Vicki Clough Curates

Musings on art and life.

Resonance, Memory and Objects

“It’s funny to think of how simple things can transport us through time and space. Well, it’s not always ‘haha’ funny.”

I think this as I sit in the garden, reading, writing…thinking. Snippets from my past get forced into my temporal present, stimulated by my surroundings. Like the car full of men, who visit the lot on the other side of the fence. The clouds of smoke they send through the latticework transports me to Amsterdam, where I mentally sit in a rain-drenched tent surrounded by a lush green forest, or a lakeside dock, not far from here, surrounded by stars and lapping water. That smell can have this affect on me is a privilege (one of many) that I can’t take for granted. I have a very good friend who has anosmia (your tattoo design is one the way, I promise) and I have often wondered what it would be like, if I was not able to appreciate the nuances scent brings to my life experience. A lot of my past would be lost to me, if it weren’t for this completely intangible and invisible force of nature.


photo 1-16


The smell of rain in the city and how I would run, excited, around our garden in suburban Johannesburg, sniffing the walls and grass after a storm to locate the source.

My grandmother, lovingly trapped in the hand-knitted cardigan in my cupboard, its sleeves too short for what she used to call my “orangutan arms” (I have normal proportions). Close by, soft leather and foot sweat brings back the miles traipsed around European cities in worn cherry-red Dr. Martens, long lost in the endless series of moves and relocations. (There’s a reason why the nose and feet are located on opposite ends of the body.)

Perfume—gifts or mementoes of friends far away and happiness that cannot be distilled. Or of lovers who have long since drifted or passed away, the joy and playfulness of our relationships erased from tangled sheets and clothing by generic detergents and vigorous shaking.


photo 2-17


The fragmented nature of pasts that cannot be returned to are captured and recalled through the random nature of things and the resonance they posses, but only when encountered intimately. This resonance isn’t always communicable and the love of it can easily be misinterpreted as a materialistic love of the objects themselves (except for rain, that’s special). The real-life stories that objects possess, poured into them through transient contact and the care of making cannot ever truly be told, but can be read. Scars (both psychological and physical), piercings and tattoos are similarly legible, but just like the most intimate conversations; can only lead to partial understanding of others and ourselves.

For me, a love of objects was born from a love of words. Books, with their fragile pages filled with the thoughts and feelings of others, committed to paper to carry their weight through time and space, only to be rediscovered through a series of comprehensive strategies and actions. One of my most treasured personal items is a poem, written for me at the age of 17 during the turbulence of young love, recorded alongside sketches in letter books passed back and forth. This poem often acts as a wormhole, connecting me with a past life in ways that nothing else can. I keep it with me always. A reminder that there are aspects of myself that remain embedded in people and objects that have left my life, just as I carry their marks with me.


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And what of photographs? They possess their own unique power of stitching frayed bits of our past together through the visual representation of specific times and spaces. We have the ability to trace the trajectory of our lives, as they exist today in an intangible digital world that increasingly reflects the fractures in real, lived experience.


photo 2-16


photo 1-15


In museums and galleries we encounter things that have passed through hands uncountable, each individual and the entirety of their private stories unknowable to us, even through detailed accounts, thoughtful didactic panels and one-on-one conversations. But all these encounters, intimate or fleeting have the ability to forever change us. We would hope, for the better.

To carry the weight of an incomplete story, cobbled together from fragments and subjective experience into an unclear future, until the inevitable end, is a beautiful, powerful and transformative thing.


photo 3-11


photo 3-10


photo 2-15


photo 1-14


photo 1-13


photo 3-9


photo 2-14


photo 5-4


photo 4-9


photo 2-6


photo 1-12


photo 3-8


photo 1-11


photo 3-7


photo 5


photo 4-8


photo 1-7


photo 2-4



A little box

To keep your tears

And keep them ‘til you’re wed

You’ll be happy

It might take years

It might be tomorrow instead


A bigger box

To keep your fears

And keep them ‘til you’re safe

When fear is nothing

And life is lived

You’ll think and then you’ll smile


A little room

To keep your thoughts

They might make you go insane

But you should just laugh

Forget the pain

And get used to having compassion


A bigger room

To keep your love

Between fairy lights like stars

You gave it once

You will give it again

Just give it out in jars

Untitled, Declan Kelly, 2002


All images are from my own Instagram feed, out of sequence, without captions and presented as a curated section of a transformative life experience, punctuated by other’s curatorial and personal creative choices.

2 comments on “Resonance, Memory and Objects

  1. Mahatoe
    June 11, 2015

    I enjoyed this post.

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This entry was posted on May 31, 2015 by in Art, Curatorial Practice, installation, Personal, Photography, sculpture, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
Vicki Clough

Vicki Clough

Vicki is an independent curator and craftsperson with a focus on socially engaged and participatory art and events. In January 2016 she helped launch Reconstructing Resilience, a research and curatorial project that explored various forms of sustainable practice. As a freelance curator she has worked with the Riverdale Hub, Myseum of Totonto/Art Spin and was the Curatorial Director of Figment Toronto from 2014 to 2017. She has also co-curated exhibitions including JAYU's iAM photography project (2016 & 2017), Move to Stillness, for the Harbourfront Centre's Kick Up Your Heels Festival (2015), The Duel, AGO First Thursdays (2014), and What Are You Made Of? OCAD U Graduate Gallery (2013). She initiated the Toronto based workshop model and website Polymers in Action: Socially Engaged Art and the Environment as part of her studies at OCAD University, where she obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. She publishes on anything that interests her deeply and moves her to the point of lengthy verbal expression.

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