Louise O’Rourke’s photographs document not just the idea of rejected beds as a form of waste, but more so, the repetition of intimate objects made sadly public with age, which moves her work into a particularly lonesome study of humanity’s careless romance with things.
From Toy Story to the Velveteen Rabbit, children’s literature seems to capitalize on a similar theme that O’Rourke tugs at here: because our beloved objects don’t age gracefully– or even at all– they get thrown away and easily replaced. We don’t even need to see the newer model to know that it is there. It is always there: lingering. Waiting. The job of an object is to selfishly service us until we are done with it. These are the rules. In this sense, objects can never win. Caught in limbo, O’Rourke’s wayfarer beds transition onto the street, heart exposed, welcoming vagrants or rodents. A sad Dickens’ death. It is not a story of waste, but love. Wherever the new bed is, the old bed is not, and will never be again.
However, there is a sign of hope. O’Rourke also notes the value of reinventing old finds such as discarded photographs, of which she peels at the emulsion, saving the scraps, to create a new context and authorship of the image, one that is more ephemeral or abstract.
She states, “By removing the emulsion, I further remove the photograph from the event and even claim the moments that stand out to me. By physically altering the found image with no negative to reprint from, I create my own narrative from those previously captured stories.”