Jun 29th 2018

Not an Inert Box

@ Triumph Chicago

2055 W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL 60608

Opening Friday, June 29th, from 7PM - 10PM

On view through Sunday, July 29th

“Thus, on the threshold of our space, before the era of our own time, we hover between awareness of being and loss of being. And the entire reality of memory becomes spectral.”
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Triumph welcomes Joshua Demaree, Brittney Leeanne Williams, and Brick Cassidy along with guest curator Danny Floyd.

Conventional wisdom constructs reality around human experience, favoring our perspective over the objects and spaces around us. But just as Copernicus argued that we are not the center of the universe, we are now coming to the realization that other agents operate actively and definitively on our lives. In an extreme form, this way of thinking ascribes subjectivities, even thoughts, to things previously assumed not to have them. Object-oriented ontologist Timothy Morton uses the example that when we drink from a cup, the interaction between the cup and our body anthropomorphizes the cup, but when seen another way, particularly taking into account that we are on the receipt end of the exchange, the cup also “cupopomorphizes” us.

While object-oriented ontology is considered to be breaking new ground in academic spheres, in many ways, this is a dryly semantic way of getting at something we already know deeply and emotionally. There is already a cliché for this thought experiment: “if these walls could talk.” Objects act on us because we recognize their ability to function outside of our own time. Some objects come and go, but others provide a permanence that – for the very reason that they defy the constantly disruptive nature of human experience – enlivens our sentimentality. Objects often outlive people, and for better or worse, embody the contradiction that we can feel a weight or burden when something is no longer present similar to the way we feel an object pushing back on our hands as we hold it.

“In the dynamic rivalry between house and universe, we are far from any reference to simple geometrical forms,” writes Gaston Bachelard. “A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space.” Houses are made to eventually express more meaning than they were built with on an intergenerational scale. Our memory can only strive for such slowness. Because a tree in the backyard grows on a timeline so independently slower than our own, we are able to sense from it the eerie feeling that, despite its difference from us, it is like an old friend. It all but communicates to us.

With attention turned to the objects and spaces that comprise our domestic life, Joshua Demaree, Brittney Leeanne Williams, and Brick Cassidy reckon with past and the joy and pain of family history and coming of age.

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