One element of the desire to make, or re-make, is born of some need or another to alter or adapt. I may need a certain tool for a particular job, and as a result I alter an existing tool to the task at hand; yet in the process I also destroy the original use of that tool. Use is not forever. Take, for example the caravan; a romance, a burlesque on travelers and gypsies, a notion of freedom set askew. Though it may promise the open road and a temporary life of leisure, it is a provisional home whose innate potential is always thwarted. At the end of the summer it sits in the drive, or perhaps following some other kind of summer, it becomes a sited home. In this state, such a domicile is made anew—at times constantly—and infinite adaptability is the imago to endless freedom. One addition to the plan requires another subtraction from a previous project, which then needs to be shored up using the materials of another, yet more ancient, improvement, cycling through back onto itself like a nostalgia for a feeling of melancholy. For many, it is the domestic made strange.
This is a simulation meant only to evoke the sense of the original, not to stand in completely for the genuine article. It is a bona fide simulacrum, but also one turned inside-out both physically and metaphorically, so much so that it becomes stripped of all elements of kitsch except for cherished melancholia. Ease of emotional connection morphs into anxiety; and the comfort of the familiar is transformed into the weirdness of the uncanny. All become a second form of real that stands just to the side, perhaps overlapping just a little.
On an island, existence is like that of a fortress. You may be safe and protected from the outside world, yet can very easily become hopelessly trapped. That which is your greatest defense may also be your most dreaded weakness; as a castle is simply an inverted prison, so the whole world in idyllic miniature that is life on an island is the flip-side of the suffocatingly claustrophobic nightmare of “nowhere to run”. This is quite naturally the dual state of these things—constantly tipping back and forth from safety to threat, much like the nature of life itself as the blessed gift of experience and creation which unfailingly runs its course head-long into the great blank wall of death.
Graham Hall lives and works in Montreal. He is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design (Drawing and Painting, 2000), and of OCAD's off-campus programme in Florence, Italy (2001). While often figurative in nature, Hall's work has more recently shown an increasing interest in abstraction. Graham has been an active member of articule since 2003.