The focus of the Specialist Study module was an attempt to look at the refugee crisis through the eyes of those experiencing these circumstances first hand, the refugees themselves, their experience, their treatment, the barriers and the stereotyping that they face on a daily basis.
A long held belief of the artist that humanity, dignity and respect are basic human rights that everyone deserves irrespective of his or her circumstances, the refugee crisis highlights to the artist the lack of humanity in our society today.
Inspired by the increasing efforts of many artists to raise awareness of the refugee crisis, in particular, Ai Wei Wei and the Migration Museum, the artist wanted to create a platform that says, “Look at how these people are treated, this could be you or me”.
The techniques of Video/Projection Artists such as Alan Whifield and Rebecca Smith have inspired me throughout this process to keep pushing my boundaries in relation to the video production for this module further developing my skills and interest in this area.
I wanted to push my experience of video and project further than it has been to date with the intention of working with projection mapping and digital graffiti and although I did some work in this area, I had hoped to do more. I made the conscious decision to leave this experimentation until my third year.
The project developed seemed to develop an impetus of its own and moved in a different direction, I gained a lot of satisfaction from knitting the blankets from dustsheets, which is the direction I ultimately followed for my final piece.
This has been a particularly long project, however the break to concentrate on the Galeri project proved valuable, I then found I had a new clarity about this project when I returned to it. I feel that I was able to improve the final piece further.
I was asked to assemble my Final Installation at short notice prior to the Easter Holidays, I felt I rose to the challenge and having previously understood my requirements for this installation, I was able to produce the installation within the timescale requested.
I feel that I have progressed immensely with the Sculpture Module this year. At first to be honest I wasn’t to happy to be creating work with no context but soon got into the playfulness of doing just for the sake of doing.
I had quite a few fails along with successes and I think that I stretched each piece using either photography and digital manipulation or video. I also used skills gained in the Video module to create the video that is to accompany the sculpture exhibition.
I really enjoyed making the coral sculptures and envisaged that I could make an entire room filled with them in response to the death of the Great Barrier Reef.
I took advantage of my trips to Pontio to learn different methods that can be used within sculpture and I feel that I gained more insight into sculpture as a result of this.
Tuesday 16th May 2017 – Video of Corals
After a request from Helen to create a video to accompany our Sculptures that are to be exhibited, I decided to record some video of the sculptures to include with the exhibition. My plan is to overlay the video of my coral with video of reflections in water and some real footage of the Great Barrier Reef, my piece seems to have gained a very current environmental context all of it’s own making.
The video below is just the raw video but I wanted to include some in my blog here.
Tuesday 9th May 2017 – Sketchbook
All of my sketches have been placed into a sketchbook for the assessment.
I have found that the work done this year has given me a solid foundation and some good ideas for moving forward into the 3rd Year. In theExtended Practice (ARF 503) and Specialist Study (ARF 505) modules in particular I have been keen to experiment in video and move towards Projection Mapping, however in taking smaller steps this year and becoming more confident with the software, I feel I am better placed to achieve my future goals of at least experiencing projection mapping.
As part of my role as Blog Ambassador I have been on hand to help other students with their Premiere Pro and Photoshop related issues.
During the preparation for the Galeri Exhibition I was also asked to create a Talking Heads Video from footage recorded by Helen of each of the artists answering questions posed by Emrys. I have also been asked to do this again for the third year exhibition.
All in all, far more confident in Video Work and this has impacted the other modules that I have also worked on this year.
Sunday 19th March 2017
Research: After Effects
In late 2016, we collaborated with Mai Family Services, a Michigan based NGO to launch a film addressing the issue of domestic violence that women in the South Asian and larger immigrant community face in the United States.
Written by Sofia Ashraf, and featuring the voice of Ratna Pathak Shah, this spoken word piece aims to raise awareness regarding the unaddressed problems these women endure everyday.
So this is how its done! The A -Z of creating a project with yours truly and my talented band of magicians. I wanted to show all the different steps involved in the creation process while adding an explosion of colour and wackiness to it all! And of course everything is shot in camera frame by frame with the magic of stop-motion!!
This film is to remind us to stand united and continue to strive for a better, more connected world where all are respected as equals. We might think or look differently but in the end we are all human beings. We hope this piece conjures up some inspiration to act with strength and compassion in all of our daily interactions.
Let us stand together.
Division & Unity is a comment on how our digital age has shaped and influenced us, and a message of how we’re stronger together.
NONE is a short film that explores the balance of light and darkness. It has a personal narrative which plays with the notion of finding yourself amidst the noise around you.
I think the experience I have gained in Printmaking during my second year at Coleg Menai has been invaluable and has helped me become more confident and assured as an artist.
In my Specialist Study (ARF 505) module I used the prints that I created in this module as as part of a Projection Experimentation. Here are some of the results that I achieved. I really like the idea of using prints to further develop digital artwork involving video and projection and see this as a potential way forward.
Wednesday 17th May 2017 – My Book Arrived
My Digital Book arrived today, I am so pleased with the outcome of this.
Friday 12th May 2017 – Mounting Prints
I printed my prints onto Lokta Paper for presentation at the assessment. I then mounted the prints onto mount board.
