Alayna Wiley, Animate Objects: DIVIDUALS

Nov 13, 2020


Nov 28, 2020

Artshack Gallery is pleased to announce a pop-up show by Alayna Wiley.

Animate Objects : Dividuals invites you to recognize life in objects.

Objects have life in a myriad of ways. They form our experiences, embed themselves in memories, accrue stains, scars, and chips through a series of events. Their bodies are often made to fit ours and to inherently match the maker’s hands. In their form, there is a human signature whereby the creator’s culture can be read. Ceramic, paper, metal, wood, and glass, born of the earth, are ergonomically transformed by craft and given a path. These impressionable materials are honest event recorders, holding their experiences within their flesh. Ostensibly inanimate objects are in truth animate.

We are reminded by phenomenology, a method of inquiry that uses ‘our perception of objects as the basis for the investigation of reality,’ that what we perceive takes place within our own bodies. Our understanding of our surroundings is a sensation that happens within the brain. What we perceive as being distinct and separate is in fact transpiring within ourselves. Because objects are our environment, objects share our lives.

Numerous cultures refer to a set of sacred objects as ‘object-persons,’ or objects that possess life. The minkisi objects of the Kongo are seen as living because of their duty to protect and their ability to heal. There is a belief in an inner spark or mooyo within minkisi objects that is created through their materials. The mirror on the outside of its belly, for example, is seen as a divination device; it serves as the minkisi's eyes for seeing. Interculturally speaking, we are forced to observe that our limited conception of life is linguistically tied to English. We must pause to dismantle the ways our language has limited our ability to understand animism and stunted our ability to perceive life. Expanding our language will enrich our ability to see life in what previously appeared to be inert.

The word 'dividual' refers to the concept of the porous self. In contrast to the idea of a separate and distinct entity, or ‘individual,’ this word illuminates our interdependence as the primary perception of ourselves rather than our separateness. Nurit Bird-David proposes the idea that the dividual person is one constituted of relationships. This concept allows us to see the world by focusing on connections rather than on distinct items. His argument is that it is not everywhere that the individual is regarded as a single entity, bound to itself and then integrated. In fact the dividual person can be seen as being made of its composite relationships. Through introducing new words to our language, we may begin to conceive of new dynamics that are present within our society.

These works are intended to invite the viewer to elevate their perception of a living reality. They offer an opening in which we might begin to identify ourselves as an intrinsic part of our environment; to recognize our belonging to the contents of this celestial plane; and to live with reverence. May we recognize our one life and may we observe the sacred manifestation in all things.

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Animate Objects : Dividuals is my submission to the afro-minguei cannon proposed by Theaster Gates through his 2019 exhibition ‘Afro Minguei,’ which combined japanese philosophy with black identity. ‘Mingei’ translates as folk art, or rather, the art of the people. The term was coined by Soetsu Yanagi, a craft collector in the wake of the japanese industrial revolution. He posited that through the work of the mingei craftsperson, the divisions between art, philosophy, and religion merge. Within the show, you will find attribution to my teacher, Takashi Nakazato, 13th generation Japanese Potter and National Treasure. The work is the result of my own experiences as a biracial craftsperson and art historian dedicated to preserving traditional craft.

Alayna Wiley, November 2020

Shelf Architect, Sam Spratt

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