My tutor made me aware of an exhibition in Camarthen at Oriel Myrddin incorporating artists that work with natural materials and that are working with ideas that could be relevant and inspiring to my work. I thought some of the works were incredibly interesting and gave me an insight into how other artists are merging art and nature. I was particularly captured by the work of Christine Mackey, Jonathan Anderson and Adam Buick.
This artist uses clay, a material from nature and puts it back into the environment in the form of bio-degradable ceramic pots. The pots are photographed when they are in situe and then left to degrade back into the natural world. I like the idea of art being made from nature and then being put back into it. This isn’t something I am particularly interested in doing in my work but it is always beneficial to contextualise my work with artists working with nature in some way giving me new angles and ideas.
Christine Mackey uses the chromatography process to create dyes from natural elements like flowers. This work is highly inspiring to my project. I would like to make my own paints from nature and field has encouraged me to start experimenting with making tools to paint with but I was wondering how I would put across that pieces I produced were made with these items. Here, Christine has not displayed artworks she has produced using the dyes, she has displayed the dyes themselves in test tubes. This makes me think about the fact that the paints I make and tools I produce are artworks in themselves and could be displayed along side artworks I produce or as artworks in their own right.
Jonathan Anderson’s Pylon totems is a very powerful piece of artwork in my opinion. For me it addresses environmental issues and highlights our environment becoming more urbanised and man-made. The structures are made out of twigs and earth, using natural materials to make man=made structures. Urbanisation and environmentalism is something I have been thinking about,particularly in my dissertation. This work creates a connection between art and nature but also art and environmental issues.
We were asked to prepare for this session by researching an artist as a group in order make a performance piece in response to their work. After individual research and collaborative discussion, we chose to look at the work of Dave Chihuly. Dave Chihuly is most well known for his Glass Work and Sculpture but what we were interested in were the drawings and paintings that he produces to inform his final outcomes. To me, this was an incredibly relevant concept, because it shows a professional artist making quick gestural pieces to fuel the aesthetics of a more solid outcome which is highly linked to what we are doing within this option and our own practices.
After looking through his work online, we decided that we favoured the drawings with a circle like elements encompassing lines and splatters of paint. We could an envisage a successful performance piece out of working from this influence. The works make me think of being restricted within a circle (someone self concious about their work, in this case performing infront of others) and breaking out of it in gestural marks (breaking free and loosening your approach to art making and performance) within our piece we want to incorporate our individual personality into the work as well.
The performance and the outcome has a symbiotic relationship, in that the process of creating the piece was just as important as the outcome to us. The paintings document our bodily gestures and the performance show cases them. Dale Chihuly believes that over thinking ideas ends up with you producing something mundane that has lost the energy and sense of expression so we tried not to plan it two much. We all picked an element from his pieces to work with – the circle, the paint splats and the lines, but that was it. The colours were influenced by his work and the performance was done in silence apart from the noise of the paint hitting the paper. We worked together spontaneously, deciding when one piece of paper was complete and to move on to the next whilst live in action.
Both the performance and the outcomes are successful in incorporating the influence of our chosen artists work. It was an enjoyable process that definitely made us more confident as a group and brought us closer. The outcomes creating are very visually appealing and to me do portray a sense of loosing yourself and breaking out of being self-concious. They capture a sense of freedom that encompasses a slight control and document a moment in time. For me, the pieces are rather beautiful, particulary the image containing the pink circle and I can already see how making something quickly with no inhibitions can be beneficial and how taking elements from that can inform your practice and more finished work. Considering performance art is new to us, I think we are really starting to understand how to create it successfully and how it could aid our practice
Modernism and Feminism
Alexander Rodchenko, Make way for the women 1935 – Geometry symbolising fairness and rationality. There is a socialist/realist element within the work. Making a statement about men and women but from a mans perspective. Male photographer, positive image, portraying a solution to womens equality, but the women are still kind of objects for the men to look at, being seen through the male gaze. Womens action is at the centre of the image. Propogandistic intention.
