Ashley Lynn Pastore
Everyone wants to be remembered. Everyone wants to be recognized and heard. How do we determine who we give attention to? How do we decide what is worth our time and energy? Through the collection of dust from various people and locations I am hoping to create a snapshot of life. The work I have been making most recently involves the trapping of dust in Abaca in large scale, air dried sheets (4’ x 3’). These sheets become body like as the drying process pulls and warps the paper. I have also been restraint drying smaller sheets and made into book form. I was working on this project as I was finishing graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and am now hoping to have access to some paper making facilities again! I have been acquiring dust from various individuals around the country, however, I would like to collect from a more select group of people, so that this may be used as a kind of catalog. We all have preconceived notions about different groups of people and we all generalize, as much as we try not to. This collection and display of detritus of individuals in a way unites us and reminds us that we are all human and all part of this physical world. I am interested in the collection of dust from places where many people gather as well; churches, synagogues, grocery stores, libraries. The contents of dust are infinitely fascinating, in general you can assume that much of it is made up of human skin, but also the contents can be as abstract and seemingly distant as meteorite particles. When this knowledge is presented to us, I believe this mundane aspect of everyday life begins to take on new meaning, hopefully encouraging us to look at the small things (and the big things) in a different light. In a similar vein, I have been working with recycled books and magazines; National Geographic, Life, etc. In these physical records of people’s opinions, ideas and observations exists as a mirror, that can be related to today’s access to things like Facebook and other social media. Through these platforms exist an opportunity for humans to express themselves to each other and feel some amount of being heard. The letter to the editor column was at one point, our opportunity to speak our mind and express our ideas about what had been written and shared with millions in previous issues. This is a very interesting idea in the way that I think it ties back in to our impulse to be remembered and also feel acknowledged. Ultimately though, everything eventually turns to dust. None of this seems to truly matter. So, through the processing of books and magazines into pulp and being remade into sheets of board, I’m hoping to begin a conversation about how these ideas technically still exist within this material however are now just illegible. Does this remove the meaning from the physical material?