Pinned to the Wall: Objects and Obsession
This body of work relates to my fraught relationship to the conventions of the domestic sphere and our personal environment. As an artist I am sensitive to problems of gender expectations and pressure on women to maintain a tidy well ordered home simultaneously with having a successful career. Six decades into feminism and for women we’re still talking about equal pay, costs of childcare, and proportional representation of women in senior management positions. We are expected to not only be in the work force but to bear and raise children, do much of the house work and shopping and maintain a calm, manicured domestic interior as an antidote to the frenetic pace and chaos of the outside world. Phew! This treadmill has it’s correlation in relationship breakdown, domestic violence, alcoholism, prescription medication, anxiety and depression; human fragility lying just beneath the surface.
With my assemblages and paintings I bring the focus back to the obsessive desire/pressure to present a veneer to the world of a perfect House and Gardens home; the interior environment experienced through the personal effects we gather around us, the domestic domain whose objects are silent spectators to our lives.
Manufactured, everyday utilitarian implements make our lives more concrete, fixing experience and memory as markers within the context of the passage of time. Familiar mass produced objects derive their re-presented identities from their new relationships to each other, and from the social history that comes from each one. They are fingerprints of the past, once essential but often discarded and victims of their own built-in obsolescence, temporary anchors to an ever-shifting reality. At the same time, these possessions have been indelible, sometimes treasured companions in our lives. Furniture, papers, books, postcards, cameras, tape measures, tobacco tins, keys, locks, dominos, shoes, scales, clocks, bottles, taps, pegs, egg cups, ashtrays etc.; all have been handled, shared and lived with. Sometimes I have modified them to suggest new meanings, other times left them in their original condition without any enhancement.
I have inset these objects into three-dimensional wood framed boxes and canvases. Painted patterned backgrounds denote domestic décor: curtains, carpets, table clothes, fabrics, our lives regimented by the clock and the replay of our days repeating like patterns of tiles or wallpaper or the horizontal slats of venetian blinds and floor boards. The compositions in my work are important. The objects are intentionally placed to convey harmony or dissonance or something intangible in between.
Susan O’Doherty 2016