Dream baby (how long must I dream)
All I have to do is dream
Big as I can dream
When I stop dreaming
(All I can do is) Dream You
Afraid to Sleep
In the real world
I knew the Pantheon was the one place in Rome I needed to see, because of The Moon. A photograph which hung in the hallway of the family home throughout my childhood. For many years I had believed this photograph to be depicting the moon, and was very impressed at my father's ability to capture the moon up so close, a looming, perfect sphere suspended in the inky matte darkness.
I don't remember when I became aware that the photograph was not of the moon, but I had grown; grown tall enough to see the detail in the image: the visible rectangles of the coffered dome. Clearly this was no moon. How I managed to learn this was in fact a building, a large dome, and my moon was in fact a 9m diameter skylight, I don't recall.
My dad was in Italy in 1981 - he was in the crowd when the Pope was shot. In June, I went to the Pantheon to attempt to recreate his original image from memory. I had last seen the photo over a year ago, and had not studied it closely for more than five. I am not even certain I got the angle right.
Tourist boats on the Seine, scanned and distorted. Attempts to create a surrealistic sensation reminiscent of the boat trip in the 1971 psychedelic masterpiece that was 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'.
The poor quality of the images give the tourists trigger-happily photographing the banks of the river, cameras raised high, the impression of hands help up in terror or exhilaration. Rollercoaster of the Seine.
Described as following:
Working in a library, I am surrounded by shelves. Uniform, bland, easy to maneuver and reassemble. In that pale composite wood which feels like plastic (and probably is). Unmarkable, resilient against dust and made to withstand the daily grind of careless university students.
In the grand scheme of things, library shelves are nothing to write home about.
In libraries, shelves and collections are measure by metres.
"Well, the 300's are taking up 80 meters at present, but are growing rapidly," someone might say.
I have never actually bothered to find out if a standard library shelf is in fact, one metre long. The thought only struck me now, typing this, and I feel I am only one day away from a crucial discovery into the inner workings of the library world.
Shelves are like bridesmaids - there as a support, but not intended to distract from the object on display. I consider myself a sort of shelf personality: there to lend a helping hand, bolster my friends, a shoulder to lean on. I would love to be a bridesmaid one day.
As far as I know, there is no such furniture personality test.
More often than not these shelf supports - brackets, frames and what not - are nondescript or non-existant. Great effort is made to make shelves appear as self supporting as possible, stand-alone objects, as if a plank of wood suddenly emerged from a wall,or is sitting balanced there by sheer force of will.
"Look Mum! No hands!"
I have started building shelves as sculptural objects. Above are my first two efforts, utelizing discarded bookends sourced from the library. Objects not only functioning as weight-bearing horizontal surfaces adjacent to walls, but as explorations of differing ways by which to affix these boards to said walls. Supports supporting other supports - a network of brackets, braces, and wires tensing and compressing. Juxtaposing different materials, colours, forms in a balanced and harmonious manner.
A shelf should be just as pleasing to look at empty.
Charles Ninow from 'Dance Yourself Clean' at Ozlyn.
Last month my friend Charles had a show at a gallery in Auckland. He asked me to write a short piece to accompany the works. This is what I wrote.
- The library I work at in Sweden has a split personality. One half in Swedish, the other English. The signs, the books, the general information, the students: both in Swedish and in English. I spend a lot of my time translating text from English into Swedish, and vice versa. In high school I studied Japanese. But now whenever I try to think of words, phrases or sentences in that language it comes out as Swedish. I guess my head only has the capacity for two languages at one time.
- In the early twentieth century, Malmö – the Swedish city I live in – had a city registry for dogs. Every hound, pooch, mongrel and bitch was duly recorded and archived. I learnt this on a trip to Malmö’s city archive with the Interloans team of which I am affiliated with. Did this mean that in circa 1910 there were no stray dogs in Malmö??
- At the library, we are currently in the process of transitioning over to the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Previously, they used SAB (the Swedish Classification system) which ordered material into different fields using letters as Dewey does with numbers.Letters into Numbers. The transition is an ongoing project, and at present both systems rub shoulders with each other on the shelves which the collection of numbered books steadily increases, while the lettered collection slowly fades away. It seems strange to think about numbers replacing letters in a building housing the written word. I could say it’s the way of the future, but it’s been around since 1876.As a library assistant, one of my particular roles is to change books over from SAB to DDC. It is a mind-numbingly simple task: delete some letters, add some numbers. Suddenly a book is reclassified – if it could think it would most likely have an existential crisis.If they could invent a machine to do this task they would.
