Liz Magor, talking about cigarettes as a material
Polymerized gypsum, cigarettes, cigars, lighters, matches
28 × 15 × 10 cm
Private collection, Calgary
Photos: Richard-Max Tremblay
There are many works on this shelf unit that have cigarettes in them. I guess what a person thinks about all these cigarettes might depend on what their own relationship to smoking is. For myself I don’t have a problem with smoking. I wasn’t a smoker. I’m not against smoking. I’m not for smoking. The presence of cigarettes in so many works is not so much about an opinion about the value of cigarettes. It’s more an observation of the power of cigarettes. So that means I am interested in some materials that are even more powerful than some of our human relationships.
So we can become involved in relationships to material things that are challenging in the same way human relations are. Cigarettes are like that, liquor is like that, candy is like that… Death is like that. If I call death a material ? stretching it there ? but a dead body is material by that time. But a dead body is very powerful.
It’s a powerful challenge to my ability to identify it and process it as to what I feel about that dead thing. I won’t even talk about dead human bodies. I am really dealing with things that are more manageable, like small dead animals. I say they’re more manageable but it’s still quite difficult to process. What to do about your feelings about that small dead animal?
Images or objects that are related to death or sleeping or addiction, they are there not because I have a moral opinion or position. They are there because they show the scope or the range that material can occupy and that scope is something I have to deal with as a human. I have to go from the banal to that extra-ordinary.