These are the top five moments I feel have made me explore and develop my understanding of artworks and theories and in turn develop my understanding of what I want to achieve within my work.
1.Subject Brief – This moment allowed me to set challenges for myself though out the year within subject in relation to the piece of artwork(Rodin- The clouds) I chose to be the influence to the work I created this year.
2. Berlinde De Bruyckere- Cripplewood– In looking back on my trip to Venice I got to analyse the artwork which inspired a lot of my work I created this year. In doing this I got to understand more about the artists intentions and the reasons why she creates the sculptures she does.
3. Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein– In reading about different psychologists theories about the human condition and how the mind works. This helped me develop the knowledge which is the context to a lot of the work I create today.
4. Berlinde de Bruyckere at Hauser and Wirth– Going to London and getting to experience Berlinde De Bruyckere’s work with less crowds than in the Venice Beinnale. This let me discover more about the sculptures she produces from first hand experience of viewing the work and sketching it.
5. Deleuze on Francis Bacon – In discovering this book I got to understand the work of Francis Bacon from a philosophical point of view. This book has had a significant impact in the way in which I perceive the artists work as well as my own.
The subject of pain is the business I am in. To give meaning and shape to
frustration and suffering … The Cells represent different types of pain: the
physical, the emotional and psychological, and the mental and intellectual. When
does the emotional become physical? When does the physical become emotional:
It’s a circle going around and around. Pain can begin at any point and turn in any
(Quoted in The Secret of the Cells, p.81.)
The cells of Louise Bourgeois is something I am exploring within my dissertation, of how they capture the mental condition of the artist. I feel that her cell pieces hold so much power of in-caging you even though you are not allowed into the cells you can imagine your mental state being trapped within these cells with artist’s anxieties and fears encapsulated in each cell.
I came across a photographer who took photos of her menstruating and put them on Instagram to challenge the society we live in. Instagram removed her photos twice saying they were indecent and explicit but in fact they show no sexual acts, violence and nudity all they show is a natural uncontrollable process 50% of the population goes through.
I feel that the photographers response to Instagram’s removal of these pictures is insightful to the narrow views of today’s society.
Rupi Kaur’s (the photographer) response:
Thank you Instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. You deleted my photo twice stating that it goes against community guidelines. I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified, pornified. and treated less than human. thank you.
As a part of my final project for my visual rhetoric course I created this image along with a full set which you can view at http://www.rupikaur.com to demystify the period and make something that is innate “normal” again cause rape categories in porn are okay. objectification and sexualisation is okay. people getting off on naked underage women. bondage. torture. humiliation. abuse is okay but this makes them uncomfortable. that’s what this work is supposed to do. make you as uncomfortable as you should feel when you watch others get abused and objectified.
This just goes to show who is sitting behind the desk. And whose controlling the show. Whose controlling the media and who is censoring us.
Some women aren’t allowed in their religious place of worship. Out of their homes. To do certain things. And are told they are sick. As if the period is a common cold. Yes. This is here in North America. I have been hospitalised many times because of issues associated with my period. I have been suffering from a sickness related to my period. And ever since I have been working so hard to love it. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Even thought it’s given me so much pain in the past few years. and they want to tell me I should be quiet about this. That all of this we experience collectively does not need to be seen. Just felt secretly behind closed doors. That’s why this is important. Because when I first got my period my mother was sad and worried. And they want to censor all that pain. Experience. Learning. No.
Their patriarchy is leaking.
Their misogyny is leaking.
We will not be censored.
I bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. My womb is home to the divine. A source of life for our species. Whether I choose to create or not. But very few times it is seen that way. In older civilizations this blood was considered holy. In some it still is. But a majority of people, societies. and communities shun this natural process. Some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. The sexualisation of women. The violence and degradation of women than this. They cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. But will be angered and bothered by this. We menstruate and they see it as dirty. Attention seeking. Sick. A burden. As if this process is less natural than breathing. As if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. As if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful.”
