Kara Springer is an industrial designer and visual artist. Born in Bridgetown, Barbados, she currently lives and works between Toronto and Detroit. Her interdisciplinary practice explores the intersections of the body and industrial modes of production through sculpture, photography and designed objects. Kara completed an Hon.B.Sc. in Life Sciences from the University of Toronto concurrent to a B.Des. in Industrial Design from the Ontario College of Art & Design. She received her M.A. in New Media and Contemporary Technology from ENSCI Les Ateliers in Paris in 2007. Her work has been exhibited at the Frankfurt Museum of Applied Arts in Germany, the Politecnico di Torino in Italy, the Cultural Center of Belem in Portugal, and is currently included in the 2014 Jamaica Biennial.
One week into our residency at Fresh Milk, and I’m already longing for more time here. It’s such a gift to have access to the beautiful Fresh Milk studio and library. Christian and I are exploring the island in my uncle’s car, scouting locations for my installation series, tentatively titled Repositioned Objects. Lately I’ve been thinking about my preoccupation with decay and erosion, which is in some way or another present in all of my work. It’s this very particular thing in the Caribbean – the way that structures can come apart, and literally crumble; the elements are always intimately and intensely present. I built the 6’x6′ cube below in a burned-out shop in Bridgetown this week. The shop is in the midst of being rebuilt so I had this brief window of time (24 hours) to build, photograph, and ultimately disassemble the piece. I was immediately drawn to the industrial quality of the space – carrying the traces of what it used to be and the questions of how it fell into disrepair, even in its current state of being prepped for re-construction.
In contrast, two weeks ago, just as the temperature dropped below freezing in Toronto, I installed the form below, which was originally inspired by a roti hut, in an industrial parking lot at Keele & St Clair. I had to trek into the store nearby every 10 minutes or so to thaw my hands as I put it together. This residency is affording me a really valuable space to think through what it means to be of and from many different places, and the translations that are negotiated in the in-between.
Back in cold Toronto now, it’s bittersweet to reflect on our time in Barbados. It was both nourishing and profoundly productive to have the freedom as well as all of the constraints of our experience there. The constraint of too little time, of learning and relearning the landscape, of moving ourselves and these project materials around, of building under the hot hot sun. In the end it was the uncontrollable elements that became the most interesting part of the experience, and of the work itself.
Six 4 x 4 x 4 ft structures, set in the East coast seascape were violently destroyed overnight (by unknown human hands, a truck). Bound and let float in the sea, another form was taken down by the waves, the pieces violently ripped apart, scattered in the ocean, and then re-collected, reassembled again on the beach. There was something satisfying in connecting the human destruction to that of the sea. It reminded me that we’re built this way – to both build and destroy, to come apart. It was helpful too in offering new directions for me and for my work.
The last images are from our last night at Fresh Milk. The structure is made from those re-collected pieces – with not quite enough time, and not quite enough materials (useless screws, too damaged to be reused), the structure couldn’t quite stand on the uneven ground of this former plantation, now dairy farm and gathering place for artists. Christian steps in so I can at least capture an image of what it might have been. And then as it caves in on itself, I find this other more interesting form, that pushes against my compulsion to be precise and orderly in my making. This residency was in many ways a collection of happy accidents – wrong turns that opened up new and unexpected paths, and constraints that pushed me to think in new ways about freedom.