Through sculpture, performance, sound, and writing, R.E.H. Gordon’s work explores and honors the ways communities engage with objects in order to build and sustain new worlds. Throughout is an ongoing interest in exploring various modes of forming communities through the creation, use, exchange of, and reverence for material objects. She is interested in exploring new ways of understanding gender, and in the creation of alternative spaces that embody these different modes of gendered personhood. Can a different world be imagined through new ways of engaging with materiality?
The body of work in The Observants explores the creation, or re-creation, of a past, lost, or future material practice involving a group of monochrome white objects, handmade upholstered furniture, and performers. The works are fictional artifacts—objects of ambiguous and ceremonial use. They are sacred objects that waver, uncertainly, between functionality and formalism. They are extremely precise objects of ambiguous use. The performers utilize these objects in a communal mourning ritual, finding strength in their collectively crafted space of refusal of the options their world presents to them. In the central section of the performance, they chant the word “No” (or “Know”) in repetition along with a recorded chorus of their voices, until becoming one hundred voices strong reiterating their refusal, mournful and celebratory.
Throughout her work Gordon employ strategies for transforming everyday objects through various modes of covering—painting, upholstering, coloring in, and mosaicing. She is intrigued by surfaces, both of objects and physical bodies, as rich sites for creative reinterpretation and redeployment. Gordon’s works both create and honor the real life production of secular materialist rituals as modes of personal and social transformation.