Last Ditch Effort
Installation at Antler Gallery, Portland, Oregon, February 2018. Found objects with hand-sewn and embroidered tent, handmade first aid kits, paper, fabric, other, dimensions variable.
Conceived as a fragile, one-man fallout shelter, the tent was a site of viewer interaction and a moment of personal isolation and insulation.Neatly flanking the bedroll were a motley collection of assemblage “first aid kits”, at hand and ready for action; each contained various combination of made and found objects, named for a person. All the first aid kits within were meant to be handled, containing objects that could be viewed, written on, or even eaten.
[Full post of the first aid kits forthcoming.]
First aid kits are unemotional, but their presence is reassuring; their contents are authoritatively stated to be objects of usefulness; their organization is comfortingly taxonomic, imparting power to each discrete category of item: they elevate them as the only, or at least best, ones you need in an emergency. To prepare—with first aid kits and bunkers and go-bags— is unquestioningly conceived of as a virtue unto itself, good citizenship, until excess overcomes “reasonability”. There is something of a fruitless gesture in maintaining a first aid kit— the average one would be relatively unhelpful in a true disaster— and their presence thus becomes something talismanic, a submission to an authority of Usefulness that is ultimately empty. A bunker filled with first aid kits is as much a plausible refuge from disaster as it is a barrow filled with grave goods.
As with other installations, “Last Ditch Effort” is a combination of old and recycled installation elements– amongst the familiar pieces is the pillow, last seen in Shoe Peg Corn.
The Edward box (above center, above pink Gladys roll) contained postcards for visitors to fill out.
“Edward Box”, 14.75 x 7.5 x 3″, assemblage with found objects.
“Gladys Roll”, 11 x 10″ assemblage with found objects.
Visible at the bottom right are a set of hand-made pills, which featured throughout the first aid kits and installation. Some contained edible staple foodstuffs– sugar, flour, yeast, coffee– and some things like beads, string, small pieces of lead, and pins.
“W.D. Box (Medicine Cabinet)” 8 x 13 x 6″ found clock case with plaster, fabric, gesso, and found objects.
Right: The “Willie Box”, whose conceptual forebear is the “William Box” of Shoe Peg Corn. Above: “Annie Box.”
“Willie Box”, 7.5 x 8 x 2″ assemblage with found objects, sewing.
“Annie Box”, 9 x 11 x 2″ found box with plaster, gesso, and found objects.
“Joseph Box”, 13 x 13.5 x 5″ assemblage with found objects, fabric, gesso.
The altar within the tent. The older heater, at right in the wall, was a serendipitous touch–it was bone cold in that back room, and it kept the tent very warm. The two temperature zones additionally underscored the installation’s lighting effect of in- and out-side.
“What Else Do You Make In The End Times”, a 3 x 4.5″ art book, rested on the pillow within the tent for visitors’ perusal. Click here to see more.
First-person view from within the tent
The viewer’s path into the installation took them past a sign-in with vaccination (either “serum” or “placebo”, at the patient’s discretion) before entering the room. Outside of the shelter, there were few signs of life outside of an animal cage and a few scattered signs of human habitation.
The tent itself, made of found fabric collected over a series of months (and partially consisting of my grandfather’s old hankies), were stitched together and embroidered in white. The tent was hung such that the verso was on the exterior, making reading easier if you were inside.