I started to explore a more minimalistic approach to communicate something significant. I impressed a symbol, having been influenced by Matisse’s faith in something symbolic sufficing, which has started to repeat itself through my work. I think It could be interesting to explore how this symbol might follow someone round. During my trip to the Peter Liversidge Exhibition in Southwark Park, my friend keep being followed by the ? symbol which he had seen in the exhibition. I think this notion of a symbol being powerful in etching itself in someones mind could be a way of the artist having an extended role in making the viewer ponder on something significant (such a detention camps) over a sustained period of time.
I found that when exploring with impressions, I have initially been influenced by the traces I found on the back of my drawings. Developing theses to more permanent works made me consider how colour- or its removal- can influence how we read images.
I also started to explore how the application of paint to an images surface can remove much of its visibility but when the image which is concealed has an emotional weight, much of that is still communicated. I think it would be interesting to explore hiding images from detention camps beneath paint, to be read along side a simple statement which explains the location. The knowledge which is then given to the viewer through text, can do much of the communication. I think in future, I would cover the images more fully/evenly in white paint as they have a very textural quality at the moment which distracted form the intended aim.
Liversidge investigates performance as sculpture, discussing how the ‘work’ only comes to life when engaging which an audiences. He has used a program of music, comedy and professional ‘acts’ to be a part of his work as he is interested in how the delivery of their work actins in relation to social, cultural and locational contexts. . Liversidge made a point to exhibition his proposals to CGP London in conjunction with his work, re-contexualising much of his pervious work with a site specific approach.
Liversidge’s work ‘A sculpture’ is a 25min long performance of standup comedy performed by Phill Jupitus. The jokes were written by patients and NHS staff and the Royal London Hospital for a pervious commission. There is a humorous element to the work, but also around the location. By entering a darkened space with bean bags on the floor, as your vision is nearly completely inpaired you become very aware that you could sit on someone in an attempt to find a bean bag. My friend and I started a conversation, then realised we should probably check if others are in the enclosed space with us. This curation was massively successful in reflecting the humorous interaction of the stand up comedy with its setting. Despite the work seemingly commenting on if jokes can be funny when told to no-one, we both found the awkward absence of an audible audience in the video very amusing.
Liversidge has a beautiful asethetic quality to small photographic polaroids, their scale drew people into look closely, which is something for me to consider. This changed his work to a more intimate atmosphere but I felt the curation of the room prevented the full appreciation of these photographic works. They were dominated by reflections of his large LED sculptures therefore were scanned over/lost in space. People were engrossed by photographing his light work to possibly post on social media because of its aesthetic appeal, and ignored the smaller work. Maybe it should have been isolated?
One of CGP’s exhibition spaces is a derelict cathedral in which Liversidge exhibited ‘&’ 2011. This illuminated LED piece was positioned at the end of the long dark space, standing at the alter almost as a shrine. Is it probing a questioning? Maybe rather that purely exhibiting a & sign, ‘& what?’ might have been more appropriate as we fail to fully understand the works significance because of its isolation and removed context. This one singular sculpture seems to hold such importance/ weight?
Interestingly, Liversidge has played with the power of signs within society and as a consequence my friend kept seeing the symbol for the rest of the day. The exhibition was following him around…
Images of the Abandoned Cathedral Exhibition space at CGP with ‘&’ work.
I started to explore a deepening of concealment in my own work by looking at physical barriers to viewing a work. Initially I was concerned with layering excessively tracing paper onto of imagery (which was itself abstracted) in order to completely remove the surface of any image. There was a remnants of something which ‘was’, pulling the viewer to look at the work more closely in an attempt to discern what information the image holds. I think it could have been more interesting to play with a photographic base rather than a drawn image to play on an eeriness. Using location as a source, despite concealment there is still a remnant in the image which could be interesting to explore through this specific technique.
