Statement: Jenni Dutton
Moving On Project: Artists on Trains
project has been about concealing and revealing the intimacies of
our daily lives. It has made me into something of a 'voyeur', exposing
my shadow side as I explored issues raised during the research and
the making of the pieces. My work is about working with discarded
objects and materials, about memory, displacement and loss. I have
considered the audience probably more than I would normally, inviting
them to participate by questioning the issues around privacy, security
and identity stereotyping.
it was very tricky to obtain any abondoned left luggage, the bags
went to auction or charity. I eventually tracked down two from Paignton
left luggage office and another from Weston Super Mare and then the
expectation surrounding the contents of the bags was activated.
To ensure authenticity,
I filmed myself opening the bags for the first time, holding out th
the camera each item without comment. I set myself the task of making
an assemblage from the contents, revealing only a limited amount and
then abandoning this bagMany questions were raised. Why was the luggage
not claimed? Would the owner mind me using their belongings in this
rather public way? Was I exposing the contents or the owner by the
choices I made when making the work? Did I have any responsibility
to them, or was I the owner now? With heightened security issues surrounding
public journeys, do travellers have an obligation to reveal the contents
of their luggage? I also wanted to provoke the viewer to consider
the contents of their own baggage, how much would it reveal about
themselves? Would I be embarrassed or curious if I met the owners
of the bags? Would my preconceived ideas as to their personality and
way of life from the clues they left behind, be anywhere near accurate?
How much was I indulging a personal voyeuristic tendency during this
project? Did I really think that I was going to find something valuable
in the cases, would it be stealing if I kept it? Was it a bit wicked
to render these mostly good quality clothes useless by painting them?
It felt hard to
have had no choice about the contents to be included in the final
sculpture. Authenticity had been a principle that I had put in place
at the outset and to be honest some of the items were rather revolting.
I had to transform the contents into something aesthetically pleasing,
that made a whole, while keeping a sense of mystery and curiosity
about the story if the things. Practically, it was difficult to take
risks as I had only one stab at interpreting the objects, so I had
to proceed cautiously.
Asking a selection
of people to pack a bag for a 'journey' that would then be x-rayed
was a way of focusing on the actual objects that we may choose to
travel with. The contents were revealed only by x-ray, the unposed,
randomness of the resulting image being testament to the mystery surrounding
other people's personal possessions, their 'things'.
Jenni Dutton January