Cursed Junk explores the concept of cursed objects as a possible result from a previous life. The collection centers on the idea that these objects are forgotten, misused, or misappropriated as possible cursed objects, resulting in their current form. This thinking expands the objects beyond their current state, as junk, to question what in the previous life led them to become cursed, and what their next lives will hold. Left intentionally ambiguous, the descriptions of these objects are open to the viewer’s interpretation, making their own connections as they make their way through the cabinet. By recentering the focus of the objects from their current life to their previous and next lives, a speculative reasoning and narrative form as the viewer pieces together the curses of the objects in the cabinet.
The word “curse” is based on Old English (curs), where it was used to describe a verbal utterance invoking a magical or supernatural power capable of inflicting death, disease, or misfortune on a person or thing. As they have developed, curses have come to provide two main functions: to invoke the dead, demons, or spirits against the living; or to protect the dead from the living or the living from the dead. Curses and cursing have a long history and can also be found within both religious and historical texts as well as within oral traditions centered mainly on superstitious, magical, or religious beliefs.
Archaeological and anthropological evidence suggests that curses were widespread in earlier periods of history from ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Mayan cultures, to Scandinavia and Medieval Europe in ways that extended beyond religious experience and belief. Even as religious fear has waned the folklore of curses continue into the modern-day. The continued legacy of curses and potency of verbal utterances to inflict harm are still prevalent in today’s culture from the plots of best-selling books to high-profile libel lawsuits.
The folklore of these curses is typically based on myths of their origin creating an elaborate backstory for many of these cursed objects. These objects carry with them an aura of adversity, misfortune, and destruction. By asking the viewers of Cursed Junk to be the creators of these elaborate backstories the folklore of their curses becomes open-ended, multifaceted, and personal.
As the mind pieces together this folklore, these inanimate objects become complex taking on their own values, motives, and intentions. In the mind’s animation of these objects, the objects once seen as junk, gain value from their speculative pasts and futures.
These speculative pasts allow for an envisioning of the materials and resources these objects once were or were trying to be, and the scars left on themselves and the Anthropocene in their extraction and production. While the speculative futures highlight the longevity of these objects as they remain beyond both their creator’s and their speculative envisioner’s life cycle into a posthuman world.
These speculations are a part of the non-acoustic languages Walter Benjamin refers to in this book On Language as Such and on the Language of Man. As these “nameless, non-acoustic languages, are languages issuing from matter; here we should recall the material community of things and their communication.” In their ambiguity, the objects of Cursed Junk create speculations as these materials communicate with each other and the speculator recalling their pasts and envisioning their futures.
from Malleus Maleficarun, 15th century text on witchcraft