Domestic Interventions

In her latest blog post on the progress of her residency at Krems, Sue Morris reflects on first contact with her co-residents and the increasingly fluid boundaries between her work, the domestic space and its ephemera.

“It is a curious fact of acoustics that a toilet plunger, skilfully waved before the open bell, can transform the trumpet`s sound into that of the human voice.” The Quiet Twin, by Dan Vyleta.
Artists aren’t always the most sociable of creatures and this is certainly the case at AIR Krems. It’s over a week into my residency and the common area provided has been strangely vacant. So I decided to establish closer contact beyond a passing “hi” in the hallway and posted cheery notes on the studio doors, inviting my co-artists to have a get-together.

The response was positive and a few days later we gathered in the common room for a bring-your-own supper that included plates of cheese, salamis, salads and wine. None of us chose to cook, which is my kind of supper!

The other artists include an architect/photographer from Bucharest, a filmmaker from Madrid, a visual artist from Prague and a Japanese musician living in Berlin, who I have yet to meet and did not show up for our first supper. Despite the evident language barriers, the conversation ranged from the economic woes of our respective countries to the unfathomable fluctuations in the price of international flights from day to day, and from the state of the arts to the progress of our residencies to date. It was a good occasion and very worthwhile for two reasons. Firstly, the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with other artists is for me an important aspect of the residency and offsets the many hours spent working and reflecting in solitude. And secondly, this social gathering set me thinking about residents past. AIR Krems is quite unusual in that it facilitates artists with familial responsibilities and welcomes partners/spouses/children. Living and working in the space, rooting through cupboards and drawers for that all important paperclip/blutac/box of nails, reveals the domestic traces of previous occupants. Assortments of unusual condiments, utensils, books, board games, tubs of granules, pebbles and seeds, a collection of TV aerials and other personal ephemera sheds light on cultural/personal/artistic values and differences.

Since collecting and foraging forms an intrinsic part of my art practice, I have taken this opportunity to make use of some of these disparate objects and elements and conjoin them into a series of ‘Domestic Interventions’. An old chessboard, missing its pieces, is reinvented into a game of levitation, a candleholder becomes one with an iron. A clothes drying rack takes its place in the hall. A set of pegs and a small rubber ball are arranged to suggest table football.

Up until I arrived at AIR Krems, my work was preoccupied with dynamics within the domestic space. Intriguingly, I now find that it is becoming the domestic space. Or perhaps the domestic space is becoming my work?