This performance piece is quite unique from any I have ever came across before. It is a 28 day piece where the artist knits from her vagina. The reason I found this interesting is that the natural process of menstruation in women is seen as repulsing. This abject performance is done with white wool inserted into her vagina so that blood is visible within the knitting. This piece reminds me of a spider spinning her web as this artist is taking her body and using it as a tool to create not just a knitted material with blood stains on it but an impact with the audience. It is quite an unforgettable piece as its quality is visceral in nature creating opposing ideas within the audience of revulsion and bravery. I feel that this work is addressing ideas of this natural process as grotesque and in some cultures women who are menstruating are isolated as it is seen as impure. In giving this natural occurrence in women a new insight as a process that shouldn’t be so repulsive, she has in someways made the piece something to change the way in which society can alter their reactions to this occurrence in 50% of the population.
An artist I have recently came across is Nicola Samori for her paintings and sculptures. Her paintings are highly influenced by Renaissance paintings, however her work becomes contemporary for the way in which people are displayed within the paintings. The bodies and heads go beyond their contours stretching and extending out of the the mortal flesh of the being into another dimension. I feel that her paintings have more emotion than a lot of renaissance paintings as you don’t have to understand the bodies of faces depicted as a structurally correct anatomy. But in fact her work, both in sculpture and painting, gives us more truth of the being depicted mentally. Her work to me is giving a truer representation of the human condition than any renaissance painting could ever achieve with its limitations to look visually “correct”. I feel that in altering the structure of how we observe the human body, she has brought to the surface our existence beyond our mortal flesh.
What Initially drew me to this video was the way in which the skin is peeled away from the body but on watching it in more detail, the skin removal is later shown and proved a great significance throughout. The reflection at the start of the video we can see a comparison of the meat cooking and him as a living piece of meat looking in painful, suffering but not showing it by physical expression. The stains and smells shown and described are very visceral giving us a visual and sensual experience of where he has been and the movement of his body. is his body being more open and vulnerable a bad thing? Is he becoming monstrous just to please the one he loves? In the part which his friends are asking questions about his new appearance and him giving “simple answers” but before he used to be talkative, he has changed not just his appearance but his personality, it is as if he is showing his answers without verbal communication, he is exposed having “less to say” and feels as if he is “already saying it”. It becomes apparent that he is mourning for the loss of his skin. Without his skin he becomes unclean creating body marks, he becomes envious of her skin.
This video could be interpreted as he took his skin off to become more attractive for her and could be taking a literal representation of the metaphor, that you should be happy in your own skin and happy the way you are.”Comfortable in your own skin”, Detrimental to the relationship, regret and tension is evident throughout. In the end in the grabbing of her skin can represent the collapse of their relationship. In trying to improve himself for her and changing for her and proving he would do anything for her, he couldn’t be himself as the removal of his skin removed the essence of him, changing him. He shouldn’t have to change to benefit her she should love him for the way he was.
This video is moving and visceral showing a modern relationship but using the metaphor of being comfortable in your own skin as the literal representation of the skin being removed giving us a view into sacrifices which shouldn’t be needed in any relationship.
Travelling home from Wales to Northern Ireland to see my family for Easter something happened that I witnessed really captured the fragility of the human condition and made me face the reality of our existence as the human race.
My flight home was delayed for two hours because of high winds and also engine malfunctions, but finally getting on the plane late at night thinking I could read some of my books for my dissertation to pass the time. The cabin crew were coming around with their trolley for snacks and drinks and were getting closer to me the woman next to me in her mid fifties was asleep and so seemed like everyone else on the plane. This was when the turbulence started rocking the plane up and down, suddenly the seat-belt sign came on and at this same moment the lights went completely off in the plane. The cabin crew looked around and then the cart went flying spilling a cup of tea over me and smashing into the back of the plane. Everyone woke up and was in a panic. It was a thunderstorm outside and the woman beside me started jolting then she started having a panic attack as did many others. She asked me if she could hold my hand I said of course hoping it would calm her down. As the turbulence got worse I had to get her breathing deeply again but she was in a mental state which I couldn’t free her from. Seeing this woman who is a stranger to me need to hold my hand and help her through the idea that she thought she was going to die made me realise a lot how delicate we are as humans. She thought it was the end for her and was crying and loosing breath but needed comfort from anyone even a stranger like me. Seeing someone in that state mentally and how it impacted on the physical body, breathing and crying was really integrating reflecting back on it. Coming face to face to a person feeling like they were going to die in that moment was terrifying and enlightening. The way she looked and how she forced her energy of pure loss of control of her own existence into my hand I could feel her pain as if I was watching her being slaughtered from the inside out.
