To exist means to undertake a journey made up of a succession of events that we individually and collectively participate in because living is better than mere existence. Ranging from the intimate to the most impersonal, these events comprise the world that preoccupies us.
As relentless as it may seem, our existence includes breaks for rest, food, and sleep as nature has designed us so, inevitably. That is like saying that the ticking of the clock is possible because of the pauses, the way music is as much about the quiet as it is about the sound.
This notion of breaks in what is otherwise a continuum permeates all aspects of living. An in-between creates a here and a there. A gap marks what is yours and what is mine. It is the space between words that distinguishes (also) them from each other, by which we can make sense of what is written. A difference or a disconnect is a requirement for connection in much the same way as it is absurd for a relationship to occur between two entities that are of the same thing.
Physically, our existence is a continuum and there are enough examples in life as well as in fiction of the tragedy in living this way; moving along relentlessly like the second hand of a watch. In this state of indivisibility, no connections can be made for it becomes needless and unnecessary.
Only mindfulness can rupture it.
The works in this exhibition is a celebration of the foregoing - the ruptures in the continuum of living. They are reified pauses eloquently expressed through a singular predication: stitching. A stitch requires a fissure, a penetration or an interlocking. As a process, it involves the conjoining of separate or different materials, which can be gleaned in the works from the most apparent needlework and embroidery, to the tiling up of photographic segments, the cut and loop of video footage, and the rather opaque conjoining of a treasured domestic memory - recovering it - by erasing the documentary evidence of the present.
The artist, Nicole Tee, stitches time in her works. She punctures the present and pulls out from her memory reserves through the agency of pictures. Unlike an illustrator who commutes the ethereal images in the mind with diagrammatic gestures, she suffuses her pictures with a quiet but haptic force through the sheer repetitiveness in her process. This process is not possible if one is constantly in transit. It demands that one is locked, latched and fastened to one’s body and thoughts like a chant or a mantra.
A personal practice in coping with young adult life, this “muting out” as she would describe it, is akin to a withdrawal, disengagement, or retreat from the active pursuit of life. Transmuted into an artistic process, it is consistent to the references and image sources of the works, which are close to home or to personal memory of the surrogates of home.
The works in DWELL are not fast ones. They need time for one to able to really see, touch, and respond. In this regard, stitching and embroidery become the language of repose and reflection. Domestic imagery is the womb of security and quietude, anticipation and remembering.
Small pockets in public spaces become crevices to momentarily withdraw as to hide or to escape.
These works are commutations of personal processing into art. And then, fully charged, the artist is braced to face a world anew, which for many of us, is the same world that slowly sucks the life out of the very people it is suppose to serve.