Insignificants in April: Vanishing Points

Due to the Corona/COVID-19 virus, the University of Copenhagen is currently in a lockdown. This means that the monthly exhibition launch of Insignificants cannot take place in the usual format at the Saxo Institute. Instead of cancelling the launch of insignificants of April, I have decided to transfer the opening of the exhibition to this online format. Bookmarks can be seen at the bottom of this page; real ones will be available, once the university reopens. For now, I encourage you to provide your own drinks and salt sticks for this online exhibition launch, observing the recommended physical distance to other people. Cheers.

Click here for a short video greeting, replacing the usual welcome speech

About Insignificants in April

The title of April’s Insignificants is “Vanishing Points”. The collective of objects gathered for April’s exhibition derive from a visit to my old primary school during the Christmas holiday of 2019. I strolled the school yard and noticed the remains of a yellow stripe of paint on the asphalt. The yellow line used to mark the transgression between field and refuge when playing tag. Today, only a few metres of the yellow line are preserved, after being worn down by the soles of shoes and bicycle tires for decades. Then, I started noticing other things on the ground; objects that had been lost or thrown away: socks, a knitted glove, a deformed table tennis ball, bruised painted pebbles, a piece of Christmas decoration made of red felt, an airless balloon, a broken pencil (inscribed “Alvin”), a paper slip with numbers on it, a fragment of a comb, a plastic bottle top, a torn purple ribbon, a resealable plastic bag, porcelain shards, half a fake apple of plastic and styrofoam.

These are quite unremarkable things, and there may be no particular reason for spending much more time with them – except, perhaps, to pick them up and dispose of them properly. However, for some reason, these things occurred to me; upon noticing them, they led my thoughts astray and I got stuck with them for a while. It occurred to me that each of these items were identical to things being lost or left behind, when I attended school in the 1980s. In these traces, we see no stylistic changes in clothing or Christmas decorations, apparently no advances in the techno-complex. In a sense, some things seemed to have stopped in their tracks. Yet, of course, they had not. Just look at the yellow stripe of paint. It is worn, dissolving; it did not stop some 30 years ago, but has kept moving, morphing, breaking up. This made me curious to see whether I could determine the place the stripe stops being a stripe, where it ceases to be a scatter of yellow freckles on the asphalt, where it dissolves into nothing.

The pursuit of the point where something dissolves reminded me of the vanishing point in perspective drawing, i.e. the principle that all parallel lines eventually converge into one point. Hence, the vanishing point is a place where things merge yet disappear at the same time. This principle pertains to two-dimensional perspective drawing, yet I wonder how often we encounter actual, material vanishing points in three and more dimensions.

As you might have noticed, the exhibition case does not rest on its usual wooden base; this time it rests on a chunk of asphalt with blue paint on it. This is not asphalt from my school yard, nor is the stripe on this piece of asphalt yellow. I found this specimen in a waste pile outside a hippie settlement between my home and my work. The inhabitants of the settlement tend to use the neighbouring forest as a midden for their garden waste and other unwanted items. Here, too, things tend to be drawn from the places they previously occupied, and all their parallel trajectories seem to come together, while dissolving at the same time. Strolling the forest, I came across the chunk of asphalt, and was struck by the poetic link to the yellow stripe of paint in my school yard, thinking that it would make for a beautiful plinth for Insignificants in April.

So, what I give you for April’s Insignificants is a material vanishing point: a collective of frayed traces of trajectories between then and now; too little, too few and too late to evidence the past; too feeble to offer the promise of a future, resting at the far side of their expiry date. Yet, here they are, at their point of vanishing.