I’ll start by introducing myself. My name is M. Jacinta Silva Armstrong, I am a Chilean artist living in London, and for the next few weeks I will be sharing some thoughts and exercises around the subject matter of this art residency, Making Space.
Recently I have been looking into representations of familiar territories, contrasting them with my own memories. I tend to feel both fascinated and frustrated by maps and their possibilities as beautiful and accurate information containers, yet far away from describing the reality of a piece of ground. I think my interest in geography is partly related to the constant feeling of being lost and wandering aimlessly and the need to establish reference points to slow down the vertigo, to learn my own position. With this in mind I started searching for alternative ways of representing specific aspects of a known territory, its morphologies and atmospheres.
During the development of the pandemic – spending a lot more time indoors – the gaze turned naturally inwards, to the 20 m2 studio space I was living in. I started looking for topographic events that I could recognise within my home, craving for certainties when we were given non by the outside world. I began to take pictures of the position of the sheets on the unmade bed, the changes in the window view according to the season and time of the day, the projections of light on the wall, the languishing and consecutive death – one after the other – of almost all my plants.
The space became active, constantly re-assessed and re-shaped according to the new needs of an intensified inhabitation. It transmuted from artist studio to office, laundry, kitchen, bedroom. My partner and I started taking our meals on the floor, picnic-like, so we wouldn’t have to disassemble our work stations several times a day – also because eating in a slightly different position and place than those of working was a pleasant change for a break.
In regard of these newly appeared needs, I was able to identify some patterns in the making and changing of the space:
1. Cleaning and editing: Looking around, assessing and taking out/storing away everything not currently in use.
2. Laying-out: Moving furniture and changing the space use in specific ways according to the functionality for the current needs. Considering practicality and comfort over conventions.
i.e: the bed – a photographic studio
the bathroom – a private video call meeting room
the clothes airer rack – a painting hanging device
3. Inhabiting: Owning the space. Finding a place for elements of importance beyond practical functionality to be kept on sight, at hand. These don’t need to be displayed in an eminent place, but visible depending on individual routines (i.e: photo stuck in a place visible from the sleeping position). I distinguished two main kinds:
a) References to be surrounded with.
i.e. objects or images thought beautiful or stimulating
books to be read
b) Objects or images of personal attachment or meaning.
a note from a friend
Bearing all these thoughts in mind, I decided to apply the observations described above to my work process around the subject matter of this residency programme. In the next posts I will be sharing the process and results of these exercises.