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Passengers - 2009

Viky Garden "Passengers" Exhibition In Hebrew, the word moth describes something that “silently eats or destroys any other thing”. Recently, I discovered my ...

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Viky Garden “Passengers” Exhibition

In Hebrew, the word moth describes something that “silently eats or destroys any other thing”. Recently, I discovered my favourite winter cardigan riddled with moth holes. I was angry about the damage caused to the garment (which I’ve used extensively in my work since 2005), but as an example of the fundamental corrosiveness of nature, it was a vivid metaphor for anything that threatens existence: disease, poverty, prejudice, terror, aging and death

Passengers is an attempt to discuss the presence, nature and cycle of decay.

Used as a prop in earlier paintings, the cardigan’s blanket stitching had inspired me to leave pencil lines visible as ‘evidence of origin’, giving the work a sense of its own history. Exposed lines are also evident in Passengers, linking these paintings to previous work. They can be seen within the background patterning, a device repeated over the last few years to allude to emotionally pertinent experiences and connections from my past.

Likewise, the silhouettes relate more to the decorative Greek amphoral designs I grew up with than to Victorian cutouts, yet there is nothing intrinsically Greek about these shadows – they are culturally non-specific. As a child of refugees’ eager to assimilate, I was encouraged to learn new ways if I was to ever get ahead and do well.

From personal experience, I’m intimately aware how cherished objects imbued with memories and emotions become cold, dumb reminders of a lost language once the lover dies (here, now exhibition, 2000).   My cardigan serves to remind me of the nature of decay and destruction. We are not merely spectators in this irreversible process – we are passengers.

Yet for me, the moth is also an object of beauty. It embodies the duel notion of something worthy of admiration, but also capable of corruption and destruction. I saw this as an analogy for the current economic crisis, where vast sums of money silently disappeared without trace, quite literally as we slept.

A moth does what it is programmed to do.

This winter, I found a tiny green-loop caterpillar, barely visible to the naked eye on the leaf of a flower. I fed it chrysanthemum leaves on my kitchen windowsill, until it became so big it could hardly move. I observed it carefully fold surrounding leaves and encase itself with its own silk thread, making a cocoon where it stayed for a further couple of weeks. Late one night I discovered the cocoon open and empty. On the cold windowpane breathed a large, brown, beautiful moth.

I let it out into the night.

Viky Garden, 2009

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