Joseph Craig: Home is Where The Hearth Is
8th April 2017 — 23rd April 2017
Review by Candice Nembhard
Recent Central Saint Martins’ graduate and London-based artist Joseph Craig recently wrapped up his first Berlin solo exhibition, ‘Home is Where The Hearth Is’ in Neukolln’s Centrum. The multidisciplinary artist, colourfully decorated the ample space in broomsticks, gardening gloves, primary colours and printed text; making use of visual and performative elements all in reference to the fireplace as a symbolic representation of ‘home’. With excellent curatorial influence from Kate Davis, the exhibition was expertly grounded by a dreamlike curiosity into a world of inner monologues expressed through the lived experience of travel and the desire to discover home.
Craig’s recent interest and use of found objects initially contributed to a feeling of confusion. The space is overwhelming bright, bold in its appearance but upon closer inspection, the space is littered with nuances of curious character. Courageous, eccentric, even sadly comical, the repetition of shapes and ideas look into disordering the domestic space with intricately honest observations of ‘home’ beyond the fixtures of bricks and cement. Interestingly enough, the artist’s use of the fireplace as a centrepiece of the exhibition, was not the highlight of the numerous works presented.
In the mounted texts dispersed among the work, viewers are greeted with an internal monologue that deals with expanding, if not altering our definition of home. Craig writes: ‘The graves to your left are of those who thought it necessary to wait out their delay and now their suitcases act as coffins’. Here, the physical structure of home is dead;- as if to suggest that we willingly carry with us dated and excuses as to why we cannot leave the textbook depictions of domesticated and civilised living. Throughout the exhibition, Craig relates the physical spaces of houses, hotels, and public transport to stagnant modes of thinking. As a replacement, he wishes for us to view the body as a biological ticking countdown; now host for the immaterial world of home as seen through individual reflections.
These expressions and sentiments of thought were brought to life with excellent readings from Anna-Maria Hadorn, Inês Miguel, and Sebastian Rein. The full weight of these texts were greatly experienced through an audio-visual relationship that did well to serve as a reminder for how important the shared communal space is beyond our own minds. In bringing these writings out from their still-life state, each vocal delivery brought with it new stories, new perspectives and a new interpretation of a singular stimulus. The readings did well to support and re-introduce the original and traditional practice of oral storytelling which is often lost or neglected in overpopulated, technology-driven media spaces.
Furthermore, Craig goes on to write, ‘Once spire now cenotaph, dormant in the middle of the home. An ornamental memory. Ceramic coals gather dust …’. The desire for a more contemporary and universally understood symbol of the home is most wonderfully unified in ‘Home is where the Hearth is’. Craig ultimately speaks to our abandonment of the conventional images of the fireplace in favour of personal and individual success.