A body of textile work by the Dunedin based artist Jay Hutchinson, this exhibition questions the value we place on objects and the ways in which we interact with urban environment.
One of the most useful finds at an archaeological site is a midden. A site of domestic waste, middens reveal the day to day lives of ancient humans. Heroic stories are rarely found in a rubbish bin, instead we discover reality.
Jay Hutchinson is interested in the archaeology of the discarded, forgotten and thrown away.
His meticulously embroidered objects reflect the indulgences of 21st century society – seductive yet destructive consumables such as fast food, tobacco and confectionery.
The exhibition builds on Hutchinson’s work from the last four years as well as presenting new ‘discarded’ objects and an ambitious full sized embroidered fence.
Hutchinson uses the methodologies of archaeology and art to subvert the hierarchy of object and in labouring over the rejected, his work confuse the boundaries between treasure and trash. In elevating debris his work acts as a rejection of romance – which is closely tied to the myths of both the artist and the archaeologist. In popular fiction both are cast as glamourous figures, when the reality of both careers require copious and sometimes tedious amounts of time spent researching, writing proposals, networking, and finally making or working in the field.
All of the items are found by Hutchinson on foot, their importance being in their discovery in transitory spaces. These streets and alleyways are democratic sites in which anyone can move and exist – and leave behind their trace. Just as it is for an archaeologist, context is central to this artist’s process. Each item is documented in-situ, then carefully removed (when possible), cleaned and preserved for study and reproduction.
But what do they mean now that they exist within the while walls of the gallery? In this new context they become artefacts of contemporary culture – evidence of this critical moment when capitalism and climate change have become sources of existential dread.