Joshua Singler


Making an Appendage.

Following the design lexicon term ‘Design for Decoloniality’ I created the appendage that I later decided to title OCCUPY THIS GALLERY. This appendage was built to depress eurocentric colonial ideas of how we’re supposed to display/showcase and discuss art/design. 

My process was unique in that it brought me in a couple different directions before I finally arrived at my final outcome. A couple weeks ago I came across a picture of a lady in a second-hand store that caught my eye. I wasn’t sure who she was, but I was intrigued by her expression. It was reading to me as displeased, uninterested in a sort of comical sense. When Action Two was assigned I instantly thought back to this photo I seen a couple days earlier and had a fairly linear idea of how I wanted it to play out.

After some research I figured out that the picture was a close crop reproduction of the famous painting ‘Annunciation with St. Margaret and St. Ansanus’. I wanted to emulate the comical look in her face with words/language queues that were inappropriate and decolonizing in their context. My concept was to deface this framed photo with the words ‘BITCH PLEASE’. Using stencils and spray paint. After installing this into Ozzie’s space and beginning ‘making’ I quickly discovered that this plan that seemed so obvious/linear in my head wasn’t going to work out the way I wanted. With frustration, I left the studio. I wasn’t happy with how it turned out and I needed to clear my head. I went home, prepared pasta salad for our communal potluck the next day and with some time to breathe I had a concept. 

Later that night I revisited the school with determination, drive and a can of white paint. I whited out the entire divider. I painted over top of the scuffs, the BITCH PLEASE, the spray paint, and importantly, the Madonna–perhaps the most ‘decolonizing’ act of this action. By painting over top of this sacred/religious figure I felt was an important first step in a decolonizing mentality of creating. 

My choice to hang this painting up was to signify, define, and initiate our design studio space as a gallery. Not in the traditional, institutional way but one in which we can create, experiment, be vulnerable, one in which everyone is welcome to be in, to learn in, write notes on, paste ideas, scraps, concepts, failed attempts, great triumphs, it’s my first step in decolonizing the institutional gallery/museum and the beliefs they uphold. 

Another important action in response to my lexicon term was the choice to bring someone outside of the institutions’ walls to help me in putting up this installation. Someone without a post-secondary education, born in another part of the world, with a different opinion of education and the institution. This action was an important treatment for my action to hold a certain level of integrity.

Joshua Singler