Unwinding, reclining, unscrambling, Resorting, A Charmer’s Scripture.
Tamara Henderson’s Charmer Scripture forms a body of work that has been developed in conjunction with her solo project at Frieze Live. A constellation of film, furniture, painting, sculpture and performance, it emanates from investigating a vocabulary associated with vacationing: cloaking its sensuous facets, inducing objects, squeezing the saturated sea sponge, translating the relentless minutes taken from a multitude of trips into this suite of sculptural souvenirs. Travel magazines collected from agencies are blended into a pulp of sea sand, cruise ship, monochrome hue sludge. These are the props belonging to the travel agent, the “charmer” who induces and influences the vacationer, though any one person could fulfill this role: a reflexologist, a janitor, a key cutter.
Resorting, Henderson’s installation at Frieze Live, welcomes its audience into an imaginary interior, where one can visit the bar manned by a reflexologist – a counterpart to the travel agent – or sojourn on chairs, inducing relaxation, the sensation of vacation. Embodying the off-camera set for her 16mm film What’s Up Doc? (2014), exhibited at Rodeo, with opening scenes of travel agencies, making visual the language of resorting. A telephone receiver, an object that prescribes a code or dialogue for the film, is drowned in lead, an act of solidifying this dialogue. This receiver, adorned with chalk, amber and ivory, is lifted out of the film and lands into Resorting as a physical prop, transmitting excerpts from Henderson’s passage through a Past Life Regression therapy (a 2-hour session in which one visits their past self), her sleepy voice delivering a labyrinth of details composing her past life. Through the act of picking up the receiver and listening to the dialogue, the code within the film becomes decoded and rescripted. The reflexologist’s script, too, instructs and entices the audience through a number of sequential steps. The translation of scripture into object, object into film, and film back into object is a process of receiving, decoding, transforming, directing, influencing: charming.
The paintings and sculptural work that accompanies What’s Up Doc? are filmic excavations. Henderson’s figurative paintings, as well as the film, act as a terrain to be dug up, their mined counterparts forming tables made from burying off-camera props in plaster. The props are excavated, leaving a negative of the object, encapsulated, transformed and, again, decoded. Archaeology and the act of excavation are important and recurring notions for Henderson, “dug-up” in her Past Life Regression hypnosis in the form of her past life character Low Harvard, an archaeologist by profession. Henderson’s practice of translating into different forms her experiences of sleep, dreams or hypnosis is, too, an archaeological endeavor to mine for conscious meaning in unconsciousness. After all, dreaming is just mining the night.