La Maison, 2014
6”h x 4.75”w (6”h x 36”w fully extended)
Edition: set of two (only one of the set entered in this exhibition)
Description of work:
Maintaining a relationship is hard, and ending a relationship is even harder. The contents of La Maison represent the painful end of a long relationship, and the flag book structure mimics the contained chaos of divorce. The flags contain snippets of actual email messages written between two parties in the process of divorce, ironically juxtaposed with images of pots and pans, irons and dining chairs: the objects of idyllic domesticity.
After my divorce, I saved all the email correspondence between my husband and me for six years. Six years is an arbitrary length of time, but it took that long until I could make art about this painful event. La maison means “the home” in French, and I wanted to create an artist book that structurally and visually represented how I felt about home and domesticity in the midst of its destruction. In the interest of full disclosure, I included both my ex-husband’s and my own passive-aggressive (and sometimes aggressive) emails to each other, although our names have been removed. Neither of us comes off smelling like a rose, and they’re almost funny to read now. The flag book is the perfect structure for this content for a few reasons: When a flag book is opened, the flags clap and flap against each other in a rhythmic whir, sort of like a self-righteous argument. When a flag book is fully extended, the flags point in opposite directions, like a standoff between two small armies. Finally, when a flag book is closed, its chaotic contents methodically fall into place, nestling neatly inside, not unlike many unhappy relationships when viewed from the outside in. For these reasons, the exterior of La Maison is covered in paper reminiscent of elegant Edwardian wallpaper, the double accordion spine is neatly secured with needlework thread, and the pages are lightly perfumed, all to mask the emotional and physical disarray inside.