Thursday, October 30, 2014

'ash, needle. pencil. match'...glen skien & tachika yokota

'ash, needle, pencil. match' was a collaborative exhibition in early August of this year between myself and Japanese artist/crafts-person Tachika Yokota. It was one of those shows that passed under the radar but for both of us it provided an opportunity to extend our interest in inanimate objects, found or self-made, and their capacity to express a sense of narrative. For Tachika the focus of such relationships had mostly been explored through the photographic image but her year of honors saw that relationship shift focus towards the object and the significance of the hand-made within an expanding digital environment. Her minimal resin relief works of a record album cover and a Polaroid image questioned the loss of the hand made and referenced the layered relationship between our experience of the photograph as documentation and the object itself. It is the type of work that remains evasive in pinning down an exact description of the meaning and intention. No sooner do you find a point of having grasped it before that moment of comprehension shifts or vanishes completely, forcing you to begin again.
For my part the hand-made was referenced through the very literal use of jewelers saw handles attached to cigar boxes that served as a very practical device for attaching and embedding objects and miniature relief sculptures. Beside each piece I had hand written in pencil descriptions of the materials used, a type of inventory of what the viewer was looking at. I'm not certain what purpose it served apart from the intuitive desire to have text on the gallery wall, in some way making them even more marginal. Text dilutes and contaminates the image. It provides a continual shift because it's impossible to engage with both forms at once, becoming quite separate experiences. 

The title of the exhibition was appropriated from a description by the writer W.G. Sebald (1944-2001) in his response to the literary works of Swiss poet and writer Robert Walser  (1878-1956). Walser wrote almost his entire collection of short stories and poetic works in a coded micro-script format written in pencil on the back of discarded fragments of paper. For Sebald the works of Walser were embedded with empathetic responses to inanimate objects that evoked a deep emotional response. Visually his penciled micro-scripts  were a free-form of concrete poetry where the experience is a collision of text and graphic simplicity. 
Our collaborative process will continue in 2015 with further exploration of  the narratives disclosed through the hand-made.

Object-poems (i-ii-iii) Glen Skien and Tachika Yokota


  1. lovely provocative work Glen, am particularly intruigued by the thought, "text dilutes and contaminates the image." working as an illustrator I like to think the art illuminates the text and the text clarifies the art...

  2. I saw this exhibition Glen. As always…it was very thoughtful and very beautiful. Look forward to more in 2015.



  3. By the way Glen….loved the words crossed out and rubbed out. Perfect imperfection I thought!