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Chair Series: 

The “chairs” series uses a familiar and essential object of furniture to address overlapping notions of the body, memory, and identity. Within each piece, physicality and psychology are caught in an intricate negotiation: The body of the chair itself, the human body engaging with it, and the memory and emotion associated with the encounter all morph to create an interactive and performative object. The body activates the chair; the resulting body language and what it stimulates mentally is the result of this interaction.

The anatomy of each chair is altered and distorted from traditional norms, suggesting new modes of interaction. Familiar structural and formal elements are added, subtracted, or modified, making the mundane foreign and the almost thoughtless act of sitting on a chair alienating and new. This physical imbalance translates to shifting emotional states of paranoia and anxiety, calmness, discomfort, peace.

In addition to touch and interaction, sight and perception play a vital role in this act of destabilizing the chair and the act of sitting. Mirrors are incorporated to skew formal expectations, veiling and unveiling elements of space, body and the object itself. Reflective planes swivel and rotate in different dimensions, vertically and horizontally, just like memory moves and distorts in different dimensions.

A physical and psychological conflict between memory, habit, and innateness emerges, creating a congenial disturbance that evokes the concept of the uncanny. From the inside out, from subconscious to conscious, the experience is unfettered by binding memories and latent characteristics. As a result, the connotation of the chair is altered within an acquainted context.

Indeed, the mere temporal act of engaging with the chair evokes and alters that context, and the field of memories possessed by the human mind. Memory is created and investigated through revisited and sometimes unwanted recollections of sensory impressions collected over time. Interactions with the chair therefore simultaneously trigger and create memories.

In particular, the concept of the household evoked by the object of the chair has strong contextual ties to memory and domesticity. It is one of the first physical symbols of the subconscious that a child can create. Tying the body into a space that’s recognizable through domestic elements asks for an intimate approach from the viewer.

The lived engagement, performativity, and functionality of the chair itself all bring the element of time to the fore. Life is added to the object, making it mortal. The materiality of the object also has a temporal element. Wood, once a living being, is transformed into an object with its own lifespan, marked by aging, scratches, discoloration and other physical changes. The chair becomes a three-dimensional object in the temporal sense: The past, present are future are alive in the interaction, for both the object and the human.

The Chairs series thereby spatializes notions of the body, time and memory to challenge the human body and psychology through the form of the object. Shattering expectations of what a chair should be, it pieces them back together bound with new interactions among these notions.

Photography by Charbel Saade