Project for interior

Kathleen Horton
David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane

It is not apparent that the walls of this big room are covered with tiny rooms, minute spaces which have gravitated to the edge of this interior, forming minor intrusions and protrusions, gentle spatial folds in an otherwise austere environment. Using foam-core which has been painted with navy blue enamel on one side, Kathleen Horton has constructed numerous irregular assemblages, at times reminiscent of architectural models, and placed them systematically on the gallery walls. Even the material presents another interior, a filling, a soft layer of foam which is exposed at each cut edge.

At first sighting, these miniature constructions belie their three-dimensionality. They are pictorial, and at times reflective due to the glare of hard light on the enamel surface more like facades than constructions. The eye searches for a logic, a key which is not readily available and by which one can enter Kathleen Horton's Project for Interior. Perception vacillates between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional, surface and depth, sameness and difference, interior and exterior, dark and light.

Through this vacillation multiple spatialities and temporalities fragment, revealing a paradox: the work's repetitive nature and its ostensibly structural uniformity seem to promise a narrative. However, narrative, as Susan Stewart explains is 'about' closure, a given origin and completion, a particular set of boundaries within which it unravels. For Susan Stewart, 'the privileging of origin… is particularly manifested in the ambivalent status of the quotation, for the quotation lends both integrity and limit to the utterance.'1 Perhaps there is really only one assemblage - an original or authentic work - and the remainder are its variations, tracings or quotations. Or as Gail Hastings has suggested, this one might be the model for all models.2 However, this is unlikely in this 'arrangement' of lines, strata and speeds because as an arrangement, it is 'unattributable'.3

Being unattributable this arrangement results in a randomness, a vision which zooms and pans haphazardly in an ill-defined search for points of comparison and continuity: the search for origins and order is futile. Any suggestion of narrative and uniformity is illusory. What occurs is a reflexive movement within the work and on the part of the viewer towards deterritorialisation, an erasure of previous territory and pathways, an obliteration of memory and an inability to draw conclusive comparisons between each piece. Without conclusions, there can be no closure, no ending.

In Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's equation, n-1, there is always substraction, a subsequent loss and forgetting.4 In part, this is the operation of short term memory, an immediate temporal space of viewing an artwork. Short term memory, as Deleuze and Guattari argue, "can exist at a distance, coming back or returning much later ... [It] understands forgetting as a process"5 Subsequently, the visual plotting of points becomes an overtly arbitrary and accidental means of mapping, of creating pathways. The map is "open ... and susceptible to constant modification ... adapted to montages of every kind."6 In this map, these points provide momentary anchors in an aimless and hapless wandering. Each point is reached, passed and left behind, perhaps forgotten or perhaps revisited via an alternate pathway.7

Perhaps the search for narrative closure is one of the means by which Project for Interior engages in a process of seduction which exploits the desire of the viewer. In its entirety, it accommodates the body but cannot be altogether viewed except from the entrance. However, its minor spatialities, a series of scaled-down spaces, can only accommodate vision and, subsequently, invite closer scrutiny. Clearly, our bodies provide the means by which 'scale' is perceived.8 This is a work in which details command attention because they exclude the body. Perhaps this is where closure occurs as the macro space retreats into those micro spaces. Perhaps this is merely wishful thinking. After all, this is not Wonderland, and bottles with 'drink me' labels on them will not provide the means for further intimate or corporeal access to these tiny spaces.

notes: 

I . Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, Duke University Press, London, 199 3. pp. 19- 22.

2. Gail Hastings, The Function of someone else's studio: Part Two. Considerations on a work by Kathleen Horton, Exhibited 26 September-3 October, 1997. Someone Else's Studio,

November, 1997.

3. Deleuze and Guattari, On The Line, Semiotext(e), New York 1983, p. 2.

4. ibid., p. I 0.

5. ibid., pp 34-35.

6. ibid., p. 26.

7. Deleuze and Guattari, Nomadology, Semiotext(e), New York 1986, p. 50.

8. Stewart, ibid., p. xii.