I think that whilst the communication of the film shows the process, its interesting to have the work as a stand alone piece in which the concealed subject remains entirely known. I think if i were to pursue the use of film, it might be more interesting to start with the concealed image and peal back the tissue paper so that the truth is gradually revealed. The aesthetic of the image reminds me of a work at the Victoria Miro gallery in Nov 2016 by Alex Hartley. His work took classic examples of modernist domestic architecture to form the basis of his series of monochrome wall-based works. These wall based pieces are hugely disguised.
Hartley says: “If there’s one thing that has run through my work all along it’s the idea of boundaries, and where they lie…… In the wall-based works I’m showing I’ve tried to draw out the idea of the balance between nature and architecture shifting in favour of nature. The glass-walled pavilions slip back into either the wild, or their controlled versions of it.”
SeenLondon’s press release of the work described it by saying:
I continued with my own personal investigation of creating barriers by adding strips of wood to physically conceal what could be seen. I found that this successful transformed the viewer into a space of being ‘behind bars’ themselves. They have to start viewing the work in from a distanced position. whilst they are physically stood inform of the piece, they cannot access it closely. I think it would be more interesting to explore this on a large scale as at the moment these are tests in my sketchbook. If I was to use a larger scale, I feel I could immerse the audience more successfully in a shared experience.
During my Theory Lecture, Minimalism was being used to bring up ideas around Frame, Process, Artist and Audience.
Hal foster in ‘The Crux of Minimalism” 1986 sees minimalism as something between two movements – a pivot point. America and British minimalism is very overt and a discursive movement which emerges as a reaction to:
Formalism (Greenberg and Fried) discussing abstract expressionism.
‘Action Painting’ (Harold Rosenberg)
Rosenberg sees painting as a state for the artists discover, inner discovery and self-realisation. His reading of abstract expressionism plays on seeing the artist as an individual. The individual is a self-created man (an American idea). Pollock becomes an icon of the time, seen as someone who ‘does it alone’. In 1960’s younger artists are becoming aware of seeing ‘the artist’ as a hero. This all plays into cold war context as the ‘freedom of individuals’ is something America want to promote at that time.
This idea of individualism started to reach breaking point and artist start to look LEFT politically. They are concerned with the focus of individual and start to look at a more socially context. What the model of the artist is in relation to audience? Is there a continuity between art and the world?
Abstract Expressionism vs Minimalism
We start to discuss what the differences between abstract expressionism and Minimalism are. Barnett Newman and Robert Ryman share a limit of a representational reference but there is also a radical break between these two. Is it just a further simplification of is there an important discontinuity?
Greenberg says that for him, Abstract painting has to assert itself as paint and as flat instead of the painting being representational or as a widow. Donald Judd (a serialism artist) questions how far Greenberg is willing to go with his integrity of the medium by questioning what belongs to the medium and what’s outside of its limits. If the logic is that the work is the medium then surely we could just place a blank canvas in a room? BUT Greenberg and Michael Fried say this isn’t right. Fried argues the formalist painting is about a dynamic flatness but should never be the object itself,the work has to become something new. Greenberg is saying that the work is still an aesthetic space and needs to be more than a literal/material thing. However, Robert Ryman’s work instead of it being an illusionistic space it accepts its own ‘objectness’. It understands itself as an object, the work has dialogue with its surrounding. Ryman makes a point of how he hangs his work, how its attached to wall becomes a part of it. This is continued in Jo Baer ‘Grey Wraparound Triptych (Blue Green, Lavender) 1970, as he starts to think about how the side of the work becomes part of it. Its an OBJECT. Its not just a visual optical field. When I’m looking at it I’m no longer just an eye but I’m a body in physical space. We occupy the same space as the object. Its no longer just an aesthetic space. So Ryman is now an object in space where as Newmann is an optical space.
‘Picture’ vs ‘object’
Robert Morris starts to talk about how the work becomes a function of space and light. You become more reflective because your aware of your body in that space. The reflectivity is the audience looking at themselves in the space, you and the work. But the object becomes one thing in a whole series of relationships. It’s not just about the relationship between the audience and the object and therefore the borderline between the work and the world becomes blurred. If the whole situation is involved then the walls and when you enter the room could be part of the work? Similar to Morris talking about relationships moving externally. Kishio Suga lays out plastic sheeting. The lighting becomes part of the work. Its contingent on the changes happening around the work. The transience of the environment is important to the work itself. Fried starts to be bothered by what the limits of the art is as he no longer knows what to judge as work. He is having a crisis of judgment as the artist is no longer having clear mastery over the work.
