Dissertation Excerpt

Diaspora, Decoupling and Globalization

Excerpt from Dissertation by Michelle Wright that discusses artists who live away from but continue to create art about their homeland.


Diasporas, migrant communities of people who have left their home land either by force, as a result of war, through natural disasters such as famine and through a desire to create a better life for themselves, have been increasingly discussed by the global media. The UK media focusing only on the current issues that relate to the UK, appears to suggest a false impression of the Diaspora issues affecting people in the UK on a daily basis, these issues affecting the Diasporas, are issues that have existed for many across the world throughout the ages.

Now, more than ever it is especially easy to experience instantaneous interaction with other people around the world as a result of globalisation. We have access to knowledge from anywhere in the world through the internet and the ever increasing access to better technology. It is now easier to travel to anywhere in the world, people trade on a global level and money is easily moved from one country to another. As a result of the world becoming more accessible through globalization, Diaspora and migration is an increasing phenomenon that we are more and more aware of.

Individuals who experience life from within a Diaspora, may encounter issues of identity, in that they associate with more than one identity, not only as an individual but possessing a shared sense of belonging to the transient community they exist within and the community that still exist in their homeland. Over time, it is only natural for individuals who have migrated to begin to identify with their host community also. It is only natural to feel that sense of belonging which comes from the community we are a part of but also from knowing where we came from, understanding our roots. These transient communities, having de-coupled from their homeland without severing roots to their homeland, in a sense become its own autonomous entity.

There are many artists in the world today who deal with issues of Diaspora and Migration whilst living away from their homeland. Although they are apart from the day to day experiences of their homeland, they continue to be rooted in the traditions and beliefs of the nation that they are intrinsically linked too. This duality, born in one place, live in another but still belong to the culture of your homeland can be a place where isolation is experienced, being connected to your homeland, all the time, while being separated. The Diaspora Art created, resonates with the essence of this sense of rootedness to their homeland and represents a remembrance or homage to those traditions and beliefs that are at the core of their being.

Some artists also create work about Diaspora as an observer or an outsider looking in at the Transient Communities. This process of ethnographic research can mean that the artist spends time with the Diaspora they are observing to gain a better understanding of their distinct position in today’s society, behaviours, beliefs, attitudes, language and traditions through the observation of their daily lives and information gathered through other means, such as artefacts and journals.

When Ethnographic Research is undertaken, the observer can find they empathise strongly with the Diaspora, can become conditioned by the group culture and begin to develop the same cultural tendencies, strengthening relationships with the group without actually becoming a part of the group.

A Transient Community can sometimes lack a collective identity or historical event that creates a collective bond amongst the community which can lead to the re-invention of traditions from their homeland or even the invention of new traditions, attempting to keep their cultural heritage alive.

When a Diasporic Community is moving to a new host country it must be anticipated that there will be an element of hostility from the host community, often taking the form of aggression towards individuals that belong to these migrating communities.

Encouraged by the media, it appears to be a common way of thinking in the UK that the influx of these migrant communities will destroy our Britishness, that cultural heritage that we Brits identify with. However host communities are often divided with an element of the resident population welcoming the migrant communities, providing help, support and assistance to enable them become established within the UK.

This amalgamation of new cultures can bring about exciting periods of change and an assimilation that may in fact preserve our so cherished traditions and identity that some cling to fervently. People belonging to these migrating communities have trades of worked in a professional capacity before they had to migrate from their homeland, these skills can only be seen as a positive contribution to the new society that they find themselves in.

Questions for Artists

As part of the Dissertation Research I sent the following email to both Smoking Dogs Films and Iwan Bala.

My name is Michelle Wright and I’m a student at Coleg Menai in North Wales studying BA (Hons) Fine Art with Bangor University. I’m in my Final Year and my Dissertation research is the reason for my email. As part of the dissertation process we have been asked to acquire a direct quote from a practising Contemporary Artist to include with our essay.

