Artist Statement – Things That Matter

Rebecca Uffindell and Eleanor Slaney work as part of a collaboration and throughout their practice challenge notions of worth mostly concerning materiality. During the external project “Things That Matter”, the title serving as the project prompt, the collaboration have explored notions of projected value and identity found in objects inhabiting a liminal space. Through this, they have also engaged with Anselm Franke’s theory regarding “Animism” and have questioned whether an object can truly possess an identity and, if this is true, is the object’s memory and previous existence a determining factor to its worth?

In the exhibition #ThingsThatMatter, Rebecca and Eleanor installed a variety of objects, retrieved from charity shops, and suspended them using wool over the beams within SPACE Gallery. The collaboration were mainly intrigued by the existence of liminal spaces, this being present in the setting of a charity shop. At once the found objects adopt a role of the abandoned and the salvaged and, until they are bought or discarded, will remain inhabiting that identity. By hanging the objects Rebecca and Eleanor hope that the audience will truly be confronted by the rejected and are able to navigate the features of each item and consider them in the open. In the centre of the exhibition lay cards posing questions such as: “Do these objects change when they are placed in a gallery setting?”, and “Ultimately, do these things matter?”. The intention was to pose unintrusive questions to the viewer, to allow them to acknowledge and consider these found objects and determine if their worth has changed. As the cards are placed centrally in regard to the installation, the viewer is forced to navigate the space in which the objects exist: in this instance, they refuse to be ignored.

Artists that have influenced Rebecca Uffindell during this process include the filmmaker Agnès Varda and Jeff Koons. After watching The Gleaners and I, Varda served as an interesting starting point to the collaboration and allowed them to consider the worth of what has been neglected by humanity. Varda, within this documentary acted as mediator to the observed and observer and was an active participant to gleaning herself. This instigated Rebecca and Eleanor to consider the liminality that is often present in identity as well as space. Jeff Koons was influential in establishing an arena in which the ordinary can take centre stage. This is present within his Banality series, as well as repurposing pre-existing objects, Koons transfers these ordinary ornaments into a space that was previously not inclusive to them, therefore permitting them to be acknowledged as something worth viewing.

Rebecca Uffindell and Eleanor Slaney intend to continue working collaboratively and further engage in materiality, perhaps expanding off of the external project. Ambiguity and whimsy remain as strong elements to be featured in their work and they hope to expand upon their current practice and continue challenging their audiences – and their own – perceptions of identity, place and belonging.

Word Count: 491

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