Cut Twice is both lament and celebration of matter’s agency and persistence. A collection of jointed, kinetic building blocks made from reclaimed and new 2×4’s; matter that has refused to be refuse. I celebrate the persistence of matter and the insistence that life will go on. This demented pile of reaching, writhing and stressed-out lumber changes from day to day, with opportunities for the audience to join in and see what they can do.
Cut Twice installed at the Gladstone Hotel for Grow Op 2015
Jane Bennett’s proposition in Vibrant Matter; A Political Ecology of Things, that all matter might have propensities of its own is described in political terms. She insists that the absolute separation of “dull matter (it, things) and vibrant life (us, beings)…encourage[s] us to ignore the vitality of matter and the lively powers of material formations” (p.vii). The book begins by asking what would happen if we acted as if matter were an actant (a source of action) rather than inert object. She called it a “thing” as opposed to an “object” to emphasize that matter, even a small pile of refuse she encounters one morning in the gutter, has “Thing-Power: the curious ability of inanimate things to animate, to act, to produce effects dramatic and subtle.” (p6). Bennett distinguishes things with agency from objects that exist in a subject-object relationship as perceived by a sentient mind. When she says that “to live, humans need to interpret the world as objects”, and that “a life is a field of flows and intensities” she is insisting that a sense of matter-as-fixed is a property of human perceptual capacity, not a property of matter itself (p58).
The feminist physicist Karen Barad tells us that matter is not a ‘thing’ but a ‘doing’; that substance, like meaning, is an intra-active becoming. In other words, neither meaning nor matter is fixed, rather each is created as we sense, share and negotiate our engagement in the world together. My sculpture seeks to engage the audience as co-creators in ‘doing’ the art, in moving and being physically engaged with the work. This way I hope to make visible on the macro level the inter- and intra-action of matter that is always happening on the scale of the micro, because what physics teaches us is that we are not separate, that animate and inanimate is a false binary that sets humans up as exploiters in a flawed relationship with matter.
Cut Twice at Gales Gallery, May 2015
Repair Centre, Peter MacKendrick Community Gallery Wychwood Barns, July 2015.