That’s just a nun with a bag of oranges
It was the image above that set the tone for this Wunderwall. The title derives from my first ever visit to Turku, Finland’s oldest city, in the summer of 2012. On a walk through the city I asked Peter McLean — a printmaker who I had just undertaken a residency with in nearby Fiskars Village creating Four Feet together — a question about a mural we had walked past on the exterior walls of the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum. The answer was of course ‘That’s just a nun with a bag of oranges’.
I pounced on the phrase for its accuracy and absurdity. The statement seemed to sum-up how I was feeling about life in general, and the search for meaning as I meandered through it. A sort of off-the-cuff remark that meant nothing and yet revealed much. Regardless, this image was the starting point from which all other images in the work, some 1,300 of them, can be traced back to.
This site-specific work was extracted from my digital archive, then in excess of 270,000 images, and with a focus on recent work created in Finland and the Netherlands. It is peppered with references, some potent, others inane and some to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s as personal as it is impersonal. Some photos speak volumes and others barely whisper, yet when combined as a whole they pop like candy forming a large-scale image to contemplate.
The focus is often on the barely registered: wan Band-aids, filmy oil splotches, slumped mattresses, discarded televisions, limp plastic bags, lost underwear et al. Scattered throughout these tawdry typologies are moments of fleeting beauty, poignant messages via graffiti and a sense that waste reigns supreme. There is a strong environmental undertone, tainted as it is with futility. What will it take for us to clean up our act? To care not just for ourselves and our transient trends but for the planet at large, the world and its wildlife that we are spoiling and poisoning.