Week 10: 19th – 25th November
I’m really enjoying the extra time I get to spend in my studio these days. It feels like I have lots more opportunities to explore different avenues, instead of constantly working to deadlines. Also, my research into medieval art seems to have finally been fruitful! I’d decided on cutting out acetate stencils to use in screenprinting, in order to create a woodcut effect. This would allow me to produce images quicker, and also make it possible to experiment with moving the images around on the same screen.
In the studio
I’d photocopied some of my sketchbook drawings onto acetate to develop the images, and realised I’d need to adapt the drawings slightly to create connecting areas within the stencil. However, in the process of scratching the toner off, I noticed that it left a really interesting textural quality similar to that of a woodcut produced with a soft roller. I also realised that I could use this technique to draw into toner on acetate to create monoprint style screenprints in future. All in all, it was a very productive session.
It’s only been a week, but I haven’t yet heard anything back about my submission for the conference that I made. I’m still a bit nervous about being selected, but keep trying to remind myself that I’d only be talking about my own work. Also, this is the sort of thing I will be doing more of, so it’s good to make a start. With that in mind, I headed off to my first lot of professionalism training to learn how to produce more effective presentations.
The session was, as one might expect, a run-down of what presenters need to think about when speaking at conferences, essentially what to say and how to say it, or as the trainer put it; the visual, the vocal and the verbal. It was fairly informal and gave people a chance to practice speaking, as well as laughing at the trainer’s example of a ‘bad presentation’. There was also information about number and timing of slides (about one a minute), and the sort of information to include as part of the presentation. It all seemed like common sense, but was good to be able to pare it down into simple instructions.
After a morning discussing the vocal and the verbal, it was on to an artist lecture which discussed work exploring exactly that topic. Laura Malacart was the artist in question, and presented work that used ventriloquism to deconstruct voice agency. She was particularly interested in the paradox of a scripted conversation within performance, and enacted this through lip-synching to a recording of her own voice as part of ‘conversational’ art works with the audience.
I was most interested, however, in her ongoing project, Voicings, which developed after working in a language school with a group of refugees. As part of their lessons, they were asked to write a monologue about their own experiences of trying to be understood in a foreign country. She employed classically trained British actors to recite these monologues (including the mistakes), after only having one hour to learn them.
The resulting video works showed the actors struggling to remember their lines, often repeating themselves. The dissonance between the upper class British accent, and the vocabulary of the refugees, exposed the idea of power relations within the voice, denoting experience of class and culture; a formal and political tool which echoed the artist’s own experiences and inability to articulate herself.
My particular interest in Laura’s work, however, was in how she had consistently managed to present ‘marginal voices’ in a way that wasn’t exploitative, as can sometimes be a criticism of artists working in a social context. Working with ritual, this is definitely a core feature of my work, and it was really useful to see how other artists approach this successfully.