My frames are about to get even weirder.
There are many ways in which I could improve future hinged wood frames…but there might be a better approach. In their pre-Renaissance heyday, hinged polyptychs were an efficient way to store multiple artworks in the same space, to switch between them at liturgically significant intervals, and to transport them if necessary. Lately most of us prefer suitcases, duffel bags, and other luggage to transport our goods when we travel.
I’ve been making hinged wooden frames and then boxing them up to ship, but what if the luggage became the frame?
In a series of paintings preoccupied with the ironies and ambiguities of how history affects the present, forcing modern luggage to play the role of a hinged polyptych would heighten the incongruity and anachronism. I explain the nuances of this format in detail in a paper I wrote last spring, but my basic thesis is that the revelation and concealment of this format is a critical aspect to the layers of meaning it imposes or enhances. Transforming the everyday into the fantastical would suit this theme very well indeed.
I could easily incorporate text through luggage labels and travel stickers. I could buy them, but that seems a wasted opportunity. The provenance and history of an original artwork are usually mentioned in staid museum labels or exhibition catalogs, but what if that provenance shows in the shipping labels stuck to the luggage as it travels from one coast to the other for critiques and shows?
That would be a direct approach. Another would be to make my own stickers in order to add another layer of recursion. The stickers could speak to the peripatetic history of the art object, while the label could identify its title and authorship.
The next issue is how to integrate oil paintings and second-hand luggage. I couldn’t resist the temptation to research the DIY approach to luggage modification. Apparently quite a few people transform vintage suitcases into boomcases (and explain how to wire your own), suitcase chairs, medicine cabinets, and end tables. Another option is to merely reupholster the interior. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t quite what I needed.
Oil paintings on panels will obviously require slightly different handling than paper. Having the painted surfaces touch other would be highly undesirable, but I have ideas for how to get around that little hitch. I’ll simply frame the paintings and hinge the frames. It’s the same logic that dictated frames and molding on the inside of the previous polyptychs.
The other tricky proposition is how to accommodate both valley and mountain folds without having hinges show. A set of instructions for fence-building might hold the key to this conundrum: use magnets instead of latches or hinges.
I’m eager to get painting, but I also don’t want to redo the paintings multiple times simply because I didn’t bother to calculate the dimensions of their eventual context. I’m going to make both a luggage popup and a wooden frame for this set of panels. The effect will be less skewed by subjectivity if I compare the two frames with the same paintings inside.
(I’m starting to root for the luggage popup.)