May You Live in Interesting Times – Venice Biennale 2019

In order to explore the work of contemporary artists, to better understand the current mulitiplicity of visions and voices and to consider my place and development in this context; I visited Venice Biennale.

This was like the ultimate contemporary art experience of current creative thought and processes. I was determined to immerse myself in it in order to consider the works that had an impact on me and held meaning and influence and the threads connecting these .The lens through which I am reflecting is taken from Gilda Wilson’s book How to Write about Contemporary Art.

It is composed of three reflective questions:

“What is it?

What might it mean?

What might this add to your thinking or the world at large?

(section 3:1)

Barca Nostra, 2018-2019 : a collaboration between the Italian government and artist Christoph Buchel . This is a fishing boat that tragically sunk in the Sicilian channel in April, 2015 with hundreds of migrants on board, the wreck of which was raised and exhibited without signage at the Biennale Arsenale in order to provoke thoughts and questions.

In the Biennale Short Guide it was described as “ A collective monument and memorial to contemporary migration, is not only dedicated to the victims and the people involved in its recovery, but also represents the collective policies and politics that create these kinds of disasters.” – (N.M. 2019, p.60)
It’s looming presence and sense of sadness and horror struck me in the stomach. Like the painting at the Louvre: the Wreck of the Medusa ( Shipwreck, Gericault ,T. 1818-1819) it has caused considerable contraversy. Is it Art or sensationalism? Shameful capitalism , a trojan horse or simply a monumant to a tragedy at sea?

However there was no demarcation of what this was and as it was situated on the side of the Arsenale near the sea channel it could have been mistaken as simply a wreck or meant  and if you did not have prior knowledge, you may well walk past it as many did on the way to the cafe. Was it then succesful at provoking thought or questions? Having experienced this in person, I felt prior knowledge or some kind of knowledge of the ship’s aweful history was needed to fully understand and feel the impact of the wreck, the loss of life and the legislation that makes this sadly possible. It made the context or lack of context and it’s narrative an issue or dilemma.

Image result for Jill Mulleady this connection is not private
This Connection Is Not Private, Oil on Linen. Mulleady, J. Venice Biennale:2019.

The Swiss- Uruguayan artist Jill Mulleady exhibited a series of paintings called This Connection is not Private.(2019) in oil on linen.Inspired by historic works of Munch,the paintings were figurative yet shared a landscape, imaginative in the landscape setting and yet the figures were contemporary, everyday folk occupied by a personal moment such as having a smoke.

This could mean a moment of shared intimacy and the darkness of human contact combined with the narcotics contrasted with the landscape. I Imagined it with a wall in the background and then realised the sweeping landscape juxtapostioned with the figures in the foreground gave it a different context: Dark and furtive reality set in an expansive land and seascape where the boundaries meet.

This led me to consider edges, the liminal spaces in air, sea, land and points in time. Liminal could be a point or place of transition or a threshold.

Of all the pavilions in the Giardini the Nordic Countries (Finland – Norway – Sweden) held the most impact for me.Weather Report: Forecasting Future highlighted the interspecies dynamic we share and the threat of mass extinction. In fact the current climate crisis and dystopian view was echoed in other pavilians such as the film ‘Heirloom’ in the Danish pavilion.

Weather Report: Forecasting Future

The States of Inflamation, Installation. Ane Graff. Venice Biennale 2019

Ane Graff states:

I focus on human and non-human relationships; viewing human beings as part of an expansive, material network, stretching inside and outside of our bodies.

I found the connection between the elements chronicling our decline extremely poignant. A pathos to our situation. The beauty and delicacy of the cabinet contrasting with the reality of change we are driving as a species. The connections between human economic growth and the destruction of the environment both internal (microbes) and external. The whole experience was highlighting the interconnectedness of all life . My thoughts were developing along these threads.

Shilpa Gupta

Image result for shilpa gupta venice biennale

Shilpa Gupta’s sound installation in the Arsenale For in your tongue , I cannot fit (2017-2018) appeared to be a half lit poetry garden which on closer inspection was filled with the voices and work of 100 poets spanning 13 centuries who had been imprisoned  for a range of reasons. The poetry was speared on spikes and the hanging microphones were reverse wired to act as speakers so that when I walked amongst them the voices and poems sounded as I passed by. They were in several languages, some in English, so I understood and others in Arabic, Azeri, Hindi and Russian, so I listened to the intonation of the voice.

Of all the works at the biennale this had the greatest impact. It was both magical, strange and at times poignant walking amongst the poetry fragments. The experience of it was greater than the sum of its parts. It managed to be both expansive over time and yet it had deeply personal and almost ephemeral looking sheets of spiked poetry paper.

The elements of time and the delicacy and power of the paper and word were elements that I wanted to develop in my own practice and thought. This whole experience had made me question my concepts, my practice, my direction. It was like an unravelling and at the same time a kind of distilling of ideas.

Wilson , G. (2014). How to Write about Contemporary Art [kindle]. London:  Thames and Hudson. (Section3: 1).

