Not Random Art - Page 43

There is a small book called Topology in Bed by Chi Tsai Ni. It contains photographs and sketches of a series of temporary sculptures that Ni created from 1989 to 1999, which he re-made for the book, as the original works are gone. He would roll up his and his wife’s blankets into two tube form and they would interact in various ways. Ni stated that this idea came from his younger days when he accidentally lodged in a love hotel by mistake and on the bed, there was a mountain of blankets that alluded to sex. His sculptures have the same sexual undertone to them, not only because of how they are engaging with one another, but also because they exist only on a bed in a bedroom. He is able to create fantastic forms out of such ordinary objects, as well as illustrate a narrative based on their shared history and surroundings. I received this book as a gift and was immediately moved by the intimacy created by these domestic objects. Ni gave these two inanimate objects personalities through the color choice of the blankets, complementing orange and blue, and by subtly using his environment to imply an emotional history. Each interaction between the objects is not only a beautiful sculpture, but a poignant story based on the viewers projected experience of similar poses. This work pushed me to recognize the playful introspection that influenced the creation of my abstracted pillows. The imagined stories I created for each of his sculptures made me recognize my own body memory and how that was influenced through specific life experiences. I want to elicit a similar response in those viewing my work, and hope that it creates a meaningful dialogue about how one person may, for example, see a sculpture as violent and another may see it as loving based on the individual memories they project on each piece

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.

I have a terrible memory. I either forget all sorts of details and can only recall an overarching occurrence, or I only remember small things but am unable to accurately place them within a space or time. It is because of this that many times my memories get mashed together into something that is neither completely a dream or fantasized. It is this foggy in-between that influences my sculptural forms. On many occasions, I have begun making a form thinking it stemmed from a memory, but was in fact born from a dream. I feel as if these beginnings for my sculptures breathes life into them, and gives them an almost alive quality. This is probably why I tend to see their display not as just an art work, but as a type of anthropological exhibit depicting these pillows in various stages of development or social interactions.

What is the role of technique in your practice? In particular, are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating?

When I am making, I don’t set constraints, I just trust the process to yield something that may not always fruitful but is consistently enlightening. I usually start a piece with about 25% of a plan based off of a quick sketch, and allow the work to be guided by the materials. I surround myself with all of my tools and options, and will intuitively choose what I will work with based on my current mood or headspace, allowing for my subconscious to run the show. As I work and the piece changes, so will plans for how they are shown. Each pillow piece, though part of a larger whole, has an individual personality, which is why I will specifically construct different means of display for each one. However, sometimes I work backwards, and build work that perfectly suits a preexisting display. As I am making, I don’t always consider each material choice, but after I am finished, I look back on the work and recognize why each one was chosen, which helps me to better understand what each sculpture is trying to convey

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?

I think that the relationship between emotions and intellect is a symbiotic one, with emotional responses fueling intellectual dissection. If a viewer has an emotional response to my work, I hope that they then turn and look within to analyze where that reaction stemmed from. Alternatively, if someone is sitting with my sculptures, questioning what they see while trying to dissect it, I would hope that they conclude that the work cannot be placed into one single category, triggering an emotional response based on the discomfort of being unable to fully define it. Much of my work is deceptive and you must interact with it in order to garner all of the information it has to offer. Pillows that look plush are actually hollow porcelain shells, some that look light are in fact solid plaster, others seem soft but when touched, the viewer will discover that they are in fact covered in a thin layer of rubber cement. However, I have been struggling to find a way to convey participation, without being so up front as putting out as sign that says ‘please touch me’ or something to that affect. I have been relying on what I call “the sneaky touch”, which rewards the bold with more information. Many who have viewed my work, have commented that it begs to handled, and that they cannot resist looking around before slyly copping a feel. I have seen two women argue about the material of the porcelain work and then tap it, only to exclaim that its hard. They then turned around, and re-examined all of the other pieces, realizing that what they previously surmised about my sculptures, may not be true.

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.