The Absence of Children
Tess Anne Sarbutt uses sculptural installation and video art to examine the loss of children through exceptional circumstances. Losses can manifest differently depending on the circumstances e.g. war, or cultural expectations e.g. gendercide. Her work is informed by and asks pertinent questions: How do our individual decisions inform our culture? What defines us as societies? How does this make our world? She offers a non-judgmental mode of presentation, inviting the participant to personal consideration and investigation. Her sculptural work manipulates found and foraged cultural artifacts, processed to remove them from their customary use and meaning. To discuss the absence of children she uses discarded stuffed animals, baby blankets and baby clothes invested with new referential cues by the application of white paint and plaster. The treated stuffed toys are strangely tactile − once soft and cuddly, the objects are now rigid. The final product is a documentary video of interviews with mothers who have lost children and their participation in making sculptural installations as memorials for those children. The absence of children affects people of different countries in different ways e.g. families whose children were taken to be soldiers will respond differently than those who have lost generations of females to enforced gendercide. The overall mission is to elicit personal histories through interactive art-making of memorial installations and document these responses on video. The final video installation will incorporate stories from many parts of the world, with the focus on mothers.