Artist Statement

I’m drawn to maps, mix tapes, data sets, boxes of keepsakes, botanical taxonomies, English grammar, and jinx-removing rituals. For me these are special containers, arrangements of words or objects or information that gain power from precise order and restriction. My materials are cardboard and masking tape, as well as pixels and code. My practice involves collecting and arranging, devising rule sets, drawing diagrams, and inventing systems that transform everyday experience. Participation, and the forces of randomness, accident, and play are all central to my work.

I created a collaborative online map for reporting social accidents and small interpersonal traumas that occur unexpectedly in public spaces, resulting in an emotional topography of the city in which arguments, break-ups, outbursts become features of a new terrain.

My slapdash model ship, made out of cardboard and masking tape, was set it to sail on video sea and sunk in a storm of pixels, in a rehearsal of the disaster fantasies of my coastal New England youth.

I built a pop-up shop, a model for a new economy of narrative and nostalgia: customers exchanged small treasured keepsakes and symbolic items, which acquired commercial appeal, transformed by handmade, hand-drawn packaging. The cake was free.

To separate meaning from language, I wrote a program that reduces text to skeletal forms and visualizes only grammar and rhythm. I was seeking the writer’s voice in that stripped-down structure, in the particular and precise arrangements that remained.

In each of these projects, I seek address the human impulse to organize our unpredictable and unwieldy existence into manageable structures and meaningful narratives. My work explores and exploits the tension between the randomness, variation, and chaos in the world, and the orderly forms and idealized structures we use to contain and represent it.


All content © Copyright 2017 by Zannah Marsh.
Subscribe to RSS Feed – Posts or just Comments