This work was selected and presented as one of 9 finalist works in the NSCAD Student Art Awards Gala in 2022, Halifax, NS.
Visible Cities is an exploration of distinct experiences of the city, and the multitude of spaces it contains. Considering the city both as a conceptual entity and a concrete reality, the work is an exploration of its structural configuration (both geometric and societal). While the imagery is in some areas clearly linked to a specific geographic area (Halifax, NS), the reflections or descriptions they portray are not entirely landlocked.
Michel de Certeau makes a distinction between space and place: A place is “an instantaneous configuration of positions”, elements are beside one another – each has a distinct location and thus “excludes the possibility of two things being in the same location (place).” A space is “composed of intersections of mobile elements.” “Space is like the word when it is spoken, that is, when it is caught in the ambiguity of an actualization…” it has “none of the univocity or stability of a ‘proper’.” Unlike the instantaneous configuration of positions which define a place (“[excluding] the possibility of two things being in the same location”), this work is an attempt to investigate and articulate spaces which can and do exist simultaneously in any particular place (intertwined, overlapping, in conflict, in tandem or in symbiosis).
Taking Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as a starting point, my endeavour here is to explore the potential of visual depictions, descriptions and abstractions, to analyse and reflect on the complex entity of the city. In this first iteration I am also playing with discontinuity, and the effect moreso of a collision rather than a smooth transition.
These investigations are ongoing.
Each Stone in the Arch: Carrying the City, 2021-22
A series of engraved acrylic pendants; each contains a unique fragment of a panel in Visible Cities. An earlier iteration of this idea was a smaller series of pocket sized bottles, each containing unique imagery relating to the same themes.
Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone.
“But which is the stone that supports the bridge?” Kublai Khan asks.
“The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,” Marco answers, “but by the line of the arch that they form.”
Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: “Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.”
Polo answers: “Without stones there is no arch.”
(Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino p.82)
To me, there is something very poetic about small, handheld or wearable items like these.
This is a personal item; intended for you. It is a small piece of the city which, like the stone in Calvino’s arch, is an integral piece of a larger whole, deserving of care and attention. I like this idea of holding this in the palm of your hand, or wearing it close to your heart. Like a talisman, objects can often seem to hold more than the material they are made from. The simple metaphor quoted above can clearly be thought of in regard to those who inhabit any particular space. This pendant is an assertion, a gesture and confirmation, of the inherent (pre-existing) validity and importance of the person who holds it (rather than the object itself, or whomever made it). The object itself doesn’t have or give this quality, this quality is certainly not mine to dole out: it exists already. It is a gesture, one that intends to materialise, and recognize the place and space of the individual who holds it (…you!).
If you do not have one, and you have read this far, please feel invited to send me an email to request one using my contact page on this site. There are several available, so while I still have them I am happy to pass them on. I do not sell these pendants, so there will be no charge (Although we may need to sort out shipping costs if you are not in Canada).