Michael Trainor on his Auction of Important Things

By Posted in - Artist Blog & BIG HOUSE 2013 on July 16th, 2013 Penguin-of-regret

The Auction of Important Things

I am in the process of collecting objects – tickets, ornaments, trinkets, records, anything that feels like it is calling to me – that might have a story attached, that might mean, or have meant, something important to someone at some point.

These objects, and their attached stories, are being woven into three separate narratives that reveal 3 different people’s lives. Each object will be a lot in a daily auction as part of the BIG HOUSE Festival and as each one is put up ‘for sale’ a little bit more of the former owner’s life will be revealed.

This is not something that normally happens – we don’t normally get to share the intimate feelings attached to a seemingly mundane ‘thing’. By the time things get to an auction they are reduced back to their original state, a thing with an arbitrary value attached just as they were when they were first offered for sale. It is a very human trait however to imbue meaning and attach sentiment to our possessions – they become memory repositories and extensions. That is actually partly how our memory works; it is facilitated best by attaching emotion to inanimate objects and images.

Inevitably making this piece of work has made me think about my own ‘important things’ and whether they still are, so I thought I would share one with you…

Like many people I have moved and ‘de-cluttered’, willingly or not, many times so I was surprised to find ‘The Comedy Penguin Clock’ still in my possession at the age of 46. It was a present from girl who was a friend – let’s call her Lucy – for my 18th birthday. In no way, then or now am I a cutesy-comedy-penguin-kind-of-guy but that did not stop me from adding it to the little shrine I had for Lucy together with black and white photograph I had processed myself.

When I occasionally unearth the penguin this is what I feel in order of appearance:

1. Surprise – I genuinely never remember I still have.

2. Disorientation – As I time travel to another me and set of feelings.

3. Irritation – I never liked it and it is the kind of mismatched generic gift purveyed by pedlars of mass produced sentiment for commercial gain (in this case I suspect it was 80’s ersatz high street poster art and gift chain ‘Athena’).

4. Longing – as the flash bulb memories go off I recall how much I obsessed over her (too much) and how long I would spend trying to be ‘entertaining’ rather than desperate looking so that she would go out with me.

5. Pain – as I recall how many of my friends she kissed in front of me, but never me. Amusement now also as this could be the plot of a Rom Com.

6. Bittersweet – all of the above rolled in to one and for some reason I put it away again.

This time I might put it in the auction.

Michael Trainor (on behalf of The Trainor Triplets) will be presenting The Auction of Important Things on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th August 2013 at BIG HOUSE Festival, in Castletown House, Celbridge.

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