Theresa Moerman Ib graduated from The Glasgow School of Art in 2012 and has since been featured in group exhibitions in the UK and Denmark including graduate shows at The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts and the Boetzelaer|Nispen gallery in London. Her work will also be in the Royal Scottish Academy’s New Contemporaries exhibition in April 2013. Here, she tells us about setting up her current exhibition at Studio 41 in Glasgow.

I love getting to know an exhibition space. If you look closely, it may reveal a secret. The trick is to capture the moment and run with it…

Suspended Animation by Theresa Moerman Ib

When I first stepped into studio 41, I didn’t know exactly what my first solo exhibition would look like. I had a clear idea in my head, but some things you can’t prepare for. Nerve-wracking as that is, it’s also the exciting part of setting up a show.

When the walls were painted black and most of the works were in place, I was still trying to decide which of my video works to display. I had been installing every night after work till 2am. Tired, I went home and left the decision for the following day. In the afternoon, I headed down there again – for the first time in bright daylight.

Camera Obscura by Theresa Moerman Ib

I unlocked the shutters and the front door and closed them behind me. The window shutter was still down, mainly because it’s a bit of a nightmare to work with. Mysteriously, this stubbornness came with a peace offering. Before I had a chance to turn on the light, I saw something mesmerising. The crack at the bottom of the shutter filtered the sunlight so that an inverted image of the street outside was projected onto the walls of the exhibition space. Studio 41 is a self-contained camera obscura!

Camera Obscura by Theresa Moerman Ib

My excitement escalated when I saw that the sheet of A4 paper, which I had stuck over a hole in the shutter to prevent curious passersby from peeking in, also had an inverted image on it. Blurred, and most importantly in motion, it was like a tiny upside down cinema. I grabbed my camera and began filming. It was like being inside a cocoon and looking out through fine silk at the flicker of life outside. Cars, buses, lorries swept by in an arrythmic hum, while occasional pedestrians became fleeting black shadows. I suddenly saw what studio 41 sees when no one is looking.

What It Boils Down To (detail) by Theresa Moerman Ib

In my work, I collect moments and materials that have the potential to be transformed into something else. For “Suspended Animations”, I reworked found moth cocoons by dissolving the tear-proof silk, carding them into fleece with hair brushes, and reanimating them into fragile textile pieces.

Letters From the Dead by Theresa Moerman Ib

I scanned the handwriting of deceased relatives and used the letters of the alphabet they left behind to create new fonts. If the dead could speak, what would we want them to say? What happens when we don’t have enough letters to spell out the things we want to hear?

Old Stories by Theresa Moerman Ib

I spun audio books on cassette tape and films on VHS tape into yarn, rewinding them into balls to tell new stories. Likewise, spun music tapes became new strings on an old guitar.

Lost Memory by Theresa Moerman Ib

The memory sticks suspended from the ceiling had been lying in a library since 2008 and no one had come to reclaim them. We use so many different recording devices to remember things for us, but like our own memory, they are expendable and can easily be lost or forgotten.

Tell Me What You See by Theresa Moerman Ib

The futility of holding on to anything and the need to let go is the core of my practice. The more digital we become, the less likely we are to print out our photos and save them as physical keepsakes. When we do get around to it, we stick them on a fridge door with magnets or stick them in a cheap frame so we can exchange them if something better comes along.

Homesickness Bag by Theresa Moerman Ib

I am intrigued by how necessary similes and metaphors are to express what we mean. Describing things as they are is seldom enough. My titles are like short spells that attempt to unravel the work.  But you don’t have to listen. You can spin your own stories as you go along.

Theresa Moerman Ib lives and works in Glasgow. “Suspended Animations” at Studio 41 is her first solo exhibition. The gallery is open Wednesday-Saturday from 1-6pm till 23 February at 41 West Graham Street, Glasgow G4 9LJ.

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