Further to my tutor’s feedback from last assignment she recommended I put together a statement of intent for my practice.
Initially I read a number of essays from the book my tutor recommended: Harrison,C & Wood, P(eds.) Art In Theory: 1900-2000. An anthology of changing ideas. Oxford: Blackwell.
I found that there was quite a cross-over between art theory and English literary theory so I also dug out some old textbooks from my English Literature degree, to give myself a bit of a refresher:
- Eagleton, T (1983) Literary Theory: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Wabler, D (ed) Literature in The Modern World. Critical Essays and Documents. Oxford: Oxford University. pp. 362-364
This was useful in getting me to consider my artwork in theoretical terms. In the past I had been interested in Japanese aesthetics, specifically, but had failed to connect my practice to Western critical thought.
From identifying my overall interests I put together a mind map:
When conducting the literary review I found so much of the theory to be relevant : Psychoanalysis, Existentialism, Benjamin, Derrida (Deconstruction) and Japanese aesthetics all seemed to be valid. It was clear I was becoming quite bogged down with the sheer volume of relevant theory. A friend of mine who is a university lecturer in visual culture recommended I stick to just one aspect but I was finding this difficult at first. I decided to keep this in my mind whilst undertaking the exercises in an attempt to understand what my motivations are and what I was actually trying to communicate.
Through the process of producing the art I realised I was really interested in loss, which was relevant to Freud and also Derrida’s theories and discussions around archive, absence and presence, and so came up with the following statement of intent. The artists’ work that I have looked at in relation to this are noted in the following slideshow:
Statement of Intent
1. Working Title of Theme & Work aims
‘Loss, absence and presence’
An investigation into the process of loss and how that can be depicted via the medium of print. In exploring particular effects and materials a new artwork with its own presence emerges.
My intention is to use subject matter, i.e. objects; old photographs or landscapes, which can project associations of loss and / or melancholy.
After conducting a literature review on the subjects of loss, absence and presence I decided to focus on the theories of psychoanalysis and deconstruction as a basis for my work.
Freud (1917:244) explains how mourning operates within the psyche of the individual.
‘Reality-testing has shown that the loved object no longer exists, and it proceeds to demand that all libido shall be withdrawn from its attachments to that object. This demand arouses understandable opposition …The opposition can be so intense that a turning away from reality takes place and a clinging to the object through the medium of a hallucinatory wishful psychosis.’
This drive is also discussed by Derrida (1995:57) when he discusses the state of Archive Fever ‘It is to have a compulsive, repetitive, and nostalgic desire for the archive, an irrepressible desire to return to the origin, a homesickness, a nostalgia for return to the most archaic place of absolute commencement’.
Within this text Derrida discusses the relationships between archive and creating an impression through the medium of print: ‘there is no archive without consignation in an external place which assures the possibility of memorization, of repetition, of reproduction, or of reimpression’.
An archive needs a substrate to survive, therefore; it is the printed form that gives the archive life and allows it to exist. There is a ghostly aspect to the archive that Derrida explains:
‘ the structure of the archive is spectral. It is a spectral a priori: neither present or absent “in the flesh” neither visible nor invisible, a trace always referring to another whose eyes can never be met’ (54)
He clarifies this desire to return, of being haunted by the past but within the text he also states ‘it is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The archive: if we want to know what that will have meant, we will only know in times to come’ (36)
This ‘response’ is at the heart of my creative intentions. My aims are to find archive images, with associations of loss and absence then via the process of printmaking produce outputs that are at this time unforeseen, but that will become present in their own right, through their own materiality and reality.
(See slideshow for annotated images)
The following artists use archive material in their works and some are also concerned with similar themes.
Paul Coldwell cites absence and presence as themes for his work. (Coldwell, s.d.)
Michael Fullerton, although he states that ephemera ‘is not a major issue in his work’ (Elderton, s.d.) it is difficult to escape this interpretation within his work ‘Peel Sessions, Maida Vale Studios, February 4, 2004’ as he uses newsprint paper which is wrinkled and peels away from the wall and also only uses a finite amount of ink so that the image fades away. Perhaps the interpretation of loss is in the eye of the audience as the DJ died that same year a few months after these photos were taken.
Andy Warhol, particularly Marilyn Diptich in which the artist varied the image using different colour and registration methods, he also used fading effects, alluding to the untimely death of the subject. (Wilson, 1991)
Luc Tuymans uses muted palettes in his paintings, which I find appealing. This creates a distance and detached quality to the work.
Gerhard Richter, as Tuymans above, uses similar colour choices. His use of paint to obliterate image and instead focus on technique gives a presence to the work in 2D pictorial space, the photographic subject matter becomes less important than the paint itself.
Kaye Donachie creates atmosphere and presents a narrative by using layering within her images. In this her ‘male and female characters merge and separate’ they are ‘part living, part dreaming’ (Maureen Paley, 2014)
Ginny Grayson’s concerns seem to be most closely aligned with my own. She uses old photographs, archive material to present her ‘contemplating the uncertainties of life’(Grayson, 2011). In her discussion of her series Eyes she goes on to say ‘I have come to see this as related to the desire for the subject to simultaneously be there and yet not there; to somehow be emerging and receding at the same time.’
