MAstars 2010: Heather Parnell, MA Fine Art Practice

MAstars 2010: Heather Parnell, MA Fine Art Practice Heather Parnell, Untitled, 2010. Installation. 300cm x 480cm x 840cm. Credit Heather Parnell

Michael Cousin selects Heather Parnell, from University of Glamorgan for MAstars

'In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backward. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the everyday affairs of life it is more useful to reason forward, and so the other comes to be neglected.' (Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet.)

Looking back at the work of Heather Parnell from the MA Fine Art Practice in Glamorgan there is a sense of elongated time. Something has gone drastically wrong within a bare domestic setting, a disruption of magnitude that has taken decades to subside.

The untitled installation itself is easily described. The outline of two chairs and a table are suspended mid-ascent or descent over an outline of a wooden floor with a gaping hole in the centre. The furniture has been sealed in tape then miraculously removed without disturbing the outer layer, like insect husks trapped in a web, empty of life and substance. All that remains of the ruptured floor is the dust of disintegrated carpet underlay that has fallen between the cracks in the boards, remarkably undisturbed considering the silent violence of the event that has occurred.

In this space there is an absence of language and understanding in the face of these voids, they are black holes in reasoning that can only be perceived by the reality that marks their emptiness.

The chair and table are suspended in a manner that suggests they are caught in an event that extends over hundreds of years. This cataclysm ruptured the floor beneath, hurling the furniture and debris into the air. The weighty matter of wood then imploded into the gaping hole in the floor to leave the faintest traces of existence. A very particular and selective implosion to leave such delicate traces.

The event that caused this domestic upheaval we are left to imagine. The full force of it remains in time past and in the memories of the lives it affected. We can guess, we can conjecture but we cannot get at the truth. But this denial of access to the memories of another person throws me back onto my own memories. How the subjectivity and even falsity of those memories are created by these traces and connections. Objects, places and events are transformed in our minds by entropy, the impact and physicality of an event is immediately transformed into a mental afterimage that rapidly decays to the faintest of imagery. This work is a monument to what we have forgotten, what we are forgetting, what is to be forgotten. The fading and shifting past is represented here, the unknown cause still represented in the present moment by this fragility. The fate of all moments are here, both present and future, as they pass from immediate experience, to thought, then to memory, fading from sight over time. This too shall pass, but slowly.

Selected by Michael Cousin
Published November, 2010

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