Emmett Ramstad


My sculptures explore the intimacy and ordinariness of disposable personal effects and their relationship to bodies. I investigate the domestic objects that surround us and contribute to our maintenance as productive citizens, and the routinized rituals we develop in relation to these objects. Objects such as socks, toothbrushes and underwear are disposable, but they have singular histories. They begin life on a factory assembly line, travel a commercial trajectory to their owner, gain an intensely personal meaning, and then lose their singularity through becoming trash. By modifying the scale and function of such objects and displaying them in unexpected locations, I subvert their familiar banality. I then juxtapose these private items with public restroom fixtures like bathroom stalls and towel dispensers that appear impersonal or for individual use, yet are used or touched by copious numbers of bodies each day. In this way I highlight the intimate collectivity of public spaces. My work thus provokes questions about the domestic infrastructure of daily life and the unspoken histories of dirt and use concealed by notions of hygiene and order.

Because the subject matter of my work originates from the body and how people relate to each other in personal and public space, it is important that the work literally touches or has touched people. Thus, the sculptures I make are often participatory or interactive. By inviting visitors to fold socks in the gallery or answer a public telephone in a bathroom stall, I am creating opportunities for visitors to physically engage with the works. My sculptures foster a communal domestic space in the gallery and provoke visitors to share their own histories with objects and daily routines.

Single Portfolio Item 1 Untitled James