Review of Work 2021

[10 minute read]

The functionality of materiality questions what function contemporary sculpture plays within the white cube space.

Perception is influenced by the demonstration of process, such as the refinement of a craft and I relate this to the aesthetic quality surrounding the hand made and the mechanical made and the limitations of expression from materials. This is where language recognition connects with the visual language and the Surrealists were leaders in this field of study. René Magritté is famous for claiming the beginning of modern art with his work, The Treachery of Images (this is not a pipe) 1929. Challenging the linguistic and visual values by contextualising images equal to conscious understanding. Questioning the viewers acceptance of the image of the pipe, but also explaining ‘This is not a pipe’ therefore perplexing the philosophy of epistemology . Magritté aligned himself not with artists but with philosophers and regarded poetry the best way to express humanism. The titles that Magritté uses are ambivalent and he dramatised titles so to commodify the discussion, his interdisciplinary motif has seen his work as a canon for critical thinking.

Why do we label work if not to bring attention to the artists interpretations using text as a method of expression? By reading and therefore thinking about the title we conclude many thoughts, explore associations which gives the artist an opportunity to expand on the physical work presented. It’s a method of creating greater engagement and verifies what the viewers encounter. Influential writings such as Roland Barthes essay “Death of an Author” 1967 is referring to the inability to create ideas as writers/artists are scriptures delivering literature that will become something perceived once received by the reader.

Foreign objects is something Im personally effected by and Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut (1985) was a book that stuck in my memory and strangely reimagines itself as I contemplate our evolution during these strange times where we are all feeling like we have lost our normalities. The story is about a cruise ship called the ‘Nature Cruise of the Century’ where a device called the Mandarax is onboard (a mega computer), But the reliance on technology is no help when the last humans arrive on an island and evolve into sleek furry creatures with flippers. The story of the past is haunting the present, its a meta-narative and transcribes so much of the research I have been focusing on this past year.

Foreign Objects 2021 plastic wood cement rope rubber plaster ceramics metal & speaker H1.5m W 90cm L 2.5m

My MAFA PIPELINE;

Is an enigma of art which excites me, the mystery surrounding work, motivates me to dive into the unknown,   search beyond the initial text so to uncover, decode or trail along rhizome paths of information.

At first, this learning journey was engrossed with data- sonification and transferring data into tactile hand woven vessels. They grew from research collected while trying to understand the reasoning behind peoples reactions that lead them to be convicted with capital punishment at a time when death by hanging was considered a form of justice.

My process of creating woven sculptural forms changed when my research evolved with the addition of the study of topology and the correlation to unjustified deaths with reference to the horrendous incidents at Camber Sands in 2016 where 7 men lost their lives. Camber Sands notorious tidal formations that turn sand into cement and the other ecological habitats found within the variable sand dunes are all elements that were uncovered during my investigation.

The silk roads of economic power is restricted by pipelines. The raising sales of cement which obviously correlates with construction projects inviting sales to rise by 20% by the end of 2017 just in Pakistan. [Frankopan F 2019. p96] The dangerous effect of cement is that it absorbs water and therefore takes it away from our circulatory water system. Reducing our water usage is a common message from privatised water companies to house holders, yet most the water we use is recycled. The water issue is a major concern for Central Asia due to the depletion of the Aral Sea. [Frankopan F 2019 p57] This sea would feed the rivers that supported Soviet agricultural farms but with the sea bed dry, the salt has been swept to parts of [yo-bek-is-tarn] Uzbekistan, covering wheat crops by a centimetre of salt causing massive crop failures. 

The incredible infrastructure that is being invested in by Eastern governments are a direct response to reduce climate degradation. The China Development Bank declared a $890bn development plan focusing on transportation, infrastructure and energy with forty nine other countries. I think China is my marmite, they are working hard to reduce the effects of the global blanket but their lack of religious freedom and the slow progress of alleviating poverty counter balances the progress made.

During unit 2 and 3 I began exploring the concept of the hidden, what lays beyond and the unseen. Influenced by my trip to Berlin and how functional pipes coincide with the utilitarian cityscape as they displace water from the river Spree. Another rendition of this but closer to home is the Architectural designed Lloyds building in London by Richard Rogers. 

The natural air-conditioning system is part of the architectural composition that provides views and reflections for those inside and that can also be seen and enjoyed by those on the outside”. Gumuchdjian. P (1997)

Close up of rope vessel within Foreign Objects.

Removing a mineral and colonising a place is the human condition that has projected us beyond the Anthropocene. Pipes are used within my work as the visual sign of displacement and foreign objects. This is how I personally relate to my practice, I identify myself as being foreign, I have no place where I’m not considered foreign. Originally from Aotearoa where the first settlers arrived from neighbouring Pacific Islands but were colonised in 1642. I am therefore a westerner, a white European that was born in the Pacific and because of my accent, I’m regarded a foreigner in the United Kingdom. I am a privileged white female artist and this MAFA course has delivered me to these conclusions about my identity.

Studio image 2021 Camberwell College of Art.

For our final showcase I wanted to create work that could be read as a celebration so I have added playful elements such as the yellow foam water floats. Im critical of my reflective anxiety being rendered within my work. The bland plaster castings demonstrate oddities lost at sea but also a response to a period of bland culture enforced upon us during lockdowns and gallery closures. Balancing feelings of utter despair with hope so that an audience will be attracted to it is a constant battle I find myself in when proposing work for gallery spaces. My methodology to overcome this challenge is to set up a group to support people suffering with eco-anxiety by focusing on practises towards ecological wellness.

Film still taken from the Exhibition Unmute Copeland Gallery London 2021

Some of the methods of expanding my practice is by collaborating with professional dancers such as Yma Ziranek Wilson [pictured above]whom signs herself as a Circus Artist. She visualised the concept of rotation , circular motions with captivating, mesmerising effect within our MAFA exhibition at the Copeland Gallery back in June. I also seek a broad scope of research from qualifying bodies such as the University of Exeter referring to topics such as climate science. Seeking solutions from field experts, scientists and meteorologist by engaging with them via forums and participating in projects.

Install day at the South London Gallery 2021

I also situate the visual signification of pipes as a method of questioning the function of art in the digital and post digital age. The project that James Leonard is currently investigating ON how the arts can work beside scientific approaches so to encourage a process where people will respond progressively towards the climate crisis. 

Currently humans respond IN 4 ways during a crisis depending if its

 instantaneous, 

imminent, 

personal 

or find it repulsive. 

Therefore we are not able to deal with the complex problems connected with our climate breakdown. We can’t fathom the magnitude of the treat and fit it in with our current values. People have become mis-informed because this fits with their current values, by doING so this re-enforces our beliefs , our values and gives a level of confidence to our ignorance. I wanted to respond to this research by installing Foreign Objects. 

Published by Melinda W

Working towards a Masters in Fine Art, lives in Kent.

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