Not Random Art - Page 23

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Because of my relatively short experience as an artist, I feel like I am in a more or less constant state of experimentation, something that is probably visible in my body of work. I can only hope that this seemingly permanent state of experimentation, which feels playful and informal, will last well into the future. Because of this, my body of work might be considered a bit hap-hazard and random, but it works well for me at this moment of time.

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about your identity as a participant of the visual culture?

Again, the problem of choice. To choose just one work would be, if not impossible, at least misleading. But if I take the liberty of choosing one artist and her body of work, it could be Louise Bourgeois. I deeply admire her ability to transform personal and sometimes very private feelings and experiences into something general, like in the installation “Destruction of the Father” (1974). There is always a very insisting, sometimes intruding, sense of physical presence in her works, one that forces the viewer to relate to them instinctively. The way she treats the body, and especially the female body, as in her “Femme”-sculptures, as a physical manifestation of experienced emotions, has made a deep impression on me both as an artist and as a person. When it comes to the problem of identity, I think this is a topic where I have struggled as an artist, particularly regarding the way I introduce my work to the world. Work, that for me might deal with deeply private issues. I think that especially the work of Bourgeois, has helped me come to terms with the fact that I must do this, and realize that the personal and private, unless over-explained, can also be universal, and that my work don’t really need a manual. I used to claim (quite recently, actually) that my work was not in any sense political. Which now seems a bit funny and even naive. It is all very political, it is impossible to avoid it. I’ve had to accept that bringing my work into the world, always results in me representing some group, some idea or attitude, for better or worse. And that it is all part of who I am now, what forms my identity as part of the visual culture.

Your artworks reveal stimulating search of an organic symbiosis between different levels and layers of representation. The results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. While walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have ever happened to realize that such approach is the only way to express and convey the ideas you explore/

My process is always intuitive. It starts with a visual idea, a mental image, if you want, and I work from there. From the start, I have felt a close connection with the surrealist movement. Both through themes: My relationship with the unconscious and the uncanny, and partly through my choice of motives (human/animal, absurd, sometimes ridiculous situations, but with threatening elements), and through method. I am specifically thinking of the way the surrealist artists treated their ideas as “found objects”, a fresh catch from their unconsciousness. But unlike them, I do not strive to present these images in the purest way possible. I look at my “found objects” as raw-material that I can take apart, put together, use and reuse as I please. Sometimes the result is very close to the original idea, but it might as well lead to a long process of sketching, trial and error, prolonged research, and new ideas/images.

Even if I work with other materials, I always come back to fresh, wet clay, a material with very specific physical qualities. The relationship between body and clay is a very direct one, the material will move and bend by the slightest touch, it is an absorbing physical experience, and one that is a crucial to my intuitive method.

No, I do not think that such approach is the only way to express and convey the ideas I explore. It is one of very many possible ways. But it is the way that feels right at the moment when I do it. This direct and intuitive way of working, based on whims and wishes, could be the reason why you think my work rejects conventional classification.

You use an overlay technique to represent a different vantage point on the built environment. What is the role of technique in your practice? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating?

The role of technique in my practice, is primarily to obtain a visual goal, which means to turn a specific mental image into something concrete. So, it is a tool, but one I enjoy using. As mentioned before, I see myself as a craftsperson as well as an artist. And I enjoy practicing, I enjoy refining my technique.

My one banal rule, is that there are no rules. I work intuitively, which means that the original idea often transforms during the process. And I apply the material and technique that makes sense to make the idea become reality. Working with ceramics, I sometimes encounter people who think that it is my duty as a ceramist to follow specific rules to obtain specific results. I cannot relate to that at all. If I were to follow such rules, it would take all the fun out of what I do, and then it would not be worth it. I deeply respect the knowledge and hard work that lies behind any skilled craftsmanship, and I always aspire to improve my techniques and increase my knowledge of the materials. But if the best way to obtain the visual result I want is a mixture of latex and acrylic paint, that is what I will use. Or make-up and fixing spray, for that matter. I am no purist.

the pose that strikes me (YES!) I take it from there, drawing up a rough sketch adding patterns and geometrical shapes which contrast the lines of the main silhouette.

From there I sketch my plan on to a blank canvas (always making changes and additions to the new layout). Once I am happy with that I start to add colour. My fine lines are all executed without masking; using a small brush, even hand, and steadfast concentration. Then I apply layer upon layer of colour until I achieve beautiful unyielding saturation and impeccable print-like quality.