For my Dissertation along with the essay, I have to curate an imaginary/theoretical exhibition at an existing gallery. The title of my theoretical exhibition is Diaspora, Decoupling and Representation and I am bringing together the artists John Akomfrah, El Anatsui, Mona Hatoum and Emily Jacir.

Please may you consider the following questions and provide your opinion as a response that I may use as a quote in my dissertation.

  • In your opinion does a Fine Artist have to belong to a particular Diaspora/Minority Group in order to accurately represent them in a Fine Art context?
  • Do you believe a Fine Artist can accurately represent a Diaspora/Minority Group using ethnographic research methods?
  • If an artist uses ethnographic research to represent a Diaspora Minority Group, do you believe this can create resistance within the Diaspora/Minority Group to the Fine Artist’s work?

Finally I would like to thank you for the consideration and say that any comments you may have will be very useful and much appreciated.

Best Regards

Michelle Wright

I received two responses and used the comments from Iwan Bala in the Dissertation Catalogue.

Below is the response from David Lawson at Smoking Dogs Films.

Dear Michelle,

Many thanks for your e mail. John has done many interviews over the years and there are many on- line, including Tate shots, and a Barbican film to accompany his recent show, Arnolfini have one on their website. So please feel free to quote from any of those as he is concentrating on two new commissions at the moment.
Very good luck and best regards
David Lawson
Producer
Smoking Dogs Films
Below is the response from Iwan Bala.

Dear Michelle

This is quite a complex thesis to undertake, but here are my immediate responses;

In your opinion does a Fine Artist have to belong to a particular Diaspora/Minority Group in order to accurately represent them in a Fine Art context?

I believe that an artist not of a Diaspora/Minority Group might understand, but would find it difficult to fully empathise and express the situation honestly. So, my answer would be Yes, an artist would need to be from within the Group.

Do you believe a Fine Artist can accurately represent a Diaspora/Minority Group using ethnographic research methods?

It is a well rehearsed argument that ethnography can be dubious in its ‘outsider/insider’ dichotomy. Western intellectual claims of academic analysis are predisposed to certain assumptions. However, it may be the only way to try and understand.

If an artist uses ethnographic research to represent a Diaspora Minority Group, do you believe this can create resistance within the Diaspora/Minority Group to the Fine Artist’s work?

Certainly it can. By the end of the twentieth century, diaspora/minority groups had begun to represent themselves and became more resistant to the Eurocentricity of ‘outside’ observers and commentators.

Hope this helps.

Cofion

Iwan

Mona Hatoum

The two pieces of work for Mona Hatoum that I plan to include in this dissertation are Present Tense (1996) and Continental Drift (2000).


Although the Palestinian artist in exile, Mona Hatoum uses maps in her artwork, these are not to make direct political statements, in fact her focus is more about the aesthetics of the artwork, the materials used and simplification to produce a reduced form that arrive at an abstraction which can then suggest many different associations with the piece.

The piece Present Tense (1996), the first cartographic piece by Mona Hatoum, constructed over the space of a week from olive oil soap bars which has been produced in the West Bank since the 14th Century, purchased by Hatoum in the local market. Red glass beads outlined the division of land in the 1993 Oslo Peace Agreement and were also purchased in the same local market. Originally created to be displayed at the Anadiel Gallery in Jerusalem, Present Tense was later acquired by the Tate Gallery in 2013.

The original intention was to mark the boundaries in the soap with nails, however considering that this appeared “aggressive” and “sad”, Hatoum chose the red glass beads instead.

Using a temporary material such as soap that will degrade over time, dissolving the borders defined by the red glass beads suggests the fluidity of borders that we see in our modern day world. Although conservation of the material was not a consideration at the time of making, newer pieces of soap are being covered in liquitex to conserve the colour and moisture content of the soap. We all associate soap with cleanliness and purity, yet this piece with the beads began to suggest that the soap had become unclean, diseased or untouchable and associations with the plight of the Palestinian people were beginning to take shape.

