Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Talk to me! (1)

While I unravel a piece that hasn’t worked out and of which only the title remains (Keeping seven sisters warm – hope to return to it in winter) I ponder questions posed by an an art professional I hold in high esteem: "What is your gift to the audience? What would you want to happen to them?" It’s something I haven’t much thought about before – I do not commune with an imaginary viewer while I crochet away, but try to make work that pleases and challenges me first of all, hoping it will ultimately be able to stand up for itself in the world. My art practice is mostly a solipsistic pursuit – after all I make my work on the living room floor and direct contact and conversations with other artists are still rare. So what better place than talking here, with you?
The first thing I would say is that I want my art to move. My work is not about big statements, even if its underlying theme, exploring notions of otherness, is an important one. I hope to affect the skip of a heart-beat, a jolt, a pierce, a sudden mini mind-stumble, when at second glance the viewer realises things are not as simple as they seem. And in that little side-step a different form of engagement might be possible, a drawing close, a connection. Maybe to people’s childhood memories, to how they felt when they were small. Maybe to other instances of vulnerability, of uncertainty - or of judgement. And when they try to imagine what kind of body might inhabit one of my outfits maybe they'd ask themselves questions about perfect and imperfect bodies, about what we phantasise and project when faced with the mystery of otherness, in ourselves, in those we know, in those we don’t know.
More to think about: abjection, the psyche, form, medium, beauty, but too tired just now. What's on your mind?


redredday said...

hi Marjojo, i was waiting for people to join in this conversation, hoping to get more insight to the questions you posed and other people's perspective on the topic in general.

me too, i want my art to move and touch people. but isn't that a given and what every kind of artist wants to achieve? why are those questions even asked of us?

i have some conflicting thoughts on artist statements and how we are expected to talk/write about our work. i was lamenting to my sister...something to the effect of not knowing how to write and express things in words and how i wish i can be more articulate. being the supportive (and honest) sister that she is, she responded, well, that is why you make art.

i understand and don't understand why we are expected to have an artist statement. do writers have a writer's statement? what about musicians? couldn't you see/hear the work and know? i am not against artist statements, but just suggesting that it should be something optional. there are so many artist statements out there that try to be interesting and deep but just end up with a lot of big words and meaninglessness, which is all very unnecessary if we weren't always asked to have an artist statement. not every one of us can write well. and while all of are constantly exploring and discovering ways about our work, not all of us have come up with a great artist statement to box it all in yet. and is it even necessary??

having said this, i can really appreciate an artist's work more when i come across a good artist statement. which is how i feel about your work, Marjojo. i am so impressed at how you are able to talk about your work with such depth and meaning. is it more because you can write or because you understand your work at its core?

Marjojo said...

A comment! Where is my thinking cap? Thank you, Mien! Just a couple of things now, the rest will take longer: I don't think all art moves, and I don't think it is every artist's aim. There's art that reacts to art, art that maybe gets you to engage intellectually, art that is all about surface, gives quick satisfaction and is almost instantly forgotten. Or the focus may be on beauty for beauty's sake. This makes me think that I want my art to be of the world, in the world, not just of the art-world. And I want art to work on all kinds of levels, aesthetics, emotions, intellect… And to have depth, its effects lingering even when you're not looking at the piece anymore. Putting the stakes very high here, and not sure how well I'm doing within this kind of ambition. Intent ain't enough.
I guess there are different ways of being moved and you asking the questions has made me think a bit harder about what I mean. Not so clear here, but wondering whether there's a social element I'm interested in foremost. Thinking cap too small, will come back to this.
Re: artists' statements - they are a normal requirement now, for every little show we apply for. I'm worried too that my words end up being bigger than the work. On the other hand I do want to say something with my art, what exactly may well be unclear when I start making the work but something happens in the process of making, which is fairly lengthy and quiet in my case, with things brewing at the back of my head until after the work has been finished, when I seem to change from maker into viewer and, if the work is good, find things/ideas I didn't know I'd put there. That's the point when I can start to write about it, and I'm lucky here, as I actually enjoy writing. Doesn't stop me worrying though, about what I say and how, and if it does the work justice.

Susan Kruse said...

I like this conversation! I never really think about the viewer when I am making any of my wild work, like tha rain paintings or the frost pictures. The moment I am in, the excitement of the process is so intense that I am not thinking about anything else. Except....I have just realised that actually there is a tiny, tiny voice inside that is talking to me about judgement. Whhen I take a painting out of the rain, when I decide how much ink to pour in the paper, when I compose the image, in that moment I must have an imaginary viewer in mind.
Mien, I agree with you about artist statements - they often drive me nuts! I think they are useful if you have a very complex idea, or if your methods or materials rare unusual. I think they have become ubiquitous because we are less a visual and more a literate, word-orientated culture. But sometimes you find an artist who can talki about their work without pretension, in a way that enhances or brings more clarity to the experience of viewing the work, and I agree with you that Marion is particularly good at doing that.