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john richey

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How do we prepare for what happens in extreme cases of loss? We are constantly trying to stay safe while there are some things that we can never be ready for. Precautionary drills carry with them an empty promise of safety. Are all of the training exercises and advancements in the technologies of safety in vain? Or do we call them an attempt at comfort and stability? Bad things happen and how we prepare for them interests me because it is a tender existential problem.

Over the past five years, I have been creating intimate spaces about the paradoxical situations of fear and control. These universal concepts of fear and control permeate every facet of our lives from the everyday to the life altering. They manifest themselves in a range of everyday objects and commonplace events as well as through the most outrageous and unexpected happenstances. My primary goal has been to transform and imbue banal collections of text and found material into installations that blur the line between concepts of control vs. chaos, stability vs. volatility, and safety vs. danger so as to highlight the fact that sometimes these themes are one and the same.

I collect precautionary handouts and safety manuals because their simplistic language, instructions, and diagrammatic overlays interest me. Inherent to these brochures are images that prescribe physical action in the name of life extension. Dramatizations of fear and trust collide within their pages as the promise of safety in a cartoon is realized through ritualistic training and practice.

I believe in the promise of safety until it fails. Our need to feel protected is a falsehood because some things are out of our control. We are all trying to prepare for what we will never be ready for, the unexpected.