Date of Submission

Spring 2016

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Film and Electronic Arts; Studio Arts

Project Advisor 1

Julianne Swartz

Project Advisor 2

Peggy Ahwesh

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Statement for Osteobiography

Sophia Orlow

How to love anything other than the possibility of ruin? Than an impossible totality?... The ruin is not in front of us; it is neither a spectacle nor a love object. It is experience itself.

  • Jacques Derrida Memoirs of the Blind)

My inquiry into ruins as a form and a question arose out of my memories from visiting various palaestrae and sites of ruin in Rome as a child. Recently these memories flooded back to consciousness, and as I indulged in those perceptual artifacts, the awe and magic inherent to my experiences of those sites provided direction. I conjure the strangeness I felt then of being amongst remnants of thousands of years old architecture beside recent commercial real estate; it feels like you are standing in an architectural timeline.

Excavation is a process of discovery through unearthing objects; the objects which comprise my video-sculptures and drawings are all remnants I found or made and then degraded or peeled, like a fruit (hence the pedestal with artificial and real fruit and vegetables). These two processes mimic how memory functions in my mind: memory’s patina wears away with time, but it also can lay dormant, out of sight, for many years only to reemerge as a glint, allowing an entry into past narratives. Memory and ruin seem to go hand-in-hand, since the structure of memory is fragile like those precarious stacks of stones which inspire me. These sites become living architectural memory, especially true for famous walls, specifically the Berlin Wall and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Historically these are sites of political contention, a source of social division, but are also held sacred by innumerable individuals, because of and in spite of their histories. Individual and collective memory imprinted on a wall, a divider of space and people.

In this space, the brick wall floats in the center acting as divider, but not obstructing space. It is permeable and refuses to contain the people and other objects. The wall is precarious like the pathetic columns, which slouch under their own weight, diverging from the phallic totems that inspired them. Artificially constructed time has caused the columns to curve, seeking support.

Memory fails the brick

The videos act as (literal and metaphorical) memories projected onto the sculptures, each one corresponding to a different aspect of the line memory fails the brick, repeated by the neutral voice echoing through the installation. The video on the brick wall shows a slide projection of floor plans and ruinous structures, in conversation with the exploded floorplans on the walls. A floor plan is a skeleton of a building, the original intention of how it stands in space; when the building is no longer standing after being so time-worn, these photographs and illustrations will be all that is left of the physical object. The image is only partially visible as it permeates the cracks of the wall, another layer of memory and architecture being incomplete.

Look to the left at the spine leaning against the wall, a video playing at the base of it. These images are glimpses of rotting material at a recent site of ruin in Annandale, in addition to shots of myself struggling with a flag, attempting to position the fabric in the weeds that have grown around the abandoned structure. The video inside the trunk-like structure curving into the right wall shows my hands peeling away layers to reveal objects, and the image of my face peering through an arch. In both of these, I am a collaborator with the objects, a quasi-explorer and archaeologist of these spaces.

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