If the photographer was a women, the image would be viewed really differently and there would be no thought of the women being objectified.
Questions of Identity
Marc Quinn – Alison Lapper, Pregnant 2005 – It is a sculpture of a working class disabled single mother produced by a middle class able bodied man. Which of these facts is most important? He chose her as an image to sculpt. There is a valued place for women in the world. The sculpture has a heroic element. Bringing equality of women, people with disabilities and single mothers etc. Using language of classical sculpture to comment on the place of people with disabilities in society.
Sarah Lucas – Get hold of this 1994-5
Sarah Lucas – Where does it all end? 1995
What are the signs of masculine and feminine in these images? Feminine – Pink, red, lipstick, the opposition between white teeth and red lips. Look like womens arms. Masculine – Snarl, gritting teeth on a cigarette. Takes offensive elements of male culture and asks how poerful it is if a woman does it.
Post-feminism as a term, often comes up in the 1990s.
Feminism and Post-Feminism
Katy Deepwell – 3 popular mis-conceptions about feminism-
That Feminism = Women + Power
That Feminism = Bra burning lesbian separatism
That Feminism = is only a question of gender.
(These are only half truths)
Julia Kristeva outlines the 3 moments of Feminism-
Feminism = Equal Rights
Feminism = Advocacy of a separate women’s culture
Feminism = Total re-evaluation of Ideas of Masculine and Feminine
One strand of feminist art avoided images of the sexualised female body because in the past these images have been objectified and exploited.
Mel Ramas – Miss Corn Flakes 1964
Barbara Kruger – What are you looking at 1994
In small print it says “This is not a mirror”. Targeting the women that look at fashion magazines, saying that you are not looking at what you should aspire to become, it is just another woman.
Another strand produced generalised images of the sexualised female body.
Judy Chicago – The Dinner Party 1974 – 9
Strong Statement of the cultural status of women. All of the crockery in this piece is stylized female genitals. Falic symbols are normalised in culture, female ones are not as normalized and so she is putting them out there. The idea that Biology is destiny is hindering on Women. A lot of art uses imagery of the female genitalia within it. Is that all that women have in common then? They all have vaginas? Virginia Wolf is one of the women at the table here, aren’t her books and achievements more important than her vagina?
In the 1990s, many artists started using highly sexualised imagery again.
Pipilotti Rist – I’m not the girl who misses much 1986
She is using the language of titilation, but using video technology to prevent that happening. Wants to deflate through humour. Slowing and speeding up time up to get a state of conciousness. Pipilotto Rist is interested in an innocent sexual experience, a bodily experience. Her work doesn’t talk a page three language, more like a dream state.
Re-evaluation of Masculine and Feminine?
Jenny Saville, Passage 2004-5
Collier Schort, untitled 2011
Is it possible to transcend ideas of gender in art?
Maybe in these images, the intention is that they are not labelled as a particular gender – equalizing man and woman?
This label remains problematic, it suggests that it comes after feminism and can be used in several ways:
– It comes after feminism because feminism has been successful
– It comes after feminism because feminism has failed
– It comes after feminism because it is the antidote to feminism
– It comes after feminism because it is the opposite of feminism
– It comes after feminism because it is the continuation of feminism
There is no definite answer and so the label Post-feminsim is still difficult to determine.
Nan Goldin – Nan one month after being battered 1984
Sarah Lucas – Two fried eggs and a kebab – The male and the female rediced to sexual symbols.
Sarah Lucas – NUDS 2010 – Bodily experience
John Carran – The Wizard 1994
Lisa Yuskovage – Day 1999-2000
Does knowing the gender of the artist change the significance of the painting?
Lucy Lippard in Deepwell p.157
Does the fact that a woman paints a woman neutralise the pornographic source or is it still pornography?
