Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection

The National Museum of Cardiff was displaying a collection of David Hurn’s photography. Although photography doesn’t directly interest me, several of the photographs seemed relevant to my practice.

 

“The contemplation of things as they are without substitution or imposture without error or confusion is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.” – Francis Bacon

 

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Key Concept Lecture – Site Situation

Site specific art started out as a de-contextualisation of the museum space.

In 1989 Richard Serra said:

“The work becomes part of the site and reconstruct both conceptually and perceptually the organisation of the site.”

While a site represents the constituent physical properties (i.e. its mass, location, space), the place represents the psychological, social, cultural dimensions.

Psychogeography:

Psychogeography is an approach to geography that emphasises playfulness and “drifting” around urban environments. It was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”

Artists in particular use psychogeography as playful and inventive strategies for exploring cities, about anything that jolts people in unexpected ways into a new awareness of the surrounding landscape.

 

Examples of site specific art:

  • Gordon Matta Clark ‘Splitting Englewood’

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  • Banksy ‘Ramallah Checkpoint, West Bank, Palestine’ – paints a child having fun on holiday in a place of conflict and segregation

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  • Stitt/Schwensen ‘Big Pinko’ – painting a whole house and bus stop in a housing estate pink, becomes a checkpoint in the village

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Social Space:

A social space is physical or virtual space such as a social centre, online social media or gathering places where people meet and interact. Henriu Lefebvre identified that in human society, ‘Social space has thus always been a social product’.

  • Gordon Matta Clark ‘Graffiti Truck’ – a moveable social space where the whole community can interact with the art and together.

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Activism:

Activism is the use of direct and often confrontational action (i.e. a demonstration strike) in opposition or to support a cause. It is also the attitude of taking an active part in events, especially in a social context.

 

The idea of how a site can influence art or vice versa is an interesting concept and could possible apply/ link to my subject work. My work is already created from inspiration drawn from places I have visited so it doesn’t seem too far fetched to assume that my work could develop into site specific art.

 

Bibliography

http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/smyth/smyth6-4-2.asp

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/banksy/11436286/Banksy-in-Gaza-Street-artist-goes-undercover-in-the-Strip.html

http://www.pedro-de-almeida.com/writing/bigpinko/

http://www.artnet.com/magazine/reviews/lunden/lunden3-6-4.asp

Learning From Contemporary Art – Week 1

What does it mean to be contemporary?

Is contemporary art dependent on when it was made? Yesterday? 200? 1980?

Or is contemporary art a kind of style? I would categorise Damien Hirst’s ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the mind of Someone Living’ as contemporary as it doesn’t have an obvious meaning/point from just looking at it. It is the type of art that only when you read the explanation for it that you understand it as art. It is also something that my mum would see in a gallery and say “that’s not art”, or “I could do that”. Although it is perhaps silly, I can always identify contemporary art by my mum’s ‘theory of art’.

What makes a work contemporary?

  • Contemporary art is something shocking and is completely dependent on the audience’s reaction. Contemporary art is dependent on shock-value.
  • Contemporary art is dependent on the concept behind it, it can act as a vehicle for political, social and cultural views.
  • Contemporary art is the idea that anything can be art, the idea that that it’s contemporary art is enough to make it contemporary.
  • Artwork must be relatively new, and most also be about contemporaneity. That is it must express, embody or analyse a contemporary idea or current situation.
  • Contemporary art is something that you wouldn’t understand without a caption or explanation.

What’s the difference between a Brillo Box and an Andy Warhol Brillo Box?

  • Arthur Danto’s idea is that contemporary art isn’t self-sufficient. It relies on a text, a theory that’s not part of the artwork itself and may not be visible in it. The artwork is part of a larger discourse

How do we define ‘now’?

  • Contemporary art is art made at the present moment and is directed towards the present moment – linear time.
  • Contemporary art clashes with other artistic models of its time. 20th century avant-garde focused on the future, postmodernism focused on the past.
  • However the problem with the linear model of time is the more we concentrate exclusively on the present moment, the smaller and more distant it becomes.

