Susan Buret
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Testaments from a Floating world



Artist Statement
Susan Buret



‘ - breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other’

From ‘The Order of Things’ by Michel Foucault.


Official documents, birth certificates, licences, passports, visas, residency permits, are visually beautiful with their soft colours, varying texts, finely etched images and overlays of stamps, ornate coats of arms, seals and signatures. They fit vast amounts of finely printed and coded information onto small areas in an orderly format.

These pretty pieces of paper use their beauty to conceal their powers. The documents of officialdom confine and define the bearer with a fixed identity and role, the burden of society’s expectations and by the act of definition place limitations on what is acceptable behaviour. They frequently purport to guarantee a welcome but often lead to discrimination, prejudice and vilification.

Using an office paper shredder, the favoured equipment of an administration in retreat, I shred multiple copies of these documents invalidating their order and usurping their authority as a medium for classification and the exercise of power. Applying the shredded paper to canvas, I randomly reconstruct them to produce soft and shifting fields which throb with the reality of individuality and uncertainty. I seek to subvert the hierarchical concepts of power and authority. The recreation of the documents on a much larger scale is a reassertion of the right of the individual as part of the whole.

I then overlay the work with multiple stamps echoing and subverting the stamp of officialdom but as abstract and geometric forms. This griding and obviscating of the reworked documents hints at the realm of the domestic, textiles, tiles, grills and fences and the safety and predictability of home but the grids often shift or move preventing focus.

The process of producing the works makes tangible the questioning of the imposition of power by definition and could be described as seditious. The repetition, in the reconstituting is a tool of serious intent to challenge authority and give voice to the other.