Work as Prop
Morris sees minimalist work as prop, it’s not self-contained by is a way to leader to other things. In his own work, it becomes about the audience interacting with the work. The work becoming a prop allows something to happen which is over and above its physical qualities therefore the object becomes a mediator which allows different things to happen which wouldn’t if it wasn’t there. Yoko Ono Cut piece- audience had scissors and could cut clothes off. She set the stage to see what would happen, there was a possibility. There is a notion of potentiality rather than actuality which has influenced participatory practises with audience engaging.
Minimalism brings idea of viewer becoming part of the work. Critiques were questioning what the viewer actually is? Are they a general category? Where as Greenberg saw a eye, minimalism starts to talk about a body viewing a work. But how can sex, class etc be considered? How can we think about what the view is? Who is looking at it etc?
Santiego Sierra created the opportunity to make ‘133 persons paid to have their hair dyed blond’ when invited to participate Venice Biennale. But Venice has lots of illegal migrants therefore Sierra became interested in gap between illegal immigrants and art world. So he invited migrants to be paid to have hair died and were told to sell their stuff inside the exhibition space. This might have made spectacle of this group of people but it does question who is the ‘viewer’ of art? Is art only accessible to a particular strata of society.
My fist seminar session on Art and Anthropology discussed Theory and Practise reviewing the links between artist and anthropologist from surrealism to the contemporary ‘ethnographic turn’ with Joseph Kosuth.
Dialogues between Art and Anthropology.
Artist as Ethnographer-Art history has lost it’s broadening as western art has dominated art history. Very little on Asian and African art history which is needed to open up dialogue with other cultures. Lucy Lipard- a feminist art critique opened art history to a social context towards the end of the 1960’s. Western art history has always been based on aesthetics- based on academic notions of what beauty is about but other cultures have different concepts about what art is – Apolitical relevatism.
American anthropology = cultural anthropology (idea that everything is relevant)
English anthropology = social anthropology. Was called functionalism (1920-1930) was a very pragmatic organisation of social life etc.
Institutional Anthropology – divided by institutions. Goffman discusses how people are framed.
Surrealists, many of whom wanted to be anthropologists, were interested in the ideas of Marcel Mauss. The surrealists were interested in unconscious through the study of Freud and were exploring how much culture helps to understand of their background. They wanted to explore and experience ‘the other’. Although artists such as Picasso had studied ‘the other’, he was inspired by African art in a purely aesthetic sense – he wasn’t interested in the culture. ‘Primitivism in Newyork’ 1970’s by Ruben, discusses how we should treated ‘the other’ as not ‘art just as artefact’ but as art in its own right. BUT Picasso was appropriating, not actually looking at what was going on with this work which maybe was another form of ‘orientalism’.
Similarly, Edward Said when traveling to middle east brought back exotic canvas. They were presenting ‘the other’ as something radically different which we don’t understand, we fantasies and fetishes because of the distance we supposedly have from it. The notion of authenticity is what decides what’s authentic or not. There is a desire to preserve the ‘other’ as something which can be observed for pleasure of our aesthetic. Many blur the content so the viewer can just enjoy the work. An example of this is the Manchester exhibition- ‘Independence of India and Pakistan’ – which camouflage what really happened, concealing that it was a division made by the British. This is linked to surrealisms discussing the covering up of WW1 as surrealists started a journal which played with shock by mixing high and low.
