Because I’m waiting to hear about my G4A-application (could take another month) and also as ever wondering how much an artist should disclose when presenting their art I’ve been prevaricating about writing of my inherited memory-project. I have been making work towards it for a while now and as I’m about to present the latest sibling to my series LR’s children, I’ll at least set the scene for one of the strands of my project, so you can see where I’m coming from, literally and metaphorically. (I’m aware that that will change how you look at the work, wished I knew what you saw before you read this.)
Years ago, at college, I watched, in fragments over weeks, Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, and came to write in my thesis about a moment that I keep returning to: images of a little girl, approx. two years of age (and thus just a little older than my mother would have been at the time), sitting on the ground, chewing on a roll and suddenly raising her right arm. 7.5 seconds, buried in a mass of film about the Nazi party conference held in Nürnberg 1934, a staged spectacle with orchestrated marches and parades of several hundred thousand uniformed party members, speeches given by Hitler and high ranking party members, and an ecstatic crowd lining the streets and the stadium. The meaning of the gesture she makes/imitates, is located in that moment in history. Without the context you would take it for a wave. This gesture, a child’s rather crooked nazi salute, and all that hangs from it, forms part of the background to these four pieces.
This is the last in the series. I began with the little dress, and with each new outfit cut away at the shape. The process was important to me: to begin with I anchored the shape in the real and while there’s a kind of dismantling, fragmenting, severing going on, constrained and contained in the crochet, a movement towards concentration and abstraction, I never completely let go of it. It seems to me that in this progression of mutating shapes authenticity and pathos are changing course. Looking at the work now, trying to make sense of what I’m doing I wonder how I can begin to think that my little pieces could hold the weight of history.
I have found the film stills I took at college. Thought about acquiring the DVD but can’t bear to even have it in the house, never mind watching it here, lying on the floor in front of the tele – feel as if something could seep out from it, stain me. Have got a clamour of conflicting voices in me though, one repeating very rationally: This has happened, you should be able to look it firmly in the eye… Fact is, I can only glance at it sideways. Finding the little girl in the film was like an opening to me, a possible entry-point. And that’s where I’m starting from.
LR’s child (2013)
Dimensions: 19 cm x 27.5 cm
Materials: crocheted from hand-me-down wool/polyester mixture