She eventually calmed down after I got her a glass of water and the turbulence stopped. She started explaining her panic attack in detail of how it felt for her. She said that she thought she was going to die and that she felt like it was the end for her, so her mental state caused her to go into this frenzy of almost giving herself a heart attack because she could feel her “life flashing before her eyes”. As an outsider trying to help her and seeing her condition made me see how it effected her from the visual outsider and also try and understand her experience from the way in which she described the situation within her mind. She couldn’t stop shaking even when we landed I started to talk to her about her family to try to calm her down and I think this distraction worked. The reminder of her family and better times she has had within her life as she explained things like her daughters graduation day and where she lives stabilised her. You could see that this was one of the worst experiences she has ever had and for me seeing this and reflecting back on this moment makes me see how fragile we really are and how we all are wounded from within as well and our outer body reflects on it. In some ways we try to release it physically by holding someones hand to make your self feel that your not alone and crying, how the body oozes water out of our eyes as a way of removing the negative energy from the body and freeing it.
I feel this experience on reflection has made me really come to terms with what I am talking about with my dissertation of how we are all very fragile forms that crumble and are weak. This and many other moments in my life will make me want to further my understanding of the human condition both mentally and physically through writings and essays from physiologists and psychologists and how artists encapsulated these ideas into their work.
A book I have read which has made me question how the fragility of people is captured within paintings and holds more than just the visual truth of the body is the book, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation by Gilles Deleuze. It gives us a perspective from a philosophical view point into the mind of the artist and also into the work itself. It delves into the understanding that Bacon’s paintings were created close to the nervous sensation of the body.
Deleuze makes us aware that Bacon does more than illustrate the human figure, he captures the inside of the being both mentally and physically. What look like deformations of the figure are in actual fact not about the visual truth of the body, but the truth of the mental state and the sensation of being encapsulated within the body, “Sensation deforms the body visually but creates fact”. When he is deforming the human figure by rubbing and scraping into the paint he is discovering more than the person externally he goes into his paintings to reveal the fragile state of the body and mind set of the being.
Bacon was fascinated by meat as Deleuze mentions within the book as meat, even when dead contains visually all the living elements of the animal, “meat is not dead flesh, it retains all the sufferings and assumes all the colours of living flesh”. Meat contains the colours and the image visually of the living yet it contains all the suffering that the animal was put through its slaughter. Deleuze also compares to those who are suffering as pieces of meat, “every man who suffers is a piece of meat”. This I feel could be both mentally or physically, that those suffering are pieces of meat containing all the colours and elements of the living visually but are in actual fact suffering in pain. Humans have been brought down to their vulnerable state making their existence seen as those of an animalistic form.
Just before Christmas I went to see Berlinde de Bruyckere’s work at Hauser and Wirth in London. I love her work and the way she gives dead trees and dead material a life with skin growing from the surfaces of her sculptures. The “Met Tere Huid” series is a group of textural hanging wall sculptures made up of wax,leather, cloth, rope, iron and epoxy resin. This body of work was wall hangings which looked like they were collapsing from the hook on which they were put on, having cavities within the sculptures which were over filled looking like flesh wounds. The pink tones in the wound series were given a darker palette of reddish blacks and browns which was to represent the bodily tones of horses as opposed to human skin.
” Maybe it was the amount of available skins, neatly stacked on iron pallets, or the smell of freshly slaughtered animals, the salt on the ground mingling with blood into a wet slush, I still don’t know, nut I saw powerful images. I was unable to avert my eyes… I knew I had witnessed something I needed to transcribe.” – Berlinde De Bruyckere.
Another series she had there was called “After Cripplewood”. These pieces, larger than the wall hangings are her responding to her piece she installed at the Venice Biennale in 2013 called “Cripplewood”. These pieces are large-scale fallen tree trunks bound with fabric, belts , leather and a pigment covering the surface resembling flesh. Looking like they are broken bones and joints, bandaged going through a slow healing process.
Anders Krisar is an artist who makes realistic parts of the body and gives them this Plasticine like quality. The way in which the body shows the pressure at which it has been touched is really intriguing. Touch with skin is something we take for granted but he makes it something that is permanent on the body rather than something that can only felt by the person, it is visible to the viewer. I find his children’s arms really quite brutal as you can see the pressure exerted on them was hard and went deep into the child’s skin. It looks as if the child has been bruised and pulled from running away from a violent parent.