There’s a tension between art and anthropology, anthropologist are interested in ‘the other’ but now moving to anthropology of ‘self’ and issues which effect us. Since 70’s we have moved away from anthropology which used to be colonial. (would study anthropology to understand cultures to empower us, a science of ‘the other’)
Situationalist in 1950’s think about ‘self’ in anthropological form as their work is completed embedded in their engagement with the environment and the city. Their objective was the encounter itself. They never aimed to even collect things from the outside world and bring them into a gallery space. ‘Situationalist wanted it to be art dialouge’. Their work is described as ‘Happenings’. Situationalists’ refused to show or perform anything for the art world as their work was the encounter of everyday life. Their manifesto was situationalist international and citisied the surrealists. They were very left and said capitalism had manipulated the surrealists art.
Mauss ‘The gift’ – discusses potlatch about basics of contracts between social groups. Religious, mythological etc. This ‘gift’ is about status and how does society works. You give yourself in giving other things. A social person is never just him or herself, you are constituted by everything around you and therefore your personage is formed by your distribution. Before the market exchange, the gift was the main form of exchange. ‘5000 years of debt’ by David Graver touches on how society is based on debt. Interestingly this is reflected in the Brexit negotiations which are also based around debt. Will British social structure break down because of leaving a group? The notion of the ‘gift’ – ritual which doesn’t actually mean ‘free gift’. What happened with these ideas of Mauss and the ‘gift’ as the internet opens up genuine exchange, or does it just open up communication which could not be genuine?
The idea of the gift is:
(This is not always nicely done- its antagonist.)
Ethnography– studies humans making/replicating the social order through fieldwork.
Anthropology– to exam social structures and reproduction through analysing culture.
Alfred Gell asks: what is the function of art? Art is about action rather than representation. Many say that an artefact is defined by its function but that an artwork is its idea/concept but there is an argument that an artwork is the extension of a person. Anything which makes you think can be an artwork. It’s a work because it has ‘complex intentionality’ it’s a THOUGHT TRAP. The artist is already made up of everything surrounding her or him therefore surely their work is anthropological by nature?
Joseph Kosuth argues in ‘the artist as anthropologist’ that artist born to be an anthropologist, because the artist is outside of that community which he studies they are in ‘Critical distance’. The artist becomes totally immersed, where as anthropologist is a scientist and as a scientist they are disengaged. His work sided with Enthrographical study which increased the notion of field work, living with the patterns of society. Malanovski and Mauss discussed how much to embed with locals or not. Sometimes people get too involved/ loose themselves in the other. Susan Hillar was criticised by getting too close because they thought she became too involved.
I wanted to research into the work of Hilliard as he has directed the power of photography and the artists role in communicating a message to the viewer, therefore challenging the perception that photography can only be a recording or documentary device.
The 1970’s conceptual art movement influences his work as Hilliard stated to look at rules and systems of art when trying to communicate through photography. His piece ‘Camera recording its own position’ has cleverly adopted the camera as devise but also subject. The piece records 7 aperture, 10 speeds and 2 Mirrors by which he fundamentally looks at the mechanics of photography. His later work shifts to explore the common devises of:
These systems directly effect the reading and interpretation of photographic images which starts to delineated photographic documentation from Fine art practise. In 1972 Hilliard starts looking at imagery in the world and explores the cameras power to depict a site specific social narrative. These pre planned scenarios have been cropped into different sections, each telling a different story. Hilliard is interested with how photography can be used to deceive an show only part of the story, therefore defying there ‘reliable’ statues as evidence. In his piece ‘Cause of Death’, we are confronted with 4 different situations:
Death by being CRUSHED
Death by DROWNING
Death by FALLING
Death by BURNING
I am interested in exploring a similar theme of cropping and using focus to manipulate the ability we have to view a piece of work. I think that its important for the viewer to not just accept what is in-front of them as truth but to question its reliability. I think it could be interesting to experiment with presenting a series of images which have been directed in different ways, allowing the viewer to exercise discernment.
I started to visually explore how positioning photographs in space can alter our understanding of their context. They enter into a sculptural realm, with relativity to their surroundings. By placing images on filing cabinets, I have started to question the filing of documents in relation to humanitarian crisis. We can so easily become ditched from individuals and focus on the documentation of facts. Chopping these images in half, in quarters, into sections and by removing elements from their composition by cutting them out of painting over them has become a way of being being able to control the viewers perspective. By physically manipulating the composition I am able to change how you might be able to interpret the work. This restriction I have explored by directing images.
