Home is Where the Hearth is

Home is Where the Hearth is

Artist: Joseph Craig
Curator: Kate Davis

Centrum, Berlin
8 - 23 April 2017

write-up on AQNB
review by Candice Nembhard

Humans have been sitting around fires for thousands of years; 300,000 in fact. The mastery of fire marked an evolutionary turning point, and over time, humans began gathering around fires to eat and socialise. Today, while fire is no longer necessary for our survival, the fireplace still has a presence in the contemporary western home; physically and emotionally. Acting as the spine of a household, this archaic structure ties us to nostalgic scenes of domestic bliss and acts as a monument to the nuclear family. Home is Where the Hearth is explores the fireplace, and the way it cinches us to dated traditions and histories, obscures outliers, and prevents us from moving forward. Within Joseph Craig’s installation, a contemporary fairy tale will unfold, through which the artist inserts himself into the dormant passages that anchor us to festive traditions, cinematic illusions and our great aunt's ashes. These cavities no longer scorn at party pashes or laddered fishnets; they become an entrance to something higher.

Upon entering Home is Where the Hearth is, one is met by a coal lined feature wall. Set against bright hues, a skeletal hand rests seductively on a bulgy bath mat and a hot water bottle wrapped in black mesh has been impaled by a knitting needle. These motifs are repeated in the fashion of patterned wallpaper and hang from decorative brooms. A glaring salt dough framed quote draws audiences to an adorned poster of a fireplace, which plays the protagonist, casting a shadow over text lined walls that evoke images of shit smeared glass slippers and a snow shower of toenail clippings. The script-like text shapes and supports the objects and appropriated materials, and references everything from Mary Poppins to Haephestus, mocking the restrictive banality of archetypal family life “ceramic coals gather dust under the reimagined Herculaneum print you bought 31 years ago while on your honeymoon” contrasting it against a solemn passage, a walk of shame across Tempelhofer Feld “when your body is found hanging over a railing like a limp used condom and a picture circulates the headlines of you in an ill fitting suit taken at your graduation (tabloid tactics to make you look like the pillar of society instead of a Pink Flamingos cast member)”. Meanwhile, a radiator decorated with trinkets and gifts questions the precedence that fireplaces takes over vital household appliances. Within this setting, considerations of family and gender will come to the fore, raising questions about what notions of home will look like in times to come.

Joseph Craig is a London based multidisciplinary artist who graduated from Central Saint Martens School of Art with a BA Honours in Performance Design and Practice in 2016. Joseph flips social norms on their head by utilising methods of play to explore the various taboos that manifest once an individual finds themselves in territory where their body feels alien. He probes his own childhood as a way to understand the factors which have shaped both his identity and his work. Joseph collects objects and materials based on their potential to be repurposed in opposition to their intended function. These assemblages become retaliations against the social and political narratives which shape one’s identity. Through intuitive experimentation and play he digresses into a primal, childlike state. The arrangement of the objects and materials channel Joseph’s self-discovery, inner conflict and opposition to exclusion.