KISSS The Kinship International Strategy on Surveillance and Suppression
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"VOTE JUNK" a collaborative project by Hannah Terry, Gemma Budden and Martina Ziewe.

 

"VOTE JUNK"is an ongoing collaborative project, involving investigation, performance and installation, where the stuff of junkyards, charity shops and the streets is cyphered into unexpected outcomes.

The first chapter of the project took place over a 10 month period in the Kingston, Surbiton area in Surrey. From July 2004 through to April 2005 the collaborating artists Hannah Terry and Gemma Budden collected all the stuff that the local Oxfam could not sell and had to pay to get collected by the council, as rubbish.  This collection extended to include furniture from a recently gutted house in the neighbourhood. The artists rented an empty shop next to the polling station, a local pub, during election week and canvased for "VOTE JUNK". The week-long exhibition used the discarded possessions of the local residents in a sculptural installation and also in performative events which brought the local suburban community and the art student community together, such as a giant chess game using the objects as pieces and jigsaws on the street outside.  The exhibition ended with a "GRAND GIVE-AWAY" day where the local community was invited to come and take away anything that they wanted. Each item was documented with its new owner - from a child's bed to a single mother in a flat opposite "VOTE JUNK", wooden chairs to furniture restorers to a watering can to a local jazz-singer and a lava-lamp to a student. Any remaining items were sorted and recycled.

The project took on a real investigative element as tens of binbags had to be sorted each month, revealing the varying detritus of the strangers living around us, or that which they had chosen to donate to charity. The filthy and unuseable were chucked: dirty underwear was not an uncommon donation to Oxfam. The most common items that just would not sell in Oxfam and came to "VOTE JUNK" were shoes, 35mm cameras, tapes and lots of books. It was an interesting insight into the surplus requirements of a community, what people wanted to supress from memory and their habitual life. And further what was wanted when offered for free and what could not even be given away. The journey of these objects reflected everything from changes in fashions and technology to the changing social, politcal and economic climate. On a personal and individual level people's life stories could be read through these symbolic objects with their journey's fingerprints. Purchased as new, utilised and then discarded, off the conscience and into a binbag for Oxfam.

 

Hannah Terry: Artist Statement

My working practice is based around 'stuff' - stuff/things/the matter we choose to surround ourselves with, which become our second skin and through which we communicate with the world.   Objects by their design and essence define the context in which they are created and therefore in a semiological sense come loaded with all the weight of the social, political, economic and cultural significance of the era of their production.  So possessions are readable as products, as they were produced by a society and possessions as they were chosen by an individual. I explore this charged area between society and the individual, as represented by objects as products and possessions.  I use objects in sculptural installations, performances and document them using photography to explore this pull between the individual and the state, choice and free will versus conformity and control. 

The objects that I use in sculptural installations and performances/events such as "VOTE JUNK" are second-hand: the real discarded possessions of others found to be retraded in charity shops, car boot sales and jumble sales. They therefore take on a new charge, on top of that of their production and selection as a possession, the charge of their rejection by an individual within a society.


My sculptural installations include works made out of the ties and white shirts of the capitalist army, the scarves (all of aspiring/'nouveau-riche' design alluding to wealth/cultural status - gold chains, hunting scenes, golfing etc) and broken 80's jewelry (the decayed Thatcherite era) and as such exist as exploratory metaphors of the socio-economic state of affairs.  They are fantastical, perhaps remindful of a deep sea-scape or something otherworldly, liberating the objects of their function and from the status quo in which they existed.  They are investigative installations - questioning and more celebratory, in their attractive theatrical appearance, rather than damning. 


My documentary photography, again explores this charged area between individual and state as represented by objects, looking for example at people with all their discarded possessions laid out for sale at car boot sales, on dreary a English morning.  Another project documented the possessions of the inhabitants of an alternative community called "Eastwind" (Missouri, America) which attempts an existence outside the politics of the American capitalist and consumerist super-state   I have also documented various stories that have evolved from getting in contact with the people to whom I sell second-hand stuff on Ebay. One project, through the sale of a coat resulted in myself playing the role of artist-facilitator and realising a fantasy for a cross-dresser with a fetish for fur - a professional photo shoot with his collection of 11 Beaver Lamb coats.