01 December 2008

Hallway Project

The day after Thanksgiving, for those of us who don't flock to shop, can be somewhat disappointing. Leftovers and movies can be nice in a big cozy house, but this year we stuck around Oakland for the holiday and the day after was spent in our little house all by myself. Don't get me wrong, it had its advantages but I didn't feel like doing normal holiday things, so instead I made caramels, wrote some blogs and decided to do a project. For some reason I only seem able to relax enough to engage in experimental projecture when I'm home alone. I'm not sure what that's all about.

When our friend Lauren visited several weeks ago, we went to the local junk store and sort of wandered around. We both emerged with some treasures: useless bits of things that are mostly good for giving, important to the composition of a thoughtful package but not significant on their own. The sorts of things that you accumulate as a detail oriented person because they are at their core, aesthetically sound, but can easily fall into a box and be forgotten. In our combined brown paper sacks: tiny glass vials, envelopes, labels, rubber stamps, pieces of paper, a sticker. And for me, lots of old photographs. The day we went, the store had amassed many different families' photographs into three boxes, all jumbled together. Picking through them, I managed to find documents of travel by car, new houses, holiday mornings, friends in high school, pilots and dozens and dozens of landscapes. I picked thirty or so of these pictures because on their own, they were so interesting.

Technically, the photos fell into the category of anonymous art. I've been wondering at the relationship between photography as family hobby and as fine art, inspired by the increasing frequency of moms with very expensive SLR cameras slung over their necks taking pictures of their childrens' every move. And then again, here I was pouring over other people's pictures with infinite fascination. On the one hand, to have other people's such emotional records can be creepy, dead people's faces taken out of unknown context. You can't help wondering what tragedy sent these family photos to the junk store in the first place, and how unlikely it then seems that anyone in them is still alive.

But anyway, it all still rather fascinates me, these photos. Much the way of old letters, and I decided to put them in our hallway. Using some long straight, rather sturdy pins, I picked several and put them on our wall and after some thought, added several of my own photos which depict ambiguous subject matter. To these, I filled in the gaps with some small things that I've kept, for lack of an ability to throw them away when the opportunity presented itself, and which make me rather happy to have on display. So here is the photo with a rough legend:

Clockwise, from upper left:
1. Envelope with Ink Drawing by Joel Chartkoff, given me by the artist, a friend, on my birthday.
2. Photo by anonymous, figure on hillside
3. Photo by anonymous, Historic Paramount Theater Benefit Premiere bill
4. Photo by anonymous, Salt Water fish
5. Photo by anonymous, landscape
6. Small plastic astronaut.
7. Photo by anonymous, out a car window of some California roadway, evident by foliage.
8. Photo by anonymous, industrial park
9. Letter & Envelope, sent by best friend July 2005 from Alabama. Typed.
10. Photo by anonymous, from Russia of androgynous ballet dancer.
11. Photo by anonymouse, tree branches
12. Small plastic astronaut
13. Photo by anonymous, four friends presumably in high school or college

1. Dinosaur mobile, my own photo but can't remember from where.
2. Butterfly wings made from free circular in Tucson, AZ. Given by a small boy in a Pep Boys, unprompted as we waited for our car to be fixed en route to Los Angeles.
3. Photo by me, unknown road in Alabama.
4. Drawing by John, of yeti. Now famous in certain circles.

Across from these, I hung a drawing that a homeless man gave me last week upon seeing me unlock my bicycle. I hung it in a frame that had been lying around.

Anyway, it was a rather nice way to spend the day after thanksgiving, I'd say. I love gathering things together and then planning how they fit together; in this case, associated in their diversity rather than by anything shared.


Colin Leaman said...

i really love all of this!

Lauren said...

i can't wait till i can come back and see these. that store is amazing and i'm glad you made such good use of our finds.

Sara said...

I just started reading your blog and I found this post so beautiful!! I'm so excited to have a new blog to follow ;)

Mary Casper said...

you guys are toooo kind. but thanks!