Paranoia: A Spell to Ward off Darkness – Star Board

This assemblage piece was inspired by the anxieties of isolation, loneliness, and worry that were very prevalent in my life during the COVID-19 pandemic. In my new apartment where I spent much of my time in quarantine, I found the small objects I interacted with on a regular basis to be comforting. Having spent much time alone with these objects, they became almost alive with the amount of my attention they held. This project is about the small rituals we perform in our personal spaces to create a space of comfort, hominess, and calmness. The objects collected for this assemblage were real objects that I gathered from my space at home that I found to be representative of my comforts during COVID. 

The “front” of this assemblage, or the side of the cardboard pane with the blue surface, has a Rush Time Machine Tour drumstick protruding out from the top of it like a branch, the stick intertwined with dried branches from my jasmine plant at home. Off of this drumstick hangs a few items like a mobile; the metallic lid from a Harney & Sons earl grey tea box, a very small clay flower pot with a Barry’s Tea bag inside, and the metal round lid from the glass candle below. The candle lid is burnt on the bottom, which suggests previous usage. These items hang from the drumstick with green wire, wire which is also decoratively coiled over the end of the drumstick. The tea box lid and the candle lid are both hanging strategically around the brown-tinted amber-and-moss-scented candle, so as to suggest reflecting the light from the flame when the candle is lit. There is a Zippo lighter placed next to the candle, as if ready to be used. The wooden prop which is holding the cardboard pane upright has a single skateboard wheel mounted onto it, as if suspended in rolling. There is a pencil and a purple guitar pick placed on the base towards the edge of the scene. The blue painted cardboard surface has brass brads of different sizes stuck into it, with one of the brads being a small similarly-colored screw. 

On the other side of the cardboard surface, the ends of the brads stick out in all directions. The butt-end of the drumstick is fastened to the cardboard with wire and glue, and the unpainted cardboard is being held upright by many layers of clear packing tape. Attached to this back surface are three different pieces of paper, taped on in different ways. The largest paper, with folds and tears in it, is the back of a sheet of drum rudiment exercises, on which the lyrics to Muddy Waters’ “I’m a King Bee” have been scrawled in pen. The top-right piece of paper is cut out from a photocopy of Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit, and contains the second half of a written piece. The third paper, a yellow Post-it note, bears written instructions to find the “denoiser” tool in the Logic Pro X digital-audio workstation. On the base lies a digital thermometer, a sample-sized bottle of Mario Badescu chamomile shampoo, a few bobby pins, and a small tube of violet acrylic paint.

These were assembled strategically with both form and expression in mind, with the “back” of the cardboard being deliberately less finished than the “front” (the blue side). All of the items, however, are part of my collection of items which symbolize comforting rituals. The resulting image is reminiscent of a puppet show of sorts, with a more whimsical and polished “stage” half and a more deconstructed “backstage” half.

Author: Emma Kroll