I have been thinking about how I can use my limitations as material and it seems that it is the ‘red tape’ that comes with creating work within an institutional setting that is the boundary stopping me from progressing with my initial proposal. I initially think that it is too literal to use red tape as material- but I soon thought about how shutting ideas down for being too literal was only going to limit my exploration. For now, I decided to think and explore what red tape would mean and how I could use it.
Primarily I considered the body as the core thing that the ethical rules opposed in my practice. I thought about how I could bind my body. How by binding my body it would illustrate the restriction and frustration I felt as a student within the system. I felt that the fact that I would be applying the tape to my own body would mean that I would be taking ownership of my limitations and using them to still speak of body. I imagined how the body would become contained within a mass of red tape, but then something about this didn’t sit right with me.
The more I contemplated this body binding the more it became apparent that it would seem like some sort of tantrum! Like some sort of literal protest. I realised that I was containing the work to solely being a response to these issues; that it would just be telling the viewer what was happening opposed to creating something for the viewer to engage in a dialogue with. When I visit a gallery, it is the works the require some sort of analysis, engagement on my part that I am moved by. Art that is ‘telling’ you something in an explicit way pushes me away. I feel resistant to what can feel like rantings on the artworks part. The body binding would fall under the latter. I would be telling the viewer exactly what to think. Also, there would be little discovery on my part. It would be a case of I think- I do.. and nothing more.
I began thinking about why the space was important to me in my proposal. Why did the performance and my body need to be contained within that space specifically? (That space being a room 480cm square built within the exhibition space.) The initial interest was in relation the notion of ‘Installaction’. I wanted the traces of my actions to be captured within the materiality of the space; on the floor, the walls etc. I wanted my body to extend beyond the membrane of my skin- for it to extend to the surfaces of the space in order to think about questions that interest and excite me within my practice; questions such as, when does my body cease to be my body? If hair, fingernails, skin or body fluids leave my body, are they no longer mine? It raises questions around ownership as well as materiality and abjection in relation to body. I suppose ownership is still a question, even after these recent hurdles. Who owns / who is the author of this work now that the institution has created a framework? I suppose the reality of the situation is that artists in today’s culture are always working within a certain framework. There are always boundaries imposed by site, space, institution, organisation and also audience.
So, in relation to how I move forward, it occurred to me that maybe the absence of my body altogether could be powerful in itself. I begin thinking about covering the walls with red tape. There is a sense of impossibility in the act of covering a 4.8m square in red tape that is only 19mm wide. The absurdity of it amuses me, and I feel like it really does relate to my practice. I don’t feel like I would be doing something just to meet requirements. For me this would be a durational performance- but the viewer would only see the end result. The endless amount of tape would speak of the work that I have done just by being there. The labour intensive repetitive act of taping the room would connect with the relentless, impossible task of being a body based artist, trying to push boundaries and really be daring within an institutional setting! Just thinking of both of those scenarios makes me feel exhausted- but this is not a totally destructive or negative commentary, because both outcomes result in something that makes (hopefully?!) a huge impact. The institutional process has had a huge positive impact on my practice. It has forced me to look in on my practice from a new perspective. It actually seems totally appropriate that I encounter these difficulties, because these are the sorts of anxieties that intrigue me in relation to body.
A test patch on the wall of the studio illuminated some unexpected qualities of the tape. The way it ripples seems so bodily to me, almost like veins. The tape and it’s elasticity seems like skin. I think it’s blood red appearance will make a huge impact on the white space through the door way of the room. It will create such a contrast. Red seems to be the only colour I use in my practice….looking at my instagram account this is obvious! ( natalie.ramus.art ) I like the idea that it will become and immersive space, like a womb. I am excited to take this forward and to realise the potential of this heavily loaded material.