I started to play with documenting different variations of the same image. Each image shows a different combination of information which alters your understanding of the work. I want to look into the work of John Hilliard as he explores this concept in his photography. With these filing cabinet images it might be interesting to print these life scale and see how they relate to the human form. I feel that I could explore other possible ways of manipulating photography such as overlaying objects/meticulously cutting and sticking back together.
The ‘Soul of a Nation’ exhibition at Tate Modern is a celebration of the work of Black Artists thpouhgt the 1960-80’s in America. I found the exhibition incredibly moving, as it tells the a story which has been put on mute for decades. The visual experience of traveling through room after room is very REAL and RAW as the imagery tells the true experience of so many Black artists and individuals. I was so thankful to have been exposed to such truth and also seeing how the visual arts were used to communicate political opinion and the reality of everyday persecution during the 1960-80’s.
William T. Williams work ‘Nu Nile’ 1973, for me broke into an abstracted emotional form of representation in a new way to other works. Diagonally oriented blocks of a single metallic colour had been used to created a multilayered tonal work. These diamonds pushed against the borders of the canvas which to Williams reflected the resistant to the constrains that Black Americans were experiencing in everyday life.
“You should be able to look at me and see my work. You should be able to to look at my work and see me.” -Roy DeCarava
Another work which was extremely profound was Roy DeCArava’s photography. He was one of the first Black photographers who worked as an artist rather than a photojournalist. His work captured daily life in Harlem and developed his photography himself. His work is very dark and requires the viewer to come close and look in detail at his photography. His use of light evokes an emotional connection to the individuals which he photographs. Interestingly he ability to handle dark tonal ranges has created a Black aesthetic in photography which was reflective of his subject interest. I found an inescapable connection by looking into the lives of those he’d photographed. I am interested in how by limiting the tonal range of a piece, you can draw the viewer into an intimate field with the work which leads to a deepens interation with its content.
I was particularly drawn to Melvin Edwards’ work ‘Curtain (for William and Peter) 1969. The piece starts to explore how material can be enough to communicate an idea or reality. The hung wall of barbed wire and chains is able to discuss with the audience the physical restraint on Black individuals lives at that time. Edwards said he used barbed wire for ‘formal reasons as it was a linear material with kings. However he was also transforming the language of minimalist sculpture by using material the tallied to the history of Slavery and incarceration'(Tate Modern). His work is dedicated to specific people in his life, in this case William and Peter were both Black artists he shared a studio with. I found that when researching into the ‘Veil’ in my won work, the material and its connotations became the piece itself.
The curation of the exhibition was really successful in bringing the public into the present day. In the final two rooms ‘Artists looked back to the history of oppression whilst celebrating present day community and looking forward to a brighter future’ – Tate. It displayed works of Edwards and Joe Overstreet who’s work strung canvas’s up a wall as a reference to lynching but used bold colours to be defiant with optimism. Similarly Alma Thomas’ paintings exploit the use of colour. This by no means was used to wash over the reality of the past with a colourful glow, but did bring the public to a place of action. We are able to construct the society we live in, we all have the ability to ensure the part doesn’t repeat itself, pay homage to what happened and be radical in enforcing a cultural change.
Using my earlier drawings, I started to play around with the involvement of Veils. What is a Veil and what does it fundamentally represent?
When researching into this concept I discovered that a veil could be known as:
Something which covers, separates, screens or conceals eg a veil of smoke.
A mask, disguise or pretence.
When researching into this subject I discovered that the most frequent connotation of a ‘veil’ was religious. More specifically researching ‘veiling of objects’ I learn about christian liturgical tradition in which veils are symbolically tied to the veils in the Tabernacle in Solomon’s Temple. The purpose of these veils is to shield the most holy from the eyes of sinners. The veil was placed between the inner sanctuary and the Holy of Holies and the veils are used to remind people of when the veil was torn during Jesus’s death. I found this interesting as I wanted to consider the ripping of a veil/ the Veil being the work itself. When photographing my work with an outreaching hand, the work became a symbol of hope to a dire situation. For Christians , grace and hope were given when the torn was ripped in two as it provided direct access to God. By drawing on the very material of a veil and its symbolic nature I could discuss ‘hope’ as a theme in my work.
