Confusing the Quotidian: An Exploration of Domestic Furniture
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Furniture accommodates us and organizes how our bodies move through space. We interact with furniture everyday and have sets of expectations for how it should look and act. If furniture defies these expectations, it disrupts our understanding of these familiar objects thus causing confusion. For my thesis I am interested in drawing attention to furniture by skewing its appearance, taking into account the associations we subconsciously carry about domestic furniture. What we expect from furniture is that it exists to serve its function; if it’s a table, shelf, bookcase, then you set things on it. If it’s a chair, sofa, stool, you sit. If it’s a bed, you lie. We are accustomed to seeing chairs and recognizing them as being accommodating for us. There’s an established trust between our furniture and our bodies; when we use furniture it becomes an extension of the body. Taking furniture out of its original context and re-presenting it as an art piece can be unsettling. The familiarity is visually there but we cannot physically use it in the way we are accustomed to. If furniture doesn’t serve its expected purpose it adds confusion. What does the new purpose become? If you cannot sit in a chair, has it failed? What does failure look like? For my thesis research I have been reading The Queer Art of Failure by J. Jack Halberstam, which presents queerness as failure in a heteronormative world. I am taking this sentiment and applying it to domestic furniture from my house. In accepting and navigating through failure we are exploring a new set of possibilities that are not contingent on succeeding. Recognizing failure illuminates what we consider success to be. For example, the mattress; it is not doing what a mattress is supposed to do. Then, what does it become? It highlights what we expect a mattress to do by defying it; illustrating the dichotomy of sculpture and object. At face value it is unsettling because it is unexpected. The path to conventional success is limiting, there are so many different ways to bungle the course. When you take something as regulated as furniture and you fail it, you open up many avenues of exploration and understanding. The failure of the furniture is a direct confrontation of your garnered expectations. By altering furniture, making it recognizable but unfamiliar I hope to put into question your associations and relationships with these pieces that organize our lives.
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