Not Random Art - Page 40

Hello Alexandra 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?

To be honest, I am still unsure about my identity as an artist or even as a person. I feel as if I am made up of many slightly different Alexandra’s who change based on my emotions or my situation, but don’t seem to exist as a connected whole. I was once told by a good friend that she thought I was an alien, since I functioned as a series of contradicting personalities and behaviors. For example, I’m a neurotic organizer and have sub-sections for everything, but when I work, it is in a very unstructured and spontaneous way. I am the type of person who needs tons of options in order to be happily overwhelmed, which is probably the reason why I love tapas and buffets, and have over two hundred pairs of earrings.

I have recently decided not to question who I am at this moment, but to figure it out by creating as much work as humanly possible and finding clues to myself by sifting back through it and dissecting what I discover.

I have a tendency to exist in my own world, so much so that I often feel that fantasy is right on the periphery of my vision, and all I need to get there is to just take a step to the left. This penchant for fantasies also allows me to hone in on the ridiculous during serious times of change, which has been a blessing especially now, and is a definite stepping stone for my creation process.

My work focuses a lot on ambiguous bodies and anomalous forms. These sculptures aren’t necessarily representing a single gender or race, but rather are questioning the fragile relationship between comfort and discomfort. My personality certainly comes into play when I am making, but I don’t feel that my identity is an important part of it.

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?

Throughout my life, I have not always been confident enough to define myself as an artist but have always felt I was artistic at least. As I was preparing to move back to the US from London and attend my final year of high school, I made a list of things I was good at and it only consisted of two things, rowing, which I no longer practice, and art. Right after finishing middle school, my mother moved my entire family over to England for her job. There I attended an American School and was surrounded by kids who I struggled to connect with. During the three years we were there, I became increasingly depressed and found out that I was unable to read people’s complex facial expressions, such as anxiety or embarrassment. It was because of this, that I began to look not at the face but the body for indications of how people were feeling. Where their arms crossed and they their body turned away? Maybe that meant they were unconfutable and didn’t want to engage in the conversation. As I continued to use body language to gauge how people were feeling, I became more and more interested in the subtle adjustments a person made to their positioning in relation to others to indicate a shift in their mood or feeling.I was fascinated with how the body carried weight and how said weight would shift slightly when someone changed postures. This interest persisted through high school and the beginning of college. I loved life drawing, but I was beginning to feel bored by only depicting what I saw. I became a life model, and discovered the fantasy in the work. I would imagine myself reacting to different scenarios while taking a pose and realized I didn’t need to continue to work representationally in order to portray the body. I began making soft sculptures. I limited myself to the simplest of shapes, the tube, and asked how it could describe the human form. This exploration allowed me to focus less on the expression of arms and legs, and look to the core and spine as indicators of posture and weight distribution. I created weighted tube sculptures that relied mostly on the slouch to convey postures and in turn emotion. After working this way for about a year, I started to think critically about what plushness and pillowed forms meant to me. It was at this point that I began my analysis of the history of pillows. I studied pillows from many different ancient and current cultures, and was inspired by the ancient Egyptian head rests that acted as pedestals for the neck and head. After extensive research, which is still ongoing, I came to the conclusion that pillows exist both as an object of exaltation as well as comfort. I feel that pillows have an innate intimacy, but also a sterile quality depending on their surroundings. I think of pillows as not only existing in the world with us, but as active participants leading their own imagined lives. It is this general concept that helped to inspire my current body of work which I have dubbed ‘Pillow Play’.

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?

II must admit I find this question incredibly hard! What defines a work of art??? I keep coming back to “originality” and “passion”. I think if someone has created something from scratch with his own hands, with passion, with heart and soul, whatever and wherever that spiritedness and desire stems from, no matter how beautiful or how ugly, you could call it art.

As for the contemporariness of an artwork, I don’t necessary believe there is a specific feature which defines the work modern. All art at one point in time was “contemporary” in comparison to what came before it.

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?

Definitely being female in this day and age influences my aesthetics. I guess you could say I am a feminist artist, not the bra burning, sign wielding type, but I certainly believe in equality for women, particularly in art. I empathise with women involved in the art world of history past and am awed by their courage and how far female artists have fought to shine through… but it still isn’t over yet. Through my art I believe I am conveying a woman's sense of self. Her individualism, her beauty, sensuality and mystery, her sexuality, strength and heart.

Your art seems to be a quest for “balance between abstract and realism, manipulating lines and colours to create a kaleidoscopic feel while remain a meticulous sense of order using acrylic and mixed media.” What is the role of technique in your practice? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating?

The very beginnings of inspiration for a new painting is to look for a pose. I will often troll through images of Avant Garde fashion photography, ballet, dance, naked portraiture and/or body-scapes to find just the right 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.