4. Techniques & processes
- Restricted to the course exercises – reduction-cut linocut and experimental methods.
- Limited subtle palette in an attempt to convey a mood and atmosphere of loss / melancholy/ fading.
- Mark-making & textures that reflect the illusory / ephemeral nature of objects.
- Use fine papers and materials that emphasize ephemerality and the potentiality of loss.
- Erasure – through obliteration and layering that leave behind ‘traces’ / ghost impressions.
- Experimental methods e.g. try caustic soda etching on lino to emphasize loss/ obliteration / decay.
- Wk 1 – Contextual research
- Wk 2 – Design stage
- Wk 3 – 5 – reduction cut
- Wk 6 – Experimental processes
- Wk 7 – 8 Relief prints using above processes.
6. Proposed Evaluation Method
I will be evaluating my progress through reflection in my online learning blog after each exercise and at the end against the course evaluation criteria.
For this body of work to be successful I will have produced work that depicts an impression of loss / fading time, plus the prints will be aesthetically pleasing and technically competent.
Coldwell, P (s.d) welcome [online] At: http://www.paulcoldwell.org (Accessed: 10th April 2016)
Derrida, J and Prenowitz, E (1995) Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. In: Diacrities, Vol. 25, Number 2 (Summer, 1995) pp. 9-63[online] At: http://www.jstor.org/stable/465144 (Accessed 25th April 2016)
Elderton, L (s.d) Artist in Focus [online] At: http://blog.jerwoodvisualarts.org/?p=286 (Accessed: 10th April 2016)
Freud,S (1917) Mourning and Melancholia In: Strachley, J. (ed.) The Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. London. Hogarth. pp. 243-251 [online] At:http://www.english.upen.edu/~cavitch/pdf-library/Freud_MourningAndMelancholia.pdf (Accessed: 8th March 2016)
Grayson, G (2011) Ginny Grayson website: Text: Eyes [online] At : http://www.ginnygrayson.com/text.html (Accessed: 10th April 2016)
Grisebach, L and Barton L (s.d.) Gerhard Richter Biography [online] At: http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T)72020?q=Gerhard+richter&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit (Accesses: 10th April 2016)
Maureen Paley (2014) KAYE DONACHIE: Exhibition press release [online] At: http://www.maureenpaley.com/exhibitions/past/2014/kaye-donachie/press (Accessed 10th April 2016)
Wilson, Simon (1991) An Illustrated Companion [online] At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artwork/s/Warhol-marilyn-diptych-t03093/text-illustrated-companion (Accessed: 10th April 2016)
List of Images
Fig. 1: Tuymans, L (1992) The diagnostic View [Oil on canvas] At:https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/f1/b7/b0/f1b7b07d04c9a1d31e3643c67cddc93e.jpg (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 2: Tuymans, L (2000) Lumumba [Oil on canvas] At: http://www.moma.org/collection/works/82832?locale=en (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 3: Fullerton, M (2004) Peel Sessions, Maida Vale Studios, February 4, 2004 [Screenprint on Newsprint] At: http://blog.jerwoodvisualarts.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/010_DSC1950.jpg (Accessed on 13 April 2016)
Fig 4: Fullerton, M. (2010) Using Polish technology, Alan Turing devised a more sophisticated machine to crack Enigma Screenprint on Newsprint] At: http://www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk/artwork/using-polish-technology-alan-turing-devised-more-sophisticated-machine-crack-enigma Accessed on 13 April 2016)
Fig 5: Richter, G (1971) Brigid Polk (305) [Oil on canvas] At: (https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/art/paintings/photo-paintings/women-27/brigid-polk-4776Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 6: Richter, G. (1995) S Mit. Kind [Oil on Canvas] At: https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/art/paintings/photo-paintings/mother-and-child-15/s-with-child-8128/?&referer=search&title=s+mit+kind&keyword=s+mit+kind (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig. 7: Grayson, G. (2011) Sisters [Oil on canvas] At: http://www.ginnygrayson.com/eyes-2011.html (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 8: Grayson, G. (2004) Skeptic [Watercolour on paper] At:http://www.ginnygrayson.com/shy-2005.html (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 9: Donachie, K. (2010) Myself I think shall never know, how far beneath the wave I go [Oil on canvas] At: http://www.maureenpaley.com/artists/kaye-donachie/images/8 (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 10: Donachie, K. (2013) The day returns too soon [Oil on canvas] At: http://www.maureenpaley.com/artists/kaye-donachie/images/2 (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 11: Coldwell,P. (2013) A Mapping In Blue [Screen print and laser cut relief] At: http://www.edinburghprintmakers.co.uk/shop/ep-print-editions/3404/a-mapping-in-blue (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 12: Coldwell,P. (2002) Border I [Inkjet] At: https://artinprint.org/article/paul-coldwell-a-layered-practice-graphic-works-1993-2012/ (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 13: Taylor-Silverwood, S (2014) I’m Going to Die At:http://weareoca.com/fine-art/in-conversation-sarah-taylor-silverwood/ (Accessed 13 April 2016)
Fig 14: Taylor-Silverwood, S (2014) I Hoped that wouldn’t happen while you were here At:http://weareoca.com/fine-art/in-conversation-sarah-taylor-silverwood/ (Accessed 13 April 2016)