Friday 12th May 2017 – Print Scholarship
Having been further inspired by the print making experience I have gained during the second year at Coleg Menai I decided to apply for the Print Scholarship at the Wrexham Regional Print Centre and I have been spending the past couple of weeks preparing my application.
The day war came there were flowers on the window sill
and my father sang my baby brother back to sleep.
My mother made my breakfast, kissed my nose
and walked with me to school.
That morning I learned about volcanoes, I sang a song about how tadpoles turn at last to frogs.
I made a picture of myself with wings.
Then, just after lunch, while I watched a cloud shaped like a dolphin, war came.
At first, just like a spattering of hail
a voice of thunder…
then all smoke and fire and noise, that I didn’t understand.
It came across the playground.
It came into my teacher’s face.
It brought the roof down.
and turned my town to rubble.
I can’t say the words that tell you
about the blackened hole that had been my home.
All I can say is this:
war took everything
war took everyone
I was ragged, bloody, all alone.
I ran. Rode on the back of trucks, in buses;
walked over fields and roads and mountains,
in the cold and mud and rain;
on a boat that leaked and almost sank
and up a beach where babies lay face down in the sand.
I ran until I couldn’t run
until I reached a row of huts
and found a corner with a dirty blanket
and a door that rattled in the wind
But war had followed me.
It was underneath my skin,
behind my eyes,
and in my dreams.
It had taken possession of my heart.
I walked and walked to try and drive war out of myself,
to try and find a place it hadn’t reached.
But war was in the way that doors shut when I came down the street
It was in the way the people didn’t smile, and turned away.
I came to a school.
I looked in through the window.
They were learning all about volcanoes
And drawing birds and singing.
I went inside.
My footsteps echoed in the hall
I pushed the door and faces turned towards me
but the teacher didn’t smile.
She said, there is no room for you,
you see, there is no chair for you to sit on,
you have to go away.
And then I understood that war had got here too.
I turned around and went back to the hut, the corner and the blanket
and crawled inside.
It seemed that war had taken all the world and all the people in it.
The door banged.
I thought it was the wind.
But a child’s voice spoke
“I brought you this,” she said “so you can come to school.”
It was a chair. A chair for me to sit on and learn about volcanoes, frogs and singing
And drive the war out of my heart.
She smiled and said “My friends have brought theirs too, so all the children here can come to school”
Out of every hut a child came and we walked together,
on a road all lined with chairs.
Pushing back the war with every step.
Saturday 8th April 2017 – Handmade Book
I prepared a handmade book that contained all of my prints and the associated aluminium plates.
Richard Long also has an affinity with nature and his work, which is often a documentation of his walks in the landscape, is about his interaction with the environment. While some of Richard Long’s walks are recorded by a photograph others, such as In the Clouds 1991 are text based. These pieces are sparse in nature, with a handful of words chosen to describe the long walks the artist makes all over the world.
My only knowledge of Richard Long is from the “A Line made by Walking” piece that he created in 1967.
A Line Made by Walking exists now only in a photograph. This, too, is part of the iconoclastic nature – and the imaginative power – of Long’s art, that it is often as transient and impermanent as anything in the natural world around it. The grass has long since grown back over the track he left that day in a field of wild flowers somewhere in England. It is quite conceivable that no one else actually saw the original work, or, if they did, recognised it as his, or indeed, as a work of art at all.
“The work often has all kinds of echoes,” Long says, “some accidental. If you undertake a walk, you are echoing the whole history of mankind, from the early migrations out of Africa on foot that took people all over the world.”
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking,” wrote Nietzsche. Richard Long’s great thought while walking was to make his walking into his art. In an illuminating catalogue essay for Heaven and Earth, Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, writes, “In A Line Made by Walking (1967), a work made at the age of 22, Long changed our notion of sculpture and gave new meaning to an activity as old as man himself. Nothing in the history of art quite prepared us for the originality of his action.”
This formative piece was made on one of Long’s journeys to St Martin’s from his home in Bristol. Between hitchhiking lifts, he stopped in a field in Wiltshire where he walked backwards and forwards until the flattened turf caught the sunlight and became visible as a line. He photographed this work, and recorded his physical interventions within the landscape.
Although this artwork underplays the artist’s corporeal presence, it anticipates a widespread interest in performative art practice. This piece demonstrates how Long had already found a visual language for his lifelong concerns with impermanence, motion and relativity.
When Emrys first mentioned Richard Long in the presentation I gave, I was a bit unsure where the link to this artist would be, however as I began to research him it became quickly apparent that I could see not only a link to his outdoor work but also his Textworks as well, I began to see the connection to Richard Long more clearly.
He mediates his experience of these places, from mountains through to deserts, shorelines, grasslands, rivers and snowscapes, according to archetypal geometric marks and shapes, made by his footsteps alone or gathered from the materials of the place. These walks and temporary works of passage are recorded with photographs, maps and text works, where measurements of time and distance, place names and phenomena are vocabulary for both original ideas and powerful, condensed narratives.
This piece adds support to my thinking about combining screen printing methods with other printing methods, in my case digital, in this case Lithograph.
This lithograph and screen print, which measuring 189.50 cm high, stands roughly the size of a man and catalogues a series of experiences noted during a sixty-minute walk. The number 60 runs throughout the piece, which features 60 lines of texts and was then reproduced into 60 prints. With this repetition, Long draws our attention to the temporal quality of this walk, presenting us with one descriptive word or phrase for every minute of his journey, describing what he saw, heard, felt, and did.
