Collaboration with a Stranger

In August of 2015, an unexpected package arrived at my studio.  Unbinding the wrapping I discovered a handmade cast iron tile with mirrored letters spelling out a simple yet haunting message:  “I’m Sorry”

I brought the parcel into my studio and placed it among my things.  Running my fingers across the raised words felt surreal.  This statement has been permanently preserved facing away from me as if I were the one who had made the apology.  It seemed so tragic to find this item not discarded but gifted to someone unfamiliar with its original intent.  I decided that the creator must have been unsuccessful in delivering their apology, unwanting or unable to reach the intended recipient; therefore, it had been placed in my hands to try to succeed where the true author could not.  I buried the tile among my stack of things to return to but the object seared itself into my mind.

I returned to the tile intent on satisfying its call.  Cast iron is remarkable at retaining heat and noticing it’s stamp-like form, I devised some experiments in order to translate the mirrored letters into a more consumable message.  Using a standard hotplate, I heated the tile to a blistering temperature and proceeded to examine the printmaking possibilities.  After quenching several small fires and allowing the smoke to dissipate, I had settled on the first iteration.  I took a ream of paper and carefully positioned the scalding tile on top.  Over the course of several hours, the message transferred downward to as many sheets as possible with every newly legible apology intensifying the statement made on the first pages.

This experiment succeeded in multiplying the consumability of the original atonement but it seemed to accentuate a lack of sincerity established by mechanizing the process.  I felt like I was letting the piece down. I had ignored my initial observation and had distanced myself from the message, assuming that this was an apology made BY a stranger FOR a stranger.  By attempting to exponentially increase the message’s exposure, I had only emphasized its disposability.  I needed to adopt this message as my own.

Confidentially performed and documented, I sought to prove to the piece that I was a serious collaborator.  What resulted is a piece of absolute commitment.  This phrase that is so universal had surely resonated with me before but now my connection with it was made concrete, etched into my skin.  In agreement with the piece, I decided that this romance must now be made public.  Unaware of the initial transgression, I have now completely become a vessel for the authors atonement and hopefully my attempts will result in some resolution.

apologize to enter.

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