Whats a Social Contract?
One afternoon when were were in our 20s we tried to balme our woes on the brady bunch. Everything for them was great, when things went bad for one of them the parents worked it out sensibly, Alice perked the kids up with her goofy comments and the other kids were supportive or owned up to what they had wrong and apologized or who ever it was just realized their mistakes or got realistic about the situation and moved on. The fridge was full they lived in an awesome house and went on holidays to Hawaii or the Grand Canyon. when they went to bed at night everything was hunky dory. Loads of media projected the same ideal society so we grew up with those models of society in the back of our minds, that our lives would be like that At some point we worked out that that reality was never going to happen. The Projection of these ideas is in effect a contract between the broarder society and the powers that be. We are all on the same page and heading in the same direction. These social contract are broken or expire now and then. Post wwii one finishes with the youth movement in the 60s and the Vietnam war, there is the oil crisis of 79, the recession of 1990, and the list goes on they are kind of obvious once they are over but not at the time.
How did this show come about?
We have know each other since we were teenagers and have shared ideas for a long time. Melissa studied painting and interior design and Digby studied film and video and later museum studies. Our topics of interest over lap all the time especially where there is a large question that isn’t amswered, something that is preposterous, or absolutely absurd. We also have a great delight in not knowing or wanting to know the reason or truth for some things. It keeps a small part of the world a mystery and intriguing. Melissa doesn’t want to know which way you change the you clock for daylight savings and I’m in denial about how the carrot isn’t actually the national vegetable of Vietnam.
So how did the show come about?
some furniture was bought at auction and in the lot was a box full of studio negatives of marriages from what we think is the 40s. as some of the men have army uniforms. We were looking at them thinking who are these people. Where are they from are there pictures of a kind of war bride factory? Are any of these people still alive.
Some of Melissas work in the past involved printing wedding dresses and dolls clothes and I have a 20 year collection of found photographs. This was a great find and we just thought we should do this. Plus neither of us has shown for a long time and its about time to get into image making again.
What have been the challenges in working from this kind of source material?
When you haven’t created the image or chosen the content of the image it can feel a little distant which in its self can be attractive. Having negatives is kind of odd too as the true nature of the image is kind of hidden until you turn it into a positive. The day we first saw one of the images in positive was quite surprising. These shadowy figures instantly burst into life. Also once you have found a starting point, it becomes easier to find a path to the interpretation of the images. Its finding that that point is the challenge.
What do you think the audience will get out of the 'social contract 44 show? As in what kind of experience do you hope they have?
In a way its really about image making. We love art and ideas, for sure, but wouldn’t be making too great claims about that in the work. We have moved away slightly from what we would normally do which isn’t surprising since neither of us can settle on one thing for too long. There is no video or painting but where there might normally be a mechanical mark it might have been replaced with a handmade mark and vice versa.
It would be good if people came away from the show knowing less than when they got there at least were amused by it.