You May Rest Here - a simple phrase that takes on more significance in our current climate. In the past two years, through multiple lockdowns and an ongoing global pandemic, many of us have been forced to come to terms with the spaces we inhabit and the objects we share them with. In this exhibition, all three assemblage artists make use of their surroundings and findings to form bodies of work through their different experiences in the places they live. Although each practice explores different themes, the ways in which materials and objects are treated and transformed develops a common thread.
These found objects are freed from their original settings and placed in an art context. There is a level of self-awareness, humour and a play on the exhibition’s title itself. A strong reflection of current times, a yearning sense of escapism and the seemingly inability to rest. From travelling to space via defunct programmes, to non-functional chairs, watchful headless ‘owl’ ducks, and janky ‘calming’ water features.
By seeing the potential in once discarded things, there is a sense of salvation created for these once purpose-built objects.These seemingly utilitarian things are described well in Jean Baudrillard’s System of Objects, in which he states. “Objects, on which domesticity once depended as a means of escape from the pressures of society, now on the contrary serve to shackle the domestic universe.” The domestic shackle that Baudrillard mentions is often what we attribute to an object’s function, form and ultimately why they exist. Baudrillard expands upon this idea, stating. “The entire system is founded on the concept of functionality. Colours, forms, materials, design and space - all are functional. Every object claims to be functional... With its reference to ‘function’ it suggests that the object fulfils itself in the precision of its relationship to the real world and to human needs.” It is easy to see that many of the objects that we fill our lives with are built predominantly on a means to serve us. Consequently, we subconsciously confine the object’s meaning to that one purpose, that singular function it was made to perform, and it is in turn bound to this label.
We perceive objects both consciously and subconsciously for their purpose or function thanks to our hyper-commercialised, consumer based society. In turn, when we can’t place an object’s function it loses its sense of belonging - we can’t place it therefore it’s ‘useless.’ Many will start to either disregard it, or create theatrical ‘scenarios’ to give the object a reason to exist. These scenarios are ultimately stories, which we create on a semi-subconscious level to make sense of what we can’t define. Through a diverse range of everyday discarded objects, these works question the wider social implications of the things we fill our lives with, and the reasons we perceive them in such linear ways.
By Nicholas Males