From HA&L issue 7.2
Each of us, deep within our hearts, knows it is impossible to organize the ephemera of our lives. To fit it snugly within a box, or attractively along a uniform set of shelves.
Still, it doesn’t stop us from trying.
Oh, we try so hard sometimes. So compulsively hard. And occasionally our desire is so deep we ascribe to the religion that is suburban design, with its familiar array of smooth, uncomplicated surfaces, its crisp collection of ninety-degree angles. It is a religion that promises us a space where no residue of our irrationality is in view.
Dazzling Blue 18-3949, Spring 2014, 2014
I think about these things when I encounter sculptures by Laura Marotta because she uses the vernacular of this kind of design. She does so not to curtail disorder, but rather, to welcome it. Inevitably she wants to build containers and shelving solutions that gleefully accommodate domestic chaos.
[Laura Marotta. Intallation at the McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, 2014. Photo: Ihor Holubizky.]
Maybe what results is satire. Marotta goes so far as to organize and name her sculptural output as if it were connected to a series of annual product lines. Individual works therefore have names like ‘Radiant Orchid 18-3244’ taken from the 2014 Pantone colour of the year, or ‘Mattamy Traditional Series’ named after a prominent Ontario builder of repressed luxury homes.
[Radiant Orchid 18-3224, Spring 2014, 2014]
Marotta also favours the hexagon and octagon as guiding shapes, which allow her forms to bend in improbable, asymmetrical directions. (If you are of a certain age you may remember a toy from the ‘80’s called a Rubik’s Snake that could be twisted into similar configurations.)
When Marotta inverts the familiar logic of picnic table construction (as in ‘Mattamy Traditional Series 2010’) she nonetheless still invites a kind of social participation. It’s a dare; these forms want you to use them, but you have to completely re-think your household practices to do so.
[Mattamy Traditional 2010, 2010]
Installation view: Burlington Art Gallery, 2013]
[Mattamy Contemporary 2011, Installation view: Diaz Contemporary, Toronto, 2011.]
Ultimately Marotta’s sculptures don’t make sense in a four cornered room; but that is their central charm. They beg an ever-widening series of questions: “What does the house look like where these forms fit as components? What kind of neighbourhood or city could accommodate such a house? Who would I have to be in order to live here?
Lemon Zest, Spring 2013, 2012-2013
Tor Lukasik-Foss is a visual artist, performer and writer whose multidisciplinary practice frequently investigates his often anxious relationship the public sphere. He exhibits work both individually and as part of TH&B, and artist collective of which he is a founding member.