Well, by now you’ll know my ‘outings’ are bittersweet, containing as they do the hunger for experience in the world and the knowledge of this being exceptional and exacting a price, although while I’m surrounded by art I’m grin-happy. If I’m lucky the buzz will outlast the exhausted, painful days that follow and pull me through the icy black waters of M.E-fatigue like a rope thrown from a life-boat.
Three pieces I can’t get out of my mind:
Shelley Rae’s Perseveration, completely unexpected and yet utterly recognizable as a work of hers. It pierced me, still does, the photograph’s emotional impact stemming from a beautifully focussed simplicity. It seems full of longing and something else, fear, anxiety? But then you ask yourself – whose? Ours? The artist’s or the child’s whose disembodied hand we glimpse beneath the curtain folds? Did the artist catch the child unawares or is this a staged moment? What difference would it make to know? There are no answers in the work, you just become aware how fraught your gaze is. (Writing this I remember my girl-self standing by the window of our living room decades ago, looking out, which I did often. I can’t recall if I wanted to be outside or just watch the river, its slow, steady streaming, freighters laden with coal gliding past as if drawn on strings, their horns’ grave calls still echoing in my mind – a deep, rather eerie and yet reassuring sound.)
Ben Cove‘s Trans (last year we exhibited together at PSL) is unlike anything else. It collapses categories: is it painting? sculpture? 3D? 2D? abstract? figurative? precious? playful? from this earth? alien? I could go on. As soon as you make up your mind about one thing its opposite spins out at you until you give in and admit that it’s not a matter of either/or but of and, and more. Rather strangely this construction (for want of a better word), most of which leans precariously against the wall, touched me and made me laugh – something is alive in there…
I kept returning to Marina Velez’ enigmatic, powerful Lot. Two photographs of a cluttered room taken from slightly different angles are seamlessly joined together, creating a space where a woman sits/stands, wearing a kerchief/curlers on her head, and maybe one moment you think you’re somewhere in the Middle East, but then it’s probably London, or somewhere entirely different? You go close to inspect the objects in the living room/working room for clues – books, plants, shelves, door frames, light switches… – and settle for London knowing full well that you shouldn’t because while you turn away everything shifts again, including the mood. And why do I think it’s a self-portrait (it isn’t)?
These are works that kept drawing me in and I wish I could remember them better or live with them for a while – they slowly surrender layers of complexity but hold out on you, always. Ambiguity is at their centre: here the heart beats and brain-cells gyrate.
I had a double helping of joy at ZAP, briefly re-connecting not only with Rosalind and Annabel, but the artist Kate Murdoch’s too. Ha!
And merci for your comments! Something niggles at me: Being commended for continuing to make work while/inspite of being ill isn’t what I’m out for, though thanks all the same. I’m not brave, it’s just what I need to do. There’s no way around it. – The question, not only to myself, has to be: Can my art stand up for itself in the world? Is it complex, meaningful, well-made, emotive, challenging in its own way, does it have beauty? I realize that the proof is in the pudding – next year I must try harder to get my work into exhibitions again.
We were wicked, we were wild (2011)
Materials: crocheted from combined viscose and woollen embroidery threads
Dimensions: 19 x 29.5 cm and 18.5 x 31 cm
Wonderful, as I was upset about missing the artist’s talks, you can see the video-recordings here!
And sneak a peak at the ZAP Open 2012 catalogue!