Having an unsettled personal history, Hatoum describes a feeling of not being able to take anything for granted, not even the solidity of the ground that you stand on.

Continental Drift, another cartographic piece created in 2000 from Iron filings and transparent plastic as a representation of the world from the North Pole. The iron fillings represent the ocean and a magnetized rotary arm passing over the iron filings creates a tidal wave that disfigures and alters the continents, continually shifting to show the instability in our geographical borders, suggesting that fixed boundaries that we know and accept can be destabilized by the presence of an overriding power, an invisible force that can affect our perception of the world.

Maps historically have been drawn and then redrawn time and again, the cartographic pieces of Mona Hatoum inspire reflection on the fluidity of our borders and boundaries and our identities that are intrinsically linked to these fixed delineations. By disfiguring her artwork, so to, our perceptions of the borders and boundaries become diffused and the sense of destabilisation lingers.

Bibliography Entries

Present Tense. (1996). Mona Hatoum [Olive Oil Soap, Red Glass Beads] Jerusalem: Anadiel Gallery.

Continental Drift. (2000). Mona Hatoum [Stainless Steel, Glass, Iron Filings, Electric Motor, Timer] London: Tate Britain.

Hatoum, M. (2000). Mona Hatoum. 1st ed. London: Tate Gallery Publishing.

Asperen, H. and Goudeau, J. (2014). The imagined and real Jerusalem in art and architecture. Leiden [u.a.]: Brill.

The Migrant’s Time Rethinking Art History and Diaspora. (2011). 1st ed. Massachusetts: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

Thinking With Diagrams: The Semiotic Basis of Human Cognition – Semiotics, Communication and Cognition. (2016). 1st ed. De Gruyter.

Gržinić, M. (n.d.). Irit Rogoff, Terra infirma, Geography’s visual culture. (2013) London: Routledge.

Wood, D., Fels, J. and Krygier, J. (2010). Rethinking the power of maps. New York: Guilford Press.

Mona Hatoum by Janine Antoni. (1998). Bomb, (63).

Persekian, J. (2013). MONA HATOUM: PRESENT TENSE. Art Asia Pacific, [online] (84). Available at: http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/84/PresentTenseMONAHATOUM  [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Martens, A. (2003). Mona Hatoum. ArtScene, [online] (July/August 2003). Available at: http://artscenecal.com/ArticlesFile/Archive/Articles2003/Articles0703/MHatoumA.html [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Cooke, R. (2016). Mona Hatoum: ‘It’s all luck. I feel things happen accidentally’. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/apr/17/mona-hatoum-interview-installation-artist-tate-modern-exhibition [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Um.es. (2017). Cartographies of affect in the work of Mona Hatoum – Espacio articulado. [online] Available at: http://www.um.es/artlab/index.php/cartographies-of-affect-in-the-work-of-mona-hatoum/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].

Postcolonial.org. (2008). Hatoum, Said and Foucault: Resistance through Revealing the Power-Knowledge Nexus? [online] Available at: http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/article/viewFile/891/79  [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].

Tate (2011). Mona Hatoum – Studio Visit | TateShots. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs3DzydSKu8 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Serpentine Galleries (2011). Mona Hatoum – Mappings. [online] Vimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/24541176  [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Richard Long

After feedback from Emrys and Helen about the Contextual Studies 2 (ARF 501) Presentation I have spent some time thinking about Richard Long.

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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/artist-rooms-theme-language

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.”

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/may/10/art-richard-long

“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.”

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/may/10/art-richard-long

‘I’m proud of being the first person to cross Dartmoor in a straight line’

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/apr/16/richard-long-earth-sky-houghton-hall-interview

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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/long-a-line-made-by-walking-p07149

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.

http://www.lissongallery.com/artists/richard-long

60 Minute Walk (1990)

This piece adds support to my thinking about combining screen printing methods with other printing methods, in my case digital, in this case Lithograph.

https://i2.wp.com/www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/AL/AL00207_10.jpgThis 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

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-long-richard-artworks.htm

Text Works

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.

