A HAM SANDWICH WITH MASONITEMagenta Plains, 2017
Folding tables with etched plastic nameplates, digital prints, photocopies, wax light bulbs,
Plexiglas, oil and enamel on aluminum, framed digital c-print, five-gallon water jug, trouble light,
60-watt light bulb, metal folding chairs, white noise machine, 64-page spiral-bound book
A Ham Sandwich with Masonite was shown at Magenta Plains as part of the group exhibition “The Garden of Forking Paths”, organized by Adam Marnie in January 2017. We set out to expand material introduced in two prior projects, The Elder and Trouble Light, both of which were framed around an artist’s discarded portfolio recovered by Tuomas’ late father in the 1980s. Installed in the gallery’s lower level, dimly lit and accompanied by the barely perceptible hiss of a white noise machine, the work took the form of an excavation.
A set of documents comprising correspondence, photographs, photocopied drawings and wax light bulbs were shown on folding platforms of varying height (repurposed choir stands). These objects served to collapse three distinct father-son relationships: Tuomas and his late father, Pierre and his late father, and the relation we envisioned existing between the artist (having given up his creative ambitions to support a family) and his son, a painter.
In an effort to better grasp these dynamics and expand upon them, we recorded an extended conversation over several days in the studio, paced in 50-minute increments to mirror the standard psychoanalytic session. The resulting transcript, touching on aspects of our friendship, our respective childhoods, and mutual loss, was presented as a spiral-bound book placed on two red chairs that occupied the gallery’s central axis. This dialogue allowed us to reframe our relationship to the found portfolio — parts of which were reproduced on the nearby tables — which in turn offered us leeway to talk about our own ambivalence toward being recognized as makers. We started considering our position in relation to the artist’s son, who was ostensibly our peer but most importantly seemed to be fulfilling his father’s artistic ambitions.
Using a low-res image from his website, we set about remaking one of his paintings. It depicted three garbage cans, two empty and one in which three objects in primary colors stood in sharp relief against the black ground — a blue moon, a yellow star and a red heart. In a very literal way it seemed to encapsulate the potential held in the discarded portfolio, awaiting discovery. Coincidentally, the use of the three primary colors brought us back to a photograph we had used earlier in The Elder, showing three of the wooden toys designed by Tuomas’ father, held before a baby, its hand stretched out expectantly.