22 June to 04 July 2010
Josephine Cachemaille’s exhibition of new work is the result of research into positive psychology focusing particularly on “law of attraction” theories such as Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. According to such theories, human thought alone can influence the physical world of existence and merely thinking positive thoughts can produce positive outcomes.
Cachemaille looks critically at these concepts and the impact that the “fraudulent maxims” of positive psychology have on current thinking and culture. All Cachemaille’s work has a psychological edge: "I’m preoccupied with anxiety and insecurity. It seems to me that much of what we do in modern society is an elaborate attempt to feel OK about ourselves." The artist questions concepts such as The Secret that shroud themselves in authenticity by virtue of their status as a 'theory'.
The tenets of positive psychology are given an airing in meticulously rendered, large-scale paintings that depict common positive-thinking maxims superimposed over backgrounds of infinite space. By contrast, the inspiration and materials for many other works came from the Salvation Army store down the road from the artist’s studio. Many of the sculptural works utilise “rejected objects, failed craft projects, night-class pottery, amateur carvings and rudimentary trinkets.”
Cachemaille says, “There’s a kind of raw honesty attaching to these kinds of handmade objects. While they lack any grand truth or profundity, they somehow reveal something kind of flawed and ordinary about people. I think of some of the pieces I’ve made as talismans and amulets invested with protective magical qualities, but pathetic, hopeless, ineffectual and entirely reliant on the belief of the user.”
With her paradoxical source materials and modes of presentation (large-scale to tiny; meticulous painting to found object) Cachemaille's kindergarten-style execution transforms grand theories from certainty to doubt. The idea that we can ward off bad times or induce long periods of plenty by merely believing such things can happen is shown to be slightly ludicrous by the crudity of the objects themselves. The overall result is a body of work laden with humour and irony; the grand poetic visual statement that implodes because it is anything but grand.
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