Introduction to Laura Dean

through, 2020

I hope this blog fosters conversations and communities with people across contemporary art, other disciplinary fields, and those with lived experiences of the themes raised.  I’d welcome your viewpoints or expanded conversation in response to anything you see here.  In the meantime this is a space to walk my way through ideas using a mix of making work, messy thinking and more lucid thought.

As set out in my about page the ‘Human Home’ is the central concept to my work and from where related themes develop. ‘Home’ is commonly thought of as concrete, fixed.  In a broader sense, however, it is both bounded and unbounded territory.  It is the Human Home; already enfolded in the world outside while being what we carry with us.   

This ongoing blog will reflect on strands of my thinking/making.  I begin here with the central idea of the ‘Human Home’ in terms of loss. 

I started thinking about ‘home’ years ago, and in 2014 it resurfaced through working with artist George Saxon.  I worked on post production including as textual translator of personal diaries on his critically acclaimed exhibition on dying and death, A Record of Undying.  This was work made following the death of his partner.  What stayed with me was the care-bed Saxon placed in their sitting room to fulfil his partner’s wish to die at home.  At first alien, it became familiar.  It became a pivotal object for all final meaningful domestic activity.  After death it was removed to leave a space marked by lack.   

Two years later, my glorious mother died. It was an unexpected illness that went from diagnosis to death in 3 weeks.  It shattered us all. Writing and making work in response became part of understanding how to readjust.  

The grieving body, the one ‘left behind’, moves through Home reframing the meanings of this territory, its newly warped space peppered with cues of comfort and sorrow.  Our absurd challenge is to live in a new uninvited home space. In this destabilized place there is an acute sense of praesentia and absentia: the presence of familiar objects that feel close to our bodies, as close as sound entering our ears; and the absence of the body that is lost to us, the brutality of lack in something not being where it should. 

Irrational magical thinking drives our ache to undo loss; this quiets, though life as you know it ends. We slowly rebuild to make our new home every space, a place that coexists with another time, with each entwined in different registers of the real.

My first work in response became occupy, found here