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British Museum – Hierarchy and Power (T.O.P.)

Although I’m in the Materials, Process and Self group, I chose Hierarchy and Power, mainly because I’m interested in how power is evoked through mark-making.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find my notes anywhere but I’ll run through what was discussed on the day and what mainly interested me.

Firstly, we were show some drawing by Goya in which the subjects had power imposed upon them, we also looked at some drawing in which the subject themselves held a gaze, a power in the eye that followed the spectator. Hence this discussion was based on the hierarchy and power in relation to the subject. This was developed on when looking at a drawing by Tracey Emin in which the subject is weak, the spectator is gazing down at the figure draped across the ground, it is the viewer who is perhaps, playing the hierarchal position here.

We moved on further to how power has been evoked though mark-making.

We looked at drawings by Henry Moore, in which the form became like a giant landscape and engulfed the space. I really liked the Matisse drawing of the female figure, although most people know him for his cuttings, this Matisse’s drawing demonstrated his ability before his accident. I find it interesting at to how he managed to allow his abstract style to influence his cuttings too, and how he used this method to continue creating.
I found this workshop to be really useful because it helped me think more about what I’m trying to achieve in my own drawings.

Visit to High Holborn

20/02/2015

I had planned to buy my perspex sheets from Hamar Acrylics on Wednesday, Isabelle gave me the dimensions which were 450mm x 600mm and 4mm in depth, so I went to Bethnal Green to get the black sheets cut to scale but when I got there, I found out they didn’t do black perspex in 4mm thickness, only 3mm and 5mm. Being new to laser cutting I was reluctant to buy anything thicker or thinner just incase seeing as the material costs £48 for 5 sheets so I went back to Isabelle to check if it would be fine, which she confirmed so. So I went back today to collect it in the 3mm thickness.

I also went with the group to visit Gavin at the exhibition space in the morning just so that we could all discuss where we want to place our works, get another feel for the space again and see what needs to be done to it. Roshai had a few issues with how small the space was initially, I think we were all a bit deflated but the more we walked around, the more we realised there was more than enough space for our works to sit harmoniously in the space.

We weren’t too happy with the floor, there were paint marks all over it, we asked Gavin if we could paint over it or if anything could be done to clean the floor but he said no. I think it’s really bad and unprofessional because no one should be expected to to exhibit in a space where the floor is covered in streaks of paint, especially in a building such as High Holborn which has so much money poured into it. We are trying to think of a solution to this problem as it’s a distraction and will look really bad with my floor sculptures. I may have to make plinths for them which won’t really take long but it’s not really how I wanted to present them, Eve suggested a green felt fabric or grass and I was quite against the idea as I believe it will clash and look ridiculous in the space, especially as all of our work is pretty dark.

Preparing For The Presentation

In the lead up to the presentations for our next tutorial, we decided as a group that we would all provide our own opinions of certain essays from Agnes Martin’s – Writings including the lecture, we decided to use 3 texts from the book and analyse them in 2 groups, 3 of us look at one text and 4 looked the other 2 (these were smaller). In Google Drive we also created a document to which we could add points on about all texts and exhibition visits as well as defining what is meant by internal processes and how all the research we looked at interlinks.

This document also become useful in helping us summarize all important points we wanted to include in the presentation in a concise way. As a group we managed to discuss ways in which we would go on to present the topic in the 45 minutes, this was in the form of a PowerPoint presentation which included basic slides for the audience to refer to for an overview of the most relevant points that express what the internal process of the artist is most effectively. Alongside this, me and Ari organised who would be speaking about what during the presentation and asked each person to prepare notes on it.

This is the document on Google Drive that we put together:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YW4NWHF7UOhBBCXqpGZlYbU9-syBQypDJk8YIysroiQ/edit

I do have lots of concerns with my group, mainly the fact that they don’t contribute much and I’m getting very tired of having to force them to speak up. Me and Ari are really trying hard to integrate the group and get them contribute their ideas but I’m losing my patience with me and Ari having to put all of the work in because it’s unfair. Me and Ari pulled together a PowerPoint together for the presentation for the tutorial on Thursday.

T.O.P. Texts and Research – Agnes Martin and Joseph Kosuth.

I found our initial meeting pretty difficult as I’m still recovering from being ill, my cognitions were very slow and I’ll probably be like this for a while so trying to gather my thoughts and express my ideas has not been easy. However, after the meeting I was thinking long and hard on the train and realised that I had attended seminars with Dave Beech on Choices, Decisions and Judgement during Stage One. I thought it would be useful to look over the notes I have made as choices, decisions and judgements as this is the essence of an artists practice and relies on their internal processes/cognitions.

I had a thorough search and came across some notes on Agnes Martin and Joseph Kosuth which lead me to research both names and found a very helpful essay by…

Joseph Kosuth – ‘Art After Philosophy.’

http://www.intermediamfa.org/imd501/media/1236865544.pdf

This was an interesting essay as it speaks about art as a language and how artists’ question the nature of art and what they individually do to bring, change or alter the nature of art. This may be by propositioning tautologies surrounding art. Kosuth made a point about how Duchamp’s contribution to art (let’s face it, he was THE MAJOR game changer in Conceptual art), applies to all work after his time, in the sense that artists have all borrowed this idea of aiming to make their art speak some kind of language. What makes it different is that of course, the artist has their own intent and this goes on to inform the language the artist is trying to speak through their art and the meaning they are trying to express. For me, this is something that we always consider as artists, because we all have our individual experiences and interests, we are all creating our own visual or sensual language informed by our own internal processes.

