Saturday, June 20, 2009

Memento Vivere

This post features hand-made paper works I made when I was Artist-In-Residence at the UNSW Union from February to May 2002. My proposal was to make these paper works as well as giving a papermaking workshop during the residency. All the paper was made with hair in it. The main project, Memento Vivere (the opposite of memento mori - I may have coined this term myself... Also the name of the exhibition which ran from April 26 to May 3), had hair from one individual in each sheet. It is difficult to photograph as all the sheets are white or cream with bits of hair the only imagery. Each 16x16cm sheet is a portrait of the person who has donated that hair. The first two images are close-up shots of the installation, and the third is all 90 of the sheets in this installation (later in the year I exhibited it with 162? sheets). This was the first project where the emphasis was placed on the individuals who hair is displayed. Before this, the hair acted as a metaphor for groups of anonymous people (see these sculptures, for example), and would later become groups of joined individuals in my hair weavings (here, for example). The list of all the people who donated hair is in the catalogue at the end of this post. They number 109 in the catalogue, there are 110 bags of hair below, but only 90 sheets of paper. I assume this was a matter of timing - I didn't receive the hair donations in time to make paper for this show, but they were included in my Honours graduation show at the end of the year.

This was the hair I used to make the above series. I originally asked for passport-sized photographs as well as hair, but received so few that I didn't end up using them, except for the series with my own images below.

The following series, Rodney ├╝ber Alles, has only my hair in the sheets of paper, and with photobooth photos of me printed on them. At the opening, someone asked me if the people were all in the same family...

The following series is one that I've written about before but thought I'd revisit the whole series, given that I started all these projects at the same time. I realized that the image below was not from the MARS Gallery show as I wrote, but from the exhibition of new works that I made for my residency at the Union. The series is called Long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, knotted, polka-dotted, twisted, beaded, braided, powdered, flowered and confettied, bangled, tangled, spangled and spaghettied. It's a collection of hair-related texts and images, from science, fairy tales, religion, fashion, history, etc. Go to the link at the beginning of this paragraph to see details of individual works.

This series, Una Nox Dormienda, used left-over paper from the above 3 series. I buried sheets in the garden, so they're stained from soil. Rather unexpectedly - because I hadn't even thought about it - worms ate chunks from the paper which added to the appearance of age, and suggests the passage of time. I've added text from The Book of Revelations to add a religious dimension. The title comes from Catallus' "nox est perpetua una dormienda" (night stretches forth in one long sleep) - when we die we sleep, with no idea of an afterlife. I've compared this with the Christian idea of a life after death, but the state of the paper parallels what will really happen to us - eaten by worms, and decaying in the earth.

At the end of the residency was an exhibition of the work I had created during that time (plus an exhibition half way through the residency which featured earlier works - a mini-retrospective!). This was the invitation to the final show:

And this was the catalogue:

A COFA Art History and Theory student, Jennifer Hamilton, wrote a review of the exhibition for Artwrite, an online journal produced by COFA students. I can no longer find it online, but this is a copy of the printed article:

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