Symposium Speaker: Dr Zoë Mendelson, Artist, Pathway Leader, BA Fine Art Painting, Wimbledon College of Arts

Zoe Mendelson, Dirty Rearranger, print on pop-up banner, pencil on panel, hair, wax, shelf, 2017.

Dr Zoë Mendelson is an Artist and Pathway Leader, BA Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon College of Arts. Her relationship to the subject of this symposium is via psychological classificatory systems (norms, control groups and terms embedded in diagnostics) and a specific research interest in the spatial as applied to museums, collection and compulsive hoarding. Both pattern and chaos could be
applied to modes of accumulation – systematic or otherwise. Zoë’s PhD (2015) used collage and
fiction to interrogate the borders between apparently rational collection and the pathologising of
hoarding. Her work engages disorder as a culturally produced phenomenon, in parallel to its clinical
counterpart – looking specifically at the spectacularisation of evidence towards cultural
interpretations of disorder.

Her talk for this symposium is entitled Ruin and Racoon-feeding: collages of constantly shifting temporal matter, from Merzbau to Grey Gardens. The impermanent and destabilising nature of a hoard could be said to create a narrative skin – a personally constructed variable space within a more logical, physical realm. This paper looks at two hoard-like environments and questions the pathologising of over-collection. Using the examples of Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau’(1938) and the eponymous home at the centre of the Maysles Brothers’ film Grey Gardens (1976), the psychopathology of hoarding will be examined through the lens of collective perceptions of chaotic space.

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