Outdoor Works

A hamlet once stood here … White Deer Circle, 2016.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.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/apr/16/richard-long-earth-sky-houghton-hall-interview

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.

https://www.experiencenorfolk.uk/whats-on/land-sky-richard-long-houghton/

'Full Moon Circle' by Richard Long

Richard Long in the Stone Hall at Houghton Hall 

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.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/art/richard-long-earth-sky-houghton-hall/

 

 

 

 

Joseph Beuys

After feedback from Emrys and Helen about the Contextual Studies 2 (ARF 501) Presentation I have spent some time thinking about Joseph Beuys and how he might influence my artwork.

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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/artist-rooms-theme-language

I was interested to learn, Joseph Beuys was considered a Pedagogue (a Strict, Pedantic Teacher). I can relate to having a pedantic nature and can be a bit this way myself sometimes.

Joseph Beuys (German:[ˈjoːzɛf ˈbɔʏs]; 12 May 1921 – 23 January 1986) was a German Fluxus, happening, and performance artist as well as a sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist, and pedagogue.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Beuys

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.

arts-graphics-2005_1158438a1

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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/display/artist-and-society/joseph-beuys

Four Blackboards 1972 by Joseph Beuys 1921-1986

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.

Gallery label, March 2003

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/beuys-four-blackboards-t03594

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.

beuystreeThe 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

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-beuys-joseph-artworks.htm

Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol

 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.

https://www.spudart.org/blog/joseph-beuys-andy-warhol/

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.

Text in Art

After feedback from Emrys and Helen about the Contextual Studies 2 (ARF 501) Presentation I have spent some time thinking about Text in Art.

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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/artist-rooms-theme-language

Graffitti Artists

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.

http://www.widewalls.ch/10-artists-that-write-their-art/

Jenny Holzer

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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/jenny-holzer-1307

Truisms 1984 by Jenny Holzer born 1950
Truisms 1984 © Jenny Holzer

Idris Khan

  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

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).

https://www.quora.com/Who-are-the-major-conceptual-artists-who-mainly-use-words-in-their-art

main-qimg-75eda7ac97d7a48b69ed28f58725d1a0

Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman is known for his wordplay and interest in banality. His most famous works are neon signs.

https://www.quora.com/Who-are-the-major-conceptual-artists-who-mainly-use-words-in-their-art

Martin Creed

Martin Creed (born 1968) is a British artist and musician. He won the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No. 227: The lights going on and off. Creed lives and works in London.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/martin-creed-2760

Work No. 203: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT 1999 by Martin Creed born 1968
Work No. 203: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT 1999 © Martin Creed

Lawrence Weiner

TAKEN TO AS DEEP AS THE SEA CAN BE 2005 by Lawrence Weiner born 1942
TAKEN TO AS DEEP AS THE SEA CAN BE 2005 © Lawrence Weiner

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 ARTIST ROOMS 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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/lawrence-weiner-7743

Weiner is regarded as a founding figure of Postminimalism’s Conceptual art, which includes artists like Douglas Huebler, Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, and Sol LeWitt.[5]

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.[6] His work in the early 1960s included six years of making explosions in the landscape of California to create craters as individual sculptures.[7] 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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Weiner

Mario Merz

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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/artist-rooms-theme-language

Pain and Anger in Art

After feedback from Emrys and Helen about the Contextual Studies 2 (ARF 501) Presentation I have spent some time thinking about Pain and Anger in Art.

