Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Lindsay Sekulowicz 'Inventory'

At John Jones we are exposed to art everyday. This access to seeing new work has led to the development of Projection, a space for solo exhibitions which aim to increase the exposure of mainly unseen artists who we believe have great potential. One of the key objectives for Projection is to support the exhibiting artist with one aspect of their professional development such as the presentation or communication of their work. Each selected artist has a striking quality towards making art which we anticipate will develop significantly in the future.

Lindsay Sekulowicz is our current artist in Projection.

"The idea of an Inventory through drawing has been in my mind since beginning work with Museo La Specola, The Museum of Natural History in Florence, in 2006.

I lived in Florence for six months in 2006 where I began working with the museum, and began an initial catalogue of the exhibits in the museum. In 2007 I was invited to travel with a group of entomologists from the museum to the Northern Hulu Perak and Ke
lantan regions of the Malaysian jungle as artist in residence, on an expedition to form a preliminary catalogue of the beetle species inhabiting the area. Earlier this year, we traveled to Ecuador, to cloud forests in the west of the country, to the Paramo region in the north, and to the Amazon.

Before this year’s expedition, I had been in contact with John Jones to discuss the project with them. While applying for funding I found their support and suggestions invaluable, and the personal enthusiasm of people there incredibly helpful. Before I left for Ecuador, I was invited to exhibit work from the expedition in the new Projection space, and I immediately accepted this opportunity as I already placed a lot of trust in the people I had met at John Jones, and greatly appreciated the flexibility they offered me in a show, and the implicit understanding of how I saw my work developing and a potential audience.

From the beginning in the mu
seum, I consistently thought of the desire to catalogue, to contain, own, understand, and anthropomorphise our world. I drew in the cold rooms there, and noted lists of the exhibits, until the stuffed lizards and crocodiles seemed to shift in their glass cases. Once I thought I saw a monkey gently breathing.

In Malaysia, at night in my tent, I dreamt of the indistinct grey forms of elephants nearby. In Ecuador, the possibilities of snakes were much more significant and I imagined their mean little wooden heads sw
aying in the grass. Once I sat on a ledge in the jungle, lost, and contemplated my hat far below in the thick grass, wondering if my small knife could adequately cut me a clear path. Spider’s webs wrapped round my arms as I climbed down.

Every day, I would say to Giuseppe, and him to me; “The jungle is so beautiful!”
In the cloud forest, I sat in front of an
Abutilon Darwinii tree, trying for hours to take a single photograph of the hummingbirds that surrounded it. The entomologists would bring back things from their walks for me to draw, and pointed out nearby tarantulas nests and the volcano visible in the morning from a certain position, before the clouds descended making everything cool and damp and dim for the rest of the day.

I found the pelvis of a small mammal, and the skin of a pit viper. We left cooked spaghetti nearby the camp to try and entice armadillos near to us. One day we found a headless effigy with blue trousers and a white shirt that had been forgotten in a house in the forest (the same house that bandits had attacked several months before).

For me, it seems that in the jungle the world separates into its most essential components. With the entomologists all these things relate to the world of insects and their pursuit. On our lists before we go into the jungle, it may say: honey, alcohol, knife, fruit, cloth, and generator. And then on a table in front of us there may be bottles of beetles, paper envelopes full of butterflies, stick insect’s eggs, a scorpion in a jar, and a huge lion ant captive inside a glass tank.

On return to London, objects from the jungle became souvenirs, incongruously surviving in the present, existing as a means to displace attention to the past. The objects began to dry out, shrink, occasionally hatch new small insects, and once, completely disappear (a huge leaf, partly destroyed by a fungus, which left only its skeleton and disappeared from inside a closed box).

The collection replaces history with classification. And so a return to the museum in Italy is necessary now. I am in the process of creating a series of workshops for young people to explore ideas of interdisciplinary exchange between art and science, and have spoken to John Jones regarding where and how I can present these workshops. Since returning, I had two months of preparing for the show in Projection, during which time I had numerous meetings with various people at John Jones to discuss publicising the show, ways in which to continue the work through video, publications and talks, and most importantly, the work itself, around which there was continually a dialogue that was surprising, supportive, and informed.

Museo La Specola: In the entomology department there with its familiar naphthalene scent, the precision and sincerity of the entomologists is demonstrated in the laborious and meticulous process of identifying, setting and cataloguing specimens. At lunchtime we would sit round a table just off the main department, and sometimes retired or visiting entomologists come to discuss familiar subjects. When Luca goes to the fridge to take out tomatoes, I see rows and rows of insect boxes in among the food. In the morning before most visitors arrive in the winter, sunlight enters between blue curtains in the bird room, landing on the faces of all the penguins as they look up in the same direction. In the afternoons sometimes I go to Giuseppe’s room in the attic of the museum, full of the rhynchophorus weevils in well-sealed tanks that he studies.

I have been invited back often for discussions at John Jones for the duration of the show, always feeling that I am learning more about the work when I do. This has undoubtedly been the most positive aspect of the exhibition, to feel such an ongoing engagement and collaboration between all aspects of work and the people based there.

The next thing, before I go back to the jungle again, is to consider the strangely failed magic present in all these displaced objects and animals. To document the cataloguing of the miniature after the event of the expedition and to revisit the memorized landscapes of the jungles I have already visited. I hope that through the experience of exhibiting at Projection I am able to do this with clarity and I greatly anticipate further stages of this project and future expeditions."

Lindsay Sekulowicz

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