Lisa Yuskavage – Half Family 2003
This isn’t an image directed at men. It gives off a feelnig that is significant only to women. About the feeling of having a body, not what it looks like.
Masculine and Feminine
Helen Chadwick – Piss Flowers 1991-2
They peed in the snow and cast the imprint. Some represent the male and some represent the female. The longer, more falic like stamens actually represent the females, this is because there is less movement in the female pee stream. Stereotypically we would think that the more falic sculptures represented the male so this piece is clever and interesting.
Images from the Bad Girls Exhibition 1993
Helen Chadwick Glossolalia 1992
Contrast of Hard and Soft. Small Falic Symbols, Making a falic symbol in the middle. An image like this would be picked for an exhibition called “Bad Girls” because there is an appeal to the body, Tongues and fur. The togetherness of hair and tongue is often quite repulsive. We reject it without thinking about it. Unconcious Reaction.
Before this lecture, I had never really considered issues of gender very deeply before. I certainly had not discussed whether the gender of the artist changes the way that the art work is viewed. I have been encouraged to think about certain connotations that certain materials and imagery has in terms of masculine and feminine and been shown how art can cause a divide in opinion. To me, it doesn’t matter whether the artist or subject n an art work is a man or a woman, I would consider the art work itself and the concepts behind it. It is always interesting to learn how art is used to convey messages or comment on a life situation. Within this lecture, we talked about whether Jenny Saville’s Passage piece equalizes the rights of a man and a woman, I can see the evidence for this opinion, but for me it highlighted the fact that individuals are scrutinised for being different in some way and that she was making difference accepted and depicting it in a aesthetically pleasing way, Similar ideas were running in Marc Quinns sculpture of Alison. Feminism has been portrayed in art for many years and it was interesting to learn how it has changed.
This Morning, I went and had a look around the Artes Mundi Exhibiton at the national museum of Wales, Cardiff. Artes Mundi is a prestigious contemporary art prize, the UK’s biggest in fact and so I expected it to be an interesting space as well as it containing interesting approaches and innovative ideas within art. It did not disappoint in terms of originality and me seeing things I hadn’t seen before, but I cannot say that I liked all of the work in the space.
Five Artists work were showcased here: Theaster Gates, Carlos Bunga, Renata Lucas, Renzo Martins and Yael Batana
Themes within Theaster’s work included idols and religion. As I walked in I was faced with an object I did not recognise, a Boli – an idol that an african family would have made out of blood, sweat and mud etc. It is full of spiritual associations. It was protected in packaging and had a sign on it saying do not touch. To me, this did heighten that this was a precious object, but as a piece of art, I was not drawn to the aethetics of the object at all. Thiesta also made a piece where a goat shaped object on wheels moved around a circular train track. I did not get this piece at all. I saw the connection to free masonary objects and a motion that goes nowhere but to be honest, to me it didn’t look that well thought out and the noise of it in a small space put me off the piece itself and others in the space. In terms of a connection to religion, a piece of a slate church roof jumped out at me. It was actually made out of the slate of a real church and so instantly had a connection to the concept he was portraying and it became a setting for another object in the form of an idol. (A picture of Jesus).
There was a piece made out of pieces of wood produced by Renata Lucas, all hinged together covering the floor of one room within the gallery. It was interactive and you were invited to move the piece. It was called failure and to me it did fail as an interactive installation because the pieces were very heavy to lift easily and it wasn’t much fun to partake in. There were also many rules about using it. It was quite violent when it collapsed and the snapping handles made a loud noise. However, I was still intrigued by it. Was the point of this piece that it failed as an interactive installation? Does that make the title appropriate? Should you not want to partake in interacting with it?
Carlos Bunga’s Cardboard structure was an interesting piece to walk through. It was painted which for cardboard, made the structure quite rigid. I found it interesting to learn that the artist see’s the space and is inspired by his surroundings and spends a few days before the show making a response to it in the space itself. Also, he kind of works backwards, making drawings and machettes afterwards.
