Digging in the Dark

Jana Brevick


Hasselt, Limburg, Belgium

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Photo credit: Into Niilo

Movement, gesture, purpose and progress define work. The motion of digging with hands creates a dialogue with the earth, where tools leverage the action of bodies enacted for ages. Shovels aid aspects of labor: a new hole dug better, a learned pattern, a different covering, another exposing, treasure hunting.
The shovel, often associated with drudgery, is egalitarian, in that we play and learn with it when young and take to the tool easily, if not willingly, once older.
To use a new tool, (re)engaging memories of play ignites curiosity, interaction then adoption. Offering an illuminated shovel for digging in the dark, normal work is broken and room for new relationships and dreams emerge.
This project is in part a response to the helplessness I feel of the collective cultural trauma of mass shootings in the US. The shovel becomes a placeholder for the gun, a way to relieve this helplessness through aggressive, exhaustive digging and morphing the expression from destruction to creation.

Fresh graduate from MASieraad Hasselt + Amsterdam, exploring ideas and forms with Ted Noten and Kalkidan Hoex, my main advisors. My work revolved around themes of agency, path making and digging in the dark.

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