The letters sit atop a black and gray background which Long created by applying ink onto the surface directly with his fingertips. Against this minimal background, each line contains only one to three words, making the text long and narrow as if the words are walking down the original path in Big Bend, Texas.
Long experiments here with a different process of recording his actions; rather than photograph the walk, he wrote a poem and then presented that poem in a way that recalls the physical experience of the original in simple terms. The words are concise and the background of the poem is a monochromatic, gestural expression. Yet, the artwork still remains conceptual, as the audience can never fully envision the actual event and is left with only the poetic fragments.
Lithograph and screen print – Museum of Modern Art, New York
His Textworks, I find particularly interesting and they have piqued my interest because of the symmetry in their design (everything always has to be symmetrical for me) and the palindromic nature, a new obsession of mine, particularly with poetry is the palindrome.
Richard Long Press 037
Houghton Hall is a venerable stately home these days, but White Deer Circle, as this work is called, is new – created by Richard Long for an exhibition that, unusually for this visionary land artist, is being held outdoors. His stump circle is an uncanny echo of a Seahenge, an ancient wooden circle discovered on a beach 12 miles away. Amazingly, Long, who this year marks 50 years of showing his walking-inspired work, has never heard of the bronze age relic. Perhaps Long is listening to the landscape more closely than most, though, for he is unsurprised by such serendipity.
They accompany the permanent long sculpture, ‘Full Moon Circle‘, which was commissioned for Houghton in 2003. There will also be large mud works in the outdoor colonnades and smaller-scale works in gallery spaces, as well as historic material relating to the artist’s career.
The sturdy splendour of the Stone Hall currently has even more to draw the eye. Richard Long, the British land artist, has installed a work beneath the chandelier as part of his summer show at Houghton, Earth Sky. This particular piece stops you in your tracks more than the others – it’s a black, white and grey circle of rocks, formatted as compass coordinates. It brings the wild irregularity of nature inside, but ordered perfectly, as if by magic. “I will certainly miss this piece when it’s gone,” says Rocksavage. “It’s an incredible architectural intervention.”
While Holzer is known for inserting her political statements into the public sphere, the German artist Joseph Beuys is lauded for his role using art for social transformation. Beuys positioned himself as artist, teacher and educator often articulating his thinking through extensive lectures, using blackboards to illustrate his ideas in works such as For the lecture: The social organism – a work of art, Bochum, 2nd March 1974 1974. Beuys own words were inextricably linked with the artwork itself in part because of his role as a teacher and activist.
Much of Beuys’s work was focused on the environment – many of actions would take place in the landscape.
This started me thinking about the blackboard I had seen in the Tate Gallery. His work is provokative, stimulating a reaction and engagement from the audience. I too like to stimulate a reaction, I’m not concerned with whether people like my work, only that in viewing my work something has changed within them, that my work has provoked a reaction, either good or bad.
During the 1970s, Beuys lectured extensively on art and politics, and the task of creating a genuinely democratic society.
In the Duveen Galleries, in what is now Tate Britain, Beuys lectured on humanity’s natural creative capacity and the power of direct democracy to shape society. He chalked his conceptual theories onto the three leftmost blackboards (the fourth was used in a subsequent action at Whitechapel Gallery) and engaged the crowd in a free-form and often tense discussion.
This series of three blackboards were used to illustrate an event held at Tate in 1972, in which Beuys discussed his ideas about communication and grassroots democracy. A fourth blackboard, not displayed here, was used during a subsequent lecture at the Whitechapel Gallery.
This lit a spark in my mind given my recent delve into the theories of Pedagogy, Creative Processes and Autoethnography in Education discussed in my blog post Creative Flow.
The subtitle of this work indicates that 7,000 Oaks was fundamentally a time-based, or “process” work of environmentalism and eco-urbanization. Beuys planted 7000 trees in the small, historic city of Kassel, Germany, over several years (carried out with the assistance of volunteers), each oak accompanied by a stone of basalt. Beuys’s concerted effort to physically, spiritually and metaphorically alter the city’s social spaces – economic, political, and cultural, among others – is what finally constituted a community-wide “social sculpture” (Beuys’s own terminology). 7000 Oaks officially began in 1982 at Documenta 7, the international exhibition of modern and contemporary art that is organized, by a guest curator, at Kassel every five years (since 1955). Beuys’s own ecological “happening” drew to an official close five years later, at Documenta 8, after being continued by others for a full year after Beuys’s own death.
7000 oak trees and 7000 basalt stones – Kassel, Germany
A playful balance between Beuys the warm with Warhol the cold.
The chalkboard, a tool used by Beuys with cold and inhuman computer printouts, something Warhol would have liked. The wax prints are warmed up (a la Beuys). The poem in the center speaks to inside out, hot and cold.
I really like the use of a blackboard in Joseph Beuys work and have previously considered the idea that something like this could be used to record daily thoughts or happenings over a period of time to create a piece of artwork.
