Frame 4: moratoriums

Practical life cannot be suspended in an everlasting contradiction. The opposites and the contradictions between them do not vanish, however, even when for a moment they yield before the impulse to action. They constantly threaten the unity of the personality and entangle life again and again in their dichotomies. Insight into the dangers and the painfulness of such a state might well decide one to stay at home, that is, never to leave the safe fold and the warm cocoon, since these alone promise protection from inner stress.

Jung, C. G. Memories, Dreams and Reflections. Random House. 1989. p346

In the text, ‘The Psychology and Value of Emotional Containment, Dr Andy Drymalski refers to Jung’s perspective on protecting the wellbeing of feelings, as a moratorium [1], in which, the physical containment of overflowing emotions can be looked at and reflected upon, from a distance, perhaps with a more objective perspective.[2] 

Referring to the text, ‘The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths‘, Rosalind Krauss reflects on the structural symbolism of a gridded window as being paradoxical in nature, offering a centripetal reading, with a narrow, inward and claustrophobic ability to repress and leave one dwelling in solitude. But in the same breath, Krauss reframes this perspective, reflecting upon how the gridded window also offers a centrifugal reading, with the capacity to experience possibility and hope beyond the constraints of the frame. [3]

Horizontality is a desire to give up, to sleep. Verticality is an attempt to escape. Hanging and floating are states of ambivalence.

Bourgeois. L. ‘Louise Bourgeois per Capodimante’. Catalogo de la Mostra. Napoli: Electa. 2009

In the text, ‘Soglitude: Introducing a Method of Thinking Thresholds’, Tatjana Barazon augments the uncomfortable endeavour when crossing a threshold, as a ‘sign of victory over pain’, and defines the psychological intensity of crossing, as ‘a dilemma between permanence and change’ that is ‘fundamentally concentrated’, in which, she suggests the liminal zone is a place ‘where we don’t dwell’.

Underlining the necessity to be open to acceptance when crossing junctures, Barazon presupposes that, to cross, we must endow ‘observing things from a multitude of points of view and never restricting thought to one opinion or any certainty of knowledge’. Barazon assures that ‘a new adjustment in mind and feeling’ [4] must be considered, so that altercations can be broken, by breaking down tensions and learnt dichotomies, and challenging conditional thinking, such as; professional / unprofessional, repressed / expressive, habituated / provocative, wild / civilized.

The premise for making manifest a moratorium, to leave perspectives unsubstantiated and left in the balance for consideration, was to:

  • harness emotions, fears, dreams, and desires.
  • suspend (dis)belief and weightlessly resist any gravitational pull.
  • present a dynamic approach to thinking, juxtaposed against everything else that was fixed and grounded.
  • psychoanalyze the self between states of resistance and healing.
  • discover something previously hidden, whether it be a secret, something unrealized or something which had been refused foresight.
  • hold as opposed to holding on to.
  • present a state of poise between thinking and doing, while subject to change.
  • unify conflicts and enable collisions to coalesce.
  • artificially act out and play with reality, while remaining within reality.
  • manifest a disconnected connection, demarcating a visual boundary and a safe enclosure.
  • provide an expansive viewing position to be encircled and viewed from all directions, supporting the notion of thinking through multiple perspectives.
  • break free from fixed notions of thought.
  • stir a sense of awakening.

Referring to the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the verb ‘trim’[5] and the Merriam-Webster definition for the material association ‘trimmings’[6], ‘Moratorium I: under weight’, 2015, plays with the ambivalence of the material and it’s material state:

  • Making (something) neat or of the required size or form by cutting away irregular or unwanted parts.
  • Decorate (something), typically with contrasting items or pieces of material.
  • Adjust the balance of (a ship or aircraft) by rearranging its cargo or by means of its trim tabs.
  • Keep or adjust the degree to which (an aircraft) can be maintained at a constant altitude without any control forces being present.
  • Adapt one’s views to the prevailing political trends for personal advancement.
  • A decorative accessory or additional item
  • To administer a beating to: thrash
  • Pieces cut off in trimming something; parings, cuttings, scraps.
  • To keep something trim through the arrangement of balancing or poising.
  • Balancing between opinions or parties so as to remain in favour with both sides

How come it can’t fly no better than a chicken? Milkman asked

Too much tail. All that jewellery weighs it down. Like vanity. Can’t nobody fly with all that shit. wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.

