The Possessed Artifacts and Detritus of Mrs. Florence Hazel Davis Bland



The Mrs. Florence Hazel Davis Bland is an interactive website created by Kobayashi that explores the life of a woman whose intriguing book collection has become a fixture at the museum. Kobayashi grew curious about the carefully bound books upon viewing their colorful hand-made jackets and ominous inscriptions: each book is signed “Mrs. Florence Hazel Davis Bland” and sternly advises the reader against removing the item from her library. In order to fabricate a narrative about Mrs. Davis Bland’s life, Kobayashi selected items from the museum’s collection to act as storytelling devices. Blending this fiction with what little biographical information exists about Mrs. Davis Bland, Kobayashi has created a dynamic portrait-- part fact, part fantasy. Kobayashi’s website functions as both historical fiction and a eulogy for mundane museum items, which are memorialized and given new life through the artist’s digital reimagining. The seemingly unremarkable objects take on a ghostly character as they soar around the screen. If visitors click on the whirling images, they are presented with eerie snippets of Mrs. Davis Bland’s fabricated life story: a twirling pencil tells you how she styled her hair, a spinning record reveals the only known recording of her voice, and flying particles of dust offer up philosophical musings. This fragmented framework allows viewers to imagine possibilities where Kobayashi’s narrative remains incomplete. Kobayashi, who is fond of using low budget technology in her work, utilized a low-fi aesthetic in order to invoke a nostalgic familiarity. Kobayashi has reached into the past to create an eerie graveyard of forgotten lives and discarded material. The Possessed Artifacts and Detritus of Mrs. Florence Hazel Davis Bland sends the Elsewhere collection beyond museum walls, adopting the language of the digital age to explore the relationship between object, narration, and time.