My main artistic interest is to ask questions about how we all make our lives feel meaningful, but to ask these questions in playful and empowering ways. I typically make participatory installations, performances, or community engagement projects that explore the rituals we all use to make life feel meaningful, each project addresses different sub-themes of how meaning is created socially. Right now I am fascinated with the rate of development of luxury real estate around the world, and how this makes towns and cities feel successful and valuable, often while erasing all traces of what was once thought of as local character. So I have been studying the ways that things get talked about when they are intended for high-end consumption. I’m trying to understand what makes people feel that something is luxurious, rather than just functional, or of no value whatsoever.
Throughout 2019, I’ve conducted interviews in four cities (Bilbao ES, Zurich CH, Minsk BL, and Aarhus DK) and circulated twelve different surveys in four different languages. My plan at BilbaoArte was to transform this data into objects that people could hold and use to reflect on and discuss different facets of luxury experiences—what these experiences provide us with and possible ways to attain this with less harm to community integrity. But in the end, inspired by a technical difficulty during a fabrication process at BilbaoArte, the portion of my project that I presented here ended up focusing in on one particular aspect of my research data: the frequency with which people were reporting that their most luxurious experiences offered some kind of respite from stress, anxiety, pressure or judgement. The objects I ended up sharing in the final exhibition, though often made of luxurious materials, all drew attention to this theme, and sparked discussion with visitors of what it means that so many people feel this way.
Heather Kapplow is a self-trained conceptual artist based in the United States. Kapplow creates engagement experiences that elicit unexpected intimacies using objects, alternative interpretations of existing environments, installation, performance, writing, audio and video. Kapplow’s work has received government and private grants and has been included in galleries, film and performance festivals in the US and internationally. Her most recent (2018-2019) honors include the Index Freiraum Artist Fellowship; a MassMOCA Assets for Artists Award; a Boston Cultural Council Artist Opportunity Fund Award; a New England Foundation for the Arts Creative City Award for Public Art, and a Tanne Foundation award.