stories of the left object 2007

About ten years ago, or a little more, I wrote a piece about an object I had left in a hut along the waters edge of the River Tejo in Lisbon. The object was as unassuming and ambigious as it could be. It was on the verge between something and nothing. On the verge between art (possibly) and something left behind.

Useless. It involved one hearing aid piece (a cream coloured device, the kind of thing ‘people used to wear’ who needed to, I’d found it in a charity shop). And it lay on top of a piece of unhemmed cloth, made of herringbone tweed, a small square piece not perfectly cut but obviously showing intention of placement.

Now, some things about the hut: I had been wandering along the streets and came across this place. Curiously it made me want to stop. It was a place that defined itself by what it wasnt and by what you might expect it to be. It wasnt a fisherman’s hut; too trendy; too new looking. But its situation would suggest it should be. Or a beach hut, they dont have those there. It turned out it was a mini, very mini, bar, now disused, abandoned. It was also someone’s home. Though they were not there the day I went in and left my object, carefully positioned on the bar.

What evolved was an imaginary process, a writing project that centred around the experience (imagined) of the person who vacated this space with my object (feasibly ‘art’), it became a story, essentially leading one to think about the ‘art public’ and the ‘non art public’, with reference to site specific, or site situation work, to Munster and other similar city festival art type projects. In particular I pondered over Michael Asher’s caravan which he left each Munster Sculpture Project (every ten years) involving the hiring of a caravan which he moved around various streets and locations outside of the centre depositing it in a different place for each week of the show. The art map told the art public where it was, but for the accidental supposed non-art public it was unnoticeable in terms of it being an art object, it looked like any other caravan. Two identical caravans sat together and which one was the art? But for my little object in the hut, I hadnt told anyone about it, to go and to see it and to authenticate it as ‘art’. I went back once and it was still there, moved, the two parts no longer together, but it was there.

Now ten years on, or more, I return, reflecting upon it once again. Of how to somehow record something so inconsequential and secret. Writing it here I think about how it is somehow secret and public in equal measure. Of the ability to record things that contain such unnoticeability and insignificance, that are only there because we choose to notice their presence. Nothing more. Thats my little story…. for the moment.


References:
Michael Asher:Writings 1973-83 (New York University Press, 1983)
John Dewey: Art as Experience (Perigee Books, 1934)
Miwon Kwon: ‘For Hamburg: Public Art and Urban Identities’ (Public Art is Everywhere, C P Muller 1977)
Maureen Sherlock:’The Sentimental Education of a Solitary Walker: Sculpture Projects in Munster
1997′ (New Art Examiner, September 1997)

This text is an extract from 'Stories of the Left Object' originally presented Tramway Glasgow 1998


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