Interview by Jason Judd All artwork by Jennifer Gustavson
Jennifer Gustavson collects, makes, or more often than not, finds herself surrounded by objects. She investigates, what she describes as, the struggle between the burden and the attachment to objects. In this interview Gustavson discusses how her idiosyncrasies become sculpture, through ordering and organizing. Her formal decisions with objects of commodity and sentimentality questions what is important in hierarchy. Perhaps her sculptures reach a sense of poignancy when she states, “There is something complicated and unscientific about the hierarchy of sentimentality.”
JJ: When I approach your work, I find it easy to overlook the first thought that presents itself: Purpose. Though most art is inherently purposeful, it does not use everyday objects that I may own. When I move or adjust a table it is for a purpose or reason, either to vacuum, move, or because I did not like the placement. The latter is less practical and more about my personal preference and taste. Are you using purpose as a tool or does it exist inherently in your work? JG: I think I have to first describe my work environment. A large part of my practice involves collecting. I surround myself with various objects; some I make and some are found. I like the extreme range of things, small things to big things, meaningful next to vapid things, etcetera. Part of this involves having to move it around so I can navigate through my space. So stacking and arranging has a basic utilitarian purpose, but it does
serve a deeper artistic purpose too. It always amazes me to how many narratives I can get out of just simply moving stuff around. JJ: There is also a sense of intervention. Perhaps how culture had taught us how to understand these objects are being dismissed in a formal manner. Can you discuss the formal aspects and if there is any intervening happening? JG: Getting the opportunity to exhibit a sculpture is the ultimate intervention and the context of the site can be a crucial element when it comes to placement or even in the specificity of the objects I choose. Many of the pieces I make can’t really be remade. Things get broken, lost or recycled into new pieces. When something gets exhibited, it can only come together in one time and one place.
J EN N I FE R GUSTAVSON