Tag Archives: exhibition

The Cleaning Girl and the Boarder

The Cleaning Girl and the Boarder is the work I presented in the ECUAD Low Residency MAA Graduate Exhibition in July 2012.

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Nov 16, 2011

The Cleaning Girl and the Boarder is a stop motion animation that re-imagines a portion of the narrative in My Mother Told Me, a work I created for the mid-program MAA exhibition UponOccasion in 2011 at Emily Carr University. The original work consists of a narrative that is loosely based on personal memory, and The Cleaning Girl additionally incorporates fantasy and fiction into a fragment of that memory.

The section of the story that is re-imagined from a portion of text in My Mother Told Me reads, “I didn’t notice a lot of blacks in our town, but I recall the Chinese boarders that lived in our bedrooms after the divorce – I thought it was strange how you could see their fallen hairs on the pillows”. The set for the animation is a bedroom made from low-tech materials. The figure and the furnishings are created from white paper, while the bedroom walls are constructed from corrugated cardboard.

The story begins with the girl occupied in cleaning the room of a boarder who lives in her mother’s house. She is distracted from her work and gazes out the window, masturbates on the corner of the bed, and imagines black hairs dancing on the boarder’s pillow. The Cleaning Girl sets memory and fantasy side by side as well as bringing together past and present. I draw upon memories to create the structure of the narrative, and these memories are paired with fantasy, which allow for moments of both humour and disgust to be present in the film. Simultaneously, past memories are brought to the present through the use of live action sequences, such as my own hand sloshing water in a bucket and washing a hot plate, and these are mixed with traditional stop motion animation techniques.

My Mother Told Me…, 2011, Graphite on wall, frame, photo, pillow, hair.
My Mother Told Me…, 2011, Graphite on wall, frame, photo, pillow, hair.
My Mother Told Me…, Detail.
My Mother Told Me…, Detail.

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Film Stills

Still from The Cleaning Girl
Still from The Cleaning Girl
Still from The Cleaning Girl
Still from The Cleaning Girl
Still from The Cleaning Girl
Still from The Cleaning Girl

July 2012
Exhibition version on Vimeo.

My Mother Told Me

July 2011

The work presented in the interim MAA exhibition, UponOccasion, consisted of large-scale hand-written text with a small photograph in the center of the text and a pillow on the floor. The narrative is personal, and relies on memories. Interspersed throughout the story is a contemporary commentary.

Process
Process
My Mother Told Me – installation view
My Mother Told Me – installation view
My Mother Told Me, 2011
My Mother Told Me, 2011
My Mother Told Me - detail
My Mother Told Me – detail
Joyce, Rosie, "dolly", and Liz having a picnic in the backyard.
Joyce, Rosie, “dolly”, and Liz having a picnic in the backyard.

Text:

When I was being born, my mother says (whose second name was stupid, apparently), she was in labour for three days (eventually they took me out with forceps). While in the labour room at the hospital a black woman was brought in and put in the bed beside her. My mother, a newish immigrant (called damned DPs, I heard), tells me she had never been so close to a black person before (guess that depends where you come from). She felt afraid (of what?). She was suddenly feeling unsure of herself.  How do I talk to her, she thought. She had no idea how she should relate to this woman (like she’s not a person). She tells me, she felt afraid because she didn’t know how to act or what to say (except that’s never been a problem before). No words passed between them. My mother lay there passing the time with contractions. When I was six, my mother says, she was browsing in the downtown hardware store looking at dolls (they sold toys there in those days). She noticed a single black doll (I didn’t notice a lot of blacks in our town, but I recall the Chinese boarders that lived in our bedrooms after the divorce – I thought it was strange how you could see their fallen hairs on the pillows). She decided that she would buy it for me. She thought, she tells me, that if I played with a black doll that I would never have to feel afraid of them the way she had been.