Hello all. I'm Laura Mallonee, and super honored to be guest-writing on Map Mint. I'd like to share an artwork that I hope fits into some larger themes explored here on Sage's blog and in her work with maps.
Home is the first place I look for when staring at a map. For some, it’s the realm of our earliest memories and the place where our parents will eventually die. For the rest of us, it’s an unstable idea: something our parents knew better than we. I wasn’t born in the USA, my mother is an immigrant, and our family never owned a home. As I grew up my idea of home became less tied up with a house or neighborhood and more associated with the familiar objects we carried with us from place to place (the porcelain cat on the mantle, the oval mirror, the clock).
When Sage began creating prints from video cassettes she found in the abandoned house, it made sense to me: objects soak in history and reveal who we are. They’re living archives of memory, as important to our concept of home as the walls or roof of a house. The pitfall comes when things that seem like trash to others become objects we can’t bare losing— as if the act of throwing or giving something away would unravel not only our connection to the past but also the fabric of who we are.
In his 2009 installation Waste Not, Chinese conceptual artist Song Dong explores these themes through the lens of his mother’s compulsive hoarding. For sixty years she saved every imaginable household object from yarn to shoes to toothpaste tubes in her tiny Beijing home.
Before her death, Dong convinced her to donate its contents—from her bed to the very frame of her house— to become immortalized in a modern art installation. A year later her Beijing home was displayed at MoMA in New York.
In Waste Not, over 10,000 items—pots, blankets, bottle caps, water bottles, stuffed animals and shoes— are neatly layed out in an area of 70 by 60 feet.
The result is not only a cultural glimpse into the life of a poor Chinese widow, but also a profound statement about the impermanence of home. Home is a fleeting concept in an increasingly globalized world. It’s why many of us find ourselves placing value on worthless objects. Dong explores that in its exaggerated form, inviting us to reflect on what home means to us. You can find more of Song Dong's work here.
All images were found here.