I’m working with Valerie Jolly on two collaborative projects that will surface around October. We’re in different countries for a few weeks so we’ve been sending emails back and forth with our ideas. Both projects relate – and the relationship between them needs more thought to get it out – but for now I want to write about just one of them, which is the intervention into a domestic home we’ve been speaking about.

Valerie casts objects in sticky wet tissue paper and when the paper dries, what she peels off carries the form and marks of the original, only they’re colourless and weightless. Above is her 2008 piece The Unbearable Lightness of Being which she showed at Drawing Affinities with me in May.

On the phone this evening an aspect of the relationship between our two practices came out very clearly. We locate the objects we make very differently in the rooms we put them in: Valerie’s objects, I think, are consciously, definitely constructed and depart from their original real-world molds, while mine persistently acknowledge that they’re real objects borrowed from everyday life.

As I wrote the other day I plan to integrate objects into the rooms of this house, leaving the furniture in place but adding small interventions that you may or may not identify as works in the exhibition. I’d like to leave the work as unlabeled as is practical, and leave the distinction between art-things and room-things open.

A possible device I hit upon to introduce and account for the different stance of our two practices is to bisect the room horizontally, so I take the bottom half – the half with the stuff, the furniture, the rugs, the people – and she takes the top half, with the air, the space, the ceiling and the lights. And if this is the case, we discussed the possibility of her casting the very objects I place about the space, and floating hers above mine.

Usually once she’s cast an objects she has to carefully take it apart from around the original object and painstakingly piece the paper form back together at its join. We talked about the possibility of her casting only one half of each object, and leaving them all open, with unfinished edges, unapologetically asserting the provisionality or brevity of their encounter with my things.

It returns me to this phrase of mine that I come back to again and again – “like a citation lifted loose of the ground around it”, originally written in the context of distance and foreignness and non-fluent interpretation both in language and physical experience:

Our affliction is to watch the strangeness of the muted world from above, like a citation lifted loose of the ground around it. To ease the edges of things beyond their natural forms in an effort to understand the sense of them, stretching a single mark beyond its bounds into broad, drifting shadows, obtuse and inarticulate.

I imagine my objects as citations, and the ground around my citations as the room itself, with its furniture still in place: the raw material backdrop of the world. And then looming above them, pale and incomplete and opened up, are silent indication marks which reiterate the objects below, and it’s the fact of reiteration that is their voice. They become the inverted commas that watch the strangeness of the world from above: they are the things that lift our citations loose.

Below is another image of Valerie’s, which is her 2006 Inside-Out (Spotlight).

A citation fallen through.

2006 (tissue paper, PVA, water)

We’re also thinking about Valerie leaving some of the casts in place, still covering some of my objects. This would be a separate gesture, and we could include one or two objects like this to articulate some sort of semicolon in the thesis we’re laying out around the room. It needs more thought. We have to be careful with what we include and where we draw lines. And as the concern of this exhibition is becoming so intricately that of representation, citation and situation, I think including photographs, drawings, and any other documents describing objects, would be difficult territory and perhaps out of place altogether.

So. Still to think about are the role an object still covered in its cast; the relationship between the two exhibitions of which this is just one; and then the big tangled one: which objects am I to use and make, and could we also integrate existing work by either of us or should it all be site-specific? I tend towards making everything new for the space, but time is against us.

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