A Deeper kind of Nothing
As a child, I was told that my struggle with breath, with asthma, was nothing but psychosomatic. This was a version of ‘nothing’ that held within it the power to be life-threatening. The dismissal of concern for my asthma led me to dismiss other major events in my life as nothing too. I cannot be sure what residues of ghastliness haunt and inspire me, as there are so many events I would like to forget, yet I remain aware of these experiences and their after-effects.
By working with objects destroyed or damaged in the course of daily domestic life, I wish to speak to the mass of irreparable ‘brokenness’ that constitutes my life story; irreparable yet redeemable. I mark unrecognised potential within objects considered not good enough or not good at all.
The overarching title of this project, A Deeper Kind of Nothing, was garnered from theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss’s A Universe from Nothing: Why there Is Something Rather than Nothing (2012) in which he explores the origins of our universe. In this book, he refers to nothing as the space that exists where something once was, an absence. He explains that ‘all signs suggest a universe that could and plausibly did arise from a deeper nothing – involving the absence of space itself – and which may one day return to nothing’ (2012: 183). Krauss asserts that ‘nothing is every bit as physical as something’, and this idea of a ‘deeper nothing’ stirred my thinking. Nothing is one thing, but a deeper nothing, one that the universe may have arisen from, is quite another. Relating this to the impact of seemingly insignificant objects, events and feelings, nothing becomes something physical that is understood to be both tangible and generative of something new. It is this ‘something new’, the outcome of what is considered ‘nothing’, which is the deeper kind of nothing that this project presents.
Informed by process art, which emphasises the action or means whereby artworks are produced rather than any predetermined composition or plan, this methodology is particularly intent on allowing change and transience to emerge. The process of painting the eggshells as a daily practice resulted in a body of ‘reformed’ eggshells that constitute a synecdoche of the process, as well as a deeper kind of nothing. In All About Process (2017), Kim Grant (2017: 223) writes that a process-based practice utilises three elements: one, dedication and attention to the labours of the creative process; two, the creation of work that is not predetermined but rather a natural outgrowth of the artist’s process; and three, situating the work within cultural and social relations.
Batch 5: The Conversessions
In her book Staying with the Trouble, Donna Haraway (2016: 1) writes:
We are living in disturbing times, mixed up times, troubling and turbid times. The task is, to become capable, with each other in all our bumptious kinds, of response. Mixed up times are overflowing with both pain and joy – with vastly unjust patterns of both pain and joy
By opening my project up and inviting others to create the work with me, I hope to connect the overflowing pain and joy that resides within each of us and which may have been discounted. I hope that such connectedness will allow us to become capable of responsiveness with each other, in all our diversity. In Conversessions, we spoke about many things, from banal, everyday experiences to difficult subjects such as suicide, rape culture, violence and other forms of suffering. The conversations unfolded organically, and we shifted from topic to topic as if dipping in and out of various intensities of experience. One moment, we spoke about loss, the next about the process of egg painting, the next about breakfast. As editor, writer and Professor of Anthropology Anna Tsing (2015: 34) writes, ‘It is in listening to that cacophony of troubled stories that we might encounter our best hopes for precarious survival’. Tsing (2015: 213) also observes that ‘To write a history of ruin, we need to follow broken bits of many stories and to move in and out of many patches’. I wish to pay attention, by listening to stories of brokenness while painting broken things.
Handmade book of 257000 shared words between 18 people
Handmade book, table with words attached, painted egg boxes