Stumbling Blocks – Athena Torri
Notions of home first resonate when the work of Athena Torri‘s series The Outsider sits before us. What feels like an emotional tie to a building structure, after prolonged viewing we see the initial and repeated attempts to create a home to inhabit us. Workshops, transport rooms, and areas of craft are used to visualise the steady motion of home-building, only to reveal a house, something well anticipated as a result of building. What resonates throughout the series is the inherent stumbling and problem-solving. If related to a metaphor of life it would reveal a final goal and the process of reaching it, for we see one hundred years in the series of photographs. Decisions are made with the splitting of pipes, physical decisions, handmade and practical, made with love but applied with a more practical passion. Our physical deterioration met with bandages, wrapped around pipes to maintain their purpose, to preserve their existence for our consumption.
Impractical sculptures become the photographer’s subject, mixed with visions of living, yet they appear to solve miniature mathematical problems for the builder and, strangely, the photographer, a character hiding in the shadows. A sense of identity is raised through this process. Is the photographer involved with the building of things, or the recording of its progress? As mysterious as the intentions appear, the aesthetic drives a key motive and end goal – a physical rendition to live in. A stitch interwoven in the first finger of a man, the result of physical labour, the whole time we have no other alternative in meaning.
The general consensus of the work lies around a directed ambiguity, one that will ultimately reach its destination. Once the house rises, the axe is thrown in an alert and tired slump. Its mark into the tree’s stem is left as the final reminder of a repetition of physical actions. It is this quiet time after we are left to look back at the house that we consider oddity of the achievement we have witnessed, played out in the strangest way possible. To view it through the builder’s and/or photographer’s dilemmas and see the mark-making upon our skin. Thus forming a house of solitude and rest, to provide shelter when treacherous times may come, but more importantly a sense of safety comes around after all the commotion of building. These are our stumbling blocks presented, and dealt with through the photographic medium.
Written by Alexander Norton / Published 12 November 2013