wife, capturing butterflies. Most people think of butterflies representing femininity, but mythological apotheosis says that great men became eagles or gryphons when they died, and lesser men became butterflies.
Nabokov responded to critics of Lolita, saying "... in pornographic novels action has to be limited to the copulation of cliches... It is the banal attention to convention that needs to be censored ... These are the nerves of the novel. These are the secret points, the subliminal coordinates by means of which the book is plotted."
I've had my own experiences with Hollywood, well Hollywood-north types of people. So this is a sort of response to that.
Film (great film) plays an essential part of my life. But actors are an odd breed. For one, my experience with them has proven that by and large they are not to be trusted - they are two, three, or even five faced, especially the ones who are very commercial. They'll do anything for a buck or just for a little praise/attention.
This piece in particular references Polanski's film "Knife in the Water", as in itself it portrayed the woman as a powerful and complex character, yet in real life as Polanski was making this film, he was raping young girls. Many of the #metooers spoke out about Weinstein when it became a trendy/lucrative thing to do (not that I believe they should have remained silent, but I question their motives and integrity) - those same people also knew about Polanski (who actually did much worse than Weinstein) and gave him standing ovations at the time.
The question of the location of the seat of the soul has always been there for me. So I wanted to create a piece that has a frame, skin, a heart with a heart string, and see if it had a soul. And I think it does, I think you can see my soul in it.
I was also thinking of W.B. Yeats'
"Sailing to Byzantium" -
'Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.'
Swedish modernist painter Sigrid Hjertén died following a lobotomy in 1948. They tried to cure the schizophrenia they had diagnosed her with.
Here, the real canvas or skin, has been replaced with that latex clinical authority. Everything the skin wore (the memories) have been wiped away. With only some remnant of that washing.
I like how a security cage for protecting surveillance equipment has become a sort of contemporary cultural artifact. When placed over a canvas it elicits commentary which coheres the objects into a unity, while struggling to separate them for interrogation. The antithetical thrust of them co-creates a satire inspired by a world they both echo and refuse. A part of their satire being that the art, as it is represented by the canvas, seems to be surveilling the viewer.
I have a reoccurring dream of moving from my old home to a new one. I can only bring what I can carry. I pick up an object and it transforms from one thing to another in my hands, as I examine it for importance and meaning.
The memories that painted this teapot have been questioned into unreality and it becomes transparent, but also reflective. It is lovely like this and I want it for my new home, so I take the black ribbon from my hair and string it through the spout so that I can free my hands and carry the teapot over my shoulder. As I’m about to sling it over my shoulder, I pause for a moment and see the vessel suspended between heaven and earth, and I think of how an airline is referred to as a “she”.
I bought this spine off the internet. The night before I had a dream that a highland cow calf baptized my face with huge licks across it.
The internet isn't a dream and it isn't reality. It is both alive and not alive. Time will make it susceptible to mythological relegation. This makes it god-like to me.
We go to our alter; to our keyboard, to do what? Hope to get an answer. Pray for something to happen.
I think of tortoise origins mythology. How a tortoise shell design can be recreated with a sine wave.
The conch shell is believed to emit a spritualised sound, heard in higher realms. I think about the fabric of time and how frequency, or sound, is also a fabric. The conch stretches this fabric.
The design of a human ear isn't dissimilar to a conch.
Maybe we are echoes of ourselves, suspended in this world we can remember nothing of before and know nothing of after, by a thread, which is both incredibly durable and vulnerable to a simple snip.
I often start out like a musician, with a melody before lyrics; an image before words.
I came across these deer bones and I thought of a deer running through a forest and Philip Larkin's, Poem XXVI from The North Ship
“This is the first thing
I have understood:
Time is the echo of an axe
Within a wood.”
I had an idea of what it would look like, but it came out differently. I did what I thought needed to be done and then I stood back and looked at it.
I thought of how I sat alone with it and worked my way around it. I told myself not to put it in the closet, so I could approach it objectively later on. That would've been the easy way out. I forced myself to contend with it constantly, with how I had wanted it to be golden lichen being washed from the megalith. And how it was more powerful than me for refusing to do so. At that point, it became fine that it was a wedding menu. Some kind of giant elaborate stationary greeting you at the entrance.
In any event, a wedding menu and a megalith both mark the calendar.
I like how delicate water particles have power to diffuse the sun; How those same particles are influenced by the temperature of a body of water beneath them; And how you can float between both.
The atemporality of an overcast day makes me feel sort of immortal. I think of Shakespeare’s “mortal coil” as I listen to the echo of the ocean inside a seashell, and I think I may be an echo of myself.
Copyright © 2019 JENNY SMITH - All Rights Reserved.