Acing the Parsons Challenge

THE PARSONS CHALLENGE – Part of the application requirements for Parsons is the Parsons Challenge- where you have to create a new visual work inspired by the theme within a piece submitted in your portfolio. One Ashcan student made this work for the Parsons Challenge she titled “The Room”, a sculptural installation that she lit on fire and then documented the disintegration of the burning process.

She came up with the idea for this piece when she stumbled on the webpage missed connections on Craigslist, where people post confessions about strangers they’ve encountered, but “missed” their chance to create a tangible connection with. She said “It felt almost ridiculous reading through them, but at the same time I felt their genuine longing, desire to connect and vulnerability.”

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With these themes in mind, she made a bedroom, which is a room of privacy, intimacy, and a sanctuary where you can rest and be vulnerable with yourself. She created the structure of the room and the furniture out of wire because it is bare, cold, hard and firm. She then collaged film photographs of different levels of intimacy that she took, to construct the surface of the room. The collaged photos are of memories of vulnerable experiences she had shooting different subjects. She used printed film photographs to demonstrate the idea of a “one-time moment” captured by the camera, which relates back to the fleeting connections that two people share as a “one-time moment”.

The burning process of “The Room” melted away the intimate memories and also her work. As the photo paper dwindled, the bare wire structure of the room emerged as the remains of the photographs clung to one another. Seeing the documentation of the walls coming down from the fire, she also thought of the idea of someone taking their walls down to let someone in, in order to create intimacy with them. The process of the building up of “The Room” and its subsequent slow deconstruction, shares the feeling of being torn from a connection, and the fantasy building up and tearing down of intimacy one could have shared with the stranger.

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