 

Contemporary art goes against Greenberg’s idea of disciplinary purity; contemporary art is art that does’t want to be known as art. Paradoxically perhaps, the work that is most of its time is the work that least belongs to its time. The job of art isn’t to define what is contemporary but open that a space of debate, reliant on discussion, disagreement and conflict. Put simply, art is now defined by its dis-identification with the discipline of art. Tania Bruguera’s ‘Tatlin’s Whisper 5’ is considered stronger as art in her opinion when the audience is unaware that the work is art.

Suzanne Hudson The Paradigm of No Paradigm:

  • Contemporary art is only an idea, it has no real existence.
  • The biggest problem with contemporary art as it is currently understood is its futurelessness.
  • “the best art is the most expensive because the market is so smart” – the figure of the contemporary artist is mythical, made up of those qualities thought valuable in the labour market in the moment.
  • ‘Contemporary’ has a value that is based on relevance and urgency.

Chosen Artist – Teresa Lanceta ‘Rosas Blancas’

What interested me about Lanceta’s work was its inspiration drawn from her textile discoveries in Morocco. This year I want to focus my work around the places I visit and the differences in culture, architecture, traditions, colours etc. from place to place. Lanceta weaves her own fabric and analyses repeating motifs, refusing to accept the traditional boundaries between the decorative and fine art. Within ‘Rosas Blancas’, Lanceta displays a traditional Moroccan carpet to confirm this fundamental source of inspiration. The clash of cultures forces her to regularly re-interpret and adapt traditional motifs. I think I will find Teresa Lanceta’s ‘Rosas Blancas’ really inspirational for my work this year, especially due to the fact that I will also be visiting Morocco in January and was already hoping to draw inspiration for my practice from their culture. I have been lucky enough to visit Amsterdam, Canada, Prague and Italy this year already and seeing the difference between culture, landscape, people and traditions has sparked inspiration in my work already.

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Teresa Lanceta ‘Rosas Blancas’
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Teresa Lanceta ‘Rosas Blancas’
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Teresa Lanceta ‘Rosas Blancas’
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Teresa Lanceta ‘Rosas Blancas’

Venice – 5 artists that interested me

Martin Cordiano ‘Common Places’

I came across Cordiano’s ‘Common Places’ in the Arsenale. What initially struck me was the impressive size and composition of the sculpture and how the viewer was able to interact with it. Cordiano’s ‘Common Places’ questions our world and it’s perpetual motion against the immovability of our surrounding structures. Constructed from multiple miniature rooms, inside containing different size and coloured chalk balls, the contrast between the potential motion of the balls against the static walls is a metaphor for our relationship with the world. When I first approached ‘Common Places’ I thought it was a mobile instillation, interacting with its components, however it is only when I came up close that I noticed that each part remained as an independent being and it was me as the viewer moving around the installation. Space becomes the narrative, allowing us to observe our relationship with space and volume and “the way we inhabit spaces and condition them”. It felt quite lonely and remote as a whole, possibly raising the question of identity. I really liked ‘Common Places’ in how fragile and remote it felt. Whilst walking through and around the installation I completed a performative drawing, recording my body’s movement around the installation.

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Martin Cordiano ‘Common Places’
Response to 'Common Places'
Response to ‘Common Places’

Sui Jianguo ‘Blinder #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16’ 

I came across Sui Jianguo’s work in the People’s Public of China pavilion at the Arsenale venue. What interested me were the abstracted forms. Although it did’t say what the sculptures were made out of, I instinctively thought of clay and how Jianguo’s work would translate across really well into ceramics. There was no information on these sculptures, I was just just instinctively drawn to the playing around with material and different textures.