The terms ‘visual language’ or ‘vocabulary’ are typically used to describe the distinct characteristics of an artisthttp://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/artist-rooms-theme-language’s practice. This employment of words is apt within the context of modern and contemporary art, since the use of written or spoken word has been a significant feature of artists’ practices since the early twentieth century. The use of letters and words in artworks is traditionally associated with authorship – the artist’s signature or inscription, often towards bottom of a painting or drawing.
Street and graffiti artists have always been using the power of letters and written words to attract attention of distracted bystanders, hungry for meaning and significance. For graffiti lettering it all began with letters and symbols scrawled on public surfaces, and when one looks at the work created by ten creators featured on the following list, it becomes clear how those markings evolved in beautiful and unexpected ways over the years. Some of them explore the beauty of lettering itself by creating complex and almost mystical calligraphic images, while others strive with great passion to achieve more simple, yet deeply philosophical use of typography as a vehicle to convey their messages.
Jenny Holzer (born July 29, 1950, Gallipolis, Ohio) is an American neo-conceptual artist, based in Hoosick Falls, New York. The main focus of her work is the delivery of words and ideas in public spaces.
Holzer belongs to the feminist branch of a generation of artists that emerged around 1980, looking for new ways to make narrative or commentary an implicit part of visual objects. Her contemporaries include Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Charlesworth, and Louise Lawler.
Lately, I’ve been exploring the use of text in my artwork. Many artists employ text – I’m thinking about artists like Joseph Kosuth, Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, etc. And recently I was introduced to the work of photographer, Idris Kahn and quickly discovered his artwork as well. Kahn, a London based artist, uses large stamped lines of text in his work. The text is inspired by Nietzsche. There’s something really compelling about Kahn’s work and I keep coming back to it again and again.
Hans Haacke‘s work questions systems of power and can be nicely packaged in the blanket of institutional critique. His most attractive piece is Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971 (1971), an abstracted infographic linking a wealthy land owner (Shapolsky) to buildings he purchased. I haven’t seen it in a while, but it painted the guy as a slumlord and really dug into the shell companies used to purchase the land indirectly. It caused quite a stir at the time, and the Guggenheim refused it for Haacke’s solo show (possibly due to his politicizing a tie with the Guggenheim’s Board).
Lawrence Weiner (born February 10, 1942) is one of the central figures in the formation of conceptual art in the 1960s.
His work often takes the form of typographic texts.
The Weiner works in the ARTISTROOMS collection consist of a cycle of ten wall texts; each statement such as Tied Up in Knots 1988 and Roughly Ripped Apart 1988 suggests a physical action or invoke the manipulation of an object or matter. Weiner regards his language works as sculptures, and they can be seen as instructions or propositions that could be enacted. These works are displayed as vinyl lettering applied directly to the exhibition surface. The artist’s aim is to offer a universal, objective experience in which the reader is invited to execute the work through his or her own imagination.
Weiner began his career as an artist as a very young man at the height of Abstract Expressionism. His debut public work/exhibition was at the age of 19, with what he called Cratering Piece. An action piece, the work consisted of explosives set to ignite simultaneously in the four corners of a field in Marin County, California. That work, as Weiner later developed his practice as a painter, became an epiphany for the turning point in his career. His work in the early 1960s included six years of making explosions in the landscape of California to create craters as individual sculptures. He is also known during his early work for creating gestures described in simple statements leading to the ambiguity of whether the artwork was the gesture or the statement describing the gesture: e.g.”Two minutes of spray paint directly on the floor..” or ” A 36″ x 36″ removal of lathing or support wall…” (both 1968). In 1968, when Sol LeWitt came up with his Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, Weiner formulated his “Declaration of Intent” (1968):
1. The artist may construct the piece.
2. The piece may be fabricated.
3. The piece need not be built.
Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.
Works form the early twentieth century where appropriated words, letters and symbols were increasingly incorporated, such as Francis Picabia’s The Fig-Leaf 1922 and Kurt Schwitters’s Mz.299 1922, reflected the emerging avant-garde movements of the time. This period also saw an increasing presence of the printed word in the urban landscape and the developing sophistication of marketing and advertising.
The Italian artist Mario Merz began using neon in 1966, his neon texts were often juxtaposed against everyday objects as is the case with Che Fare? 1968-73. The words ‘Che Fare’ in neon resemble handwriting sunk into a pot of wax that melts under the heat of the neon. Che Fare translates as ‘What is to be Done?’ taken from the title of a political pamphlet produced by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in 1902. The text is widely regarded as advocating a political party to promote Marxism within the working classes and has come to define the drama of an individual’s engagement in modern society.
DIRTY BABY 1977 Edward Ruscha born 1937 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00058
BLUE PURPLE TILT 2007 Jenny Holzer born 1950 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00082
TIED UP IN KNOTS 1988 Lawrence Weiner born 1942 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00136
In the Cloud 1991 Richard Long born 1945 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00143
Che Fare? 1968-73 Mario Merz 1925-2003 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00598
La Brea/Art Tips/Rat Spit/Tar Pits 1972 Bruce Nauman born 1941 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00607
For the lecture: The social organism – a work of art, Bochum, 2nd March 1974 1974 Joseph Beuys 1921-1986 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00621
Pain doesn’t show up on a body scan and can’t be measured in a test. As a result, many chronic pain sufferers turn to art, opting to paint, draw or sculpt images in an effort to depict their pain.
