Artist’s statements -
This work has become for me about a journey, each item on the wall and floor is a souvenir or marker. The items are selected or created with the journey in mind... and the journey is from one state to another, the terrain is the divide that lies between the unmarried self and the married self.
The traveller on this occasion is conscious of her journey each marker has been saved the collection forming a map, yet it is a map that does not offer direction; rather, it signifies choices and roads travelled, a map of memories it is an inventory of the past of the journey. The movement between states is a dislocation, it is a voyage of the emotions, an exploration of identity ones exterior may change little; however, ones internal landscape is irrevocably altered. The boundaries of social interaction, the fabric of habit, trace and breath clothe a new geography of the senses. The suitcase becomes a metaphor for the transformation - it is a space in which both the conscious and the unconscious reside, it is the equipment of travel.
The dress like the suitcase is an essential element in the transition between states... the dress becomes a manifestation of dreams and desires yet it is also a disguise.
The dress becomes a self-portrait. ‘I go... as one goes home... which is to say... with my hands, with my eyes in my hands, with my eyes groping like hands... I enter the dress as I enter the water, which envelops me, and without effacing me, hides me transparently. And here I am, dressed at the closest point to myself. Almost in myself... The dress does not separate the inside from the outside, it translates.’
- Helene Cixous
Each piece in the collection that is the work forms part of the trail that marks the voyage to be undertaken or that has been undertaken so many times in history. For me it is akin to a drawing made of fragments, a diary of objects laid out in an effort to understand, to decipher, to trace a voyage.
Andrea du Chatenier
Sometime ago I read an article on attempts made to eradicate the fruit fly from orchards in America. Scientists had located the gene in the fruit fly that controlled the insects’ ability to perform its mating ritual. If this gene could be eradicated the fruit fly would no longer be capable of attracting the opposite sex and would therefore be rendered sterile.
With the announcement of the human genome project having been completed around the same time as my reading of the fruit fly article, I wondered whether the complexity of our human mating rituals might not also be contained in a single gene. This led to the imagining of future worlds where elite humans are selected for breeding programs. Lesser beings would have their mating ritual gene eradicated. Imposters would try to mimic this tirual and a Mating Tirual Imposter Force would be created.
But what exactly is our mating ritual? Is it possible to pinpoint those actions that could place courtship as biological rather than social or vice versa? If we could no longer toss our hair, smile or giggle, would this render us infertile? If we no longer knew how to make things nice, or show that we were popular would this end our family tree?
And these questions led to more difficult personal questions regarding my own ability to produce mating signals. Was I a natural or was I a mimic? Did my mother teach me from her own social experiences or was she driven to teach me by her selfish mating ritual gene? Was drinking cask wine and smoking cigarettes directly associated with a desire for transformation and procreation or was I driven by love songs and romance stories?
The work in Woo is a response to my confusion and inadequacies regarding these unspoken rituals. It is a mixture of skills learnt and materials utilized in the process of matrimonial transformation. Good house keeping practices that call for ingenuity and frugality recycle the remnants of the ‘girls night out’. Wedding dresses and Mills and Boons are reworked into cocoons or pods similar to those designed for the science fiction film The Body Snatchers. The installation will suggest a moment of suspended time similar to that experienced by Sleeping Beauty in her wait for Prince Charming.
The work is not meant as an indictment on matrimony but as a reflection on an area of human activity that focuses on the confusion between social and biological functions.
→ Susan Jowsey & Andrea du Chatenier: WOO, 2005, exhibition card