Not Random Art - Page 78

There hasn’t been one specific artwork that has had a pivotal impact on my work, but on meeting Phoebe Cummings at Unit Twelve, and discovering her stunning clay installations, I knew that I also wanted to create larger scale works that could speak to a wider audience. I also felt my ideas of creating delicate pieces was validated, I no longer had to concentrate on the need for wearability, durability and overall practicality. Artwork could be temporary, transient and fragile.

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

I really hate rules and find them totally restrictive on creativity and imagination, but having learnt traditional jewellery techniques, I know that there are some rules you need to work to in order to create successful objects. I love to experiment, so I am always introducing new techniques and materials into my practice, but generally hand forming clay or epoxy putty growths and hand-piercing sheet metals using paper cutting techniques are my starting points. These techniques can be restrictive in terms of size. I am incredibly focused on achieving perfect details and intricate finishes, but this can make it difficult to create something large! Both with making clay growths and piercing metal sheet there is a limit to the size I can create without losing the intricacy and important details. This means I have to make lots of small things to create one big thing, which is very time-consuming but visually effective.

I’m currently working on new ways of how I can batch produce elements without losing the natural, handmade quality. I don’t like to mass-produce anything, I like to create everything from scratch, so it’s challenging as I don’t want to undermine the integrity of my work.

“Mental illness has a huge effect on so many people, yet still remains a taboo subject. “ Could you talk a little bit about the role of memory in your practice?

Memory and emotional connection are so important as they allow us to learn and adapt. The use of my own personal memories of anxiety and introversy are invaluable to my practice; they are me and therefore they impact both the aesthetic and concept behind my artwork. To base work on your own feelings gives it an authenticity that can’t be replicated and memory is a huge part of that.

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?

Although I want my work to be well received and understood, I know that there will always be people who don’t understand it or dislike it and so I don’t make my work specifically to appeal to anyone. I don’t use controversial language or visuals, so I know there won’t be any controversy on its display. I want to create artwork that is intriguing and unexpected, I don’t want to merely create something beautiful; I need to know that it has a reason and if only one person understands it and learns from it, that’s enough for me.

Visual language is so subjective that I just want the public to enjoy my work on some level, whether they just think it’s different and therefore a tiny form of escapism or whether they feel an emotional understanding and connection to the piece.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sophie. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Thank you so much for taking an interest in my work and giving me this opportunity to share it.

I am currently developing new installation ideas combining hand-pierced sheet metals with even more fungi inspired natural/surreal forms and looking to create smaller works of sculpture and wearable art from enameled metals and clays. There’s much more experimentation to come!

Keep up to date with my latest work on social media: www.facebook.com/SophieSymesArtistJeweller, www.instagram.com/sophiesymescraftartist

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.