Emma McAndrew D’Souza (She/Her)
My artwork is frantically nostalgic, fascinated with how the internet enables old pop culture to re-emerge and be cared for. I reimagine certain pop culture artefacts in loving DIY means, sometimes to honour them and sometimes to satirise them and sometimes it can be both. I use lo-fi digital processes and homespun craft methods (learned online) to subvert and critique the nature of sleek consumer products. My focus can range from clothing trends to television shows to blogging culture, calling upon what is familiar to me as a young British woman born on the periphery of Generation Z and millennials. I extrapolate from my personal experience and identity to create archetypal caricatures. This level of separation from myself nurtures absurdist storytelling with real-world grounding. The narratives I lean into temper childhood nostalgia with adult life anxieties like the climate emergency or the job market.
Homepage – virtual gallery experience (Emma McAndrew D’Souza 2021)
The artwork’s title ‘Homepage’ is an on-the-nose reference to the internet’s relationship with the domestic realm. Blue-screen technology combined with Microsoft Paint drawing create a lo-fi digital backdrop to a physical room containing solely handcrafted items associated with a typical contemporary British home. It simultaneously resembles a sloppy DIY vision of a genuine home-space, an IKEA showroom, and a white cube gallery space (complete with felt-tip pen exhibition labels listing the unconventional range of materials). The lumpy objects are an homage to the early fruits of online DIY tutorials and primary school art lesson memories. The installation is about 2m x 1m x 1.7m in size. The objects are about a third smaller than what they mimic but you can only really tell IRL…
‘Homepage’ contains conventional items like a woven rug and terracotta plant pots, as well as surreal replicas like a ceramic laptop and wilting fabric plants. The viewer is invited to reflect on the lack of knowledge they (like myself) may share with much of the population behind the production process of familiar household consumer goods. The wonky ceramic electronics resemble an alchemic attempt to understand the complex modern inventions that 21st century life depends on. The fabric plants comment on the disconnect caused by the commodification of nature into ornamental houseplants and botanical motifs.
The artwork channels my own personal guilt at my consumer habits regarding the unsustainable
tropical houseplant industry, pollutant craft supplies and the struggle to commit to ethical and
sustainable DIY upcycling solutions. Some of the objects are almost entirely made from recycled
domestic detritus whereas others rely on newly bought materials. The giant fabric plant is
constructed from a dead Dracaena trunk, a broken plant pot, broken shoes, bent coat hangers and a
vast array of fabric scraps, whereas the giant terracotta pot uses online bought clay, glaze and epoxy
repair putty. The obsessively handmade room has a narrative of good intentions but also misguided
activity. It also reflects on how we use the internet to guide the mindfulness-boosting and seemingly
ecological activities of gardening and craft, despite the internet’s many anxiety inducing intrusions
and the fossil-fuel precious metal hungry devices that support it. The internet’s transition from a
relatively non-commercial community platform in its early years compared to its contemporary
business-centric form is another underlying theme. It is useful to contemplate how these issues
implicate the online and digital presence of environmentalism in order to mitigate them.
‘Homepage’ relies on comedy to make its social commentary more engaging and less didactic. The
viewer will hopefully find the absurdist storyline an inviting entry-point. There is a fluffy handsewn
fabric depiction of the carnivorous walking GMO plant from the sci-fi cult classic ‘The Day of the
Triffids’ being unsuccessfully tamed with a collar and plant-pot, informed by the guidance of a
website displayed on the ceramic laptop titled ‘Plantmumz.net’ (a pastiche of the ‘Mums.net’ and
the ‘Plant Parent’ zeitgeist). Direct and indirect pop culture references permeate throughout the
installation fostering a generic identity for the absent occupant of the room, leaving room for the
viewer. I intend for my installation to inspire DIY activity but also provoke critical reflection on the
dangers of commodifying nature.
Some pics of the big big terracotta pot and bit of process sneak peaks 😉
Action shots of ‘Potted Triffid’…