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.”

https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/pain-as-an-art-form/?_r=0

Pain Exhibit

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.

http://painexhibit.org/en/about/

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.

http://painexhibit.org/en/pain-and-art/

Frida Kahlo

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.

https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/pain-as-an-art-form/?_r=0

Narrative Art

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

Narrative Presentation from Helen Jones

https://www.artsy.net/article/artmarket-a-revival-of-the-narrative-in-contemporary

Francis Bacon

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

http://www.americansuburbx.com/2013/06/francis-bacon-narrative-1992.html

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.

bacon

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-my-bed

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.

http://www.traceyeminstudio.com/biography/

Neo Rauch

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.

rauch

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.

https://m.artsy.net/article/artmarket-a-revival-of-the-narrative-in-contemporary

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.

http://www.fondationbeyeler.ch/en/collection/neo-rauch

John Currin

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.

https://www.artsy.net/article/artmarket-a-revival-of-the-narrative-in-contemporary

currin

Charles Avery

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/sep/17/charles.avery

Lindsay Seers

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.”

http://www.artnews.com/2014/10/10/lindsay-seers/

David Salle

Print Maker, Stage Designer and Painter.

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.

David Salle

david-salle

Nathanial Mellors

Douglas Gordon

douglas-gordon

«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.)

 

Bill Viola

bill-viola

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.

Matthew Barney

Kara Walker

kara-walker
Darkytown Rebellion, 2001

Installation view at Brent Sikkema, New York
Projection, cut paper and adhesive on wall, 14 x 37 1/2 feet

Light Projections

Charles Chetwynd

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.

http://www.modernedition.com/art-articles/neo-narration/art-and-meta-text.html

Other Narrative Artists

The following narrative artists were also discussed as part of our seminar with Helen.

Feminism

Definition of feminism

  1. 1:  the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

  2. 2:  organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

feminist: play \ˈfe-mə-nist\noun or adjective

feministic: play \ˌfe-mə-ˈni-stik\adjective

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminism

What the Tate Says

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.

Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum? 1989 by Guerrilla Girls

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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/f/feminist-art

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.”[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_art_movement

 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.’”

From Seminar with Helen Ann Jones

Cindy Sherman

http://www.cindysherman.com/

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.

Read more here: http://www.theartstory.org/movement-feminist-art.htm

time-100-influential-photos-cindy-sherman-untitled-film-still-21-73When 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

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-sherman-cindy-artworks.htm#pnt_2

Barbara Kruger

barbara-krugerKruger’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.

http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/feminist/Barbara-Kruger.html#

Cindy Sherman

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.

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-sherman-cindy.htm

Judy Chicago

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.

http://www.throughtheflower.org/projects/the_dinner_party

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.

http://www.theartstory.org/movement-feminist-art-artworks.htm#pnt_7

Womanhouse: Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro

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.

Mixed media site installation

http://www.theartstory.org/movement-feminist-art-artworks.htm

Miriam Schapiro

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.

kimo

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.”

Fabric and acrylic on canvas – Private Collection

http://www.theartstory.org/movement-feminist-art-artworks.htm#pnt_7

Lynda Benglis

ArtForum Advertisement (1974)
beng-600

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.

http://www.theartstory.org/movement-feminist-art-artworks.htm

Mary Kelly

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.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/mary-kelly-1395

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.

Post-Partum Document. Analysed Markings And Diary Perspective Schema (Experimentum Mentis III: Weaning from the Dyad) 1975 by Mary Kelly born 1941

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/kelly-post-partum-document-analysed-markings-and-diary-perspective-schema-experimentum-t03925

 

Culture and Identity

Culture makes the nation. The arts are part of a single symbolic expressive logic that is in the closest possible connection with the identity of a nation…. The critical, self-critical consciousness of the artist who deserves the name contributes to the giving shape to identity. It is capable of opposing the challenge of foreign and universal models of rhetoric, so characteristic of our age in which reciprocal communications are constantly on the rise. It creatively alters these models or, in contact with them, creates new views of tradition, thus enriching them.-  Iwan Bala

Cultural Identity Presentation from Helen Jones

Identity is in part defined as the condition of being oneself, and not another. But for an individual positioned marginally in a culture, for an individual defined as “other,” identity is often fragmented or fractured. The very notion of “other” defies or contradicts the idea of identity. In addressing the idea of identity development and the fragmented self, we explore the multiple responses of an artist to the question, “who am I?”

