‘Dissertation’

This project originates from a collection of 16 small things in a plain box that I recently (Sept 2018) rediscovered after twenty years. In the box were some pebbles, pieces of wood and plastic, four cockle shells and a few other insignificant things. I had found them on a beach by the Caspian Sea on the northern coast of Iran in 1999.

Insignificant things from the Caspian Sea

The things presented an opportunity for me to do an investigation into the meaning of insignificance. What makes a thing look insignificant? Is it an innate property of the material thing or is it a perception that is a result of how I interpret the visual appearance of the thing? That is the question that set this study in motion.

I have approached this investigation as an art practice. I am not doing science or philosophy. My methods are quite personal and simplistic. Actually quite insignificant. I used everyday thinking, reflecting on the concept. And I used hands-on making – little cardboard boxes to organise the things, and small books for my notes and drafts that eventually brought together in the final handwritten ‘dissertation’. Thinking and making in tight combination helped pushing the project to its completion.

My ambition was not only to explore the concept of insignificance, but to deliberately create insignificance through making my investigation and its result insignificant in the eyes of a reader/viewer. I soon hit a contradiction – by investing interested attention to the things and the objects I made they became significant to my project. Anyhow, I tried to design boxes and small books using simple and unassuming materials. I have made the final dissertation (160 pages) in just one copy, and written in a minuscule hand, to prevent it from dissemination and becoming some sort of significant attribute of an art project. Did I resolve my initial question? I still don’t know.

This project was completed in June 2019.