The project I began at Dieu Donné is a continuation of my ongoing exploration concerning the way history is portrayed through objects, as well as the boundaries between authenticity and reproduction in the context of artifacts. This work references three marginally related historical wall coverings: German Baroque leather tapestries known as ledertapeten and Victorian fake leather wallpapers made in both England and Japan for export to America.
The German leather tapestries are visually grotesque; depicting muscled putti, outlandish flowers, and food, all of which have rotted with the animal hide over time. The faux leather wallpapers capture the American desire to possess the grandeur of Europe. Too expensive for the average middle class home, affordable substitutes for leather were developed; made of compressed linseed oil in England and of thick paper embossed by carved cylindrical rollers in Japan. These attempts at replication resulted in the creation of completely new forms of craft, an act of simultaneous appreciation, rejection, and improvement of history.
By referencing fragments of history as conveyed by these artifacts, a new narrative is formed that validates the desire to remake objects by hand that have been traditionally made with certain methods. This theme is both an important characteristic of my studio practice and of the Dieu Donné mission. My sculptures are usually created through laborious methods that glorify, through contemporary means, the antiquated notion of the skilled decorative arts craftsman. Paper, my medium of choice, is an inaccurate, seemingly impossible means of creating a three dimensional object and the results have a certain awkwardness. The work presented here, developed and created with the help of Dieu Donné, visually embodies inaccuracy, becoming a physical manifestation of broken and flawed history.
— Meghan Gordon, 2011
Meghan Gordon (b. 1985) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.