When discussing the West African myth of Legba in his book Trickster Makes this World, Lewis Hyde writes:
“He separates earth and sky but then induces rain to fall so that the two are connected even as they are disconnected. He causes the high god to retreat from this world, but then becomes the agent of divination so that there is some commerce across the divide … So there is a category of mythic narrative, a category of art, that occupies the field between polarities and by that articulates them, simultaneously marking and bridging their differences.”
My work is primarily concerned with investigating polarity. Employing themes such as simultaneity, transformation, and perception, I examine the ways in which we construct boundaries and navigate between them. When a border is created, it both names the separated parts, as well exposes the ambiguity and points of intersection between the newly created poles.
This process of boundary making and boundary crossing can be seen clearly in our relationship to the natural environment. As the landscape became more and more constructed by industrial material and divided by geometry, there arose the need to designate areas that were protected from development. In order to preserve spaces for people to experience the natural world, we created a binary between Natural, and Manmade. But through the very act of this separation, the natural world becomes un-natural. A landscape untouched by the species that live there, is not a natural landscape but an invention. And so by creating a polarity, the polarity is subverted.
Of course, not all binary relationships are dissolved so quickly. Often it requires an outside force to upend the system. One example is seen in our shifting relationship to private and public space. Through technology, the once clear division between these poles has been muddled to the point where our most public actions now commonly take place in our own homes, a space that has been historically considered the very definition of privacy. Simultaneously, we hold an expectation that our information be kept private, even as we hand it out to countless businesses and institutions. In slightly more than a decade, because of new technologies and shifting cultural norms, these clearly defined poles have been subverted to the point of near irrelevance.