Seminar with Helen Ann Jones

Judy Chicago

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.

http://www.throughtheflower.org/projects/the_dinner_party

Cindy Sherman

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.

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-sherman-cindy.htm

Barbara Kruger

barbara-krugerKruger’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.

http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/feminist/Barbara-Kruger.html

Ivor John Davis

ivor-john-davis
Summer: The Childhood of Pryderi (1994)

He studied at the Cardiff and Swansea Colleges of Art between 1952 and 1957, and later at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. He also completed a PhD on the subject of the Russian avant-garde.

Davies taught art history at the University of Wales and at the University of Edinburgh. He became the head of cultural studies at Gwent College of Higher Education in 1978 where he remained until his retirement from teaching in 1988.

Much of Davies’ work is stimulated by Welsh culture and politics.

In the 1960s he made works of art by using explosives, reflecting his idea of the element of destruction in the world and in society. He was also involved with the Destruction in Art Symposium in London in 1966.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/arts/sites/ivor-davies/

http://www.walesartsreview.org/wales-the-artist-and-society-the-legacy-of-beca/

 Tim Davis

ivor-john-davis-2

Poustinia Land Art Park in the Belizean jungle; a video document; photographs and an artist’s publication.

The project involved the installation of a reclaimed 150 year-old mahogany parquet floor from Central America, found in a reclamation yard in the Fforestfach (the Welsh name for ‘little forest’) area of Swansea, in the Belizean rainforest.

It was important that the wood was shipped back to Belize, the method by which it arrived in the UK.

The laying of the floor in a corridor in the jungle, its subsequent rotting through

ivor-john-davis-3
In parenthesis, Estonia (1994)

In parenthesis, Estonia (1994)

climatic conditions and destruction by termites, are inherent aspects of the piece, as are the documentary and written works.

Since making the original site-specific intervention, the project continues to develop through environmental impact on the installation itself, video and photographic documentation of these changes, and an artist’s publication.

http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/93/

Gerhard Richter

downloadRichter borrows much of his painted imagery from newspapers, or even his own family albums. Often he begins by mechanically projecting such an image onto the canvas, a technique for thinking about how images often seem to have a life of their own, like mysterious ghosts haunting our psyche. This act of visual compression, in which photography, projection, and painting merge to make a finished art work, suggests that all vision is a kind of conversion of the “real” into the “imaginary.”

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-richter-gerhard.htm

Gerhard Richter was one of the first German artists to reflect on the history of National Socialism, creating paintings of family members who had joined, or had been victims of, the Nazi Party. In the late 1980s, looking back to the history of radical political activity in West Germany in the 1970s, he produced the fifteen-part work October 18, 1977 1988, a sequence of black-and-white paintings based on images of the Baader-Meinhof group. Richter has continued to respond to significant moments in history throughout his career. One room of the Tate Modern exhibition this autumn will include September 2005, a painting of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/inescapable-truths

Erschossener 1 (Man Shot Down 1) (1988)

Artwork description & Analysis: For most of his career, Richter avoided political motifs in his work. A notable exception is the series October 18, 1977, in which he depicts radical Baader-Meinhof terrorists who inexplicably died in jail (it remains unclear to this day whether these young radicals committed suicide or were murdered by the police). In Erschossener 1 (Man Shot Down 1), Richter has used a photographic reference to create a blurred, monochromatic painting of a dead inmate. The morbid scene might be said to exemplify the vanity behind the terrorists’ actions; at the same time, the persistent obscurity of the image replicates the eternal mystery behind the inmates’ deaths, as well as the impossibility of securely capturing truth in any one canvas.

