(Feb – June 2020)
Medium: A “fake campaign”, ten photographic cards and coloured SD (YouTube) video with sound, duration: 00:07:52.
The artwork was displayed at an online collective exhibition Sustainability Art Prize at The School of Art (Anglia Ruskin University) curated by Marina Velez in May 2020
The cards have the same design layout of four photographs of the “stray gloves” accompanied by three text lines. The project was put together in an online design application Canva. The lengthy video showing a major portion of 134 collected photos between 2017 and 2020 is purposely made as an emotional attack on viewers’ consciousness. Because of the pandemic onset, the video was created with an already outdated and unsupported version of Windows Movie Maker and edited online in the YouTube creator studio.
The art project presents pictures of lost gloves which I have been photographing for over four years in Cambridge. They are everywhere around, on the ground, pathways, fences, window shutters, gas boxes, on the benches, hanging from branches and bushes. However, they attract little attention. The most interesting fact for me was that people often bother to pick them up and put them in a visible place for a prospective (original) owner to find them, which is rarely the case. I observed some of the gloves hanging on fences for months and their slow devolution and destruction.
After I decided to create the project, I collected some of the gloves and took them home. A part of the exhibition should have been a real adoption by visitors, including all the required paperwork and follow-up visits. Therefore, I cleaned the gloves and named them to give them their lost value. Also, I was telling myself stories about their previous „life“. Because of the circumstances of the pandemic, the exhibition was postponed. Facing personal difficulties, I stopped the project preparation and was ready not to realise it. However, I later redesigned the project and submitted it in a simple version of ten cards telling the story of loneliness on the street, adopting charitable organisations' narrative. The exhibition text reads:
This work addresses the value of things and the promotion of recycling. I have been intrigued by the fact of how fast the value of things can drop. For me, a symbol of devaluation is lost gloves which I can find everywhere around Cambridge and which I have been photographing for about three years. Most of these gloves will probably end up in rubbish bins. Is it possible to restore value to them and return them to use? In the figurative sense, the whole project represents the reality of consumerism which does not seek a long lifetime for “useful” products and promotes overproduction as a norm. However, such an approach can, in its most extreme form, ratify the devaluation of human beings when they lose their “usefulness” as well.
The gloves in the project are surrogates for vulnerable people on the streets. They face the feeling of dehumanisation and exclusion from society. When preparing the gloves, I experienced a similar disgust and aversion to touching them because they were dirty and smelled terrible. I did not feel any type of satisfaction when I washed them and kept them with me. The memory and knowledge of them coming from the street created stigma, which I could not overcome. This experience was even stronger than the final design of the exhibition.
When collecting the gloves from the streets, I felt guilty because they did not belong to me. I felt like I was stealing them, although I knew that they would probably end up in a bin. This experience led to thinking about the term “untouchable”, which is used for some groups of people. Another question related to the feeling of being lost, without home, rights and voice, almost being invisible. This feeling does not accompany only the phenomenon of homelessness, although it is not discussed often publicly.