To Baudrillard: (Surprising the Real in order to Immobilize it; Suspending the Real in the Expiration of its Double) is a variable-scale sculptural installation with audio-visual components. The project began in response to two texts by cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects (1968) and Simulacra and Simulation (1981).
The installation takes its visual form from a reproduction Roycroft furniture catalog; a once functional but now purely decorative text. Flipping through the catalog reveals the type of furniture Baudrillard was talking about when describing furniture’s previous role as weighty symbols and characters that defined the home. Each chair, table, dresser is depicted with extreme care and implied significance. When reaching the end of the catalog a surprising realization occurs—despite yellow pages it is not an antique, but a 1981 reproduction of a 1906 catalog. The objects depicted among its pages are no longer for sale, and the catalog has no purpose besides romanticized representation. Intrigued by this catalog of representations without a living referent, I began to seek ways in which the items within its pages could be interacted with and approached as furniture while retaining their status as representations.
The constructed environment consists of hinged plywood sculptures and video fragments that feature catalog images resting atop an imitation hardwood floor. The sculptures are enlarged photographic images from the catalog printed on silhouettes cut from wood and hinged at various angles to allow a form of contortion that mimics the manipulation of the images in the videos. However, the spell is only partially efficacious; when translated back into physical form the images are allowed to occupy space but become more like characters than functional objects.
Video segments scattered throughout the space provide glances into a world constructed from the catalog images and a protagonist, who, by virtue of being reduced to an image herself, is able to interact with the images as furniture; she is able to recline in an armchair we can only ponder in the catalog, but also to crawl through cupboards, to climb atop oversized and overturned tables, and to interact with these image-objects as full fledged characters. Through the videos the images do not take on the status furniture as first inferred, but begin to contort, to no longer reference furniture but instead landscape.
To Baudrillard will be on display at the Leroy Neiman Center Gallery from June 27th – July 27th as part of the exhibition In Situ.
Gallery Intervention [Detail] No.057 and No.079