Liz Magor, talking about Double Cabinet and other works on the display unit
Double Cabinet (Blue), 2001 :
Polymerized gypsum, beer cans
22,9 x 68,6 x 43,2 cm
Private collection, Vancouver
They [the objects] can be found on furniture. They are not on plinths, they are not supposed to be in big museums. They are intimate. And often in these works of this smaller scale, the objects that I have used to make the mould and the cast and subsequently make the sculpture are very banal, very available. They are not sentimental things to me. Those are not my gloves; they didn’t belong to my father, they’re just some gloves I found. None of these clothes are important. They were never in any event that I know of. I just got them at the second-hand store.
So I think throughout the exhibition there is zero reference to popular culture. In the sense of celebrity culture or objects that have been exalted by some sort of passion, like special running shoes or things that float through the culture. We have all these objects that float through the culture and they’re spun into something a little extra-ordinary.
I’m looking for the opposite of that. I’m looking for the things that are below the radar, they’re unheralded, they’re uncelebrated, they’re ordinary. They are so familiar that you overlook them as you’re looking for this more exciting thing.
So I am taking these overlooked objects and again I’m trying, as with the pets, I’m trying to find, identify, the quality or the condition of worthiness that made them be produced in the first place. And at some point someone purchased that thing for some quality that had worth.
So I try to find that and pull that forward. And in that process I take them a little bit out of the ordinary but they’re still in a sort of extra-ordinary. Which really is sort of the operation that surrealism undertakes: to take the real and shift it a bit into an uncanny space. So the gloves work that way, the jackets, the towels, the pile of clothes, even the mop with a sort of permanent pool of water. It’s a bit like an animated film (do you know the film? I think Dan Adler talks about this in his essay about the Walt Disney film, with the broom [that] catches on fire and it becomes alive). Fairytales have the same interest in finding the animus or the energy in the object, in the material world. I’m doing it not from a religious or ritualistic or a witchy point of view. I’m doing it as a person who has a psychology that’s operating all the time to project and receive meaning from the material world. That’s a business that goes on all day. Like a bat using the walls, using the sonar to sound against the wall to find out how far the wall is. I think a similar process goes on with the objects in a life. That you’re testing your feelings against these things: I like this thing! I hate this thing! I want this thing! This is a beautiful thing. It’s all about me, really. It’s not about that thing. I’m using those things. So what I’m interested in is to stop using things. So when I turn them into sculpture I am stopping their usefulness. It’s no longer a jacket. And when it becomes art, it then becomes free of that sort of endless process of using objects for my ego or for my purposes. I want them to have this integrity of their own where they are recognized as having qualities that are independent of me.