CANVASS [PHASE I / II]
“canvass [PHASE I]”
At Gridchinhall, I butchered an old army tent that had been standing on the property for over five years and which had functioned as an object in the Russian military prior to that. Its nearly destroyed condition attracted me as means to access the history accumulated in the fabric. Fragmenting this material into scrolls of various sizes, I created an archive of sorts that reflected my research on identity and alluded to the political climate in Russia at that time. Alongside the scrolls, I installed a ladder, which suspiciously stood on the floor. On it, I hung a flannel caftan made from the second layer of the butchered army tent. At the foot of the ladder, I placed a pair of matching flannel house slippers, which were meant to anticipate an action. Also present in the exhibition space was a sewing machine that perforated a loop of white ribbon, producing no stitch yet generating a continuous sound. These objects set up the condition of being in-between, or being in the midst of something. The remainder of the army tent was draped on the back wall, which transformed the exhibition hall into what seemed to be both a stage and a backstage.
“canvass [PHASE II]”
On January 21, visitors were invited to return for a participatory performance. While the installation served as a set and prop for “canvass [PHASE II]—Leave Your Trace,” I asked the visitors to allow me to stamp their fingerprints onto a roll of rice paper. This drawing, when complete, would become a blueprint for an embroidery pattern depicting a two-headed eagle (a heraldic symbol of Russia), two Pava birds (a traditional Russian embroidery motif depicting a quail), and two women, one with her arms up, the other with her arms down. Each time a visitor’s mark was deposited onto the roll of rice paper, my collaborators and I, dressed in the garments created from the last and innermost cotton layer of the army tent, mimicked the imagery of the blueprint in progress; one woman raised her arms, and two men dressed as Pava birds bowed to the person leaving their mark.