I am packing up at school. The place is almost completely disserted and it feels as though term has truly ended, though I went to a rather interesting, if sparsely attended, lecture this morning. The workshops are silent and even the students who always seemed to be working on something have not been around this week.
Very little of what I am packing feels finished. In many ways this is good, it suggests that I am simply at a point of progress rather than conclusion. On the other hand I can feel somewhat disappointed that I do not boxes full of resolved artworks just waiting to be exhibited! It is interesting to wonder why I can become so focused on the tangible signs of production.
The year has been fantastic. It feels very much a ‘first year’, which is not surprising as it has been my first year at a new school. Over the last ten days or so since the exhibition opened, and I have had time to stand back a little. I have come to realise that this is ‘just’ the beginning and that I want/need to prioritise, and to keep prioritising, my practice. This said I include teaching as an active part of my practice, so perhaps it is the contexts and opportunities for my practice that I sense would benefit from a little attention – rather than the conceptual or practical aspects of it. Without the deadline of a show it is too easy for me to keep playing with materials and processes. Shows do not just turn up (or at least one cannot rely on them to do so!), they require a certain (considerable!) amount of work on my part. It is this work that I now feel needs to be given more time, space, and energy, but not at the expense of the making!
Shadow Casting #2 – was well received. It worked well aesthetically and people were intrigued by it. I hope that the ideas that had been so important to me lay behind its visual appeal. Perhaps this is the crux of the matter for me: I start with ideas and concepts in order to produce something that works visually and independently of linguistic forms or theories. This is different from wanting (or needing ) the audience to see and understand my ideas in order for them to be able to appreciate the piece. For me it is the overlap of the concept and the visual form that has the potential to make good or interesting art. Throughout the Artistic Research course Rolf referred often to an essential quality of artistic research being “both and” rather than “either or”, perhaps it was this that he saw in my work and why he championed both it and me. Venn diagrams have fascinated me since childhood, I feel that my own identity could be nothing more than the overlap of very particular and distinct ‘sets’. One of the most brilliant things about Venn diagrams (and overlapping things in general) is that for all the specificness of the intersection there remains always clear distinctions between the different sets – there is always a kind of dynamic tension and complexity at the point of intersection and overlap. It is not so interesting to have sets without any overlaps, just as it is not so interesting to have sets that are no more than subsets.
Another artist described writing a text to go with the piece as “very generous”. I like this phrase and am pleased that the text was seen in this way. My intention was to communicate some of my thinking and ambitions for the work while at the same time opening it up and encouraging the audience to engage with it in a way that was meaningful for them. I was the only person in the show who had a text. It made me wonder if it revealed my confidence in the work, or my lack of confidence in it … or perhaps it is another case of “both and” …