still

Still, builds a biographical narrative through the social life of heirlooms. The work is inspired, in part, by the writing of Gustave Flaubert and his realist approach to constructing narrative worlds through detailed descriptions of discrete objects in domestic spaces. 

 

Hand-lithographed on tissue-thin paper, Law’s heirlooms recall Flaubert’s own poetic inventory—the parrot, for example; an iconic mascot of language and mimicry. Transparently layered, each storied artifact serves as an ethereal portrait of a personal heirloom in the artist’s own collection, collectively called upon for the tenuous access they grant their possessor to past lives, real and imagined. 

 

Presented in the form of an artist’s book, the work is designed to evolve, the signatures left unbound so that new object-pages may be added to the collection and potentially rearranged by the reader. Accompanying the book, the heirlooms simultaneously appear as individual works of printed ephemera, ghosted objects intended to be gifted or folded away in books or drawers, distributed into the world beyond the confines of the original collection. 

 

Approached as a deconstructed vanitas arrangement, each “still” ultimately references the capacity and futility of objects to create meaning, as well as their elusive promise to extend the collector’s life through their individual heirloom trajectories. 

Jenn Law, Still installation, Loop Gallery Toronto, 2018

© 2021 by Jenn Law