What has been, what is yet to be

What has been, what is yet to be. 

Jessica Oag-Cooper

Embedded in my practice are concerns around ‘place’ and position within context and materiality. Throughout these projects I have attempted to consider movement with positioning my myself, particularly my own body, and speculating people’s subconscious gestures and actions through space, examining use-value and occupation. 


‘Of skin and skin’ began with the exploration of the physical materiality of skin; absorbent, malleable and formed. ‘A monstrous, infinitely plastic entity, capable of metabolising and absorbing anything with which it comes into contact’ – Mark Fisher, 2009.

Sponge Collage, Video, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJo1gBE_NtE

‘One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.’ – Guy Debord, Theory of the Dérive, 1963

I wanted to explore this idea of walking with a tool that will give me a greater, or different understanding of my journey and space. I strapped sponges to the sole of my shoes and went walking. This experiment posed interesting questions around the sponges link to skin, my physical link to my own skin and the grounds skin, and the deprivation of a sensory experience.

Sponge Shoes, video, 2018. Leather shoes, sponge, rope. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvNr3qGwHwU

I chose my porch to be my site due to it being one of the sites I knew the most within my new home of Glasgow, whilst challenging the idea of arbitrary constraints and personal space of  the sixteen residents who also shared my entrance way. I started cleaning the porch with my sponges, and I realised whilst doing this, that my skin felt far less important that the skin of the porch and the dirt and dust that I was absorbing in the sponge. 

Clean Porch, 2018. Sponge, water. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foZpBN-Lj-w

The use of ritual is present in the story of ‘Antigone’ and as stated in Teresa Stoppani’s essay ‘Antigone’s Dustings: coatings, revolutions and the circularity of dust’: Antigone’s dustings, in their repetition, enact a form of disagreement from within that opens a way for the irruption of change in society’ -Teresa Stoppani, 2017

The simplicity of Antigone’s political motion made the cleaning and the dirt collected from the porch felt like an important act that could potentially have a greater undertone of themes such as the fragment and the fragmented skin of the ground, and that of the possible new or maintained. 

The circularity of dust is intrinsic to the verb ‘to dust’, intended both as to ‘remove something, cleanse a place, and as its opposite: to ‘sprinkle something with a small portion of powdery matter, as in “to make dusty. It is this circularity of ‘dusting’ which informed the final position of my artefact. It felt important to make an object that used this ritual in the process and had a use to my chosen site. I decided to receive the dirt and replace it with something which encapsulated the material and preserved the clean surface that I had left behind after laborious cleaning. I created resin pieces, which were made by collecting the dust in water from the porch, I then boiled it down so I was only left with the residue. I cast the resin in three layers, using the dust from the three days I cleaned from the porch, and in homage to Antigone ultimate act of three layers of dusting. I took the resin before it has fully cured from the initial mould, and slumped it over the porch steps, creating a 1:1 cast, or a new skin.

Resin Cast in situ, 2018. Resin, Dust.
Resin Cast, 2018. Resin, Dust
Resin Cast, 2018. Resin, Dust.







You are standing in the city centre but there is no sound of whirring or revving engines – but you can hear the hum of the self-driving cars circulating the city.

You see a news flash brighten up the screen in front of you, ‘THE LAST SUPPLY OF PETROL FOUND’. 

Drawing of funnel and petrol tank, 2018.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ecg9mM5NEow

The petrol station is abandoned as petrol is no longer needed. We must give back the petrol that we once took; a gift to back to the origin, the ground. The simplicity of the anachronistic object and motion is designed to encourage participants to understand the intelligible action. The new skin will be the political space; a place of thought and reflection. 

However, the instant the criterion of genuiness in art production failed, the entire social function of art underwent an uphearal. Rather than being underpinned by ritual, it came to be underpinned by a different practice: Politics’ – Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1935.

I cast the funnel using clear cast resin, the same used for Act I, within a handmade mould, sanded it down and applied shellac so that it was transparent and durable. Additionally, I designed a ball valve which will sit in the petrol tank and seal the tank when full, and a manhole cover which will cover the space when the tank is full and the funnel is removed. I decided on the wording ‘What has been, What is yet to be’ on the manhole cover, alluding to the petrol beneath and the unknown future. The development of each detail within the work has been deliberate and purposeful, intentionally preserving its simplicity to allow the viewer to read meaning into its greater political place.

Cast resin in petrol station, 2018.



Contact: Jessicaoagcooper@mac.com



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