Monday, January 30, 2012

Laurie Freeman: sculptures

Laurie Freeman
For the first journal assignment, I’m choosing to write about the work of Laurie Freeman. I responded strongly to her sculpture pieces made of mannequins, PVC, resin, and enamel. In her pieces Char Siu, Ubiquitous Technic, and It's All About Your Accessories, you can see the influence of minimalism (pared down to essential forms of mannequins) and Duchamp (used of pre-existing objects: PVC piping components).
Char Siu resembles a limb (probably a leg) that has a PVC elbow where the viewer would expect a hip joint and the foot. It is coated in a shiny red hue that could represent lust or desire but also caution or warning. The title of the piece is the name for pork that is hung in window shops that is given a pinkish dye to make it more appealing to the consumer.
Ubiquitous Technic is two mannequins in close proximity to each other: one a female mannequin in a lime green and a male mannequin in “vibrato” pink. The female torso is replaced by a PVC junction as is the forearms of the male. The title is ambiguous in its meaning but makes me think of masturbation (the name of the colour used for the male mannequin reinforces this idea) or our obsession with flawless self-image to the point of narcissism.
It's All About Your Accessories is another piece along the same lines as the above, but it has the connotation that these “improvements” that we make to our bodies are purely cosmetic. There are multiple PVC pipes sticking out of a female mannequin replacing her right breast and neck. The title leads the viewer to think that these cyborg-like additions are wilful additions/replacements made by the individual for status or fashion.
Freeman states that sculpture is “always about the body” because it exists in real, 3-D space, as opposed to a painting that exists on the wall in 2-D. Her work is interesting in how it relates to the idea of post-human identity. The idea that we are able to “fix” parts of our bodies with synthetic limbs and plastic surgery in order to create a more desirable identity, relates to the juxtaposition of the PVC piping with the organic forms of the mannequins (which are also synthetic-looking). The piping relates also to our abject reaction to our bodily fluids which poignantly demonstrates how we (in the west) have an unhealthy obsession with sterilizing our environment and how we remove ourselves from our humours (out of sight, out of mind).
Here's the link to Laurie Freeman's facebook page.
Char Sui, Laurie Freeman

Ubiquitous Technic, Laurie Freeman

It's All About the Accessories, Laurie Freeman

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Theme One: Identity

As part of our first theme of study in contemporary art theory, we had Sandra Doore come speak with us about her work and practice and how it relates to identity. Sandra teaches Art 103, Intro to Contemporary Drawing and Painting that I took last year which lead to some interesting paintings . . . in particular this one(s). It quickly became apparent why she was encouraging taking drawing and painting off the wall and into real space: one of her great influences in her student days was Frank Stella, the late modernist painter who created paintings as objects in themselves (with their own sense of pictorial space aswell). She then explored the notion of making "paintings" without actually using paint (ie. neon spandex strips) which helped her take her pieces off the wall and into the viewer's space.
Sandra's work is made up of sensual sculptural pieces with complex meanings: multilayered but also visceral . . . which creates a very interesting synthesis of concept and intuition. For our purposes, the theme of identity is shown through the way her pieces are fabricated (stitched) together and what they represent as objects.
The stitch or thread is a metaphor that I've considered before when thinking about "the individual" in relation to "the group" which symbolizes a single identity in a sea of identities that makes up the "fabric" of society. In Sandra's pieces, the way they are stitched together to create the form represents the many facets of our identity that we create to make "ourselves". If we take this post-modern idea further, we see that some of the parts are in states of disintegration while other appear to be fresh or reborn: as we grow, we discard parts of ourselves that no longer serve us and cultivate new aspects of our identity as we see fit.
The subject of Sandra's work is often a critique of consumer culture (biomorphic dresses on a clothes rack), unspoken social/sexual taboos (sm evoking pieces using kitchen utensils), and questions the viewer about their relationship to art experience. She creates objects that question our desire to own things that shape our identity, or how the way we portray ourselves to others by allowing her pieces to not have a fixed meaning: to allow for a free play or association (the viewer brings their own references to the work). Her objects begin to take on theatrical aspect and function as props for the actual art work: the experience that the viewer has when respond to her work.
I found it interesting to hear that an important part of Sandra's process is reading. This is where she forms ideas and concept for her work as opposed to doodling. I find this strange because her pieces evoke such a tactile/visceral response that you'd think that she'd be messing around with materials in the studio and stumble upon these things. I've been struggling with thinking about art because I find it paralyses my process. I begin to fret about every mark and smudge. It takes a little self-confidence to step beyond that and remember that every mark and smudge is meaningful . . . even if it doesn't have Derrida or Bataille to back it up.
Some snaps of her work.
Horizontal Desires, Sandra Doore

Compulsion iii, Sandra Doore

Anatomy of Drama, Sandra Doore

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Themes in contemporary art

I've started my Intro to Contemporary Art Theory class and its gonna be a blast! Watching movies (Basquiat, Helvetica), having local artists talk about their practice(s), no group projects (big WOOT). I see why this course it built into a theme-based curriculum because if there's one word to describe contemporary art, it's varied!
Some other ideas to think about when appreciating contemporary art:
- content matters (even if meanings are open ended)
- there are many truths and realities
- ready-made became the remix
- painting isn't dead
- photography is a huge player
- sculpture is wide and expansive

I have so many "favourite artists" now that I couldn't begin to list them all, but a painter that I've only been made aware of recently is Jenny Saville. Frank, powerful, and warped visual sense . . . I love it! :)