Not Random Art - Page 89

As for these times. Obviously here in America, we (well most of us) are still in shock and certainly up in arms against the xenophobic and completely irrational policies that are being implemented from the White House. White America has often lived in a kind of schism, both in love with idealistic views on freedom and equality, and unable to acknowledge that it hasn’t been made it real yet. We must not just address the dire human rights issues of the moment, but our perception of our country as a whole. People’s rights and securities are in danger. The planet is in danger. The feeling of emergency makes it both difficult to make art and necessary for art to keep living. I have been running back and forth between action and reflection, action and reflection, but now that we have had a few days, I realize, I can only act well out of that curious and evolvable mind I have found in painting. I once had a dream that my bare feet were in gravel at the bottom of a stream, cold water came up to my knees, and my head was in the air, so I could see everywhere. Most importantly my body made a connection between land, air, and water and this unity protected me and all the people around me. In the distance was a smoking forest that could not approach as long as I remained connected to all things.

I must keep both passion and reflection open and ready. Good actions come from reflection and curiosity. Gentleness invites new voices. The vulnerable are protected with strength and awareness. Art helps us to learn this.

Art can also create a common ground, a shared experience for all us to understand and carry, and great artists help us to experience isolation and fears in a body of poetry that helps us to empathize with these feelings without breaking apart. People often cannot tolerate empathy with feelings of pain without some poetry.

Often artists struggle to merge in their practice the modern relationship between mass media and “classical” forms of art, what is visible especially in painting. Could you place yourself in this tension?

I’m not sure if you are referring to the landscape of constant blaring advertising and flat screens, or digital forms of art. I love that art comes in so many intangible and varied forms; smoke, performance, animation. For the moment, I care more about points that are sharpened and softened to build a sort of rhythmic landscape than I do about representation. If I had more time I would explore more media, but I’m still learning to paint.

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?

Paintings can seem passive in comparison to interactive or performative works or our grabby-grabby technology. Instead, I feel that paintings give us the chance to activate ourselves in response, to put ourselves into the work instead of waiting to be dragged around by the hair. Wait for your own response.

Since we revolve around the issue of communication this time, we have one more question: in your opinion, can art change the future for inter-human communication?

How can art help us make sense of these complex histories?

think art has always been the base of inter-human communication. All of the myths and symbols of our conflicts and strengths are there. It carries the language of all of our gestures, our posture, and any beauty or ugliness we find and hopefully helps us to see they are not so separate. In the formation of America we have forgotten that language, perhaps the Puritans left it behind with the pagans? We don’t always trust our own perceptions and emotions, and so we rely on the language of capitalism to define artworks. This cynicism and distrust of the self is one of the biggest obstructions to more people finding an interest or a connection through the arts. The culture of exclusion in the “art world” intentionally creates self-doubt in people who haven’t been able to study or read about art in a theoretical manner. I would encourage people to engage in any arts they like whether they choose to share it or not and learn to trust themselves rather than others. Enjoy your own experience.

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

In painting I have started working on images based on lights in the dark. I have been fascinated with the colors of streetlights and flames and vigils in the night, pictures from revolutions and torches, or accidents, or simple walks through a city neighborhood. So I am beginning lots of paintings with these colors in mind. I’ve also been working on a little non-sequential graphic narrative that I started when I was too worried about using solvents in my small windowless apartment. The Fugitives Astronomy Club will continue to grow this year. They like to travel through the mail, so I would welcome requests for a few little prints of them.

I guess what this means is I am always trying to drop what is non-essential, sort of like the empty handed figures I made when I first started.

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.