Douglas Scholes

14 May 2012

Douglas Scholes was a SPACE/Canada Council artist-in-residence from March 2012 - August 2012.

The condition of things

I explore the pragmatic aesthetic of the urban landscape by maintaining - collecting, sorting, organizing and repairing - the unwanted, used and discarded things that amass in eddies of the public realm. These sites are on the periphery of attention and yet exist within view as overlooked and undervalued places. They characteristically feature layers of neglect revealed by an overgrown accumulation of leftovers from our packaged contemporary existence.

I search out these eddies, peeling through the layers of accumulated leftovers to reveal the condition of things, which can be seen in two complimentary ways. One, accepting the condition as natural – neglect exists and has an aesthetic value that derives its state from natural forces, an entropic neutralization of energy. This is where little to nothing is done and things are left to become what they will. And the other, to acknowledge that the condition as artificial – neglect is controllable and the aesthetic value is changed, and even improved, by expending energy, which maintains a perceived order of things.

In a city to busy to notice, there is an uneasy attraction when working in a forgotten parcel of land nestled in plain view. I have a sense of not being seen and being as anonymous as the debris that has collected. This anonymous relationship to the condition of things is identified and made public through the collecting, organizing, sorting and repairing work done within the chosen site(s).

Once the sites have been maintained and much of the unsightly (not unseen) material removed, a further contribution is offered in the form of a hollow cast beeswax amphora. The amphora, precursor to the contemporary trophy, was originally a single use throwaway object. Once its purpose was fulfilled it was broken into pieces and discarded in dumps, which eventually became huge mounds of fired clay fragments (see Monte Testaccio, Rome). The contemporary similarity to the ubiquitous PET water bottle and landfill sites are evident. In this case, the amphora is a symbolic representative of the material removed from the site and, as a trophy, it is a cup offered in recognition for the actions performed – a temporary, ephemeral, almost unseen, gift that will disappear, likely to the replaced by rubbish.

Douglas Scholes lives and works in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He has made work for The Imagination Station, Detroit, DARE-DARE, Montreal, La Maison Laurentine, France, 3e Impérial, Granby, Quebec, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge and the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, among others. He is working in London for six months where he will continue to maintain places and things until the end of August 2012. To visit The Condition of things web site please go to and