Angharad Davies (MFA 2014)
I work with video, installation, text and photography to investigate nomadism, image and site. I locate these themes in domestic, institutional and service spaces, asking what constitutes “appropriate” behavior in these environments and how you go about designing for it; architecturally, within objects and aesthetically. My work is best understood against the backdrop of four cultural spaces from which I draw inspiration; cemeteries, zoos, public swimming pools and supermarkets.
Looking at cemeteries, and the broader field of funerary architecture, I research how cultures design for death, remembrance and to facilitate forgetting. Vernacular designs, though founded in tradition and often lacking in innovation, are sites of personalisation, spectacle and celebration. In them I examine relationships between people, places and histories. Zoos imitate the animal world through theater. They demonstrate an attitude towards the ‘other' interacted with through watching. They provide a shorthand for natural habitats; summaries of environments consisting of controlled and predetermined passages. In them I find a proposition for understanding through reenactment that is both authentic and inauthentic. I look to public pools as state institutions that reveal who and what is regarded and disregarded within a structures of class, disability and exercise. This public statement exists alongside the very private encounter of the individual ritual that takes place in the site of the body. Public pools are community spaces in which acts of empathy and intimacy take place. In supermarkets, I see pattern, repetition and display. I see taste, inadequacy, desire and necessity.
All these sites act as framing devices, and with this in mind I photograph the world under the guise of a layman's anthropology to seek out commonalities and differences across cultures, and to question how our experience of the world is presented, how the edges of the experience or custom are set, and how language can be used to imagine what lies beyond. These questions lead me to create installations derived from images paired with text that become spaces of display, stages for performance, and sets for video. Mundane, background materials are brought to the fore; lopsided topiary proposes an alternative aesthetic, empty pegboard intimates a lack in commercial culture, donuts act as markers like red pen in a draft text, fighting fish or gray squirrels become protagonist or antagonist, custom-made coasters are presented as souvenirs for collective commemoration.
The work combines elements of truth, confession and storytelling to set oppositions between fact and fiction, the live and the recorded, the document and the artifact. This slippery movement between mediums makes the work unstable, demanding that the viewer remains vigilant. It questions the act of encounter. And asks that we keep paying attention to the world we inhabit.