Preston, Julieanna. SHEER:SWELL [photograph]. In IDEC Creative Scholarship Showcase, Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta, 19-28 March 2010, Atlanta Georgia.


SHEAR: SWELL is a pair of art works that examine industrial sheet good materials typical to interior environments: gypsum wall board and medium density fibreboard. These works critique the manner in which these materials promulgate uniformity, modularity and generic installation, and subsequently, discipline interior living and workplace environments. In the process of re-doing and un-doing each type of sheet good, I sought to draw out a latent potentiality within each material in order to override a social and cultural construction signalled by smoothness and homogeneity. I believe these traits are linked to an unspoken, unarticulated and unacknowledged condition of gender in many contemporary interiors. 

In each of these works I am employing concepts and processes aligned with feminist philosophy dependent on the use of non-violent, affirming and liberating strategies as part of a search for the political agency of interior surfaces. Each material has been re-made as a form of civil disobedience against the industrial normative condition. In both cases, tools of an industrial nature have been used in order to detour nostalgic notions of craft and assumptions that industrial processes lie outside the language of feminist art practice and discourse. Manipulation, tools, instruments and conceptual narratives were performed on each sheet in a manner that linked the civil disobedience motto “Go Limp!” with techniques associated with textile design such as distressing, cutting in and drape. I observe that each of the art works moves significantly closer to a state of fabric as it yields to gravity and yet maintains a structural integrity. The literature surrounding issues of ‘weak’, ‘pliant’, ‘soft’, and ‘surface’ has fuelled my work and as such, I declare these works as material thinks, or as Mieke Bal might name them, theoretical objects, where each work arouses an exchange between acts of theorizing and making.