I felt that I was able to continue my investigation in visually exploring how people observe/ react to the same situation in different ways. We are all POWERFUL people and therefore have the ability to view our situations with positivity, knowing that there is a greater plan/ something better coming- with gratitude. OR we look at our situations with despair, seeing only the bad and without hope. The use of a veil, evokes an emotional response. We start to question if theres ignorance involved either in on our part (in not seeing the whole situation/ not being able to access the same contextual information which has been drawn on to give the detainees a wider context when forming an opinion about their situation in a detention camp) or in the view of the detainees themselves, being filled with hope.
I discovered an Exhibition which was held at MOMA in New York, April 8th- July 5th 1970. The Aim of the exhibition was to discuss the continuity between photography and sculpture. The exhibition is described as a ‘comprehensive survey of photographically formed images used in a sculptural or fully dimensional manner’. This give me insight that the work being displayed could merely be presenting a series of work where the display of a photographical piece is 3D and therefore this doesn’t directly challenge my question of weather the definition of sculpture actually matters when categorising work.
Google describes a sculpture as:
sculpture –noun –the art of making two- or three-dimensional representative or abstract forms, especially by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster.
“the boundary between painting and sculpture is displaced”
– verb –make or represent (a form) by carving, casting, or other shaping techniques.
“the choir stalls were each carefully sculptured”
For the 1970’s, this exhibition was still discussing a very important issue in the art world. There was many restrictions to what art could be and what was widely recognised as being FINE ART. There was a struggle to connect with photography being anything other that documentary. Photojournalism and other representational forms of photography were common but acceptance of an artist using photography to communicate and idea or vision with intent was low. During the 1960’s Dr S D Jouhar formed the Photographic Fine Art Association yet stated:
“At the moment photography is not generally recognized as anything more than a craft. In the USA photography has been openly accepted as Fine Art in certain official quarters. It is shown in galleries and exhibitions as an Art. There is not corresponding recognition in this country. The London Salon shows pictorial photography, but it is not generally understood as an art. Whether a work shows aesthetic qualities or not it is designated ‘Pictorial Photography’ which is a very ambiguous term. The photographer himself must have confidence in his work and in its dignity and aesthetic value, to force recognition as an Art rather than a Craft”
Therefore we can understand the setting of MOMA’s ‘Photography into sculpture’ was very controversial. Peter C. Bunnell, who directed the exhibition and curated the show, makes many points in his description of the exhibition. He says that ‘photography into sculpture embraces concerns behond those of the traditional print, or what may be termed ‘flat’ work and in so doing seeks to engender a heightened realization that art in photography has to do with interpretation and craftsmanship rather than mere record making’. This has touched on many of the issues surrounding popular opinion, In his opening lines, Bunnell is trying to give eyes for an appreciation of the medium as an art form. He also talks about how the ‘imaginary qualities of the photograph, particularly spatial complexity, have been transformed into actually space and dimension, thereby shifting photography into sculpture’. This concept interests me, where the artist here have physically manipulated their photographs to be printed upon different surfaces/materials, my own practise has started to explore how the photograph in its purist printed sense can become a sculpture.
I’m interested by the theoretical parallels between minimalism conceiving space and photography being sculptural. Bunnell touches on a movement from internal meaning an iconography to a visual duality in which materials become content and are used to conceive volume/space. A key concept for minimalism was that the work gave way to a consideration of the viewer’s body in relational to the space. The Context for this exhibition surrounded the rise of the minimalist movement, therefore maybe some influence of their concepts had been drawn upon.
I am particularly interested in the work of Jack Dale’s which is described to be a construction of negative and positive images on glass. This is a medium I am interested in exploring so therefore think it would be beneficial to look into his work.