An Avalanche of Subtlety
A box is a space like a house: it has a floor (the base), four walls, and a ceiling (the lid). In similar ways, a box protects and keeps something safe, hiding what is inside from light, from warmth, from cold – from sight. Like a house, or a room, a box can be opened or closed: revealing or concealing its contents. The content can be something or it can be nothing; whether this space is empty or full, it can tell a story. The story could be about the nature of the space or the content, or about the meaning – old or new. Whether the content is or isn’t there, it won’t affect its container: a box is still a box with or without it. Packing boxes is not as uncontrolled an action as it may seem. Moving an object from outside to the inside of a confinement constructed from cardboard is controlled by the decisions of the person, the packer, but the box has equally a similar power. Its dimensions determine the maximum size of an object, how the object is placed inside the box, and how many of a kind. Packing, then, involves both person and box, a mutual relation between the two that is often unacknowledged. The act of opening boxes to see what is hidden or stored inside could be seen as opening up windows or a door of a house. This way, a box as a window opens up to different segments of time or of one’s history (an object as well as a person).
Thirty-two boxes were discovered scattered throughout four of the eight rooms of the house that hadn’t been entered for more than fifteen years, except by the individual who had inhabited the space. From the outset, the house didn’t appear any different than the rest of the neighbourhood, its worn-out state camouflaged behind brightly white painted bricks, with the front door’s threshold like a balancing point between two different worlds. It revealed a dark interior on the reverse with the cloaked contents and furnishings locating past times, like an entry into a confused time capsule, a clock stuck without a running battery. Upon opening, the boxes introduced their various inhabitants that were all neatly structured by a meticulous system: twigs, wine corks, slides amongst, and a collection of tools without the necessary hands for activation.
An Avalanche of Subtlety is a discussion with these articles. They have left the perimeters of their modest cardboard boxes to be re-examined within the exhibition, in a space that is similarly a container albeit expanded with brick replacing cardboard. Through their practice, artists John Henry Newton, Laura Reeves, and Himali Singh Soin pick up the leads of these stagnant objects and repossess them to create a new history, providing new hands to the previously inactivated tools. Just as every box represented a particular window into a past time, the exhibition also frames a specific moment in the journeys of these objects before they will be redistributed again, scattered to be interpreted in new settings by other figures – perhaps even finding new boxes to reside in.