Erica Stocking (b.1981, Toronto) lives in Vancouver with her husband and two young children. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr Institute in 2004. Group exhibitions include an upcoming installment at the Museum of Longing and Failure in Bergen, Norway, Properties, Western Front (2013), The Triumphant Carrot, Contemporary Art Gallery (2010), How Soon is Now, Vancouver Art Gallery (2009), and a solo exhibition at Richmond Art Gallery (2007). She was the recipient of the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award: Emerging Artist (2009), and has completed two permanent public artworks: Yellow Fence (2009), Burnaby, BC, and Geyser for Hillcrest Park (2012), created in collaboration with Vanessa Kwan for the City of Vancouver. She is a founding member of the artist collective Norma (est. 2003) whose final collaboration was performed in 2014 at the PuSH Festival in Vancouver. She recently attended The Universe and Other Systems Summer Thematic Residency at The Banff Centre led by Shary Boyle. Materials and the unseen forces that shape them inspire her.
June 6–July 18, 2015
Bear with me here, I am going to make an argument for the middle. Not as a space of mediocrity or stunted progression or where disappointment transitions into bitterness. But the other middle, the insides, the guts, the glue. If the things worth remembering are the highs and the lows, what about the middle that binds it altogether? We are in a moment in which beginnings seem naive and endings are too often depicted as tragic or apocalyptic. Maybe we got it all wrong, the middle is where the good stuff is, where the real things happen but also where real things are dismissed as banal and inconsequential. Where do the things worth forgetting go to grow old?
The original source material of these sculptures is a collection of video recorded moments, real things that occurred in the life of Erica Stocking and her family over the span of six months. The highs and the lows are present—birthdays and dinner parties and tears—but the compilation is mostly comprised of the middle, daily activities routinely left behind. The shapes and sounds that constitute her narrative morph in film, as they do in life and in memory. Stocking lifts patterns and forms that appear throughout, constructing a vocabulary for the collection from the architecture of her house, to her children’s artwork, to the most obvious reference of clothing. In previous work she has created new use value out of discarded materials from her home, and in a similar fashion this collection salvages moments potentially destined to disappear.
“There are so many bodies that request me to be a body. A confused body in the sense that it is a mirror body, a reflective body. A body of the surroundings. How do I be that body but let it be guided by the inner one and the inner conversation?” The presence of bodies (the other other middle) is implied in the structure of the clothes themselves—a stiff bend in a sleeve or underwear resistant to collapse. We define ourselves amongst the bodies around us. They carry the weight of our memories, they construct our lives. But these bodies are moving, each on their own timeline and trajectory. What happens when one body leaves or if not enough stay? When one is lost? When no one that remembers your childhood is left? Do you cease to exist? Or do you exist, but less? You begin to wonder how many things in the world are not discrete, things that are in fact defined by missing bodies, like parked cars and vacant benches.
It is uncertain what happens to bodies in the subtraction of time. Does the body become a vessel for memory? There is no intention of nostalgia in these clothes, nor should they (or bodies) be confused as props. They are not stand-ins or players tasked with telling a specific story. They are a ground to experience nothingness. They are real things that elicit jamais vu, operating in the neighbourhood of our actual experiences and memories but are completely unfamiliar. The intimate life of someone else is not ours to take, and here we are given real things that are replicas of replicas. What connects the real things, the insides, the guts, the glue, cannot be accessed. We grasp at strands of recognition, mining our pasts or our current lives that never feel private enough. We are reminded of a time when beginnings were not yet naive and when failure felt distant, when unrealistic expectations could still take root. When fingers could be extensions of toes.
We are not time, we inhabit it. Living in the middle is a very explicit habitation of time, so much so that we barely mark its passing. We are losing time all around us. But the might of insignificance is almost calming. It means we do not need to find what has been forgotten. It means choosing to participate in the living, the middle, the now.
These objects remember for her but it is possible she is remembering for us.
1 “Is not the experience of the thing and of the world precisely the ground that we need in order to think nothingness in any way whatever? Is not thinking the thing against the ground of nothingness a double error, with regard to the thing and with regard to nothingness, and by silhouetting it against nothingness, do we not completely denature the thing?” – Maurice Merleau-Ponty
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the BC Arts Council.
August 5–September 2, 2006
This project will be visible in Artspeak’s windows while the gallery is closed for August.
Objects to Move the Assemblage Point and Other Tools will be installed in Artspeak’s front entrance and can be viewed from the street through the gallery windows. Every street level window has its own way of introducing its interior. Slick storefronts frame brief tableaux for their ideal visitor. In jumbled and dusty windows there is often an intentional sly nod to the passerby—a newspaper clipping or sequence of noteworthy objects. Windows of smaller shops and services tend to operate like portraits of the owners, mixing tools of the trade with more personal items. These window displays provide the beginnings of stories the pedestrian can choose to enter. In a commercial window the opening of the story being told suggests a clear plot to be followed. Erica Stocking, using a number of genres of display, balances disparate narratives to introduce a story without the linear engine of a plot. Released from serving a predetermined plot, objects in the display can be cast in many roles to become tools for imaginative play.
Playing is a serious matter. Like dreaming, play is a unique and vital form of consciousness, but unlike the simulation of a dream, playing occurs in the world. Play requires playmates and/or playthings. By imagining a chair as a throne or a house cat as a child, a player chooses to be in two places at once and balances them by a system of distance equivalences. This experience of unanchored, compound reality is echoed in Castaneda’s description of the assemblage point, the ambulatory point where human experience and reality is constructed. Erica Stocking has created tools to concentrate, direct energy, and make it easier to be in two places at once. Objects to Move the Assemblage Point and Other Tools addresses the passerby with instruments of serious play.
ERICA STOCKING, ELIZABETH ZVONAR
June 20, 2015
Artists Erica Stocking and Elizabeth Zvonar will discuss Stocking’s solo exhibition at Artspeak, 2pm.