In follow up to the last post, I've decided to share my 'hated' artwork, which I've established isn't really hated, rather just makes me feel abit uncomfortable. It was a book of photographs I produced last year for a module (one photo is above) where I actually couldn't really pin point directly what I wanted to explore. I felt I wanted to broaden my practice out into performative, using my body as a way to articulate strength but I ended up falling into the trap of superficiality and enjoying the way the images 'looked' rather than what they conveyed. There was a shallowness to the work, that at that point I wasn't quite aware of, but now just looking back I can feel the uncertainty in what I was doing and the lack of care I took when trying to capture images.
There is a positive when looking back at cringe-inducing work; and that is you see how much more developed your thinking has become (even in a short year) and the approach to an idea is more considered, I didn't truly deconstruct this work and ask why I wanted to do it, or why I did it. That is where the friction lies for me, I can't really explain it other than I had the enjoyable freedom to dance around with some material, but I don't feel a strength to the concept which is why I'm glad to leave it back in that time. Its like I'm looking back at someone else, but that could be a good thing? There is a distance that is useful in critiquing the work and allowing me to perceive why it isn't successful as a piece now.
Perhaps one day I will revisit the idea and realise why I started it.
Today we hosted the event "Why do you hate me?" in the project space. There was a group of 10 of us in total, and we discussed some personal works that we deemed unsatisfactory, or as we referred to them many times as 'shit'.
The conversation was directed at asking questions not just about the work, but also at the kind of language we use to define these pieces. I used the words 'hate' 'like' and 'shit' but perhaps this terminology almost becomes redundant as we begin to understand the journey that these works take us on.
Someone mentioned that there is no success without failure, by choosing works we are repelled by we are consciously selecting elements that we feel don't represent our practice any longer and this is a vital step in the adaption of our process.
It's a good time to focus on the intentions of the work and question the motivations of yourself. Who was it made for? What drove you to create it? Is it in your personal opinion a 'masterpiece'? If so, why? and if it didn't accomplish a high level then also asking why will interrogate your process even further. These are the kinds of enquiries that were being drawn out of todays session and taking the position of a critical friend in this situation was essential to begin to understand our relationship to certain conditions we create as artists.
The video will be uploaded shortly and feedback can be left via twitter or instagram!
I had a great get together with the regulars of 'Untitled' art group, who meet on a weekly basis to discuss general arty going's on as well as their own practice. Two of them being students, they know the struggle of creating work for the 'institution' and also maintaining an outside practice too. Sometimes it can feel like you have two separate sides to your practice, one that allows you to explore more contemporary ideas in art whereas your other one might be more geared towards selling work so in that sense it could be working in more traditional methods.
We spoke about the importance of group crits and how they give us a chance to vocalise our working process, but we also highlighted some points that weren't so positive about them such as the lack of engagement between students. If there isn't anyone asking you a question or challenging what you've done, it can be a little hard to get a critique going and it begins to lose it's power. It then becomes more of a presentation of work as opposed to analysing, critiquing ideas/ work and offering suggestions.
Also another point raised was that sometimes the reason you do something is intangible, you can't quite describe it in words and so it can be hard to present that in a specific time frame. Much of the time words or ideas come to us after some self-reflection and we change things or are able to adapt something after going back over it in our own time or even with the help of someone else.
It seems more people are striving for a way to discuss art so that it is less formal and doesn't have so many stamps of approval on there, it comes back to the institutionalisation of art and how things have to tick a certain box. Encouraging regular discussion around our practices is a positive step in cementing our development as artists and that exchange between others is vital to keep a mutual passion going.
Last night was the private view of 'Expressions' the Fine Art show where I am holding an installation/ performance piece named 'The unavoidable truth to memory is that there is no truth at all, except our own'. This work has been refined to make it to this stage and has challenged me to the point of wanting to give up. When you've never organised and executed a solo performance before, and you land yourself with something that requires a lot of time, patience and concentration, it can seem the most daunting idea in the world. I feel like you have to make some of it up on the spot, for whatever you plan, life is sure to throw something in that is anti-plan and will test your resolve in that moment.
Either way, last night's performance gathered momentum slowly and about an hour in it just seemed to take off. Once one person had left the booth, another came straight in and I could hear a constant buzz outside the curtain around the objects being displayed. It was an intense and warm atmosphere, sometimes hard to hear anything because of the amount of people in the room, but the space I had created became this little haven of reflection, for the participant and myself.
For me, I relished the digging through of forgotten objects and piecing together a history that had fragments of familiarity to them. It was a junkyard of memories; mismatching and abandoned but the place had character to it, just like the discarded items from a different time.
Collecting, combining and re-appropriating these ‘things’ and generally things in life is something I take a lot of joy in. Elevating something with a past narrative and playing with its context and aesthetic can bring endless fascination and create new meanings.
Getting out of the studio mind-set freed me up to explore more and encouraged me to work alongside others in a more openly collaborative way whilst still focussing individually. It became an open dialogue between the landscape, people and materials/objects and that provided relief but also a challenge, when there’s so many possibilities, how do you narrow down or select what to spend your time on?
Isn't it funny how quickly our learning and research methods can change? I was adverse to writing about work last year, I thought because I'm a visual artist, I should be working in visual ways but evidently that thought has outgrown that moment and taken shape in my notebook.
Discussing your practice fluidly is liberating and I think being able to articulate yourself verbally comes from being able to write genuinely about your methodology and ideas in a concise way. Once making this link, it has pushed me in the direction of honing my ideas and language in a way that is understandable, thus allowing me to truly underpin my practice in the way that I want. This came down to de-constructing all elements of a work or idea and laying it out in a mind map format. It's not necessarily a neat composition but it has headings and subheadings as well as connecting lines to different areas that go hand in hand which all help to make it a coherent diagram which supplements planning. The positive of this method is that you are able to add as much or as little information as you like and you can continue to work back into it when you consider a new piece of information. It's infinite! (This could be good or bad)
I think as much as making and creating are imperative, so are writing and diagrams, they are great tools to integrate into our practice as it allows us to refine our continuous thinking and to eventually frame it in a way that can be presented publicly or to build upon verbally discussing your practice with others.