Lenka Clayton and the Reappearing Tourist



Casey Droege curated a poetic show this winter at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts called Romancing the Tone and Lenka Clayton’s found-object piece New York Day stuck with me long after I jumped in my cold car and headed home from the opening.  Lenka’s work often begins with found objects.  Rather than collaging and editing the notebooks, journals, and calendars that she collects, she becomes the agent in which these itineraries regain command of actual space.

In New York Day,  Lenka makes a trip to New York in order to act out the travel itinerary she found in an anonymous journal more than half a century old.  The to-do list of the tourist is succinct but romantic, with goals like seeing ocean liners and taking a 5th Avenue bus ride.  The discovery of an old itinerary is, to me, already drenched in bittersweet imaginings of a ghostly figure exploring a bustling city to which he or she is careful to leave no trace in.  But the artist’s trip to New York to follow through on these plans reorganizes my imagination.

Lenka grants tactility to the list in the same way that a slew of ingredients under the title of a recipe forms a taste on your tongue while reading it.  The itinerary in New York Day dominates; it gets to live through as many people choose to follow it.  We are all the ghostly tourists in Lenka’s treatment, and New York Day suggests that we travel side by side with libraries of unread itineraries.  These libraries seem to be the kind in which the books wander from the shelves at their own discretion and spill their pages across the harbor for a few of us to hold as we gasp at the site of an ocean liner passing right through us.

More of Lenka’s work:  http://www.lenkaclayton.co.uk/portfolio.php


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