Not Random Art - Page 59

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Hello Steve and welcome to NotRandomArt. The current issue is revolving around the problem of communication and identity. Is there any particular way you would describe your identity as an artist but also as a human being in dynamically changing, unstable times? In particular, does your cultural substratum/identity form your aesthetics?

Hello, thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak with NotRandomArt. My work is strongly tied to these themes of communication and identity. As an artist, I try to mirror society, and represent the fluidity and ever-changing identity of each subject. A single snapshot of time does not represent the true nature of the image. We all exist in this current moment. But we also exist in the many moments before, and in memory afterwards. My art is a representation of memory.

The aesthetic of my creations is entirely formed by the cultural milieu I find myself in. My work revolves around pop culture, famous figures, and famous places. In a sense, the world around me is informing what is to be created.

Would you like to tell us something about your artistic as well as life background? What inspired you to be in this artistic point in your life when you are now?

I started architecture school in Toronto in 2006. Growing up in a small town, I was always fascinated with Toronto and City life. The way the built form was constantly in flux with the flows of people, cars, transit, money, and cyclists. I searched for ways to document this over time. I am now a licensed architect at a firm focused on healthy and energy-efficient design called SUSTAINABLE.TO. Designing buildings is an iterative process, involving many different versions of the same thing. In an architecture office, you use trace paper to add layer after layer to a sketch or drawing until the desired result is achieved. The final design is almost always a combination of the multiple layers underneath. Architecture is every art form combined: drawing, sculpture, digital rendering, marketing, design, and more. I’ve always been drawn to the complexities of architecture, but it is an art of many restrictions. These complexities include the building code, zoning by-laws, clients, budgets, and timelines. Outside of this challenging architectural work, I explore more freedom in my own artwork. Lastly, I have always felt a strong relationship to time, and the limited amount of it we seem to have on this earth. My art synthesizes the fleeting moments of life into a record or memory that evokes the spirit of the subject.

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?

My overlay work began during my Masters of Architecture thesis at the University of Toronto in 2011. My thesis research focused on the rampant condo development in Toronto’s CityPlace, and the lack of neighbourhood and identity associated with “condo neighbourhoods” such as these. I was inspired by Bernd and Hilla Becher, German artists and conceptual photographers. Their work focused on categorizing industrial buildings such as water towers. They took a series of photographs of one typology, and organized them into a grid based on their subtle differences. They took an iconic image found all over the world, and laid it bare in an attempt to boil it down to its essence. But I felt I could take this a step further. I began by photographing all of the condo towers in CityPlace and arranging them in a grid. In trying to organize them, I realized that the similarities were so drastic, that I could make one single image that represented the whole of CityPlace. This lead to the first overlay. A more widely-known influence is the Cubists, in particular, Picasso’s Nude Descending a Staircase. This image also takes several moments and represents them in a single image. This is the spirit and feeling I strive to achieve with my work. Lastly, my work was highly influenced by Edweard Muybridge. His photographic studies were monumental works in the study of motion. They paved the way for early motion picture projection.

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 work can be divided into two categories. For the first set of works I have taken all the photography myself, sometimes over the course of hours and others times of the course of months and years. These works include all of my streetscapes and public transit related work from Toronto and abroad. Many of these I’ve taken candidly, during my commute to work every day, as I pass the same building, storefront, or object.

story, color scheme, or sketch rather than just diving in willy-nilly. Sometimes, I'll set a goal for myself to use a color I hate or try out a new technique to challenge myself. My paintings are mixed media, so any water-based product is fair game to use. In my current work, I'm using a combination of hand-printed papers and acrylic paint to create densely layered, textural art. I create the collage elements by printing, drawing, stamping, and stenciling on paper, occasionally adding touches of metal leaf or pastel too.

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?

My goal is to create visually interesting abstract landscapes. Though my dreams inspire these paintings, I like viewers to see their own "stories" in the images. When I talk to others about my work, I love hearing all the different renditions of what they see when they look at it. Only then will I share my inspiration behind the work. I think a good painting emerges for the viewer over time, as their life experiences can create new connects and open up deeper meanings in the artwork for them.

Before leaving this conversation, we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, regarding what type of language is used in a particular context?

Until others see it, artwork is not truly finished. A dialog about a painting brings it to life for both the artist and the viewer. These conversations allow me to see more deeply into the work, to realize the subconscious elements I may have added. For instance, I painted a barren gray landscape with strange, colorful plants growing in clumps on the surface. I thought it was just a scene from a dream. But, my husband looked at it and said it reminded him of middle school. As soon as he told me, I could see it too, the image resonating so much stronger for me than a simple alien-scape. I can remember that day, at eleven years old, starting at a new school, feeling so alone and alien in a gray world, while the other kids huddled together in their social groups.

Each person who looks at "Middle School Cliques" will have a different reaction to it, a personal story or experience that describes the painting for them. I don't want to define it for them, but instead, have each of us share our ideas with the other.

ht one. Once I have 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.