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University of the Arts Bremen
Spring 2012

Trialogue between students and teaching fellows in Salzburg, Lahore and Cambridge, culminating in an exhibition at University of the Arts Bremen.

For the first installment of Correspondence, participants were encouraged to try something they’d been meaning to try, if not something totally unrelated to their current practice. I had recently been attaching cell-phones to various parts of my body, recording what they might ‘see’ and ‘hear’ as I performed daily tasks. As a way of entering into the Correspondence project, I decided to draw a still image from one of these videos. Using colored pencils to draw my elbow’s perspective of glazing cookies, I aimed to communicate the tenderness of baking—of being in the kitchen and creating little messes—along with the intimacy of cell-phone footage.

In the second stage of Correspondence, I received a nest of eggshells painted with scenes from a wedding celebration. Although I remained uncertain about the identity of those depicted, the clearly sentimental subject matter and fastidious paint application troubled me and eventually led me to question the element of sentimentality in my own careful drawing. So I decided to draw one of the eggs (the one of a woman dancing—the bride?) and slipped this drawing into an envelope along with an essay about sentimentality in art. It was my intention that the font of the text, which reminded me of storybooks from my childhood, along with the vibrancy of my colored-pencil drawing, would make subtle reference to Disney and the sugary aspect of my minimal exposure to Middle Eastern culture growing up.

For the third and last round of the project, I received two pieces, one from Salzburg and one from Lahore. The first consisted of a little cardboard box with a Play-Doh volcano in it. The second pictured a meditating dervish-like man, painted by the artist who had painted the eggs. In response to this work, I meditated on the stairwell of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard, a cell-phone taped around my waist. The sun was going down and I could just make out people and cars passing by the window, as if underwater, and sometimes hear a door closing on another floor. Serendipitously, the video recording picked up on many of the shapes, colors and atmospheric qualities of the tender nested mountain scenes from Austria and Pakistan.

—Helen Miller, Correspondence catalog, 2012