“It’s often much more difficult to put pain into words, which is one of the big problems with pain,” said Allan I. Basbaum, editor-in-chief of Pain, the medical journal of The International Association for the Study of Pain. “You can’t articulate it, and you can’t see it. There is no question people often try to illustrate their pain.”
Mark Collen founded the organization as a result of his own experience with chronic pain. He herniated a disk in his lower back resulting in chronic nerve pain. He searched for many years but was unable to find quality pain management and felt that no matter how hard he tried to communicate with his physician he was unable to express his true physical pain. Mark began to make art about his pain and suffering as a way to visually share his experience with his doctor. After showing his artwork to his healthcare provider his treatment improved as a result of his doctor having a visual reference and seeing the pain through Mark’s art. Art was far more effective at communicating pain than words ever could be. As a result of his experience, in 2001 Mark decided to reach out to other artists with chronic pain and assemble an online collection of images of their art expressing some facet of the pain experience. The response was overwhelming and artists from around the globe volunteered to join Mark to share their pain experiences with the public through their artwork on-line. In June of 2012 PAIN Exhibit was formally born as a non-profit with the goal to use the collection as a visual tool to educate healthcare providers and the public about chronic pain and give a voice to those suffering in silence. James Gregory, who is also affected by chronic pain, has been part of the journey of the PAIN Exhibit throughout the years and is integral to the exhibit achieving its mission.
Art is far more effective at communicating the pain experience than words. The pain experience goes beyond the actual occurrence of physical pain and encompasses the entirety of one’s life. This experience can be both negative and positive.
The negative pain experience can include multiple surgeries, painful treatments, using different medications which produce unpleasant side effects, the failing of relationships, feelings of isolation and being trapped, poor self-image, depression, insomnia, frustration in trying to find quality medical treatment, and battles with insurance companies and lawyers. Since chronic pain frequently cannot be seen, unlike a broken arm, many with pain are not believed by doctors, colleagues, friends and family. This lack of belief is especially difficult for those living with pain.
Although no person would ever volunteer to have chronic pain, the pain experience can impact one’s life in positive ways. “What does not kill you makes you stronger,” is an applicable quote. It is not unusual for people with chronic pain to develop greater inner strength, and to become more introspective which leads to increased self-understanding. Chronic pain may change the course of one’s life and result in a more satisfying path. It is not unusual for those in pain to begin the pursuit of a spiritual path which can greatly enhance life.
One of the most famous pain artists is Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose work, now on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is imbued with the lifelong suffering she experienced after being impaled during a trolley accident as a teenager. Her injuries left her spine and pelvis shattered, resulting in multiple operations and miscarriages, and she often depicted her suffering on canvas in stark, disturbing and even bloody images.
Narrative Art put simply tells a story, where the artist tells a story in the piece of artwork. Traditionally the Narrative Artist would make the assumption that the audience is familiar with the story he is telling, either from religion, myths or legends. In modern times, narrative art will tell a story or depict a scene from everyday life.
The development of the contemporary art scene has seen the narrative become obsolete in the eyes of many artists, collectors and investors. One of the reasons for this is that people have come to view the narrative as being indicative and representative of an indulgent and decorative approach to fine art that is somehow not “intelligent” enough and not in keeping with the complex visual language that contemporary artists seem to be obsessed with
The use of narrative by Francis Bacon can be described as a contradiction in terms. Although his work tells a story, he avoids the boredom by focusing on the narrative as an activity or process rather than the narrative as a product which Bacon appears to be opposed to.
“I do not want to avoid telling a story, but I want very, very much to do the thing that Valery said – to give the sensation without the boredom of its conveyance. And the moment the story enters, the boredom comes upon you.” – Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon is deeply suspicious of narrative. For him, narrative seems to be the natural enemy of vision; it blinds. Narrative is boring because it precludes the direct actualisation of a painting via the viewer’s perception. Story-tellers are seducers, diverting the audience’s attention from what there is to see.
Bacon seems to propose an opposition between narrative as a product that can be endlessly reproduced, as re-presentation – the ‘boredom’ is inspired by the deja vu of repetition – and narrative as process, as sensation. Conveying a story implies that a pre-existing story, fictional or not, is transferred to an addressee. Narrative is then reduced to a kind of transferable message. Opposed to this ‘conveying of story’, ‘telling a story’ focuses on the activity or process of narrative. This process is not repeatable; it cannot be iterative because it takes place, it happens, whenever ‘story’ happens… Bacon’s hostility toward narrative is directed against narrative as product, as re-presentation, not against narrative as process.
Although Bacon’s paintings display many signs which traditionally signify narrativity, the same token any attempt to postulate narratives based on the paintings is countered.
Alphen, E. (1993). Francis Bacon and the loss of self. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Tracey Emin: My Bed
My Bed made by Tracey Emin in 1998 can be described as a piece of Narrative Art, describing the scene where she lay for days after a relationship breakup.
Tracey Emin’s art is one of disclosure, using her life events as inspiration for works ranging from painting, drawing, video and installation, to photography, needlework and sculpture. Emin reveals her hopes, humiliations, failures and successes in candid and, at times, excoriating work that is frequently both tragic and humorous.
