Not Random Art - Page 67

Hello Marina and welcome to NotRandomArt. The current issue is revolving around the problem of 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?

Identity is a very tricky concept. I think somehow it doesn’t exist, it is just an attempt to narrate our own lives and the lives of others in order to settle something, because everything changes and everything moves, and we cannot describe the world unless we fill it up with words. Somehow identity is just an intellectual construction. However we seem to be attached to it, we cannot live without it. It is something that is not there, because it is only words, but it’s stuck inside our psyche. This constant contradiction is what I always find when I try to shape my aesthetics.

Identity in my opinion has two meanings: our individual identity, the regular meaning we understand about ourselves, that is at the bottom of our personalities that tries to define what we are. And then the cultural identity, how society shapes us and categorize us in different boxes that can basically define us in terms of what other people see of us, and how we identify with those boxes. As a person I try to defy the former. But as an artist I try to defy the latter. As a person I try to remind myself that there’s no such a thing as one called Marina that you can explain fully with language, to exist is simply contingent, for everyone. But as an artist I am trying to make obvious that the human can take as many shapes as we want. There is no essential you that is the same everyday. The irony of it is, in the moment I make an image, I am setting up an identity, a concrete aesthetic on it, whether I want it or not. So the defiance of identity as something essential only brings out my identity over and over, both cultural and individual. I think this famous melancholy of finishing an artwork comes from this, but also the drive to create more artworks. It is a pure contradiction, as identity itself.

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?

I grew up in Madrid, have always been related with the arts in one way or another. My father is an illustrator and drawing teacher, my mother runs a theater school in Madrid. I have been in touch with arts and music since I was a kid. But perhaps the most significant experience in terms of arts was when I went to a little art school to learn painting, Studio Arjona. The fact of being so few people in the school got me a very personalized education from the beginning. That I think you don’t get in a university. But in my opinion it is a huge advantage when you learn your own tendencies but also your flaws from scratch. In this art school I started to have a permanent attraction to human figure, so I decided to explore it more deeply.

Also, a big change came up when I moved to Berlin 4 years ago. Having the possibility of walking around the streets and see contemporary art everyday is something that shapes your daily relationship with the arts. In Berlin contemporary art is understood more as a natural practice than in Madrid. People have a daily relationship with it, sometimes even to the point of exhaustion, but it makes the practice of thousands of young people possible.

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

I could talk about many artworks and artists that have influenced my artistic practice in terms of identity.

But if you ask me just one, the first that comes to mind is Baselitz’s Oberon. Four heads looking at you with red background and a mysterious landscape between them. The idea of a painting that looks at you and not the other way around creeps me out, but also attracts me a lot. It is a similar idea to Juan Muñoz’s Towards the Corner. I think it changes something in our perception of an artwork, when the work itself tries to shape you, I find it really shocking and memorable. It makes you revisit the general idea you have of yourself. It makes you ask: if these four heads could talk, what would they say about the viewer. For those heads, we are their painting to look at. I find myself very often imagining the lives of people I see on the streets that I am never going to meet. So I imagine perfectly well these heads doing the same with me.

From painting to sculpture, body art to performance art, the body has figured prominently in the creative expression of nearly all cultures from the beginning of civilization. Through art, the body becomes a site for defining individual identity, constructing sex and gender ideals, negotiating power, and experimenting with the nature of representation itself. Human body as a psychological entity, alive, mutable seems to be a central point of your artistic practice. Could you talk a little bit about the presence and representation of a human body in your artistic practice?

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.