My main criticism of the Artes Mundi Exhibition was that It was very loud. Some of the artwork definitely clashed and there was possibly too much going on. For example, the cardboard space was quite cathedral like but I feel the clanking noise of Thiesta’s work detracted from that.
The materials used within this exhibition was what really interested me. The versatility of them and the originality of them. Chocolate, Cardboard, slate, metals, video, lightbulbs etc etc. They were all relatively cheap materials.
The 50 minute video by Yael Batana at the end of the exhibition had a very circular progression. Unfortunately, I did not have time to sit and watch all of the piece as I had other engagements to attend. But it seemed as it the narrative was drawing you in but did not allow you a way out.
Being interested in the use of unconventional materials: Renzo Martins offering was the one I was most appreciative of, The chocolate sculptures really drew me in. When I walked in, I did not immediately know that the pieces were made from chocolate. From these pieces, you think about the invisible labour that goes on in contemporary art but interestingly, I loved the fact that each of the people that has made this artwork were credited on the wall.
There was a very ephemeral nature to this exhibition. The chocolate could melt, The cardboard will be taken away once it is finished etc. The Boli was really the only precious object within the space. Artes Mundi was a worthwhile exhibition to visit, but overall: I think the ideas within the artwork were better than the final outcomes.
What is my place in the world?
Do I belong there?
Caspar David Friedrich – Monk by the Sea
Comparing it to a classical Landscape – Richard Wilson, The White Monk 1760-65
Caspar David Friedrich – Morning in the Sudeten Mountains 1810-11
How does Friedrich’s painting differ from wilsons? Colour palette, mood.
How do the painters think about religion?
Wilson seems more distant from religion than Friedrich. Friedrich is thinking of religion organising our relationship with the natural world.
In Caspar David Friedrich – Monk by the Sea – What time of day is it?
Written about as a lightless dawn. For the monk, the dawn isn’t important as it is for the pair on the mountain in the other piece.
Do you think that this place is real or imaginary?
It is a culmination of experience . Long flat horizon. Empty paintings.
Jan Van Goyen – View of Harlem 1646
Alternating pattern of light and dark, Colours lighter in the distance, more full of colour in the foreground. There is more cloud perspective than in friedrichs work. Friedrich’s is much flatter. Distance becomes flatter and more immense because there are no markers in it.
Mark Rothko 1969 – Is there still distance in this picture? Does it look like a place to you? There are similarities to Friedrich’s work. It is stark and there is a fluctuation between flatness and deep space.
There is a lot of fine detail in Friedrich’s Monk by the sea. It makes it look more like a portrait of the place. When you notice a painting has fine detail, you walk in closer to it. Having an intimate relationship with the work. The artist must be thinking about where he wants the spectator to be. The monk isn’t entirely resolved in himself.
What is the relationship between these figures and their surroundings?
Caspar David Friedrich – The wanderer above the sea of mist
The figure is taking possession of a view, dominating the landscape. He wants to be there and he is in control.
The Chasseur in the Forest 1814
The landscape is dominating the figure here, he has no horse, he is lost and not in control. He’s french, the forest is german. Friedrich is a nationalist. German land rising up against the french invaders. Vulnerable.
Francis Danby – Romantic Woodland landscape 1824-5
Will nature accept us? Romantics think of nature in a more psychological way than an ecological way.
Anselm Kiefer, Varus 1976 – For Kiefer, Germany begins with Slaughter in the forest.
Marina Neudecker – Things can change in a day 2009
Models in vitrines suspended in liquid. Does the vitrine intensify the situation or distance you from it? Like a cinema screen, they encourage you to project yourself into the scene.
How does a group rather than a solitary figure alter the confrontation with nature?
Caspar David Friedrich – Chalk Cliffs at Rugen 1818 – less vulnerable, more people – However, not a strong sense of communication.