How do you see the relationship between emotional and intellectual perception of your work? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

The emotional and intellectual relationship of my work always begin as two very seperate things. At first glance, my art may seem frivolously aesthetic .The colours are vibrant, and deliciously arresting. But then you look a little closer, even through the simplicity of the block colour and basic lines of geometry and pattern, there is always a story within… and that is when the emotional and intellectual perception of my art merge and the true beauty is discovered.

olted by the Thought of Known Places… Sweeney Astray” by Joan Jonas was one of the first performance installations that really made a huge impact on me. I was living in Paris during this time, in the early 90s, with a lot of influences from different cultures. It became the starting point of my own work. Joan Jonas practice has explored ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures. Jonas continues to find new layers of meanings in themes and questions of gender and identity that have fueled her art for over thirty years. She is a great inspiration still today.

It is impossible to avoid the topic of body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity that we see in your practice. What is the function of the identity appearing in your artworks – is it a canvas used to present your ideas or rather the subject of the art? What inspired you to use this as a theme in your practice?

I have been developing my visual imagery since I began studying art and film - from conceptual thinking, composition, using light and colour in different ways, through all the different techniques I've utilised over the years in my work and in my collaborations with stage artists such as dancers, musicians and actors. My approach is always developing through exploring these things. Visual imagery in essence is your way of experiencing what you see and transforming it. This is my world that I want to share and express through my art. The body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity is part of this visual imagery, the emotional essence in my practice. Always present and always developing in different themes and projects.

Marina Abramovic stated: You see, what is my purpose of performance artist is to stage certain difficulties and stage the fear the primordial fear of pain, of dying, all of

which we have in our lives, and then stage them in front of audience and go through them and tell the audience, 'I'm your mirror; if I can do this in my life, you can do it in yours.'Can you relate anyhow to these words?

de-identify myself, by losing my roots, my culture, I would be very happy. Unfortunately the human being does'nt choose the place where he is born. He grows up in a society that automatically identifies, through education, culture, family... More than ever I think it's more important to go on a way of self-knowledge with the aim to meet “the other”.. This other without which we can not exist. It's the same for the artist. It is more important for me to be focused on my practice than to try to define it according to esthetic criteria of identification. It's probably the reason i like to remember the painter Matisse who said or wrote that an artist must never be prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

All my way is influenced by encounterings.

It began by the meeting with my professor of literature at school. More than giving French or Literature classes, she brought us to discover texts, movies, plays, visual artworks and to think about on what we saw or read.. Thanks to her that I met Pierre Vincke, a theatredirector who was worjink in the tradition of Grotowski ... Both of them have led me to go to theater school. In this school I had meetings. Meetings with artists but also and especially human beings that made me discover. I always need o discover rather than to master a practice. It's probably the reason my encounter with Monica Klingler and Boris Nieslony was decisive for me and led me on the path of Performance Art which is a form still difficult to define. Each performance artist has a different definition of what it is...

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about race and ethnic identity in visual culture?

No I don't have a specific artwork that has influenced my artistic practise but many.

I'm influenced by some philsophers as well as poets or musicians or dancers or visual artists but also by some places or landscapes or atmospheres ... For some years, I was used for example to go to India where I was used to follow some traditionnal muscians or to learn bharatanatyam and practice vipassana meditation... Of course this experience has impacted my art work.... This brought me to think and work differently... My experience in India brought me to discover traditionnal strong art and paradoxally to the way of Performance Art. But there I see one common point: to make no separation between art and life and to be here and now, without projection on the future.

It's difficult for me to speak about race and ethnic identity. But I can say that today we miss more and more this notion of “to be here and now” which is more present in some cultures ... By practising Performance Art, it's my way to be connected to this way of thinking. And even in this field actually it's more and more difficult. The society and the art world brings us more and more to plan in advance, to define our work, more than to do. Just to do. To do what we deeply need.

And of course, my encountering with Black Market International and later the notion of Open Source or Open session via PAErsche have also a big impact on my work. When we go on that, each of us perform by sharing time and space but without trying to convince each other on some common way. This is for me a wonderfull way how we can meet each other, regardless of our origin, our race or our “identity”...

Many of your works carry an autobiographical message. Since you transform your experiences into your artwork, we are curious, what is the role of memory in your artistic productions? We are particularly interested if you try to achieve a faithful translation of your previous experiences or if you rather use memory as starting point to create.

My memory is clearly a starting point to create. I don't have any autobiographical message. I use my personnal experience ( what I feel , what I see, what I learn, what I ear...) to work. It's a motor or a material. I'm not able to paint, so I can't do something with red or white or yellow or black colors. All I have is life, a body alive. And I need to do something with that...

My sensation about life sometimes is too intense then I need to transform this intensity in some action. Some artistic action... If people can take something from this action this is great... but I don't want to give them “a specific message” or to control the translation of my experience.