- Faith Hughes
- fur lined fox holes
- Joshua Tree, California
- 22nd June 2023, 09:35 PDT
fur lined fox holes is an oil on tile painting situated on a noticeboard in the Desert View Conservation Area in Joshua Tree between 09:35 and 09:45 PDT on the 22nd June 2023. The journey to the site was made on foot, covering roughly 3km in just under an hour from Center Avenue to the Onaga Trail.
Leading up to this hike the painting had been transported around Los Angeles in various bags in Hughes’ 2004 Ford Ranger pickup truck. Scouting locations had been slow and careful, coming from conversations had in the studio and on the move. It was important that the placement would capture the crux of our conversations: on remembered landscapes, materiality and intentional decision making. The empty noticeboard appeared unexpectedly as the location that had existed in both our imaginations. In a landscape familiar to Hughes and unfamiliar to myself, the situated work captured an instinct in Hughes’ practice to recall and reroute memory.@faith__hughes
A row of low, flat houses makes up the top section of the painting. Dark and shadowy, the houses are painted only in black: smudgy outlines of windows and doors peek through the murk. A pathway curves towards the foreground lined by mailboxes and trees, cutting through a washed grey front lawn. Houses in the background suggest this scene repeats itself street after street. It does. And in contrast to the dark bodies of the houses, the rooftops and street are left unpainted to a stark white as if parts of the image have been peeled away. It gives the impression of the scene being covered in snow, or bleached out by a flat sunlight, but with none of the comfort of Christmas or summertime. It is forgotten, eerie.
Two black lines run across the foreground: phone wires or the barbs of a fence. We exist behind them, peering in. This sense of unbelonging conjures up a politics of defensive homeownership which characterises the image of American suburbia. We exist in the realm of the unwanted outsider, ejected from this quiet community. Hughes draws extensively on material which examines these suburban landscapes: a fascination with its cosy-eeriness which stops just short of nostalgia. Instead, the meticulous choice of image carefully places the painting in a strange no-man’s-land. The scene seems as though it has drifted in from a memory or a movie, the unfocused edges of the greyed-out oil blurring into something half-forgotten. Somehow the image has been extracted from any particular time or place. In Hughes’ hands, it becomes a memory which could be your own.
Out in the desert the image of desired domestic comfort seems especially strange and melancholy. Its placelessness is exaggerated, becoming nowhere and everywhere at once, removed from anywhere it might mean something specific. A noticeboard, particularly an empty one, is a vessel for anything. Framed between its boards, the work looks like a tiny window into another world: how things have been, how they are, how they will be again.
Faith Hughes is a painter who lives and works in Los Angeles. She completed her BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths.