Stepping back to go forward.
The plan was to spend an afternoon dusting off some recently unearthed early work to do some quick documentation. Once I fell through the floorboards of barn attic where I store most of my crated older work, I realized that I had to spend a little more time catching up.
20 odd years of wind and weather had coated everything with a deep layer of dust and assorted creatures had compromised the soundness, never mind safety of the space. So everything had to be swept off, vacuumed, moved twice and then moved again. Ripping out rat nests and rotten boards, sawing fresh lumber, patching holes, swabbing the decks with a borax solution to kill bugs and preserve wood and all the while, stumbling across old objects and concepts.
Making art can be exhilarating but also exhausting and there’s been more than one time when I’ve felt like giving up. Age and a torn rotator cuff make it a lot harder to haul around the overbuilt, scrap lumber crates and shift the stacks of plywood and 4×8 foot wooden frames that once made up a 750 square foot installation. I remember being much younger and tougher when everything was first carried up the stairs. Now it all feels so heavy and and I’m reluctant to undo what was bundled up years ago, even if it makes sense to amalgamate it in a new way…
But I persevere and after a week the floor gets mended, the roof patched and at last I get a chance to crack open a few crates and spend a little time falling in love again with old ideas. Some pieces I can’t believe I built, some seem as fresh and fragile as new work, others are embarrassingly awkward and there’s some that I want to re-do, but I know that I never will. I realize how those same threads I once braided so carefully together have split and frayed into the loose ends I still wrestle with today.
The successes, the setbacks the idealized and not quite realized; some fond memories and a few failed attempts. Years and strategies; crated, condensed, broken down and stacked up. Project piled on top of project. The symbols, the meanings, the raw materials, the selves I used to be, all somehow connected and crammed together under a leaky corrugated tin roof.
Seeing the patterns, remembering the situations, exhibitions and especially, the people – friends, colleagues, and family, who have supported and inspired me. It seems like the only way to honour the past, and the person I was, is to keep moving forward. So I tear everything apart, sift through stacks of hoarded materials, find new ways to consolidate what feels important, and throw a bunch of stuff out. And I make just a little bit more room up there in the barn to work at chasing down the new ideas born out of the mess of all this accumulated time and space.