Agnes Martin – Writings/Schriften

This book is a compilation of personal essays and lectures by Agnes Martin, she speaks of the artists journey and their practice as something quite spiritual and innate in which our decisions are impulsive and need no logical thought to them. She expresses the importance of being reflective, looking to nature for inspiration and being alone in this journey is essential to our practice as it allows us to become more self-conscious and aware but prioritise our art over most things. I like Martin’s writings because it relates back to de Chirico’s ‘Mystery and Creation’, both speak of the process of creating as something instinctual that occurs out of the artist’s hunger to explore and how this derives from deeper, natural impulses that go beyond our logic. But I was also critical of Martin’s Writings as I found she disregards how important logical deductions are in the process of making. Artists have an active role in decision making and MUST make logical deductions when faced with a problem, this is not something that happens out of thin air in the way that Martin assumes. To expand on this, she also disregards how external experience in the social world informs our practices and that art isn’t purely natural and just felt. In some ways we need these experiences in order to make sense of some impulses we experience. So as a realist, I feel Agnes Martin offers heavily romanticised ideas that are unrealistic. Especially those of being alone. As artists and humans, we collaborate, we learn from one another. This is human nature and we cannot just hide away from the world.

I sent links to my group for them to read into and explained my reasons for thinking this would be a good route to take as it offers a holistic explanation of internal processes as opposed to psychoanalytical theory which I know, does not feed into everyone’s practice and they all seem to agree and like the text by Agnes Martin.

Hi there, my name is Arachne…

I’m not a weaver but I sure want to be one.

Whilst reading up on Janine Antoni’s Slumber (1993), I was given some historical context behind weaving, well – a Greco Mythological story which has really inspired me and left me quite excited!

To retell the story briefly, Arachne was a weaver, versions of the myth differ but she was either said to be a daughter of a shepard or a princess. At this art, she was most gifted and not just by the final product but the process was said to be a magical sight. People would compare her abilities to that of the Goddess Athena – the Goddess of weaving.

Arachne boasted about her gift but did not appreciate being positioned below Athena at the art. This angered Athena, but Athena gave Arachne a chance to redeem herself by meeting her in the disguise of an old woman and suggesting she repent for offending the Goddess. However, Arachne refused and welcomed challenge from Athena – she was so confident at her skill that she even said that if she were to lose, she would accept any punishment given.

Here onwards I’ve quoted from http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/arachne.html because I just really loved the way it was explained.

‘The goddess accepted the challenge and revealed her true form. The nymphs who had come to watch Arachne’s weaving shrunk back in fear, but Arachne stood her shaky ground. She had made a claim, and she was sticking to it. So the contest began, the mortal at her loom, the goddess at hers. Athena began to weave the scene of her contest with Poseidon for the city of Athens. A beautiful scene developed from the threads, showing Poseidon and the salt water spring, and Athena with an olive tree, gifts to the people who would name Athena as their patron, and their city after her. The bystanders marveled at the goddess’ work.

Arachne, for her part, created a tapestry showcasing scenes of Zeus‘ various infidelities: Leda with the Swan, Europa with the bull, Dana� and the golden rain shower. So exquisite was the mortal’s work that the bull seemed lifelike, swimming across the tapestry with a real girl on his shoulders. Even Athena herself was forced to admit that Arachne’s work was flawless. (Whether or not Arachne was actually better than Athena is still a mystery.)

Angered at Arachne’s challenge, as well as the presumptuousness of her choice of subjects, Athena tore the tapestry to pieces and destroyed the loom. Then she touched Arachne’s forehead, making sure that she felt full guilt for her actions. Arachne was ashamed, but the guilt was far too deep for her poor, mortal mind. Depressed, she hung herself.

Athena took pity on Arachne. She most likely did not expect that Arachne would commit suicide. She brought her back to life, but not as a human. By sprinkling her with the juices of aconite, Athena transformed the woman into a spider, her and her descendants to forever hang from threads and to be great weavers. ‘

So you might be asking what the interest is with this myth…
Well, to me, this myth demonstrates a lot about the empowerment of women, their strength and highly competitive nature at what they do. And of course, weaving Is considered a feminine activity which results in beautiful, delicate and sensitive tapestries. (You can see that I’m hitting on dualities here).

I think it’s equally important to consider the spider too. I hate spiders, I think they’re hideous things but they spin the most wonderful webs, in fact, I recall reading a fact about how female spiders are more aggressive than males, especially when it comes to protecting their young, their maternal instincts kick in. So I should probably give them more credit for being nature’s weavers.

Penelope & Odysseus

Some more Greek Mythology, truly magical!

Penelope was the daughter of Icarius and a first cousin of Helen of Troy. She was the wife of Odysseus and was famous for her cleverness and for her faithfulness to her husband.

When Odysseus failed to return from the Trojan War (he was delayed for ten years on his way home), Penelope was beset by suitors who wanted her to remarry. In order to delay them, she insisted that she could not remarry until she had finished weaving a shroud for Odysseus’ father, Laertes. She worked each day at her loom, and then unravelled the cloth each night. After three years of successful delay, one of her servants revealed her deception, and the impatient suitors angrily demanded that she choose one of them for her husband immediately. At the prompting of Athene, Penelope said that she would marry the man who could string Odysseus’ bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axes. By this time, Odysseus himself had secretly returned, disguised as a beggar; he passed the test of the bow, and then proceeded to slaughter the suitors who had tormented his wife.

Again, copied from: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/p/penelope.html

This leaves me questioning whether I am also interested in interlacing fibres and perhaps how it acts as a representation of forming/severing bonds in a broader sense, not just the maternal? This could be a bond of love or friendship, where people are eternally bound to one another. Or the breaking in which a bond has not yet been made or already destroyed.