Last Thursday at the GLAMFA exhibit, this minimalistic piece by Ava Porter oddly titled Grandfather, caught my attention.
I don’t exactly know if it’s because I’m somewhat into furniture or anything that’s house related, but there was something about this piece that was close to an open book.
I was first reminded of Doctor Who or the idea that maybe this was someone’s alien portal to another universe.
Then I thought maybe it’s a visual timeline of someone’s grandfather, particularly Porter’s. For example, on both end’s of the piece, the doorways are bigger: representing birth on one side and death on the other. Then those little doorway spaces in between them are like short pieces of time and memories that filled the years between birth and death. Porter’s use of burned wood also hinted me of signs of violence, that the life lived wasn’t a good one. We aren’t shown the exact details, which definitely works because it would mean that it could be a timeline of anyone’s grandfather, or just anyone in general.
Porter also mentioned that this piece was inspired by a “Russian superstition based on an ancient Slavic custom of burying the ashes of the family’s grandfather underneath the threshold”. At this point, I’m truthfully confused. Do Russian families have a lot grandfathers in one generation? Or is this a compilation of various generations and ashes belonging to different grandfathers? Porter’s minimalism for this piece didn’t help my confusion, either. How can eight doorways mean anything that relates to an old custom? AND WHY DID SHE USE BURNED RECLAIMED WOOD? Is that a symbol for violence? A symbol for death? (My head is spinning…)
I was wrong. This piece isn’t even close to being an open book. I liked my idea of it portraying someone’s life. However, it obviously contains more depth that I could ever comprehend just by looking.
More on Ava Porter.