Overlooked, disregarded and disliked, household dust is our constant companion, yet we strive for it to be gone. Treat it as a clingy ex-girlfriend we wish could move on and leave us alone. Dust consists of traces of the people, objects and activities that have passed by, the original Site Specific Work of Art. Dust reminds us of our past – our mistakes, hopes and dreams. Maybe that’s what makes us so uncomfortable? These are the unknown, forgotten and involuntary traces we leave behind. Traces we wish to quickly sweep away, vacuum up, hide out of sight out of mind. What is the source of this deep-rooted self-hatred? Why are we so afraid of being confronted by our own materiality?
I wish to do the opposite. Take a deep dive and wonder at these peculiar traces of time and place. An imprint, a footprint of us, our lives and actions. The things we do and the things we make. The things we gather and call our own. Dust is the sedimentation of our daily lives. The ultimate self-portrait.
The beauty of dust, as well as its cruelty, lies in its brutal honesty.People can’t handle honesty. Dust does not differentiate between the animate and inanimate. No matter what matter, we all leave something behind, and it is this something that the dust gratefully takes in and welcomes as one of its own, gives a seat at the table. One needs to look far and wide to find a comparable level of selflessness.
What about allergies, you say? Asthma? Microplastics? Small microscopic mites that thrive on the traces of biomatter we leave behind? Don’t blame the dust, I say. Instead, welcome your new roommates. A friendly reminder that you are not alone. Your home is a wonderland, waiting to be discovered. No need to go outside.
It is such an easy way out to always blame what we don’t understand. To limit our empathy to beings that look like us. All that is in dust, was there before. The microplastics, traces of toxic waste, even the nonhuman tenants. It was us who took them in and opened our home for them in the first place. Dust merely exposes them. It is only irresponsible to put the blame on someone else’s shoulders, just because they bring the truth out in the open.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. From dust we came and to dust we shall return. Dust is what existed before us, and is also what we leave behind. But dust does not pretend that it is the end. As long as there is change, there will be dust. As long as there is matter, there will be change. Matterless matter – the matter between. Dust lives in the places and spaces before and after, next to and adjacent. Dust lives in the thresholds, where one thing becomes another. Dust lives in the change. Dust lives in life. Dust lives in death. Dust lives from us. Dust lives by us. To pretend otherwise is just self-deception.