Not Random Art - Page 59

Hello Shane, 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?

Thanks very much for the opportunity. Jumping right in, I don’t know that there is much I can say that people don't already see regarding the unsettling state of these unstable times, as you put it, specifically in America. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe one of the problems currently is people assuming and shutting themselves up prematurely. That could be said for many different situations, I suppose. Like my identity, is not as rooted in the issues of politics, race, gender as it is mental health. This is a topic I care deeply about because I'm effected deeply by it. I’ve been diagnosed a few times but the one that seemed to stick is schizoaffective disorder. This, because it’s completely managed, has been more helpful than a hindrance. Hearing and seeing things that aren't there is the purpose anyway, right? But really, this, film and design are what help form my aesthetics. Not to glaze over those last two, but I don't think me talking about P.T. Anderson is what this is all about.

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 was born in a small town called Wilmore, Kentucky. I went to college at Asbury University until I finished school at a school called New York Center for Art and Media Studies. Then I received an MFA from Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2015 and have been in Philadelphia ever since. I decided after college I was never going back to school, but after years of unfulfilling jobs and then the encouragement of my wife, I went back and made the move from Kentucky to Philadelphia. So, other than my general want or desire to be an artist, it was my wife and a bit of soul crushing that brought me to where I am now.

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?

That’s tough. There is one painting by Gary Hume that I’ve never been able to forget called “Begging For It.” It’s a figure with hands put together in front of itself, either begging or praying or what’s the difference? It’s great and I absolutely love those works that could be labeled ambiguous. That’s what I strive for in most of my work. I’m trying to present a question, not pretend like I’ve got the answers.

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

My main thing is balance, compositionally speaking. It all ties in with design, even if I’m using people on a screen. I would say that I have to get myself into the right place, like before a basketball game, before I film. So these techniques, rules, etcetera would probably apply to myself rather than any medium or equipment. It really is like a game: psyching yourself up for it, performing, and the come down.

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?

For me, the intellectual has to be crafted and is the part that comes in at the forefront of any project. It feels like an outline to the work. After that is when the emotional is injected in to fill up all the gaps. This is the area that comes a bit more naturally to me, and the one that I feel is truly immersive to viewers. It’s like making an artistic yawn, making the viewer yawn back.

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, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

It’s like I said about the yawn, you know, you hope they yawn back. But that absolutely cant be the purpose of creating. You definitely need to consider the audience when making a project, but that also shouldn't stop you from doing something. For example, I knew I would get some flack for doing anything involving the american flag in a video, then I did. From a veteran. I was surprised for a different reason, but shouldn't have been. I am mindful but that is as much as I can, and probably should, muster

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.