In conversation silence can be seen as a gap. Gaps inevitably have the capacity to be filled. That silence speaks louder than words is relevant particularly to the ways in which the assumptions of the one doing the listening or waiting, can fill the perceived ‘space’. To the one ‘making’ the gap, the gap may not be empty at all, just a moment where words move and transform from verbal to non-verbal. In my experience as an artist, gaps can be very uncomfortable spaces to witness and be a part of and as a result there can be an urgency and desire to fill-in, to make it complete, to finish the sentence, to avoid the awkward silence to balance the image, to avoid the gaps. I am learning that gaps are important precisely because, for the one doing the listening, they facilitate the question: why the gap?
We installed 12 panels for a public exhibition. There were no gaps, each image butted to the other. It was complete. Five days later we removed one panel, panel number 6. There is now a gap. The image was removed because of a request. We listened. We can fill the gap. But what does filling the gap mean as opposed to leaving the gap? Filling the gap completes the image again. Nothing has happened or can be remembered to have happened – dust under the carpet. In this particular circumstance, the image that was removed probably will not be replaced by a similar image. The original image represented more than just the individual captured in time. The filling of her space is also an erasure of her and her collective presence.
And what of the gap? It is incomplete, it says something was there and is no longer or for those new to the work, it shows that there is room for more, for something else that perhaps wants to be seen but because of ties and pulls, pressures from religious, cultural, social, historical, financial realities cannot be made visible just yet.