“Handled”, 2022

Produced for the international collaborative exhibition: We are vessels a focus on digital ceramic printing at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, Netherlands.   

“We are Vessels” is an umbrella name and implied concept for an exhibition by disparate collaborators, that enfolds ideas that can condition the ways in which we experience ourselves as containers of meaning and, additionally, the world that contains us.

This piece: “Handled”, that has just been printed, suggests ways in which the space between people can be expanded and used to encompass contemporary concerns. It was conceived just after Russia invaded Ukraine. “Handled” has been created firstly by making the ineffable solid: the space of a greeting is given physical form by placing soft clay between our hands and removing this cast of our meeting. Then a scan of this clay creates the basis of a digital file, that can be made available to ‘manipulation’ in a software program in the computer. It is enlarged approximately ten-fold and fed to the printer; this could be anywhere in the world. The recognisable cast of the familiar negative space of our meeting is created at a scale that surprises – in this way it confronts the audience – it has a changed ontology – transformed from an analogue object (part of our human world) to a digital (alienated?) state; the solid becomes airy nothing. The piece can be printed in Ukraine; it can be printed in Russia. The piece embodies a double symbolism. The hand-clasp and the coloration reference the coat-of-arms of the Polish town of Kolbushowa, near the Ukraine border; here my grandparents were born, and it is from there that all of our relatives were murdered by the Nazis. Now the Russians invade this land again. In this way, the projection of the Rothko yellow and blue on the piece forces the viewer to embrace a symbolism and consider how meetings can connect across the world.

Meetings can be positive but, perhaps, also overpowering.