This conceptual photography piece is my response to moving into a house that I am very thankful for from an apartment that I lived in for over 10 years. I love my house but the displacement factor sent me into a downward spiral of depression and dysfunction. At the time this project was conceived and later shot, I had major feelings of paranoia, displacement, agoraphobia and isolation. I kept to myself. PROJECT/PROJECT began to form in my head. I had recently acquired a slide projector, purchased from a friend, and decided it was time to literally shine a spotlight on the situation. In this series I think of house as body and the interior as mind. Everything about my house looks “normal”. It has been maintained well, but inside things were happening, or rather not happening. Cleaning and clutter piled up as I spent a lot of time meditating to keep calm. Ghosts of mental illness flared. Some of these shots are directly commenting on the absence of the body and what is left behind. A sort of metaphorical mental detritus. Others are simply re-working the architecture of my “quirky” interior space and using props at hand to project various texts onto.
The process, aided thankfully by Evan Phillips, was particularly interesting to me as we married old school technology (the slide projector) with new school technology (the digital camera). We had to work with the architecture, often in close quarters, as well as use a step ladder, some thick art books and a towel to steady the projector for the long exposures required for the work.
I still consider myself either a showboat or a shipwreck but there is a middle path now emerging. My art projects fall under one of those two categories. This is obviously a shipwreck for various reasons. The most important shot to me is the ship with “All is Lost” projected on it. It represents the obvious shipwreck side to my disorder, but also that ship was a gift from my family to my father’s parents. Both of those grandparents have since passed. There are many quotes from popular culture included in this project as I have a steel-trap mind for that area of life, but seemingly not much else. I am still figuring out what this work means to me. It was a surreal and spooky experience. I still fight my battles with depression and dysfunction, but we all have that at times.
There is also an element of breakdown of the public/private split in this series. I have previously done work with that subject and find myself still fascinated with the idea of persona and the reality of a person. Most folks wouldn’t feel comfortable posting their dirty laundry for others to see, but it is something I find myself doing time and time again as an artist. I want to mess with that split.
The title of this work is also referential. It comes from my love of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty and the work they did together in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I’m still a fan of both. “3AM Eternal” was a song done by KLF, and often on sleepless nights I found myself reading about those two and obsessing about my state of affairs that I could not see a way out of mentally. The JAMS/Timelords/KLF/K Foundation work is very important to me conceptually, and Bill Drummond often tells tales of failure. There was definitely a failure to function that drove this work, and I made the work anyhow. “The White House” portion of the title not only refers to the white exterior of my actual house, but is also another reference to K Foundation activities. When Rachel Whiteread received the Turner Prize in Britain for her full-sized plaster of a Victorian-era house in 1993, the K Foundation in turn gave her their “Worst Artist of the Year” award. The sum they offered was more than the Turner Prize and she reluctantly came at the last minute to the outside of the Tate Modern to claim it and donate it to young artists. Drummond and Cauty had said they would burn it if she did not show. She received the money “doused in petrol”.
There is still an endurance performance, though very private, involved in this work. I consider these images simple documentation. Of a certain time, place and mental state. I am uncertain if this is a series that will be printed. I just knew I had to make the work to document the performance and get on with things.
Thanks are also due to Liz Obert and Laura Johnson for helping me with the exterior shot. Teamwork!