Viewing single post of blog MFA. Position-Exploration-Realisation.

I had been looking forward to this tutorial with Judit as she was present during my presentation about my practice. I also knew that she was a curator particularly interested in performance so any insight or guidance could prove to be valuable.

After discussing with Judit my recent explorations after my conversations with James, she raised a point that I had been questioning myself. Whilst it is interesting to look at my work from a different angle, is this really what i need to do? When anyone looks at my work they are looking at it subjectively through their eyes and with their interests in mind. For example, naturally James was looking at my work with his research and practice in mind. I have, over the past few months, because of my degree show and also the exhibition at FloatArt, discussed my work many many times. I realise that I have probably spent more time looking at it from outside as a viewer than I have as an artist who is pushing concepts and ideas forward. What I have done is engaged in so many conversations about my work, that whilst it can be valuable- what it has done is caused confusion in my mind. What are my thoughts and what are the thoughts of the other half of the conversation? What do I think without the pollution of other people’s thoughts? This may sound negative with regards to the people who have helped me to gain insight; but it has also meant that I have got so lost that the connection between me and my concepts has got tangled up in a mess of ‘possible readings’. I need to find my thread and pick it back up. As soon as Judit made this point it seemed crystal clear why I had been feeling so lost! Also, by me chasing this anthropological research, whilst it is interesting- it wasn’t helping me to detangle my thoughts.

Judits advice:

  • I need to clarify:

What are the key elements to my work? What aspects are so important that if they were removed, the work would cease to be mine? What can my work not live without?

  • Really look at my work. Don’t focus so much on the theoretical texts that I have been looking at. Instead of looking at them look at my work. Reconnect.
  • To help find the elements of my work that truly excite / engage me use the book ‘The Artist’s Body’ by Tracey Warr et al.

    Go through the book and really look at the imagery without paying attention to what has been written or even what section of the book the image belongs to in the first instance. Pick out the works that I really connect with. What is it in the image that really interests me in relation to my work? Make a note of the artist, title, what it is about the image that interests / excites me, (make some brief notes).Do some research on the artist and other works. Once I have done this, (and only after) it will be interesting to look at the sections from which my interests have come from in order to understand what are the ideas that really drive my work. Is it the gendered body? The body’s limits? Absent body and making it visible. So….use The Artist’s Body to understand the historical context for my work, but….


I also need to position my practise in a current contemporary context, so Judit suggested I look up:

  • Sinead O’Donnell
  • Poppy Jackson
  • Kira O’Reilly

Judit also recommended visiting Richard Saltoun Gallery to look at the current exhibition Body As Language. Women and Performance.

I was in fact lucky enough to be in London during the private view, so I have already seen this exhibition. I found the exhibition to incredibly inspiring.

‘On the 40th anniversary of Lea Vergine’s seminal book Body Art and Performance: The Body as Language (1974), Richard Saltoun Gallery presents The Body As Language: Women And Performance. The exhibition, curated by Paola Ugolini, examines the birth and development of performance art in relation to gender, the body, language and the expression of the self. Focusing on women artists working in Italy during the 70s, the exhibition features work by Gina PANE, Ketty La ROCCA, Suzanne SANTORO and Renate BERTLMANN, together with the archival photographs of the dance performances of Trisha BROWN, Simone FORTI and Yvonne RAINER. In addition, the exhibition looks at the enduring influence of these artists on a younger generation: Silvia GIAMBRONE, Alice SCHIVARDI and Sara GOLDSCHMIED & Eleonora CHIARI.’

Richard Saltoun Gallery 2015.

To see the body used and presented in a variety of ways fascinated me. It was interesting to me that despite there being a range of works from the 1970’s alongside more current works- nothing seemed dated to me. The issues that were being discussed through the works seem as relevant to me now as they were back in the 1970’s. Viewing more current works was exciting for me- for some reason it seemed to be a comfort to me; that my interests and explorations are still relevant. I found the work of Silvia Giambrone to be particularly powerful.

Teatro anatomico, 2012

Silvia Giambrone

Maybe it was because it felt familiar to me to be stitching the skin, but this was something else. The fact that a man was doing the stitching, that surgical stitches were used. That a collar that seemed so traditional was being used in a very contemporary practice. This all opened up a fascinating dialogue for me. I suppose what I need to do is take this interest further and research these  artists and works with my work in mind, (as Judit suggested). Richard Saltoun Gallery was a new experience for me- I had never visited before- but as the gallery specialises in performance art with a particular interest in the female body, it is a gallery I will be watching closely to see what is being shown.

  • I also need to look into 2 research projects Judit was involved in.

‘Milky Way You Will Hear Me Call’.

‘Place and Memory’.

  • Look at Neitzche- ‘Disposers of the Body’.
  • As well as trying pin down the key concepts behind my practice I also need to give consideration and look into how i will place myself as and artist and also my practice in the future. Where will be the appropriate places to be showing my work? How will I connect with and expand on my network of peers?

I feel a lot more positive in moving forward after speaking to Judit. I feel that I have clarity in knowing how to move forward in my attempts to get unstuck. I am also aware as to why I became stuck in the first place- which is incredibly valuable to me. I feel like as I have specific direction with regards to the type of research I have to do to move forward, and so don’t feel quite so anxious about my lack of ‘making’. Judit encouraged me to not think of my research as making but to do whatever it takes to help me connect with my thoughts- so whether that is to read, walk, photograph, work over found images, paint, draw etc. Then just do it!! Most importantly I need to fill my space with imagery that inspires and imagery of my own work. By being around it and looking at it, I will find that connection.