My social practice resides in the realm of the intimate – micro exchanges that radiate outwards into larger networks. My projects often reference conceptual frameworks from the medieval period, or folk traditions – not as anachronistic exercises, but as a way to explore earlier modes of being in the world that are relevant to us today. Medieval works of art were often communal and relational, they compelled the viewer to act and were designed to persuade. These ideas are at the heart of my work, and are why I continue to investigate where ritual intersects with contemporary art practice.
The Hour of Lead is loosely based on a Swedish folk tradition where the efficacy of an amulet relied upon a participatory mode of making – one comprised of an elaborate sequence of ritual actions, materials, and the collaboration of the smith and recipient over a period of time. As the Church discouraged such magical practices, this process was both secretive and subversive – adding to its power. The first step of my adaptation takes place in various public spaces, where I engage with strangers. Those who choose to sit with me are asked what they need a spell for, after which they are asked to return the following week with specific materials. These materials comprise the contents of the spell, which takes the form of an amulet, made expressly for each participant. The entire process takes place over a three-month period, meeting with the participants on three separate occasions. This work is based upon a deeper understanding of the word spell, which in its more complete sense means, “to tell, say out loud, recite.” This work explores the nature of intimacy, and how an interaction with a stranger can shift in unexpected ways when a ritual framework is applied. These interactions are meant to subvert our normative modes of identification, communication, and exchange; the participants and I remain anonymous to one another, no specific time of day is agreed upon, and no money is exchanged. Much is left to chance.