Comforter, Judith Kentish 2010. Catalogue essay by Dr. Danial Mafe.
Comforter presents a series of five or six identical white tables, about waist high. On each of these tables is positioned a nearly identical, single, pillow-like form of unbleached cloth. The form is fully and firmly, stuffed with hair. On close inspection fine hair protrudes from the gauze-like fabric. Each form is positioned lengthwise on the table. The material surface of the form is meticulously covered in parallel hand stitched lines. The black threads of these lines hang down to the floor on either side, like trails of black hair.
One form however presents an exception. It is bent and pushed to the edge of the table upon which it is positioned. Its exceptional state presents narrative. A move towards time. To its recommencement.
Comforter is a stark work. Technically accomplished, time consuming and demanding to make, it presents itself as an austere, sculpturally rhythmic intervention in the gallery space. And yet it is also strongly emotional in resonance. These prone forms suggest abstract dolls, or corpses or some enshrouded body. The black threads hang on either side forming a tangled mass at the floor and in a breeze, they ripple and move, a fine counterpoint to the weighted stillness of the forms to which they are attached.
But above all there is silence.
1. Die. To. Be.
Comforter is seductive even irresistible in its call to silence. It presents a silence profound and exquisitely wrought in its capacity to complicate feeling, to generate affect. Experienced over time this quietness works to obscure the clear seeing of the perceiving mind and instead shift attention to a growing awareness of sensation.
Sensation attends to materiality. And in sensation all naming is suspended.
Here, in sensation, all is concrete, abstract and the work withdraws toward itself, its material self. It gathers unto itself and in doing so leaves …space.
As a “thing-ly” work Comforter withdraws into its sensuous silence as the object , the thing it is, and in doing so presents itself as increasingly other to us. As viewers we are, as a consequence of this withdrawal, abandoned to our being. Association, understanding no longer has traction for us. Uncomprehendingly we are abandoned, separated from our perception as we, instead, establish contact through sensual engagement with being. In being we become present to our solitude, our innate yet full aloneness. We stand as solitary. In presenting as object, as thing, the artwork in its material otherness is now “authorized by no voice, and aims at no end.”
The artwork shares in the unutterable and withdrawn solitude of all beings in their relation to one another. This sharing is this artwork’s gift, its connection. In sharing solitude we are no longer alone. Or rather we finally can share and partake of our communal aloneness, that is, the human condition.
And so we are abandoned to, but not necessarily within, our own singular, solitude. For eventually we emerge from this encounter with the raw, and in emerging…plots resume. And associations continue. As previously.
2. Born. To. Be.
This withdrawal so evident in Comforter creates an emptied-space, a meaning-void. This space is a space of allowance, for it allows the entry of grace. And grace here, is the granting of a moment that becomes. A moment that becomes the next moment and then the next. It is the granting of the becoming moment. A moment pregnant. With possibility.
A blanket. Consoler. Intercessor. Transitional object. Potential. Space. Holy Ghost. Hospice of the Comforter. Friend. Down comforter. Job’s comforter. Pacifier. Presence of God. Cover.
To write. To gesture into presence. As an affirmation. As starkly drawn. To write or to draft the moment after the moment of becoming. To write a moment. Like a sculpture. To inscribe the evidence of past moments. To trace involvement. The dotted line of the stitch. Patient, involved, endless in its repetition of minute difference. Each moment registered. Each moment touched, by the hand. And through the hand, by care, by tenderness. The moment recorded. But more. The flow of time seemingly halted in this care, this attention. Halted. Time as that which defines or shapes our reality. Now a reality marked, wounded. A reality gashed. And then. These objects staunch that wound. As clots. Weights. Each on a table. Supported. Starkly. And always that one, about to move.
Each object. Solid. A cloud congealed. Heavy. Starkly horizontal. Black threads drawn, finely, downwards, a gossamer trail, gravity ruled. Like rain. And sometimes, like rain, wind released, into fine movements, tender, frail with care. Transformed. Into a hieroglyph. Of the breath.
Catastrophe. Of. Grace
“Questions without answers must be asked very slowly.”
“What is left for you to do: to undo yourself in this nothing that you do.”
“No one has ever perceived a single object, but we do perceive all sorts of effects of object.”
Forms. Sparely drawn. Hand-made. Thing. Never seen. Entirely.
"Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes up this void"
A stitched. Void. Filled. To be filled.
“I have come to understand that a silence – is – the negative of a moment thought and that it needs to be heard thoroughly.”
How can one be sure that what returns is what had disappeared?
They appear disappearing, like in the multitude of likes: unique in as much as repeated.