Sunday, April 27, 2008

Random Thoughts Sunday

The above piece "River" is inspired by the landscape above. I originally made it to be part of an exhibition entitled "Twisted- Interpretations of the Natural Environment" which I curated and which showcased the work of a number of other Australian artists. It also had a twin( which I no longer have)- and the idea was that both would visually make a kind of arch- a homage to the importance of water in the Australian landscape. I did not get this one finished in time for the exhibition and found it the other day whilst clearing out the shed. It measures approx 40 cm x 1oo cm and is for sale at $350 us.

I am still playing with the idea of how Queen Zenobia might have looked- there appear to be no conclusive images or statues of her so creating her form my imagination seems apt in trying to come to some figurative form.

I also started reading Octavia Paz's biography of Sor Juana or The Traps of Faith and came across this excerpt in his introduction on page 4:
I have stated that a work exists not in isolation but in relation to other
works, past and present, that are its models and its rivals.I must add there is
another,no less detyerminant,relationship: that of work to reader..."

Which set me to musing - often I hear people decry artist's statements or complain that they have to make one, that the work speaks for itself, that the author of the work or the artist should not have to tell the audience the intention of the work. I have never really said this publically but I actually think this is a denial of the audience as an active part of any exhibition you might create whether as curator or as artist.Why exhibit if you do not want to communicate your intent? I for one do not believe that any single work comes out of an artistic vacuum or an imaginative vacuum- there are many reasons why people create, many ways of working but , and some people never want to exhibit their work.Yet there are many who bemoan that our work is not exhibited enough, that the mainstream art world is in denial of textiles ( all of which I will agree with ) that strive to exhibtit their work whether in juried shows or group exhibitions or solo exhibitions. To not make an artists statement about your work that is exhibited seems to me ( and this is a very personal opinion) to be a snub to your possible audience- you leave them floundering to work it out for themselves and if they don't work it out what are they left with? It is often said that the visual sense has become the predominant sense of our time, that also underpins the thinking that the image must stand alone- but I feel an artists statement can add so much. As Cezanne said he wanted to feel Mont Sainte Vittoire , and every time he painted it he saw it differently, and each time getting closer to the feeling he was trying to communicate, it enlightens me to know this when I see his paintings of this Aix-en-Provence icon- it creates a dialogue in my mind.

I also like peopele to touch my work- I know an anathema for a quilter and white gloves etc- however what I make is textural- the whole process involves my hands and my mind but the final product is almost always determined by the texture I want to create- this does have a visual role to play but for me is also intrinsically as to why I work in textile. There are a number of philosophers who feel touch has become the forgotten sense and I think they may be right- that touch underpins much of our perception and much of our response to clues in the world.

I have just finished watching a program on ABC arts Sunday on Wim Delvoye a Belgian artist working in some really strange media. ( and you click on buildings that come up on the webpage) I would have been hugely dismissive of this guy as I find the use of human excrement as art to be well full of it, but he was remarkably erudite about his work and the thing that ran through most of what he was creating was a sense of turning things on its head which rather appealed to me. For example he has built a human excrement machine called cloaca that duplicates the human digestive system- so exactly that the end product certainly looks the goods ( and tests proved that indeed it was very much the goods) .The end product is sold in plastic boxed presentation items- and the art world in New York, Paris you name it are falling over themselves to buy each individual plastic box for thousands and thousands of dollars.So who is having the last laugh I am wondering? Another of his projects was an animal art farm in China ( think about that one given the current happenings in Tibet)) - the farm consists of pigs which are housed in very clean styes are fed the best of green produce and are handled like little babies - once a week they are aneathesised so that over a period of time they can be tattooed- mostly with very stylised Chinese patterning and symbols of twentieth century icons ( his replicas of gothic structures in the decoration of every days structures such as a cement mixer is a play on the Marcel Duchamp's art and claim of everyday objects as art) so after a certain period of time the pigs are slaughtered ( yep this had me gasp too) and the skins are tanned and the resulting tattooed skins are sold as art. The Belgian art establishment for example the director of the Museum of Beaux Arts in Brussels were keen to claim him as Utopian- though the presenter thought he was realist rather than utopian and suggested he may be distopian- . Strangely whilst a few things had me shaking my head I did actually appreciate the way the artist was questioning the art world and its follies and turning things around as a parody of things that turned art on its head in the first place in the first half of the twentieth century . It also made it quite obvious I shall never be an "artist" unless perhaps I use stitch or perhaps human gut to stitch together dehydrated human excrement to create shit cloaks to wear in wet weather to re fertilise the ancient and weathered soils of Australia so that I can be part of the process of refertilising our depleted soils.Oh and the program immediately before this one was on the largest medieval Cathedral built in Speyen, Germany in a mere 75 years - a world heritage site because it was o one of the first time that a structure of this size had been built in the romanesque style ( Delvoye makes miniature gothic structures as another play on the grandeur of those structures)

I need to take my mind of the house hunting- it's very disheartening- every time I go and look and think yes maybe this is the house the cost is inevitably more than I can afford- or when you sit down to talk the nitty-gritty there are always extra costs.And it will take until the end of the year even if I decide to go ahead ....
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jude said...

thank you for a wonderful sunday morning post as i sit here catching up on blog reading. your points are well taken and i think it is good to say these things instead of just thinking them. the importance of an artists intent, the story is really the key as i see it. i remember in art school, when others refused to get involved in explaining their work, i alway felt it might be an excuse for not wanting to fail, not reaching their own goal. some element of dishonesty.
and the touching part, oh, yes!
the piece shown here is wondeful and a good example of how to work with that wonderful cloth i have from you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the viewer's perception of art (and poetry--and any creative endeavor). I had a couple of poetry professors in college. I said the only interpretation that mattered was the one the writer meant. The other prof thought that was important, but also important was what the poem meant to us, the ones reading it. Sometimes that interpretion is very different than what the creator meant originally. To me, that just means the creative piece is bigger and richer--takes on a life of it's own apart or beyond the creator. That's kind of neat! The artist's statement certainly helps in understanding the dialogue. But the other part of that conversation is how the viewer takes it. Thanks for musing! By the way, I love your pomegranites!

Kate North said...

This is a beautiful piece. I do wish I had the money to buy it, but as I suppose my family would like to eat (how dare they!) I shall just have to admire it on your blog instead. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dijanne, some very interesting thoughts there! On the touch thing - I find it one of the most frustrating things when your are not allowed to touch sculptures. I just can't seem to control the urge and I can't believe that the artist would be againtst it. Same with textiles - it is tactile art, however if hundreds of dirty fingers touched a quilt it won't do it any good.
PS will mail the zucchini bread recipe later today.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dijanne, I agree with you about the artist sharing what she (he)'s meant when she created a work. but sometimes the perception of a work is completely different. Does that mean the artist failed or the work is richer therefore?

margaret said...

Another artist who used pigs - in an altogether more cheerful way! - is Xu Bing: "Xu comments on human culture by using animals. In the Performance art piece “A Case Study of Transference,” he printed Chinese characters on a female pig and English characters on a male pig, then placed them in a pen filled with books in different languages. The transference could not have been more literal, as the pigs quickly set to making piglets, their primal interaction erasing the superficial constructs of culture."

Xu Bing is also known for "Book of the Sky", which uses 4000 unreadable Chinese characters that he spent three years cutting as printing blocks.

Anonymous said...

I realize I forgot to tell your "River" is gorgeous