- Every dog owner was required to pay a ‘dog tax’ in order to keep the animal; hence the registry. The dog tax wasn’t much – perhaps a couple of öre. In fact, the monetary unit ‘öre’ is obsolete now, finally phased out a few years ago like the 5 cent coin. What was once the cost of registering your dog these days wouldn’t even get you a match stick (incidentally, a Swedish invention). The dogs were well documented – noted down were their respective breed, age, colouring and address, as well as the name of the owner and that of the dog. I would like to say that the dog registry was organized by the name of the dog, but on second thoughts, now I can’t be certain.
- The Swedes, being stereotypically a socially tolerant society, are not especially taken with the Dewey Decimal System. They believe it sexist, racist; too hierarchical. I would say they are probably right. Take for example, the 200’s:Religion.200 – Religion / 210 – Natural theology / 220 – Bible / 230 – Christian theology / 240 - Christian moral & devotional theology / 250 – Christian orders & local church / 260 – Christian social theology / 270 –Christian church history / 280 – Christian denominations & sects / 290 – Other & comparative religions.But I guess when your classification system is invented by a 25 year old white Christian male, what can one expect?
- Like baby names, ships names, and street names, dog names fall in and out of fashion. In Malmö at the beginning of the twentieth century, ‘Boy’ was THE NAME to call your dog. An exorbitant number of dogs were registered under the name Boy. Why was this? Boy is not a Swedish name. Heck, it’s not even a Swedish word. Were unsuspecting Swedes reading English literature and mistaking the generic phrases of ‘Good boy!’, ‘Who’s a good boy?’ as the poor mutt’s actual name? Or perhaps this was the Swedish dog equivalent of John Doe – a dog with no name. I image this heightened popularity in the name Boy would be particularly problematic when one needed to beckon their faithful companion.
THE LOVE I SAW IN YOU WAS JUST A MIRAGE installed at RM in Auckland as part of the group show CIRCUIT curated by my friend Anya Henis. Images via artsdiary.co.nz where one can also see the other pieces included in the show. Great to show some work in Auckland again. Really like the manner in which the work was hung.
Hand drawn woodgrain paper created to wrap christmas presents last year. I envisage them framed and hung, a little torn, creased, with traces of sellotape still attached. The traces of the objects they enclosed, personalised by the recipient, showing their efforts to preserve/destroy the paper.
Florence Wild, The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage (detail), 2011-2012, white embroidery thread on white shower curtain.
I made a large embroidery in white on white. It was installed in a rather dimly lit corridor with a very strong, very bright spotlight upon it, giving it a startling presence. However in turn it was, almost undocumentable.
I am working hard at procuring some images which adequately reflect the whiteness/shimmering/textural differences/handwork or at least where the entire image is visible. At the moment all that is captured is the surface area, some vague outlines, and blinding lights. Like a mirage on the horizon perhaps. Quite apt, that.
On looking through the accumulated snaps, a certain trend became rather apparent. And what was meant as documentation of two friends exploring three cities, ended up looking like Claire just followed me around in a rather stalkerish manner - a generous chunk of the images are of my back, or me in various stages or turning around. Perhaps there is now enough material for a 'Florence strides forth' tumblr or some such lunacy. But here let's keep things to only the choicest cuts.
My photos are due to be collected next week,and should hopefully even out the disproportionate number of Claire stalking Florence photos.
All photos by Claire Cooper.
PLACES: Drottningholm / Copenhagen / Drottningholm / Frederiksborg / Stockholm / Frederiksborg /
Untitled as yet, 2012, 500mm x 400mm, fishing line
An almost square of knitted fishing line. Strung up in front of my living room window. In it's simplified form, displayed in a way I had not intended it, it rather captivates me. The process of making the work sometimes challenges my original intentions.
Leonor Antunes at Marc Foxx via Contemporary Art Daily.
"assembled, moved, re-arranged and scrapped continuously"
(excerpt from press release:)
In this exhibition, Antunes considers Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi in “lina” 2012, a delicate brass and silver constructed curtain which is a reflection of the parquet floor design in the immanent modernist house she designed, known as the “Glass House” built Sao Paolo in 1951. Bo Bardiʼs influence can also be seen in the soft red leather floor work, “discrepancies with L.B.” which takes its form from the hard gridded window treatment of Bo Bardiʼs building “Sesc Pompeii”, also in Sao Paulo.
“lina” is installed upon “assembled, moved, re-arranged and scrapped continuously”, 2012, the exhibitionsʼ title and largest sculpture. The 9.5 x 9.5 foot walnut wooden pavilion is also the venue for “chão”, 2011, a 12 part hand- knotted and incrementally increasing, gridded series of delicate black nets. The canopy itself delineates the room, asserting an almost domestic feeling and providing an exhibited arrangement of grid upon grid within the show.
Hanging from the rafters and breaking her gridded constructions is the organic work “random intersections #7”, a sculpture made from handmade black leather straps, similar to horse bridals and referencing Carlo Mollinoʼs equestrian school in Turin “Società Ippica Torinese”, built in 1937 but destroyed in 1960. Antunes, like Mollino, has a great appreciation for the movement of material and this work brings her materiality back to a more corporeal connection.
