Elizabeth Schoen’s recent works reflect the complicated minutia of a domestic territory and the tensions between the artists desire for order and the chaos created by her children. Schon makes playful investigation into her own neurosis and her fantasy that she may ‘return to a room one day and find it exactly the way I left it’. This is tempered by her fascination and intrigue at her children’s various installations, arrangements and traces.
Schoen says ‘Suddenly I stop myself from dismantling an unintended installation and for the first time see what they were doing. A haphazard stack of random objects precariously balance as a momentary sculpture. A dinosaur perched on the kitchen table chomps on dry crackers. The leftover meatballs that fit so perfectly through a round hole in a box role around as I pick it up. I am suddenly aware of their tangible existence in our home, the way they shape our space, and the logic and the absurdity behind their explorations’.
The children’s accidental exhibits have become reflective moments for Schon, suspending her desire for order and instead photographing them; a rope stretches wall to wall across a window, perhaps blu-tacked in place, an egg sits incarcerated inside a whisk, maybe forced there by small hands. An arrangement of cushions balances precariously between a sofa, a coffee table, an upturned tricycle and lego pieces in carefully placed rows create beautiful lines of colour.
The children hold no attachment to their creations says Schon, destroying whatever they have elaborately created with gleeful abandon. The photographs are testament to a moment carefully preserved containing the dual desires, for both order and the chaos of a child’s intimate explorations of their home territory.
Schoen’s work feeds into a narrative which perhaps only parents or carers will understand, the interior topographies which need careful navigation and re-exploration when you find yourself at home for long stretches of time, the repetition of domestic chores creating an interior territory which can seem vast and pervasive if not in some way challenged and playfully re-configured.
Untitled photographs – Elizabeth Schoen.
Elizabeth Schoen lives in the Netherlands. She joined the Arts Territory Exchange in January.