Destruction’s Security Unit was an exhibition showcasing The Security Unit, a fictional artists’ collective made up of superficial icons — Margo, Kansas, Alice, Lee, and Ruth. The five characters, who were shown both individually and collectively in videos displayed in the exhibition, are both identical and distinct. They have the same face and body(mine), and uniform; although their hair, task and voice are distinct. The artwork in Destructions’ Security Unit, while created entirely by me, is purported to have been created by these different personas. Three variables made up the visuals in the exhibition: the characters themselves, documentation of their projects and the ephemera from their work. So please, take a moment to investigate how the fictitious nature of these five fictional female artists allows for leaps and holes in the effort of creating new experiences.
Postcard from The Security Unit.
Exhibition statement from The Unit.
Photos from the exhibition.
Spirituality + Rituals
In retrospect have been examining the purpose of The Unit’s projects considering that their impact to provide ‘security’ is somewhat futile and, instead, I have started to think of their projects in terms of rituals. In Joan Didion’s 1961 article “Self-Respect: Its Source, Its Power” she talks about rituals like this:
“…those small disciplines are valuable only insofar as they represent larger ones… to give formal dinners in the rain forest would be pointless did not the candlelight flickering on the liana call forth deeper, stronger disciplines, values instilled long before. It is a kind of ritual, helping us to remember who and what we are. In order to remember it, one must have known it. (1)”
This perspective sheds light on my subliminal intuitions in creating The Unit’s projects, that they are a way to go through the motions, to figure something out that I once knew — to bring knowledge back. Since The Unit works to counteract ambivalence (or indifference) with levity and action maybe at some point I knew how to do that, but I can't remember. It’s as if these characters are helping me work through an inclination — to believe in the power of my actions and conviction of my purpose. All five of the tasks that The Unit performs link back to experiences that I have found meaningful to the extent that they shifted my perspective and instilled a belief system: Margo’s alternative self-reliance, Ruth’s tangible restoration, Lee’s metaphorical mending, Kansas’s ephemeral community-based events, and Alice’s love of natural spaces and water. Because of the specific memories that I have with these projects I acknowledge that not everyone that visits my exhibition will relate. And consequently, this exhibition is for those that care for these types of experiences and for those of us that believe that culture isn't a rational invention — meaning that cultures function on faith rather than truth. The narrative that these characters provide is a space for alternative faith — their projects attempt to enliven us through VALUing, GROWing, MENDing, BURNing and FLOATing. These are not only projects but rituals to create an existence and experiences not otherwise accessible but for which the soul yearns.
1. Didion, Joan. “Self-Respect: Its Source, Its Power.” Vogue Magazine, 22 October 2014. https://www.vogue.com/article/joan-didion-self-respect-essay-1961. Accessed 6, April 2018.
Destruction's Security Unit
Ewing Gallery, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.
April 13th-19th, 2018.