"Our New Lifestyle"
25 / Oct / 2013
Transitional Objects Object by Emily Hall
An object cheerfully destroyed—stamped, annotated, redacted, tagged, stepped on. Further: an object first shot and flattened and rasterized, then stamped, annotated, redacted, tagged, stepped on. The object becomes another object; the object survives its cheerful destruction to become another object. The object is its own transitional object.
We live in a world of objects, there is no getting around it. We long for them, ruin ourselves to acquire them, pile them up unwisely, shore them against our ruin. There are objects we need and objects we tell ourselves we need. In some cases we couldn't say which. In some cases we're not aware even of having done it. There are objects we are obligated to, burdened by. We are choked by objects, paralyzed by them. In some cases we don't know who owns whom.
It takes an artist to get around an object.
As repositories for meaning, objects are variable, frustrating, but we have the last word. Objects, too, are burdened by us, with whatever meaning we assign to them. Is it telling, then, that objects cannot talk back, cannot object.
Our histories are histories of objects. (We are our own transitional objects.) The history of RA, too, is a history of growing up among objects that are not only repositories for personal meaning but also for negotiated philosophical positions, for shifting unreliable explanations of what happens in the jump from life to art. That is to say, art objects, a houseful of art objects, now a storage space full of art objects that is a legacy and also a burden. For RA these objects were also a repository for family life: Easter eggs hidden in a Louise Nevelson sculpture, teething marks on a Henry Moore. As a child he assembled art objects into forts and altars. So that these objects that are repositories for various specific kinds of negotiated meaning were for RA building blocks for other things, personal and physical. So that all these objects that speak to the jump from life to art for RA occupy the space jumped over, a negotiated position for transitional objects.
Arranging objects into forts makes them into defensive enclosures; arranging them into altars makes them slippery. The object of an altar is devotional, a place to sit with things whose shapes aren't necessarily known. A fort and an altar, a safe place to sit with shape-shifting ideas. A safe place for objects to object.
In Our New Lifestyle objects are arranged into forts and temples, cheerfully destroyed by art, made into new objects: three-dimensional objects turned into works on paper, high-culture decorative objects turned into punk rock posters, the carefully aestheticized turned into something impulsive and random-seeming. These are violent acts, rather. They speak to a complicated relationship with objects: a love for objects set against a distrust of the desire for them, an impulse for making sense set against an impulse to fuck it up, the straight path against the meander, the remote against the immediate, the unarguable against the slippery, the assigned meaning against the lived one.
Lifestyle is a terrible word, really. A violent act, rather, enacted on two fine words. Whatever can be done to give the word lifestyle some slippage, I think the word lifestyle might be grateful.
RA told me once that every exorcism is also a séance. Or maybe it was that every séance is also an exorcism. It is telling that I can't remember which.