#296 Turned Table - Wishing Well
64x84 cm | Filler, oak frame
This work was produced through the TABLES Wishing Well event during the opening of the exhibition Shadow Government at Husby Konsthall outside Stockholm. TABLES is a series of participatory art projects where the visitors are invited to make different types of tracks in the wet filler in a frame standing like a table on the floor. The table is left as sculptural documentation of the event during the exhibition, and afterwards, I complete the work in my studio. In this version, I instructed the participants to place small, round and perforated wooden chips in the filler. These had the same diameter as a human eye. Eyes was a consistent form in several of the works in the exhibition, which was about the experience of when what appears to be a natural order is, in fact, controlled by hidden forces. That is, about the relationship between power and visibility, about surveillance, about the desire for - but also to avoid - seeing and being seen.
The work is based on two different references, partly what is in the title - a wishing well. A desire to appease fate with a simple symbolic but still material sacrifice. A gesture that points to a belief in invisible forces beyond the subject's control. The second reference is another well with a somewhat overlapping function, namely Mimir's well from Norse mythology. The well was located at one of the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree of the world, and Mimir gained his great wisdom by drinking from it. Odin sacrificed one eye in the well and could thus see everything that was going on in the world. Like Odin, the modern man has gained a window into his world through news channels, the internet and social media. We see everything that happens but are also seen and exposed, both directly and indirectly. Perhaps we can see it as a version of Michel Foucault's panopticon, the internalised gaze of power that kept the subject in check within normalcy. Now the surveillance is externalised again, but instead, it is us who monitor and confirm each other. Maybe where we before desired to be seen by God through confession and prayer, we today desire to be seen by what psychoanalytic theory describes as the Big Other, the unreachable state of other people, society and language as such, in short - the symbolic order.
TABLES is a triparted art project. First, it is a participatory art event where I invite the public to do a mark or imprint in the wet filler inside a frame with legs attached, placed on the floor like a table. The table functions as a kind of recording device documenting any movement transcending its surface. Second, I exhibit the table and its surface-document of the event as it is. Finally, the legs are detached, I finish the work, tilt it, and turn it into a painting with the title Turned Table.
Res Ipsa is a compilation of works made by an act shaping the filler once it is prepared inside the frame. The works thus function as a recording device and give a statement of the event taking place while the filler was still wet.
Res Ipsa is Latin for "the thing itself" and is part of the juridical term "Res ipsa loquitur" (the thing speaks for itself), used when an injury or accident in itself clearly shows who is responsible, such as an instrument left inside a body after surgery.