Burke Paterson: Objects + Ritual

12 May - 3 June 2018

Objects + Ritual is an exhibition of predominantly darkroom produced photograms with some digitally altered darkroom-based images. It expands on some of the ideas explored in the 2006 Contact exhibition Still Film, where different types of photographic film acted as still life objects.


This exhibition contemplates the purpose of objects. We fetishize objects. We collect some. We hoard others. Their meaning changes over time and across classes. Objects have both history and potential. The past ritual of having tea with Mom and Nonna is layered with their daily rituals of taking pills in old age. The juxtaposition of a kettle and these life-stretching pills, together with the devotional images of Christ and the Virgin Mary, the same ones that littered the homes of Paterson's Italian relatives, are memories which he represents in these photograms. They speak to various human attempts to stave off and transcend our inevitable mortality, where pills and private devotional rosaries compete for sainthood; and secular products become ritual objects.


These objects also represent other personal and universal histories. The wedding gift Mixmaster continues to function decades after the marriage broke down. The fan harkens back to cooler times. The toaster, disconnected from its power source, nevertheless pops. These vintage factory-made products have lived long past their built-in obsolescence dates, having secured their identity as family heirlooms, and objets d’art. We may spend less time than ever cooking in our kitchens, but we spend more money on kitchen objects than ever before. Whereas small appliances once freed us from the drudgery of domestic labour, today they are objects representing beauty and status. Kitchen porn to be consumed as much by gaze as utility.


The bicycle as muse, deconstructed: once a mere transportation mechanism to get from A to B, it has morphed into a symbol of freedom and leisure.

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