Emin’s work has an immediacy and often sexually provocative attitude that firmly locates her oeuvre within the tradition of feminist discourse. By re-appropriating conventional handicraft techniques – or ‘women’s work’ – for radical intentions, Emin’s work resonates with the feminist tenets of the ‘personal as political’. In Everyone I’ve Ever Slept With, Emin used the process of appliqué to inscribe the names of lovers, friends and family within a small tent, into which the viewer had to crawl inside, becoming both voyeur and confidante. Her interest in the work of Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele particularly inform Emin’s paintings, monoprints and drawings, which explore complex personal states and ideas of self-representation through manifestly expressionist styles and themes.
Although Rauch’s paintings appear to be narrative, they can also have contradictions throughout them that can leave the audience questioning the real intent of the artwork.
Neo Rauch is one of the great contemporary narrative painters who uses complexity and ambiguity to offer a fresh and challenging interpretation of the visual narrative.
In Rauch’s off-kilter landscape Der Rückzug (The Retreat), 2006, the affectless faces of the men, women, and children reflect a Cold War sense of imminent danger which was inspired by the memory of the artist’s youth in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.John Currin is another great contemporary artist who uses the narrative to great effect in his work.
Rauch studied art under Arno Rink at the Art Academy in Leipzig, becoming a master-class student under Bernhard Heisig from 1986 until 1990. Following German reunification he was Heisig’s assistant at the Academy from 1993 to 1998. In 1997 Neo Rauch was awarded the art prize of the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper. As the euphoria surrounding the Young British Artists (championed by Charles Saatchi) abated, the international art market in the late 1990s began courting the artists of the ‘Leipzig School’. Since that time Neo Rauch has become an extremely successful German export, above all to the United States.
The works of John Currin typically are figurative with a satirical element that highlights provocative or social themes.
In his masterpiece Thanksgiving, 2003, Currin presents a wonderfully humorous story of three women work together to prepare a Thanksgiving meal.Far from the innocent and purposeful imagery of the traditional narrative, Currin uses various different artistic devices to present a rather uncomfortable and challenging interpretation of an event that is of great importance and significance to the American people.
A Scottish artist, born in Oban who lives in London and dedicates his work to an imaginary island.
There are few artists brave enough to play God, but Charles Avery has no problems on that score. Over the last 10 years he has been building an island and painstakingly documenting its inhabitants, landscape and cosmology in text, paint and sculpture. The premise could be straight out of Tolkien, except that Avery is much more sophisticated than that. His world is populated with mythical beasts that haunt the inhabitants’ psyche, decrying their very nature and usurping their sense of reason.
Many of the natives are addicted to the local delicacy, pickled eggs, which enslaves them to the island. Hunters in tweed jackets and shotguns search out a Kantian dichotomy while hawkers in the local flea market sell pictures of nude women for the price of peace of mind.
Lindsay Seers who was unable to talk as a child, uses video installations and film projections to create a magical world of stories and narrative.
British artist Lindsay Seers endows her work with a touch of magic. Her video installations transport the viewer to a cacophonous wonderland inhabited by shamans, fortune-tellers, transgender ventriloquists, and people with strange medical conditions, where multiple narrative voices and film projections dissolve all sense of anchorage. In her 2012 work Nowhere Less Now, a historical photograph of Seers’s seafaring great-great-uncle George triggers an odyssey across generations and geographies, featuring blood sacrifice, Zanzibari slave trade, and Victorian secret societies, interwoven with themes of identity, memory, and veracity.
“It’s as if a whole universe could unfold from a photograph,” says Seers in her North London studio. “It was this idea of the mythology of a photograph.”
While there has always been a narrative thread in my work, as there is in almost all painting–even abstract painting–I’ve generally tried to keep it autonomous to and within the painting. I’ve wanted to illuminate a pathway rather than illustrate a story. In the past, if I were to use an image of a glass of water, for instance, I would try to make a new connection to some not water images.
When I was young, I didn’t want to be understood too quickly, though I realized that sometimes you just end up concealing rather than revealing yourself. Now those kinds of more literal, narrative connections wouldn’t faze me. I might even find them reassuring. Still, this is the first time I’ve consciously kept a family of images tied together, like spokes in a wheel. The challenge here was to develop a correspondence among the emotional, narrative, and thematic lines of the subject matter and the formal considerations that generally occupy me–how to, for example, connect images of Hurricane Katrina from the New York Times to the Michelangelo scenes. It was interesting to see that doing this didn’t kill the painting; it didn’t kill the art. We live in a moment that is so crisis-laden that biblical or apocalyptic metaphors seem appropriate–and the scale seems right–whereas in another time they might have felt preposterous.
«24 Hour Psycho»
Realistically, no one can watch the whole of 24 Hour Psycho, which consists of Alfred Hitchcock’s film «Psycho» (1960) slowed down so that a single, continuous viewing lasts for twenty-four hours. While we can experience narrative elements in it (largely through familiarity with the original), the crushing slowness of their unfolding constantly undercuts our expectations, even as it ratchets up the idea of suspense to a level approaching absurdity.
(source: Russell Ferguson, «Trust Me,» in: Douglas Gordon, Cambridge/MA, 2001, p. 16.)
