Sunday, 25 April 2010

This morning I re-read a paper I submitted for my MA last year. It was a crap essay. Some of the ideas were great but as ever, my execution of anything academic was thwarted by being badly directed and unedited.

I am facing the firing squad again soon for my final assessment and so I am tracing my steps back to my initial intentions to give it all a thorough critical 'going over'.
What was evident in the paper was a concern with materials. Mainly ones that could be termed feminist.
A huge digression into the problems of being a contemporary female artist who would resist the feminist label yet still employ domestic, underprivileged materials ensued. I couldn't conclude. I managed to avoid the subject in my practice by steering away from materials coded with feminist, feminine, connotations. I abandoned knitting, stitching, food and fabric (although I was using them for an entirely different reason to the feminists). The detail of piece above was made with paraffin wax and fishing wire. It was formed from casts of domestic doorknobs. I look at the image now and I still see something vaguely feminine. The piece was to do with Sartre. It was based on the existentialist question of whether we turn the handle or does the handle turn us. As far I thought: genderless.
Despite all attempts to avoid being tagged a feminist I think by placing myself in a gallery, making a tally mark over and over with the suggestion I am trapped or imprisoned can still be assumed to be a feminist action.
The reason I have difficulty with all this is because A: why do we need to deny associations with feminism? and B: Do we just confuse female with feminist?
I referred to Rachel Whiteread and Eva Hesse in the 'terrible essay' neither of whom seem to receive the lowly monica 'feminist'. But then Whiteread's works have a masculine, modernist form and Hesse spent her entire career striving to appear intellectual and not emotional.
As far as my own work goes, I am using the most democratic, non- heirarchical, non-gender-specific materials to support the content but the mark-making still looks girly!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

During the Easter break things took an interesting turn at the museum in my absence. We had placed a podium and invited visitors to make their own mark on this. It was a way of alluding to the idea of the tally mark being used to count in the visitor and playing with the idea of the mark being so banal and un-artistic (for want of a better word) it would posture the question about who is the artist. ( I am writing this very quickly so apologies for the rambling...)

A delightful development occurred when the visitor marks began to creep off the designated podium and onto the actual piece of work. I like to think it was a genuine mistake and misunderstanding but part of me is quite excited by the idea of vandalism. The museum, incidentally were horrified.

The incident gave me so much fodder to think about. It reinforced my original feelings about not creating a finished picture. It raises questions about the heirarchy of work and it's purpose. It blurs the white cube with the interactive museum somehow and breaks down the territory. The scope for discussion is endless and also extremely current.

It also makes me think about the overheard quote so often heard at my exhibitions "a child could do that, though". The marks made by the visitors were dramatically different to mine. The ones I assumed were made by children (because of the height) were not at all similar to mine. A child couldn't do that. Despite my attempts to make a mark of no aesthetic quality, to strip the work of any conventional graphic technique, there appears to be evidence of skill.
Most of the marks were erased by the Museum staff before I saw them but there were residues. I kind of think we should have left them all.

A list of questions/notions arising from working on 'Marking Time'
Marking time is not a performance, it has performative elements
Where am I in the work?Is it an installation, is it work in progress or is it process art?
There is a discussion around the mark. Is it symbol, picture, stamp, signature. How much like a tally mark is it. Is it just a representation of a tally mark?

It is a static mark yet I am keeping it animated, continuously recording. Keeping time in the present.

When I document the work some of the marks can't be seen - it is similar to working with invisible ink, it feeds into the idea of drawing with a left hand. If I had started left to right rather than right to left I would have been erasing my own work. (this is a new line of enquiry, The image to the left is an experiment with a section of text about guache-ness, or lefthandedness in relation to Twombly's work by Barthes. I am currently playing with this.)

Friday, 16 April 2010

There is nothing as satisfying as a sharpened pencil touching soft paper. As I was drawing today in the museum someone asked me if I found it boring. It is not. I am in heaven.

The pace of the mark being made, one, two, three, four, five creates a rhythm. It is a meditation. Whilst my hand is busy and my eye watches (without leading) my mind is free to consider the effectiveness of the piece confirming back to me with glee that the ideas are working. I can also catch those threads of further issues and themes arising from the process and pursue the new ones. And they are coming thick and fast. The temporality is an exciting aspect. I am struck by what is a static mark being animated by me over and over and kept moving, still recording, keeping in the present. We measure a lot of things. Time, space, quality. As I am working I realise this piece is so anti measurement. I have been challenging the measurement of time, of space and especially quality. What conventions can be used to judge this work in terms of quality? Not composition, not representation, not style, not skill. So why does it appeal?