Oil on canvas – The Museum of Modern Art

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-richter-gerhard-artworks.htm

06-gerhard-richter-1513_001
48 portraits 1971-1998

Robert Maplethorpe

While images of the body are associated with ideals of beauty, the portrait is often associated with the identity and individuality. The self portrait is perhaps the most complex aspect of the genre because it brings the artist and the sitter into one with the allure of a private diary. Historically the self portrait is linked to artistic identity, experimentation with techniques and autobiography. Mapplethorpe’s self portraits contain all of these elements: his early polaroids are his first experiments with the self portrait and his exploration of photography; his works from the late-1970s to the mid-1980s survey different personas and ideas of identity, while his late self portraits are more autobiographical and concerned with questions of existence.

http://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/learning/resources/robert-mapplethorpe/robert-mapplethorpe-self-portraiture-identity

Smutty 1980,

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mapplethorpe-smutty-ar00188

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mapplethorpe-tattoo-artists-son-ar00190

Bruce Nauman

A principal convention of modern culture says that true art asserts individual identity, which is hidden behind a surface facade that is, in fact, a mere illusion. So, the artist’s job is to go beyond outward appearance to reveal that hidden self.

bruce-nauman-setting-a-good-corner-allegory-and-metaphor
Setting a good corner, 1990

Two concurrent museum exhibitions not only make for an extraordinarily strong summer season in Los Angeles, they also demonstrate how this established convention has been broadly rejected in the work of two of the most highly regarded artists working today. For them, the idea of artistic identity isn’t what it used to be.

http://articles.latimes.com/1994-08-21/entertainment/ca-29585_1_bruce-nauman

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nauman-setting-a-good-corner-allegory-and-metaphor-ar00576

Aidan (saatchi)

(born Moscow, Russia, 1964). Daughter of the famous Azerbaijani artist and Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Art, Tahir Salahov.20141030012432_ac120127_3

Studied at the Surikov State Art Institute, Moscow. Owner of the first contemporary art gallery to open in Moscow at the beginning of the 1990s.

Member of the Russian Academy of Arts since 2007. Lives and works in Moscow.

http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/aidan_salakhova.htm?section_name=postpop

http://www.saatchigallery.com/current/revelations.php

Mark Leckey

Mark Leckey (b. 1964, Birkenhead, UK) lives in London, UK. Leckey uses a variety of media – including film, sculpture, sound and performance. He has an ongoing fascination with the affective power of images, music and technology, and often uses reconfigured archival footage in his work.

Mark Leckey has assembled a film using archival material from television shows, advertisements and music, to create a record of all the significant events of his life from the 1970s until the 1990s. For Liverpool Biennial 2016, Dream English Kid is presented in an environment that contains new sculptural works connected to material in the film. It is shown at the Blade Factory.

http://www.biennial.com/2016/exhibition/artists/mark-leckey

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/mar/26/how-mark-leckey-became-the-artist-of-the-youtube-generation

Who Am I?

Daughter, Mother, Wife, Sister, Friend, Healer, Teacher, Writer, Artist, Creative, Imaginative, Quirky, Scottish, Spiritual…

We are calling the Grandmothers,
Mothers, Sisters, Aunts, Daughters
The wild womenwhoami
The crones
The seers and midwives
The mountain and desert women
The soul summoners
The water carriers
The tenders and feelers of Earth
The ocean women who are rising the tide
The fire women who are ready to roar
The girls who already breathe consciously with the trees
and the Elders who choose to sing the song that ends the desecration of our world –
We are calling you to to rise together now –
You are invited – to unite and awaken
to who and what you really are,
on behalf of the forests, on behalf of the trees,
on behalf of Life.

~ Clare Dubois

img_2347

What do we mean when we speak of identity?

Identity is either described as who am I or what am I, or it is described as sameness, or an affinity to someone or something, for example identifying with a particular group of people through similar interests.

How does cultural identify contribute to the formation of personal/private identity and vice versa?

Being able to identify with others culturally helps us to feel a sense of belonging or community, which then helps us to define our own identity as a person.

How might this be reflected in an artist’s work in the postmodern era?

In postmodernisism, artists strived to challenge cultural identity, going against authority and seeking to re-establish a perosnal identity as an individual.

http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/p/postmodernism

Other Culture and Identity Artists: