Tamar Ettun: Performing Stillness, 2013-ongoing

The sculptures and photographs in Performing Stillness (2013-ongoing) are a formal investigation of materials and the visceral world. I break and assemble objects that wouldn't normally be combined together, creating unique and transformed works that evoke abstracted narratives through their stillness. I source discarded and familiar objects/commodities that have a specific functional use and reconstruct a new assemblage, stripping the original object of its meaning. A pipe that is used to clean flutes loses its original functionality and is solely considered for its physical qualities – being long, narrow and stable.
The sculptures and performances reflect two sides of my philosophy about movement and stillness, temporality and permanence. I attempt to invert the two – the performances investigate the ability to be still and durational, and the sculptures capture the most gestural, brief movements. Each object here performs a physical task – a hand holds a flower or grips marbles, a foot remains pointed or in relevé – each gesture is suspended through the assemblage. While the materials utilized in each sculpture are created from recognizable objects, the process of their construction is entirely visible and they represent an intuitive, imaginary world. The musical instruments can be picked up and played, and have become an important component of my performances. Their ability to be performed – or the potential for this activation – is what makes them performative, although they don’t necessarily need to be used in this manner.
I've been utilizing a lot of plastic gloves that come in bright colors. Plastic gloves are intended to protect our hands from dirt or hazardous materials; they interact with the things we wouldn’t want to touch. In my work, they become frozen fragments of the body. This reflects my interest in neuron mirroring, or how our body reacts to the beings around us and intuitively mirrors them, reflecting our own instinctive empathy. This is an empathy that is primal – not rational, learned or intellectualized. It's a physical impulse, as when someone yawns and those around her immediately start yawning. The casted body parts are on human scale, relating to the body of the viewer and evoke the memories of a physical sensation or movement, like having paint on the your fingertips, or having to flex your hands for a long time.

Photographs by Matt Grubb.

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