Momentous is a thought provoking project exploring love and , loss of a child and what is to witness , and be part of the resulting grief.
The installation is in three components. Two commanding life-size photographs (of mantelpieces) reveal a lifetime collection of family moments through snapshots, notes and artefacts. A photograph, of a still, resting body. It is fragile, and disarming. A collection of video stills freeze frame the private, domestic moments of a family during this grief. All elements are brimming full of life but are fleeting by implication
The images invite the viewer witness a mother s loss of a child. To then witness the power that turns the smallest moments into (as in the title of the project) momentous occasions. The extraordinary and ordinary events that can command the lives of those as they grief
The two substantial mantelpieces are separated from their domestic interior, cluttered with snapshots and moments that quickly stitch the life of the family together. These are images of Friends, smiles, celebrations and artefacts that appear to span several decades . These two images reveal a tapestry of a personal memory of a family and both contain moments from that life that is no longer.
The image of the resting body is quite disarming as it takes a while for it come into focus. The viewer is driven to reconsider the elements in this image and consequently adjacent images. The video stills emphasis the artists interest in the everyday and normality that surrounds mechanics of grief. We are asked to consider how these ordinary moments can be extraordinary.
The stills are from a video piece which is not part of the show. The stills again take a while to reveal themselves, they are lifted from the passing days of loss. They are very calm and peaceful and could be from any time, A family gathering, a Sunday or just when someone had a camera. These gatherings we see are very particular and are the threads that draws together the grief and loss within a home.
There is no problem figuring out what this show is about . The content is there and it is definitely a hard project to realise . This is not without range of responsibilities . It is the background to the images that it is useful to consider. The artist often has a bag of tricks to draw us in and keep us occupied , the skill this time has been to leave behind painting (the artist’s preferred medium) and work in a way that does not privilege this artistry. This project has taken place in the upheaval of losing life , in a home ,within a family . The broker ing of trusts and permissions has clearly informed the criteria with which to make the work. To then establish a distance and allow the work to reveal itself is the task at hand. There is no one position from which to view the work , the viewer is left to piece the thing together. Above all the project shows the power and dignity in the experiences of loss.
The rewards have been that this is a deeply personal study of a mother’s loss and the journey she and her family take in encountering this loss . It is a proud and aesthetically responsible show. The project consciously acknowledges the role of others in its production and of course in its content
Clea Van der grijn is no stranger to projects that deal with the very raw and personal side of life. This project is a logical progression of the content of previous work . The choice of medium has allowed the work to engage / confront both the artist and the audience. The artistry and aesthetic of the work are driven by the content and it’s the content that is so important here . The result of making new choices is that there is no distracting footprint of the artist , which then allows the content command the space. The success of this show is its consideration this key issue . Calm and carefully distanced observations are being made and represented from amidst these moments of loss . It is these considerations and resulting decisions that make this all the more personal and moving.