Pop Up Exhibition:
Emotional Objects
December 6, 2019–January 5, 2020

Ellen Sampson is an artist and material culture researcher whose work explores the relationships between bodies, memory, and clothing, in museums and archives and in everyday life. She notes that the First World War catalyzed multiple shifts in women’s lived experience: changes in social structure, employment, and dress practices. The spaces women occupied, the roles they played, and the ways they dressed all changed, so that as war ravaged Europe, their tactile and sensory experiences were shifted and reframed. It was equally a period of previously unparalleled loss, of lives and of behaviors, of futures and of traditions; so much so that it is hard to think of the material culture of that period as anything other than the material culture of loss.

During Sampson’s residency and through her pop-up exhibition, Emotional Objects she will explore the material culture of this change and loss through two everyday objects: the handkerchief and the glove. They are emotional objects, artifacts required to convey, stand in for, or embody emotion. These artifacts, mundane, yet overdetermined, are bound up with the etiquette and traditions of courting and mourning, of private and public, of work and of war. They are souvenirs, love tokens, and mementos, deeply entangled with performances of love, labor, and grief. Despite their ritualized and socially proscribed mode of use, gloves and handkerchiefs are also deeply personal and tactile objects, often understood as indivisible from those who used and wore them. They are Bodily objects, objects that stand in for absent bodies.

The pop-up exhibition will be on view on the Fourth Floor of Bard Graduate Center Gallery.

Ellen Sampson holds a PhD from the Royal College of Art. Using film, photography, performance, and writing she interrogates the ways that garments become records of lived experience. She looks closely and makes close-up images to engage with the intricacies of wear, gesture, and trace. In exploring the resonance of worn and used artifacts, she seeks to uncover how attachment to the material world is produced and maintained. She was 2018–19 Polaire Weismann Fellow at The Costume Institute - The Metropolitan Museum of Art working on a projected titled “The Afterlives of Clothes.”