Nothing Comes From Nothing

Carl Jung said, is the most important question we can ask ourselves: “What is the myth that we are living?” The work in ‘Absence’ look at myth and the absence of myth. The truth of myth has no origin in logic, and cannot exist apart from the narratives that locate it and give it meaning. The world is nothing but your perception of it and there is nothing that isn’t true if you believe it; and nothing is true, believe it or not.

Nothing Comes From Nothing is composed of ephemeral wax vessels emblematic of personal myths. Humans are storytellers and love to create fantasies for ourselves; we are the believers of our myriad of stories and we cling to them like they are our identities.

Mystic Hymn originates from an ancient Bengali folklore. The original story, an ancient myth, represents ‘the woman’ in two modes; Immoral (evil), is seen as a sultry, bosomy alluring witch; and, Moral (good), is shown through a virtuous, godly and obedient princess – a lesson in there, no doubt, for young girls. The original text has been written backwards, then traced and cut out to create a new graphic. By obscuring the original text, I lose all meaning and sense of the original story. It takes a myth to bury a myth, but this is all still part of the myth.

Nothing Comes From Nothing

Nothing Comes From Nothing is an interactive installation work composed of small vessels. The vessels are empty. They are made from a blend of waxes. It is not intended they last, although they may if that’s what you intend. They are in the form of a vessel taken from a moment in my life, replicated to represent the idea of ‘personal myths’. I have invited you to take one and to leave something in return. I observed that some people struggled with this. What to leave? What did I mean? Whereas others came prepared and wanted to share their item’s story, their story, with me. People left items belonging to their deceased parents, a strand of hair, a date written on paper, a drawing on the display table, a ring that they had made, a transport ticket, iou’s … Honestly, I’m not sure what to do next, now that you have left these. I work organically and I was interested in seeing the process and outcomes. I had no expectations when I presented this work, nor preconceptions about what responses would follow. Respectfully, I will treat the items that were left as specimens to begin with, I will document and consider what to do next. The pencil outlines, the traces left behind of your vessels that that no longer remain on the table, are also important to me.

For me, there is no material or emotional value in the work you are taking or the items that you leave. This is my deliberate choice and this is part of what I invite you to think about. How much will you invest in the things that you tell yourself? Remember, these wax vessels are emblematic of your personal myth (this could be anything – what do you tell yourself?). Who would you be if you changed the story that you tell yourself? Who would you be without your story? What if your story didn’t exist?

It seems this last paragraph is challenging to some. As I have said, I presented this work without expectation and I chose not to leave instructions or directives in how to read or interpret the work. If you have placed a value in the vessel that you have taken, and what you have left, that was your choice. I stand impartial; my only plan was for my position as artist to step aside and to be inert so that you could consider the notions (which are essentially very simplistic). But this did not happen. I was pulled in to the work too, by you; but I chose to let that happen.

I wanted the viewer, the participant, you, to think about what I was suggesting – the idea that we tell ourselves certain stories, sometimes repeatedly, and therefore convince ourselves of a thing. ‘I was hurt…’, ‘I am in love…’, ‘I am something…’, ‘You made me feel something…’ And you then believe these thoughts. You essentially construct a version of yourself that can just as easily be changed according to what you tell yourself, what you choose to think. Whence, the wax vessels are ephemeral and were not made to last – however, if you tell yourself they are something of importance, that I as an artist am important, or what I have made is important, then perhaps you’ll have them for life. But, you don’t have to and that is my point. Everyone can question their thoughts, your experience of a situation does not make the situation true.

You did not have to leave behind something of physical, material or emotional value in exchange for a vessel – you could have just taken a vessel and left nothing. I only encouraged you to think – you chose how to think about it.

Perhaps my inability to articulate clearly plays a part in people’s misunderstanding of the installation. But, I also don’t want to instruct what people should think or feel, I have just laid the pebbles for you to upturn and see what is beneath…

to be continued…

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absence at Studio 20/17