In January, I am working on a daily ritual project: FunADay, hosted by GRAFT Gallery in Albuquerque. 31 artists are producing a fresh piece of work each day, for 31 days, to be installed as part of an exhibition hosted at GRAFT in February.
Artists are tasked with setting up parameters and developing work based on a unique daily practice.
I am using my FunADay as a ritual investigation into new, developing body of work: Unraveling.
Size: grid of 5″ x 7″ pieces. Five columns wide, 7 rows tall (ish), with a very small space between images. A mix of horizontal and vertical.
Format: works on paper–experimental glitch photos, physically altered/damaged/destructed. They will stay contained in 5″ x 7″ shapes. Mounted on wall with tape or pins. Might include a video frame at the end of the month.
Concept: a daily investigation of the space of unraveling / falling apart. Images will move from togetherness to (self)destruction over the course of the month, with each individual image investigating either the space between catastrophes, or a magnified point of no return. It will follow a semi-narrative, start to finish.
Image degradation will suggest the quiet, complicated and dangerous process of falling apart, of losing yourself–that great catastrophe of moments.
The material I’m sampling is a pile of vintage publicity shots from the original Of Mice and Men (1939) film, the film itself, and the John Steinbeck novel; a grand narrative of unraveling. The old publicity stills are also falling apart, yellow, damaged. Losing vitality.
“The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry,
and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy.” –Robert Burns
The daily ritual: I will sample a different publicity still each morning as a kernel. Manipulate and mutate it at night. I am also watching 4 minutes of the film each night, for 31 days, sampling from that 4-minute window to fold into the publicity still. The image I make on each previous day will be added to the following day, so that every day contains a crossover; a conceptual and visual crossfade.
The ritual process will allow for no deviation (sample in the morning, manipulate at night, only four minutes of film, and so on).
More of the backstory:
Publicity shots fascinate me. They’re typically a simulation of implied scenes that aren’t even in the actual film. Instead the shots are a suggestion, a proscribed performance of the staged, the predicted, the laid out, so it’s like you have a memory of a movie-moment that didn’t even happen. Like dejavu (See “Dejavu and the End of History”). They are untrustworthy memories. A record of false memories, even.
The shots are like an uncanny stage arrangement of the already staged, not unlike our vernacular photographs; a social performance, a staging of self and other, of satisfying obligations, of performing happiness, of obliging ceremony, confirming our roles like actors.
They’re also like our narrative reconstruction of memories—except publicity stills are often pre-construction, taken before the film is even made (oooh, what a fun thing to dig into).
I will also go into deeper reasons behind why I chose Of Mice and Men (it ties into Channeling), but no need to do that here/now.
Also, here’s the project playlist (essentially pseudo-soundtrack for Of Mice and Men; the soundtrack of falling apart): https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/223gordp4up2qxbkiru2pfmfa/playlist/5CeCSlw2qfxEk6FTrmE0tY