With only a month and a half until the exhibition opens, things are pushing on. I am being extremely careful to prioritise my efforts so I don’t get caught up on one thing for too long. It seems to be coming together, but I have the mammoth task ahead of deciding how best to use text within my work for the booklet. The narration of my sites is vital, it will bring the sites and my data to something like a conclusion (even if it is only a temporary one). Text always holds such authority and influence over meaning and interpretation and makes the reading of things seem so concrete and certain. I’m wary of how I use it here. These sites are far from certain and by their very nature, remain somehow unknowable and obscure. My personal relationship with these particular places has shifted and I find I am torn between not wishing to spend anymore time there (knowing who I might meet), to at the same time feeling I might somehow have a stake in them. The process has made them distinct and meaningful places, pulled out from the blur of backdrop. They were already places, but not to someone who has no use for them. Their lack of function created them and they gave opportunity to a kind of function.
I think to approach this text I will have to revisit each site again, stripped bare from the task of excavation and open to the act of just being there… always the most challenging and dangerous I find. Some space to contemplate following this strange process I have carried out is definitely needed.
A couple of weeks ago I went along to a talk at The Courtauld Institute called ‘Narrating the Island’ given by Barney Samson. It’s part of a series of events under the title ‘Imagining Islands: Artists and Escape’ set up by the students of the MA Curating the Museum. The idea of the desert island is of interest to me and has strong links to my research. My piece shown for the MA show, ‘The Island’ is an obvious reference to this but even in ‘Hidden Landscapes’, the sites hold island traits. There is definitely something in their sense of isolation, an inhospitableness and the presence of strange inhabitants and potential threats that makes them feel like landscapes adrift and uncivilised. They carry a timelessness that seems to stand outside the business of modern life, and as Barney Samson talks about the duality and contradictions in the depictions of the desert island, as both an escape and prison, as an adventure and an isolation, as a discovery and a loss, I find myself wondering from which protagonists point of view am I coming to these islands from?