What Holds Us
handmade flax paper, self-extracted black walnut ink, saliva
36 x 13 x 10 in.
Although it is not immediately obvious, my art-making process stems from a personal tendency to observe and appreciate the impermanence of physical objects and situations rather than frantically scrounging for ways to immortalize them. For example, when I pass by a beautiful arrangement of broken glass in the streets, my first impulse isn’t to reach for a camera or sketchbook, but to just pay attention for the moment, and then move on. I still do, however, use collection and documentation as a way to record and share beauty, as well as to gather, communicate, and transport ideas. In the end, my work isn’t only about pure aesthetics; rather, my work is also about process and time, movement and experience, record and memory, in addition to being about the aesthetic aspects of the resulting objects or documentation.
In What Holds Us, for instance, my work spinning paper (a Japanese technique called “shifu”) did result in a tangible art piece, but it is undeniably the process that went into the resulting object that makes the piece valuable. Indeed, I put hours upon hours of labor into this project, hand-making everything from the paper to the pens to the ink, hand-writing out self-selected passages from my favorites texts (fiction on flax, poetry on abaca, and essays on kozo) in the world, hand-spinning the whole of it into spools of thread and further using my body to weave the threads together into a basket-like structure. I also, along with two of my dearest friends, audio recorded the texts hidden inside these threads as a way to enhance the emotional side of the project.
By calling for the recognition and contemplation of process, my work complicates the notion of the aesthetic by extending an allowance of beauty to the labors behind artistic creation. Moreover, my work refuses an over-simplistic understanding of pedestal-bound objects by encouraging viewers to approach the works displayed in this or any gallery in acknowledgment and appreciation of their status as neither context- nor history-free.
© Katrina Funk