Massa Lemu

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The sea hums bearing strange gifts (2018)

The building that now serves as the studios at Oakwood Arts in Churchill, Richmond was built in 1927 to be a Sunday school and served as a day care from the 1960s onward until it was abandoned for many years. Through repurposing of objects found on-site such as baby cots that were used in the day care, the installation “The sea hums bearing strange gifts” is both representative of the specific history of the building and evocative of stories that resonate more broadly. Empty, neglected cots have been restored with mylar emergency blankets to suggest images of contemporary global migration; Suitcases stripped bare to expose the frame carry nothing but the hopes and frustrations of their absent owners, and any inspiration that can be cleaved from the luggage tags’ inscriptions. “The sea hums” brings the multivalence of place, objects, and environments to the forefront, while also suggesting the uncanny unity of experience under capitalist hyperglobalization. The installation is imbued with a sense of universality: while the space and the objects found within it reflect the history unique to the building, the sculptures are evocative of the experiences of so many around the world.
(text by Kathryn Carney).