“Fragile, Please Handle with Care”

Ceramic Vessels, Packaging Materials, Video and Performance, 2016


Ten ceramic vessels literally traveled from one part of the world to another -- from the United States to Iran. They traveled just like people do every day, and each one has a story to tell, a story that is told in form and transformation due to movement and chance events.  Some vessels show their fragility openly, others hide it, and the degree to which each is fragile varies.  Through their movement, handling, and their ultimate resilience or fragility they arrive in the state in which they are seen.  There is a fundamental dynamic between the object and its movement, which may or may not involve some degree of damage.  How are we to judge the objects on display – those that are there, those that were intended to be there, those that arrived in the same state that they started, and those that were ‘damaged’ or ‘transformed’ along the way? 


The answer may seem easy, when it concerns just vessels -- we applaud the lack of damage; we pity a piece that is broken -- but when we carry the metaphor further to people, what should we do?  The current state of refugees around the world offers a case in point.  Some people travel of their own volition; many now are moving because they have no choice.  Where they will end up and how they will be treated along the way remain unknowns. Ceramics have a lot to teach us about ourselves, so please handle them with care -- they have come such a long way.