The marriage of the fine black netting, the metallic glimmering curtain and the robust and darkly slick wooden structure upon which the works adorn, makes for an interesting and pleasing relationship. It reflects various thoughts I have myself had recently, revolving around an abandoned metal spring-bed base (which has since disappeared, and whose disappearance I may not fully get over for weeks or months) and a large pile of flaccid overstretched rubber bands.
I think it is only recently that tactility has taken on such importance in my work. The overwhelming feeling of wanting to touch something is luring me into the photographs of Antunes' work.
Knotting, linking, twisting; connecting ideas and materials is a common motif represented in my practice, building up textures and surfaces, images from small marks or gestures - stitches, knitting, creating patterns, repetition of shapes, reshaping the line - whether it is a length of embroidery thread or a pencil mark on paper.
(some notes from my journal)
"an interesting object (the bed base), black and silver and brown, stripped bare of any embellishments. skeletal. the bare bones. structural, architectural. the inner workings, masculine. Uncovered, exposed.
a single bed, only room for one.
standing upright, no room for anyone.
removed from it's original function/identity.
the coils and springs have a hypnotic quality, round & round.
rubber bands - the opposite of the coiled spring: soft, flaccid, stretchy.
mirroring the circular motif of the springs but out of shape, wobbly, chaotic, disorganised.
spring : springa sprang har sprungit (run, ran, have run)
spring is run in swedish.
a netting of rubber bands, covering the upright bed base. draped over the frame like a caress, an arm across the shoulders. a shroud/net encompassing it.
the bands are like thoughts, ideas, anxieties, unanswerable questions, dreams.
what fills the mind and what weighs one down.
tangled threads - made even worse with no beginning or end, circles connected to more circles, no straight lines here.
rubber bands with the ability to be stretched and reached through but can they ever be escaped from?"
just some thoughts to be thought about.
first item of business, sourcing another perfect spring single bed base, and ruing the missed opportunity of the one I thought was languishing casually waiting for me to get home from work to be rescued.
This is the first 'bindle' I have made, knitted with the finest fishing line I could find - perhaps it was too fine, I was forced to knit it using wooden kebab skewers instead of knitting needles. The line shimmers and flickers in the early morning sunlight, while it hangs in my bedroom window due to a lack of studio space.
More are being made, and using the thickest fishing line I could find, I will encase a large limestone rock and use it with a pulley system, which reminds me of sailing and boats, to be a counter weight to the smaller, more delicate bindles of stones and pebbles, which will hang in the air and slowly rotate, as hanging things are wont to do.
I vaguely rambled to my friend Claire about it:
There are always more things to think about. And one does start to feel like a fisherman repairing his nets in the winter, and it gives you time to think about how the work will look, and how it will function, and what it means. The ideas about it and around grow as the work does.
Portrait after having lived for one year in Malmö, Sweden. A small milestone!
Efter tolv månader i Sverige, har jag nu:
- mastered enough of the Swedish language to articulate my thoughts to Swedish friends and acquaintances in both sober and less sober states of mind, attempted to read my first Agatha Christie in Swedish, written short pieces of text about ABBA, Twin Peaks, and my old flat in Auckland, followed American TV shows by reading Swedish subtitles, watched an Ingmar Bergman film without subtitles, however the extent of my comprehension of that film is highly debatable.
- become a fully fledged cyclist about town, no other mode of transport can compare to the bicycle, especially after one has learnt the necessary cycle etiquette and rules, thus avoiding any awkward cycle faux pas or potentially hazardous accidents.
- been offered full time employment as a library assistant at Malmö Högskolas Bibliotek, the huge success after months of job coaching, awkward phone calls, applications I didn't understand and seemingly pointless business networking. Good things, do apparently, take time. Was told I had 'made a great impression and had really good references', so those must be the secrets to employment.
- not cut my hair for 12 months. It is at present the longest it has been in my life. The goal is to leave it that way at least until I can successfully explain to a Swedish hairdresser what I actually want in a hair style.
- travelled to more cities than I ever have before. Copenhagen, London, Glasgow, Berlin so far and counting. With the incoming funds from the above mentioned employment, hopefully this year the list will continue to expand.
- read an impressive number of classic books, taking advantage of Malmö public library's excellent English fiction section. Titles include Rebecca, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Steppenwolf, The Remains of the Day, Pan, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the short stories of Truman Capote, all of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels. I hope this reading trend will continue, with high literature in English and low brow pocket detective fiction in Swedish.
- experienced my first northern hemisphere winter, and in turn seen my first snow. A truly magical experience, and now, after many snowfalls, the wonder of it still gets me in a bit of a tither and I feel the need to uselessly announce the fact that snow is falling. These thoughts and feelings are documented in a short text about my first impressions of snow.