 

Yee Sookyung ‘Translated Vase_Nine Dragons in Wonderland’

Yee Sookyung’s ‘Translated Vase_Nine Dragons in Wonderland’ defies traditions and perfectionism in ceramics, combining and fusing scraps of pottery that would have been destroyed due to being defective, in accordance with the traditions of master potters. It is the embrace if the un-perfect that I like about Sookyung’s work, many potter’s strive for constant perfectionism within their work which can end up being boring and mundane. Sookyung combines an intimate poetic with an ironic charge that’s critical of cultural stereotypes and allows the vase fragments to be reborn into a new life after their original failure, a more exciting life I would argue.

Sookyung’s sculpture is reminiscent of kintsugi, a traditional Japanese technique of repairing broken pottery with gold. This technique beautifies the breakage and treats it as a significant part of the object’s history. Sookyung puts an ironic twist on kintsugi, “fixing” pots incorrectly to create one mass of ceramic. ‘Translated Vase_Nine Dragons in Wonderland’ looks like a ceramic master’s scrap pile.

This defiance against tradition is incredibly inspirational for me and I want to combine ceramics into my own practice.

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Yee Sookyung ‘Translated Vase_Nine Dragons in Wonderland’

Sheila Hicks ‘Escalade Beyond Chromatic Land’

It is fair to say that Hicks’ ‘Escalade Beyond Chromatic Land’ is heavily influenced by colour theory and the perception of colour. Giant textile spheres in a multitude of bright contrasting colours lined an entire wall of the arsenale, taking over the surrounding space. The installation was all-encompassing, drawing the viewer in. Several of us had to resist the temptation to jump on the work, it just looked so inviting. ‘Escalade Beyond Chromatic Land’ drew inspiration from Hicks’ discovery of Latin American textile traditions. Similar to Teresa Lanceta, Hicks seems to draw inspiration from the places she visits and their cultures and traditions, making her work very inspirational for me. With ‘Escalade Beyond Chromatic Land’, Hicks creates a new and luminous environment in a historic building, simultaneously clashing and changing traditions. Hicks blurs the borders between fine art and craft and architecture without a definitive answer for her work. Sheila Hicks is an artist I want to further explore as this idea of tradition and culture is inspirational for me.

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Sheila Hicks ‘Escalade Beyond Chromatic Land’

 

Erwin Wurm ‘One Minute Sculptures’ 

Erwin Wurm works with the concept of space, sculpture and architecture to express current topics of social agenda. ‘One Minute Sculptures’ concerns itself with spacial experience and requires the viewer to interact in order to complete its purpose. It questions what spacial experience is, whereas it was traditionally body-centred, contemporary experience of space is now characterised by machines and media than by the body. In the age of the internet and smartphones, we now live in an unlimited space and exist within this virtual land, restricted space is only restricted for the body. ‘One Minute Sculptures’ highlights this concept by creating physical spaces for our bodies to interact with, often restricted to small holes to fit limbs in or on. Wurm’s caravan installation is particularly ironic, restricting a mobile vehicle to a confined space where its purpose is removed. I really liked the interaction between person and object and the concept of restriction in both time and space.

Damien Hirst Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

Although not directly inspirational to my work, I found Damien Hirst’s exhibition really intriguing in its web of lies.

The two exhibitions were filled with statues, objects and figures of gods and heroes from the “ancient world” that had been submerged in the Indian Ocean for 2000 years before being discovered and retrieved by Hirst. The majority of the retrieved work was decayed and entrusted in coral and other marine life. The exhibition was arranged and narrated in the style of a museum as well, further adding to this idea of a discovery. I really liked how the “artefacts” were paired with videos and photographs of them being “discovered” by divers, it really added to this sense of discovery.

To the untrained eye it would be easy to assume Hirst’s exhibition as a museum exhibition however there were little clues that gave away that everything was a lie. Additionally, the whole exhibition came across as serious, however Hirst decided to included statues of Mickey Mouse and Mogli and Baloo from Jungle book within the “exhibition”, completely detracting from its credibility as an actual discovery. I really like this fine line of the truth and a lie that Hirst’s exhibition balanced on.

Taking close-ups of sections of the statues with the different colours and textures is something I may be able to translate over to my own work.

Venice – work that caught my eye