Since I have become a media whore, one thing that I keep hearing about and thinking I need to perfect is the art of storytelling. Personally, I am a crap storyteller. I forget the punch-lines at the end of jokes, and my stories (as humorous as they are) always go on for far too long. While words and pictures are the most traditional methods for storytelling, through working in multi-platform productions I’m starting to become interested in more experimental mediums, such as using objects. Curators and artists regularly use objects to convey their research ideas to an audience. This allows people to interpret presented ideas in their own personal way, while sometimes guided by the translation of an accompanying text. Here are two examples that have caught my eye recently, in the work of Leanne Shapton and Mike Ballard.
Everyone loves the early days of a relationship; the love letters, the mix-cds, and the little ‘I saw this and thought of you’ trinkets. In a project entitled Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry, the artist Leanne Shapton has created the objects shared between a fictional couple’s four year relationship, right down to the for/against notes signalling the beginning of the end. Every memento tells part of the story and shows you a different detail of the couples character, from the image of a smashed mug and sorry note, demonstrating Dolan’s temper, to Morris’ increasing emotional distance in the postcards he would send while away on business. The project was inspired by the auction catalogue of Truman Capote, which to Shapton read like the last eight years of his life. The book is a heartbreaking reminder to anyone reeling over lost loves, and a romantic inspiration to those embarking on relationships in an age where we are more likely to tweet than write.
I’ll get your coat…
Artists have been using found objects to create artworks ever since Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, but when Mike Ballard had his coat nicked when he first moved to London 1998, he has taken Picasso’s “Good artists copy, great artists steal” very literary ever since. A recent exhibition displayed the 200 coats that he has ‘borrowed’ from pubs over the last decade as a act of revenge. What is most interesting though, is the diary style entries from every steal, and the meticulous cataloguing of the coats contents. From these objects, you can build up a picture of the jacket’s owner: who do you think carries around a harmonica, a strip of raffle tickets, a razor and a Durex condom? While the exhibition has already finished, you can still inspect all the items – and possibly claim your loss – at whostolemycoat.
If you have any other suggestions of storytelling through objects I would love to hear them.