Artist Statement

 a Guide to not killing your Darlings

Spaces such as cemetaries, home offering tables and war memorial areas - Why do I love them? With monuments or shrines, we give way to feelings of grandure, of grieve, of anger, sometimes of not feeling human at all. These spaces represent theatrical, all-encompassing definitions of a part of the world that can not be seen, but is felt. Allowing room for the metaphysical and magical. 

I view such places as the outcome of making Puja, a ritual I encountered when I was a child, living in India. In Puja rituals various objects are placed and replaced in a limited space to express feelings about relationships.

Pūjā (Devanagari: पूजा) [...] is a religious ritual performed as an offering to various deities, distinguished persons, or special guests. [...] Puja is modeled on the idea of giving a gift or offering to a deity or important person and receiving their blessing. [Source: Wikipedia]

To me, Puja is a way of working `things’ out. Trying to find a visual solution for real-life issues that are difficult to visualize, such as problems with your mother-in-law. Puja shrines are thus representations of our view on who we are and what we have to say or can say, given the circumstances. The Puja rituals provide the opportunity of showing core fragments, and of showing these fragments in relation to each other without the need for a direct type of logic or coherent story. In this way, we are symbolically in charge of the situation. 

Speaking from my own practise as an artist, I think that what we do during such rituals is not killing our darlings.

Darlings are beautiful pieces – parts of things that have been collected over a longer period in time. Strong, high energy images that evoke thoughts and feelings. 

In my daily practise as an artist, I try to find similarity within my found and saved darlings. And I organise them within two-dimensional or three-dimensional space, using signs, ropes, nails, wood and pins.

In the spatial organisation of my darlings, I am inspired by blueprints of real-life monument sites, such as the Dam square in Amsterdam. At the Dam square one wanders from post-war to state memorial, from religious shrine to monarchy power-play. Buildings tagged with capitalism, tourism, old money and consumerism on the other side. All these memorials are connected to a model of our society by the volume of the square, the rows of countless stones, and the roads dividing the square.

In short: I love shrines and monument sites because these areas evoke the ultimate personal google-experience; They challenge us to find a certain non-historical order in the world around us, a logic of the senses.

Isa Tenhaeff
Amsterdam, February 2010