Self Preservation, 2018

Performance, plastic, thread, chair and dress from museum collection

Self Preservation explores the intersections of preservation, presence, and labor as it relates to maintaining relationships.

The artist hand embroidered text messages that have been sent or received since she arrived to Elsewhere, thinking about preservation in a sense of trying to hold onto something. Being here just over three months, the artist struggled with maintaining relationships back home and realized her desire to make sure that everything was the same upon her return, that no one forgot her. Relating to the effort of preserving furniture by covering it in plastic, the artist was interested in how sometimes preservation can get to the point of making what you are trying to preserve no longer functional, or make it lose its original purpose, which is what you are trying to preserve in the first place.

With minutes representing the number of days spent away from home, the artist lays beneath the plastic sheet for 98 minutes. This creates a separation of space; creates an inside and an outside, the viewer and the viewed. This also brings in the importance of presence, both emotionally and physically in a relationship.

The physical labor and time of the act of sewing compares to the emotional labor that goes into maintaining relationships and keeping up with someone without a physical presence. The delicate, handwritten, and personal feeling of the sewed on words contrasts with the material they are on, an industrial plastic. This is much like trying to send  emotions through something impersonal, like a text. It’s strange how an impersonal medium can be used to convey emotions when it is all there is to close the gap between two people. This piece was created as a reminder to not lose the presence in favor of the preservation.

Photos by Amelia Nura