Rugoff, R. (2019). May You Live In Interesting Times. 1st ed. Venice: La Biennale di Venezia 2019. 86d

Graff, A. (2019). Ane Graff goes to Venice – Oslo National Academy of the Arts. [online] Khio.no. Available at: http://www.khio.no/en/about/news/ane-graff-dreg-til-venezia [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

http://www.khio.no/en/about/news/ane-graff-dreg-til-venezia

Real World Contexts

What is Real? What contexts are relevant for my work? Who are the lead practitioners and main agencies in these contexts? What strategies and methods can I develop and utilise in contextual research and practice? Where do I perceive the pinnacle to be ?

These are some of the questions we have asked ourselves during our contextual dialogue with our colleagues. In order to go forward I need to assess where I am at present. Responding to critical feedback from my tutor is a valid place to begin and to use this to inform the process of exploration, insight and development.

Areas for development are to consider more contemporary artists and to consider different uses of paint. An exploration of the ‘mystical’ and similarly ‘symbolism and metaphor’. As I develop this blog I aim to explore these questions, possibilities and contexts by employing different methods; some tried and tested and some new and burgeoning.

Reflection

This body of work has taken me to unexpected places. Through it I have explored themes of time, perception and the human experience through personal narrative. Poetical texts , journals , talks and exhibitions have fed into this process as have links with industry and specialist practitioners. Crow pulp paintings have emerged through this – the limited tonal palette becoming a counterpoint to the high key palette of the paintings. Crow symbolism has been extensively explored and led to different branches of opportunity and expression.

The creative process has been discussed and shared through peer sessions, tutorials, an exposition and blog. It has also been recorded in notebooks , life drawing/ painting and partially through photography. Questions have been asked, theories considered, reflected on and responded to; partly in the poetical art statement to share with my peers and exposition attendees and also as part of the ongoing process.


Creativity is not as the crow flies but rather as the tree grows.

Below is an adapted part of the poetical art statement in two ‘wings’ expressing the themes:

Evolved Triptych: the idea of three distinct images connected through time and meaning

Painting as an expression and archive of time

Perspective change over time

Time is relative

An illusion

Birds: messengers and symbols of freedom, vulnerability, protection, shadow and light

Divination, communication, ancient meaning

The crow family circle the battlefield

Open to interpretation

Emptiness fulfilment

Being

Exposition – E-Day

Together, the Fine Art element of the MA put on a group exposition as a culmination of our expanded studio practice. After considering various venues, we secured a show space at Partisan. The build-up and process of developing the exposition was arduous, dramatic and convoluted to say the least. The role of social media in the process was valuable at connecting us, yet not all read the posts and information became repetitive, misunderstood and frustrated at times. The problem with the written word is that sometimes the tone and intention is lost. The name of the exhibition , I felt, was not encompassing of our practice. The only way I could concede to it was through the democratic process, in that most accepted it and also in another sense of the phrase:

One-Night Stand: a performance that happens only once in a particular place

dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/one-night-stand

However, we did use different media platforms to promote the work such as ArtRabbit and Facebook, plus physical posters that were circulated. On the day we organically curated the space and worked considerately to accommodate the needs of individuals whilst retaining an awareness of the whole show, to create a diverse exposition in the basement space. It was physically challenging because we were not allowed to have any fixings on the walls and the surface was loose and crumbly making it impossible to put adhesive forms on there. We did use the given fixtures and fittings creatively though. I was fortunate to find on my chosen wall space two parallel nails from which I could hang my clipped pulp paintings. I had also planned ahead and brought free standing easels, as had others.

When we had all set up, we were reflecting on the tumultuous process and decided it would have been a better plan to allocate roles to working parties and to spend more time on promotion. Personally, it was interesting discussing my work with those who attended as I found a distinct polarity of appreciation in that some really resonated with the paintings, use of colour and were fascinated by the crow symbolism, whereas others very definitely felt an affinity with the delicacy and tonality of the pulp paintings. I came away with a sense of accomplishment, shared experience combined with a process of valuable, reflective group and individual artistic cooperation and evolution.

Winged Creatures -I see birds as messengers and symbols of freedom.

 

An Art Exhibition of Birds and Dragonflies in paint, linocut and giclee.

 

 

This Summer Solo exhibition at The Yorkshire College of Music and Drama this Summer explored the cultural meaning, beauty and significance of birds, the transcendent moment when a dragonfly appears and the otherness of winged creatures.

Corvus Corax

I see birds as messengers and symbols of freedom. 

Affinity Exhibition -Opening weekend at Wells

Posted by Lisa Kilty on Sunday, 22 April 2018

Thanks to all the people who came to see the exhibition from all over the world. We shared some very moving and profoundly insightful experiences. It has been an extremely validating experience as an artist.

Glastonbury and Wells

Fantastic trip to Glastonbury and Wells where I sketched and painted on Wearyall Hill, reflected in Chalice Well Garden and sketched in Wells Cathedral gaining a great feel for the place. I am now developing my final pieces for the exhibition which I will reveal in the traditional manner at the Cathedral rather than online..