Memorial

Cast concrete and found materials

various sizes, ~6 x 6 x 6"

2017-

 

About Memorial

What does a ghost look like? Or an angel? The soul, if there is such a thing? Here’s an idea: human hair entombed in a small, cast concrete artifact, precious and repulsive all at once. Concrete, adorned with lost socks, tensor bandages, or children’s hair barrettes, in anamorphic, severed forms. Memorial envisions the afterlife in the form of numinous dread, not unlike Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who describes angels as, “terror, which we are still just able to endure, and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.” He says, “every angel is terrifying.”

Though not objects of terror, Memorial proposes feelings that are as contradictory as Rilke’s angels. The artifacts, their density compromised by frailer materials, question our expectations of heavy and light, hard and soft. Their forms are organic, vaguely figural, but severed with machine-like cuts. They are repulsive, full of hair and fur, but both their small size and their adornments ask you to hold them, like a baby. The concrete, naturally as permanent and immovable as death itself, is personified both by the found materials it contains, and the organic forms it is cast in, resembling body parts still clad in personal effects. Less obvious materials, such as bits of shopping bags, bearing their respective branding, or cotton swabs, remember everyday things that we come in contact with before we die, but are never preserved as our bodies are, be it in the form of images, or otherwise.

This work questions death in two main ways: first, it considers our images of ghosts and angels, and second, how we memorialize loss in the form of graveyards. Valentin asks: if such unknowable entities like ghosts, angels, or the soul itself do exist, how could we perceive them the way that we traditionally represent them? Would we really be able to understand what we see as something directly figural? If the body is a vessel for the soul, what does it look like outside of the vessel? How can a grave really memorialize something as abstract as a person? How is an identity preserved?