The Crossing undermines our notion of video as fast-paced, easily understood, and narrative. To describe the video is not just to spoil the “plot”—it really has none—but, more importantly, to trivialize the experience.
Suffice it to say that Viola uses slow motion and sound to confront and challenge viewers to reconsider instances of metaphysical transformation. In short, Viola employs this new age medium of figuration and sound to investigate the question of human mortality and resilience—issues that have preoccupied artists through the ages.
Installation view at Brent Sikkema, New York
Projection, cut paper and adhesive on wall, 14 x 37 1/2 feet
Neo Narratives Essay
For many neo-narrationists, analysis of their own narration is clearly a major concern. At its simplest level, the re-purposing of narrative vehicles necessitates at least some critical comparison with the original’s intended function, whether undertaken explicitly by the artist or those engaging in the work itself.
In 1971 the art historian Linda Nochlin published a groundbreaking essay Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? In it she investigated the social and economic factors that had prevented talented women from achieving the same status as their male counterparts.
By the 1980s art historians such as Griselda Pollock and Rozsika Parker were going further, to examine the language of art history with its gender-loaded terms such as ‘old master’ and ‘masterpiece’. They questioned the central place of the female nude in the western canon, asking why men and women are represented so differently. In his 1972 book Ways of Seeing the Marxist critic John Berger had concluded ‘Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at’. In other words Western art replicates the unequal relationships already embedded in society.
In what is sometimes known as First Wave feminist art, women artists revelled in feminine experience, exploring vaginal imagery and menstrual blood, posing naked as goddess figures and defiantly using media such as embroidery that had been considered ‘women’s work’. One of the great iconic works of this phase of feminist art is Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, 1974–9.
Later feminist artists rejected this approach and attempted to reveal the origins of our ideas of femininity and womanhood. They pursued the idea of femininity as a masquerade – a set of poses adopted by women to conform to social expectations of womanhood.
The feminist art movement refers to the efforts and accomplishments of feminists internationally to produce art that reflects women’s lives and experiences, as well as to change the foundation for the production and reception of contemporary art. It also sought to bring more visibility to women within art history and art practice. Corresponding with general developments within feminism, and often including such self-organizing tactics as the consciousness-raising group, the movement began in the 1960s and flourished throughout the 1970s as an outgrowth of the so-called second wave of feminism. It has been called “the most influential international movement of any during the postwar period.”
In her 1998 book “Feminist Thought,” Rosemarie Tong rephrases in postmodern terms Simone de Beauvoir’s essential question of feminist theory, “Why is woman the other?”
“ Postmodern feminists take de Beauvoir’s understanding of otherness and turn it on its head. Woman is still the other, but rather than interpreting this condition as something to be transcended, postmodern feminists proclaim its advantages. The conition of otherness enables women to stand back and criticize the norms, values, and practices that the dominant patriarchal culture seeks to impose on everyone, including those who live on its periphery…Thus, otherness, for all of its associations with oppression and inferiority, is much more than an oppressed, inferior condition. It is also a way of being, thinking, and speaking that allows for openness, plurality, diversity, and difference…It is enormously appealing to be an outsider – to be uncorrupted by the system, to see and feel what other people do not see and feel, to be free of tight constraints and unnecessary restrictions. But it is equally appealing to be an insider – to be a valued member of the team, to share a common vision, to have, as Aristotle said, ‘partners in virtue and friends in action.’”
The Feminist art movement emerged in the late 1960s amidst the fervor of anti-war demonstrations as well as civil and queer rights movements. Hearkening back to the utopian ideals of early twentieth-century modernist movements, Feminist artists sought to change the world around them through their art, focusing on intervening in the established art world, the art historical canon, as well as everyday social interactions. As artist Suzanne Lacy declared, the goal of Feminist art was to “influence cultural attitudes and transform stereotypes.” There is no singular medium or style that unites Feminist artists, as they often combined aspects from various movements and media, including Conceptual art, Body art, and Video art into works that presented a message about women’s experience and the need for gender equality. Feminist art created opportunities and spaces that previously did not exist for women and minority artists, as well as paved the path for the identity art and activist art of the 1980s.
When the Museum of Modern Art announced in 1996 that it had just acquired Sherman’s complete Untitled Film Still series, the curators knew they had laid claim to one of the most representative works of the early 1980s American movement of “appropriation,” and “simulationism.” Both terms refer to American artists’ mimicking, in the first half of the 1980s, former art masterpieces or widely circulating images in the mass media, and critically reworking them to arouse a sense of unease in the viewer, indeed often suggesting that culture had become largely a game of theatrical posing and egoistic pretense. As Peter Galassi, then-curator of photography stated, “Sherman’s singular talent and sensibility crystallized broadly held concerns in the culture as a whole, about the role of mass media in our lives, and about the ways in which we shape our personal identities. Here, Sherman takes on the role of the small-town girl just happening upon the Big City. She is, typically, at first suspicious of the metropolitan lights and shadows, only to be eventually seduced by its undeniable attractions.
Black and White photograph – The Museum of Modern Art
Kruger’s earliest artworks date to 1969. Large woven wall hangings of yarn, beads, sequins, feathers, and ribbons, they exemplify the feminist recuperation of craft during this period. Despite her inclusion in the Whitney Biennial in 1973 and solo exhibitions at Artists Space and Fischbach Gallery, both in New York, the following two years, she was dissatisfied with her output and its detachment from her growing social and political concerns. In the fall of 1976, Kruger abandoned art making and moved to Berkeley, California, where she taught at the University of California for four years and steeped herself in the writings of Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes.
