Kelly June Mitchell
fabric, wool, chairs, cedar sapling, plant detritus, found objects, recording and sound equipment
interior of 12 ft x 18 ft cabin
Half Life was a temporary sound, textile, and sculpture installation where the viewer was encouraged to take a moment to consider how natural cycles of growth and decay influence our everyday lives in the home. The cabin the work was installed in was meant to be a stand-in for the home; the archetypal home that everyone recognizes, either because it’s what they grew up with, saw it on TV, or read about it in stories. As viewers walked into the cabin they could hear recordings collected of people telling stories or recalling memories of what home means to them, for better or worse. There was also an improvised recording booth in the cabin where viewers were encouraged to add their own stories to the recordings.
The title Half Life comes from my fascination with processes of growth and decay. Like how fungus works almost invisibly to break down matter, how the death of one animal can feed others in the wild, how new life depends on decay in nature in order to thrive. These processes are also reflected in our relationships, how we grieve and grow as individuals when relationships inevitably break down or change. Half life is a term used in several scientific fields, including physics and pharmacology, to describe a rate of decay. I chose it as a title for this installation because of its meaning in scientific fields, but also because if we don’t let decay into our lives on a personal level, then we don’t leave space for new growth to flourish and we can end up living stagnant half lives.
Half Life was part of the Arts in Nature Festival made possible by the Delridge Neighborhood Association.