The character Guitar to Milkman on why a male peacock can’t fly much better than a chicken. Toni Morrison, ‘Song of Solomon’, New York: Plume, 1987, p.178-79

In ‘The Origins of the Species’ Charles Darwin observed the ornamentation of a peacock as one of several male species who displayed ‘charms’ to compete for courtship with passive females; including the colourful feathers of a bird of paradise, the mane of a lion and the antlers of a stag.[7] Later, in the ‘The Descent of Man’, Darwin articulated ‘sexual selection’ as the ‘development of secondary sexual characters’, whose function served to aid successful reproduction, through intimidation or the defeat of male rivals, driving their evolution at the mercy of sacrificing themselves.[8]

Unlike ‘Moratorium I: under weight’, from 2015, where material, contained within an architecturally domestic space, made from inverting windows, was constructed as a means to reflect upon matters harboured within the home, to reflect on it anew, from the outside, by 2016, I began to empty-out my moratoriums, no longer feeling the need to hold onto such matters.

Seeing the significance of retitling these framed hollow spaces, as a place where words that were not ready to be spoken and actions that were not ready to be taken, could remain poised, I began pairing-back my materials and their associations, to focus on the moratorium itself. ‘Moratorium II: under weigh’, 2016, was a counterbalanced installation, where the moratorium was precariously held in time and space. This simplified form, working with the reflective quality of glass, continued through to ‘Rev{o,e}l{u,a}tions’, 2017, and ‘{a violent intersection}‘, 2017.

Referring to the OED definitions for the word ‘weighted’ and various phrases relating to ‘weight’[9], ‘Moratorium II: under weigh’ plays with the ambivalence of:

  • A body’s relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it, giving rise to a downward force; the heaviness of a person or thing.
  • [Physics] The force exerted on the mass of a body by a gravitational field.
  • A heavy object used to give an impulse or act as a counterpoise in a mechanism.
  • The importance / value attributed to something.
  • The ability of someone or something to influence decisions or actions.
  • A factor associated with one of a set of numerical quantities, used to represent its importance relative to the other members of the set.
  • Be planned or arranged so as to put a specified person, group, or factor in a position of advantage or disadvantage.
  • The weight of the world: Used in reference to a very heavy burden of worry or responsibility
  • Be a weight off one’s mind: Come as a great relief after one has been worried.

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word ‘await’[10]:

  • to lie in wait for

World Wide Words defines the word ‘under weigh’ [11] as originating from a maritime association relating to ‘weighing anchor to get a ship moving’, which comes from the Dutch nautical term ‘onderweg‘, meaning ‘on the way’. The Dutch term was then linked with the phrase weigh anchor’, meaning the anchor has been weighted and the ship is ready to depart, as opposed to something being ‘under way’ and having already started.

‘Moratorium 2: under weigh', 2016
‘Moratorium II: under weigh’, 2016
Dimensions: 300cm x 300cm x 80cm                        Materials: crittall windows, sash weights, winches and rope, hinges, potato weight

[1] In the legal sense a moratorium designates a suspension of activity which is authorized while opposing views are investigated.

[2] Dr Andy Drymalski. ‘The Psychology and Value of Emotional Containment’. Online Source: 2013. Source cited: 18th May 2015

[3] Rosalind Krauss. ‘The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths’. MIT Press. 1986. p18

[4] Tatjana Barazon, ‘Soglitude: Introducing a Method of Thinking Thresholds’. Online Source: 2010. Source cited: 9th June 2015

[5] Online Source: Source cited: 13th Dec 2016

[6] Source cited: 13th Dec 2016

[7] Darwin, C. R. ‘The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life’. New York: Hurst and Co. 1912. p455

[8] Darwin, C. R. ‘The Descent of Man’. London: John Murray. Volume 1. 1st edition. 1871. p266

[9] Online Source: Source cited: 20th Aug 2017

[10] Online Source: Source cited: 20th Aug 2017

[11] Online Source: Source cited: 20th Aug 2017