Alainnah Whachell 2023 Longlist
Alainnah Whachell (she/her) works within the discipline of sculpture, making tactile work that reveals an exuberant relationship to materiality and process. Major themes in her work are semiotics, fetish, time, desire and capitalism’s inescapable and dramatic influence on them all. Alainnah is of mixed British, Czech and Red River Metis descent. She grew up and currently resides in the Traditional Territories of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council (Whitehorse, Yukon). In the last three years, she has become a parent, and is rewarded by the dual roles of artist and mother, she adores watching her daughter discover the world around her. Alainnah has a BFA at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
The work I have been making for the past 8 years has been invested in translating and deconstructing my desire for consuming fashion images. These works coincided with 1 moving back to the Yukon where online shopping was more of a reality for me than I had experienced living in Vancouver. These works formally consist of using seed beads to compose a representation of digital screenshots. Where I had once collected images from fashion magazines, I became attracted to screenshots from online fashion sites, compelled to preserve the ephemeral digital image of this momentary fashion interest– something that, if not recorded, would otherwise be lost.
I utilize a free online cross-stitch pattern maker to rasterize the screenshot and mapped out the images’ geometry. Each square unit in the cross-stitch functions like a pixel which is represented by each bead. I see this process as a ritualistic “printing” of my desire. The dichotomy of spending a monumental amount of time working on something seemingly not precious was precisely the appeal. Especially for the earlier beaded works that were screenshots of “add to bag” pages on consumer sites.
My recent work still makes use of the process of representing screenshots from online pages, but sources now vary from garments from independent fashion designers on social media to detailed close-up screenshots of haute couture clothing. With these works, I have been concerned more with how desire is not innate but rather motivated by carefully constructed signifiers within a capitalist structure. I have been analyzing how the architecture of capitalism mimics the structure of our desire, and within this context, I am becoming aware of my disappointment (I struggle to find the perfect image) and sacrifice (the enormity of time I will commit to make these beaded works) perpetuating the cycle to produce these works. I am trying to reproduce a symbolic expression for my desire. Themes present in the work are desire, time, fetish, semiotics, and how capitalism captures these.
Seed beads, Nylon thread, 2020, 8.5″ x 9.5″
"Valentino Code Temporal"
Myuki Delica beads, Nylon thread, 12″ x 11″, 2023
Seed beads, Filament, Screen, 2020-23, 15 x 9″ (work in progress)
This work is by far the most ambitious work in sense of time. I am busy working to finish this work for the late spring. This is one of two works I have constructed on a grid system (screen) and the beads are 10-20 beads high for each square in the grid. The frame for this work will incase it, so the screen will not be visible.