BREAKING THE PLAIN

AIRBORNE / HANGÁR

THIRTEEN MINUS ONE

FEAST PROJECT

DIVERS MEMORIES

SIGNATURE

TREED

EARLY WORK

INVITATION

BREAKING THE PLAIN

‘Migration Song’, MAMÜ Gallery, Budapest, Hungary

Installation, 2009

The title ‘Breaking the Plain’ emerges from two inter-related homophones:

  • P L A I N … as in the horizontal – the landscape of the American Midwest – treeless - as far as the eye can see – distance.

The place my family emigrated to from Scandinavia. The place that replicated the agricultural home they had left. This vast horizon was, and still is, punctuated by the vertical structures of the iconic grain elevator with its beautiful featureless surfaces, repetitive shape, and dominant scale. The locations of the early elevators had been dictated by the available means of transportation, most notably the railway. Tracking movement, and photographic documentation of each construction over time, has formed the map of my grandfather’s migration, working life, labour, and early death.

  • P L A N E … a flat or level surface.

The place where you find a collection of over 60 black and white photographs of elevators. There is one intriguing image in the family archive of two men in overalls standing alongside a model, whereby the monumentalised structure of the elevator is reduced to a domestic scale – a human scale. I have copied this object by creating a flat-pack, collapsible, portable elevator that provides an opportunity for psycho-geographic play and ‘performances on the move’. Filmed on silent super 8, the flat-pack is erected and flattened while listening to a sound recording of my dad attempting to list the timeline and places where the elevators stood.

I have chosen to utilise the home movie aesthetic and pare the work down to a simple narrative structure, opening up a triangular dialogue between image, object, and the body. The work sets out to explore how the vernacular document becomes a site for re-enactment, and draws attention to the instability and fragility of negotiating and structuring memory.