Cindy Sherman is a contemporary master of socially critical photography. She is a key figure of the “Pictures Generation,” a loose circle of American artists who came to artistic maturity and critical recognition during the early 1980s, a period notable for the rapid and widespread proliferation of mass media imagery. At first painting in a super-realist style in art school during the aftermath of American Feminism, Sherman turned to photography toward the end of the 1970s in order to explore a wide range of common female social roles, or personas.
Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party elevates female achievement in Western history to a heroic scale traditionally reserved for men. The Dinner Party is a massive ceremonial banquet in art, laid on a triangular table measuring 48 feet on each side. Combining the glory of sacramental tradition with the intimate detail of a carefully orchestrated social gathering, the artist represents 39 “guests of honor” by individually symbolic, larger-than-life-size china-painted porcelain plates rising from intricate textiles draped completely over the tabletops. Each plate features an image based on the butterfly, symbolic of a vaginal central core. The runners name the 39 women and contain images drawn from each one’s story, executed in the needlework of the time in which each woman lived.
A milestone, multi-media installation created by Judy Chicago and hundreds of volunteers between 1974 and 1979.
A symbolic history of women in Western civilization which has toured around the world to fifteen sites, six countries and a viewing audience of over one million people.
In March 2007 this icon of twentieth-century art was permanently housed in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY.
The Dinner Party is one of the most well-known pieces of Feminist art in existence and is permanently housed at the Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. The installation consists of a large banquet table with place settings for thirty-nine notable women from history and mythology. The settings have gold ceramic chalices and porcelain plates painted with butterfly- and vulva-inspired designs representing Mother Nature, the vagina, and the life-giving properties of being female. By doing this, Chicago offered unabashed femininity on the plate rather than a meal cooked by a woman whose identity would be cloaked passively behind her food offering. In addition to the thirty-nine settings, there are the names of 999 other women painted on the tiles below the triangular table.
The installation Womanhouse encompassed an entire house in residential Hollywood organized by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro as the culmination of the Feminist Art Program (FAP) at California Institute for the Arts in 1972. The twenty-one all-female students first renovated the house, which had been previously marked for demolition, then installed site-specific art environments within the interior spaces that ranged from the sculptural figure of a woman trapped within a linen closet to the kitchen where walls and ceiling were covered with fried eggs that morphed into breasts. Many of the artists also created performances that took place within Womanhouse to further address the relationship between women and the home.
The entire collaborative piece was about a woman’s reclaiming of domestic space from one in which she was positioned as merely a wife and mother to one in which she was seen as a fully expressive being unconfined by gender assignment. This challenged traditional female roles and gave women a new realm to present their views within a thoroughly integrated context of art and life.
Anatomy of a Kimono is one of many “femmages” Schapiro created, starting in the mid-1970s, and is based on the patterns of Japanese kimonos, fans, and robes. Schapiro used the term femmage to describe works that combined collage, painting, fabric, embroidery, and other “high art” and “decorative art” techniques, simultaneously highlighting women’s relation to those materials and processes.
Here, the artist collected donated handkerchiefs while touring the country and cobbled them together with other fabrics to form ten large panels filled with Japanese-inspired shapes. The work adopts the monumental scale of Abstract Expressionist canvases, but by using fabric instead of paint, Schapiro elevates a utilitarian and feminine material to the realm of “high art.”
Artwork description & Analysis: In 1974, when artist Lynda Benglis was feeling underrepresented in the male-heavy art community, she reacted by creating a series of advertisements placed in magazines that took critical stabs at traditional depictions of women in the media. Her most famous ad was run in ArtForum in which she promoted her upcoming show at Paula Cooper Gallery by posing nude, holding a double-headed dildo, with sunglasses covering her eyes. She paid $3,000 for the ad, a small price for something that would establish her as a major player in Feminist art history. Also, by paying for the ad, Benglis was able to assure her voice would be heard without editing or censorship. She later cast a series of sculptures of the dildo, bent into a smile, a cheeky “f*** you” to the male-dominated art institutions.
Mary Kelly has contributed extensively to the discourse of feminism and postmodernism through her large-scale narrative installations and theoretical writings. Kelly’s work mediates between conceptual art and the more intimate interests of artists of the 1980s. Her work has been exhibited internationally and she is considered among the most influential contemporary artists working today. Mary Kelly is Professor of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she is Head of Interdisciplinary Studio, an area she initiated for artists engaged in site-specific, collective, and project based work. Mary Kelly is represented by “Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects” in Culver City, CA and “Pippy Houldsworth Gallery” in London, UK.
These panels form one section of a larger six-part work that documents the relationship between Kelly and her son over a period of six years. Drawing on contemporary feminist thought, and in particular on psychoanalysis, it explores the contradictions for a woman artist between her creative and procreative roles. The work, says Kelly, traces the differences between ‘my lived experience as a mother and my analysis of that experience’. To make these panels Kelly recorded and then reflected on a number of conversations with her son, before finally allowing him to scribble across her carefully documented texts.