A New Curse
A list of materials, from memory: Humidor, rosary beads, porcelain, sequin, love letters, mason jar, deer hide, muselet, combination lock, sunglasses lens, wooden leg, tea cup & saucer, lacewood, arrow, painting, dried flowers.
Process: Objects collected over the years shift around constantly in our home, drifting towards unstable finality and specialization zones. These migratory combinations create histories—new trajectories formed with uncertain futures. Used readymades imbued with loss, then time, or nostalgia. Sometimes these may be records of events, or forms just observed. Maybe they can’t even be moved. Maybe they shouldn’t be.
They all feel accursed—that unites them. Old orders of qualification/quantification dissolve. Not being able to throw away something like a plastic Lunchables container or an empty humidor comes at a cost. A system of belief emerges.
Not yet asleep, but no longer awake (Steinweg).
Arrow, found lodged (shot?) into a dirt embankment next to our garage upon returning home from a walk, shortly after having moved into our home.
A worn rubber belt, passed three times while walking on a country road, each time the belt mistaken for a coiled snake.
A single violet-tinted lens from a pair of sunglasses found in a parking lot in Niles. The surface of the lens was found scratched repeatedly. Looking through the lens yields mixed results now—a cloudiness; only a dim, hazy, gauze-like suggestion of an image in front of the viewer, perhaps.
A plastic, decapitated bird head that previously resided on top of a condominium building in Florida where it had its feathers plucked off by turkey vultures and then, when no longer viable as a deterrent, was left abandoned in the bushes nearby.
An anonymous portrait painting that hung for years in my childhood home then, after divorce, remarriage, death, and several moves, was unceremoniously stored in a garage until finally surrendered to me. At that point, the eyes were removed to replicate the paintings that would hang in the hallways of *haunted* mansions of old Scooby Doo episodes where similar works served as readymade surveillance devices for the owners, who would have seemingly walked down passageways to stand behind them and peer through their removed eyeholes, unseen by visitors or meddling kids.
The red metal flag from our mailbox, broken off by the snow plows that seemingly targets the mailbox every season, their treads veering ominously closer and closer. Ever closer.
An unreliable combination lock. The lock, repurposed from an unused school locker, was being utilized at a local community center day locker while swimming recently. During this brief span—only the second time of its new life—the lock mysteriously refused to open. Then, at the brink of being cut-off by a bemused staff member, it mysteriously unlocks halfway through the cutting, leaving a deep gash in its curved steel arm. The locker it guarded contained a jacket of another club member that, when the lock was placed onto the locker, had gone unnoticed by the person locking it. Perhaps the lock only unlocks itself at the edge of sanity, at a turning point of anxiety, or to protect and prolong the belongings and interaction with a complete stranger? Regardless, the combination is 22-38-21.
An unfinished wooden table leg separated from its base. No evidence of the actual piece in its entirety (or any of the other legs) was present at the site where this leg was located.
A rusted muselet found in the Cancer Survivors’ Garden in Chicago, scavenged during a day trip several years ago while ruminating on the death of a loved one who had recently passed away from a rare, aggressive cancer. The muselet now resides underneath a plastic cup, left over from the opening reception.
Marc Dombrosky serves as Chair of the Department of Visual + Performing Arts and Gallery Director at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, MI. His projects have been exhibited in museums and galleries nationally including Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR (solo); Craft Alliance, St. Louis, MO; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA; Clark County Government Center, Las Vegas, NV.