Aaron Moran is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Maple Ridge. He is also the current Artist in Residence at Port Haney House, where his ongoing series of thought-provoking and impromptu public installations, “Double Take”, challenges passers-by to do just that. It certainly caught our attention!
We recently caught up with Aaron to find out more about this curious project…
First of all, can you describe your art in ten words or less?
Sculpture and installation with found materials on site. Frequently ephemeral.
How did you get involved with the Port Haney House residency, and how do you plan to evolve your concept over its course?
The residency is hosted by the City of Maple Ridge and has a duration of three years. My partner Taryn Hubbard (a writer) and I were chosen for the Port Haney House with a proposal based on making work that explores the theme of ‘environment’. Our proposal was focused on producing public interventions that activate the spaces people encounter daily. With the ongoing pandemic, the idea was to bring art outside of galleries and enclosed spaces – to make people take a second look. We will be working with various community partners during our time here to produce art and text projects about the city.
To date, what has been the most challenging and/or exciting material or space that you have encountered during your residency, and why?
The most challenging material would be a pile of a storm drain grates on a worksite that were waiting to be removed from a city infrastructure project. They were beautiful as objects and I wanted to stack them, but they were ultimately too heavy to move on my own. It made me think about works I could propose in the future if I had access to equipment and technical support. These days, a field of dandelions is the most exciting as I have started working more and more with natural materials. They are particularly ubiquitous in public spaces and offer a pleasant material quality with their bright colour.
Upon encountering your public pieces in-person, what sort of reactions do you hope to provoke in the viewer?
I would like people to be surprised in a familiar space. I think the goal is to encourage people to look closer at the spaces they inhabit. It is about shaping the materials I come across, whether flowers, foliage, or illegally dumped material, to make people think about the things they may have passed a dozen times before.
Your process seems to happen very organically and sporadically. How much planning is actually involved in creating an installation and how much of it is a result of impromptu action? How long does one installation take from idea to completion?
I don’t plan work within my practice because the pieces are always made with materials that are found on site, and I rarely know what is in a space until I explore it fully. After determining the materials I’d like to use, I begin to approach the work in one of a few methods that works for me: stacking, organizing, balancing, arranging… Depending on the work, it could take ten minutes to make, or an hour. I don’t think that more time spent ensures a more successful work. With the stacking and balancing works, they may fall several times before I get the photograph.
Temporality is central to much of your work, but do you ever consider what sort of lasting impact you want to make?
I think the photographs are the document of the artwork that lives on. In some cases, I can’t be sure that a single person ever sees the artwork in person. The work may be hidden out of sight or collapse before anyone comes across them.
So then what constitutes a “successful” work of art?
I think the works are successful if a viewer reconsiders the materials being used (where they came from, how they can be used in new and interesting ways), and the spaces that the photographs are taken, even if only from the perspective of documentation. If someone feels tension or pleasure in seeing the way the materials are arranged, I view it as successful.
How has the cultural shift, caused by the pandemic, affected your practice over the past 11 or so months?
When COVID first hit I was in the middle of moving, and I didn’t have access to a studio space. Since I didn’t have a place to work with tools to make a mess, I ended up reconnecting with the installation side of my practice. I had a lot of places to explore, and very few people were around. It really refocused my energy to installation work.
What is your favourite piece of (your own) work and why?
My favourite recent work is ‘19047 Fraser Hwy (Gathered Crates)’. I love the colours, and the context of the background. I see it as referring to traditions of the monument and having art historical connections to modernist sculpture (like Constantin Brâncuși). It addresses my interest in environment, waste, as well as the aftermath of consumerism.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
I am waiting for the flowers to start blooming again.