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Photo:  A Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf) school inspired nature table at Dublin Parking Day

Dublin Parking Day

“We are turning car parking spaces into public parks, games or art installations for one day every year. Park(ing) Day is intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play.” http://www.dublinparkingday.org

“The idea of dwelling takes into account processes of working with materials and not just doing something to them, and of being part of the emergent processes of bringing something into being. The studio [is] not a rigid place, a container for creative acts and materials, but an emergent space.”  Encounters with Materials in Early Childhood Education by Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, Sylvia Kind and Laurie L.M. Kocher

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Photos: A playground for children not a space for cars. The Bloom Fringe Parking Day area for young children taking to the street.

Children should be part of life on the street. Spaces for art, toys, games and a chance to wander off the sidewalk. What a difference curb side entertainment makes to a city for people of all ages! Stepping beyond the boundaries, making street art, and being at the centre of it all. This is what we all want, and young children show us how its done. 

tumblr_owmk7p6LMK1rwq4xwo1_1280.jpgPhoto: Dublin Parking Day website, http://www.dublinparkingday.org

The Bloom Fringe Festival developed an interactive parking space for children on Dublin Parking Day. Bloom Fringe is a series of events and workshops aimed at greening urban Dublin. Its goal “is to celebrate biodiversity and sustainability, encouraging and inspiring people to use their city more by bringing together communities, artists, performers, professionals, enthusiasts and free thinkers” (www.bloomfringe.com).

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Photo: Photo: Dublin Parking Day website, http://www.dublinparkingday.org

 

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Photo Credit: Sandra Noeth

Sandra Noeth is a dramaturge, cultural scholar and curator based in Berlin.

Her research interests include “integrity and protest in relation to the human body,” the connection between aesthetics and politics, and “bodies in bordering situations” (CREATE Ireland + Dublin Dance Festival).

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Photo Credit: Siobhan Davies Dance and Dublin Dance Festival

As part of her residency with Dance Limerick and Dublin Dance Festival Sandra Noeth showcased her ideas involving movement and environments. She asked these questions: “How might physical and choreographic strategies represent, implement, legitimise and rehearse social and political action?” and “How do empathy, presence, improvisation or compositions inform the experience of borders?” (Dublin Dance Festival Programme)

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Photo Credit: The World Atlas of Street Art by Rafael Schacter. Artists: David Renault and Mathieu Tremblin

Movement is integral to art production, the making of place and composing identity in relation to social and political environments. Art therapy involves the art of movement, and can contribute to an understanding of aesthetics and politics. An examination of borders is part of art therapy – making lines demarcating personal distinctions and demonstrating the crossing-over into new areas of discernment. Art therapy can also inform protests that are both personal and socially informed.

Art therapy marks out routes of passage within a designated space, it can design sequences of movement and denote a body in motion. Compositions on the move, explorations of environment, and art influenced by context that simultaneously re-imagines space according to somatic knowledge.

The art therapy studio can also include the world-at-large.

Art therapy contributes to civic dialogue – art therapy asking complicated questions about expression and representation in civil society.

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“I am currently working both as a curator as well as an academic researcher on understanding the role, status and agency of the body in bordering processes. I am looking at different experiences of borders and boundaries – national and geopolitical, architectural, material and built borders, as well as more symbolic, imagined, social, gender-related ones. They are very often negotiated through the body, through movement, physicality and performativity. And I question how the body, how movement-based strategies can inform us about these processes. How for example practical and theoretical knowledge from dance and choreography, how composition and improvisation, embodiment or somatic modes of attention, rhythm and affects might help us understand the experience of bordering but also how borders are staged, aestheticized, rehearsed, represented, and ultimately legitimised maintained or challenged”

(Sandra Noeth Quotations, from CREATE (National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts, Ireland), News/May 2017, Sandra Noeth on “Bodies, Borders and Movement” an interview with Deirdre Mulrooney)

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Photo: Lygia Clark in her studio working on Arquitetura biológica II (Biologic architecture II). Cité internationale des arts, Paris, 1969. Photo credit: Alécio de Andrade. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundo de Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro

The Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (1920-1988) encouraged the formation of art objects to enhance physical encounters and social communication. Her legacy offers significant contributions to art therapy, arts and health and socially engaged art. In essence her psychoanalytic explorations were re-produced within artworks that became animate through physical manipulation by others. Her psychological interests were aimed at dissolving both personal and social boundaries. Through sensory engagement and embodied interactions, Clark created experiences that brought bodies and minds together in unique ways. She choreographed relationships between strangers, who came in contact with each other through propositions for movement that directed the possibilities of working with collaborative materials. Clark produced relational objects to be inhabited, and to use as a means of communicating beyond language.

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Photo: Lygia Clark’s proposition Rede de elásticos (Elastic net), 1974. Shown in use, in Paris, in 1974. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundo de Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro.

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Photo: Lygia Clark’s proposition Camisa de força (Straitjacket), 1969. Shown in use, probably in Paris, in 1969. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundode Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro.

We transport ourselves into the happening of Clark’s art in order to unfold our inhibitions. Her artworks unleash a desire to expand, to enter into a communion with others as a kind of collective release. She exposes an archetypal unconscious that seeks exposure, contact, and performance. We are not meant to view Lygia Clark’s artworks as objects, but as routes into our own subjectivity. Clark’s kinetic sculptures beckon ritual readjustment, a chance to impose sensation and to create our own experience. She offers us an opportunity to make more of ourselves, by giving us a chance to reveal and to occupy public space in a fuller way. Rather than inhabiting limitation, her propositions extend us outwards. As a consequence we connect with additional dynamics of our personal and social environments. Clark invites us to extend our identities and physicality into new dimensions as an antidote to repression. As a result we become not the spectator, but the spectacle that brings people together.

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Photos: Art Therapy Constructions as Movement Duets Inspired by Lygia Clark

References

1. The World of Lygia Clark

http://www.lygiaclark.org.br/noticiaING.asp

2. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948–1988
May 10–August 24, 2014

http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1462

Useful Book: Stitching Resistance: Women, Creativity and Fiber Arts by Marjorie Agosin

Maxine Bristol (2012) suggests that touching wool, felt, threads, and fabric furthers self knowledge. Such fibers act as a silent witness to experience. Our bodies become  imprinted upon textiles throughout the course of our lives. Bristow understands ‘the somatic sensuality of cloth’ (Bristol, 2012) to be like a skin, an interface between inner and outer worlds.

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Photo: Eliza Bennett, A Women’s Work is Never Done

A series of photographic works titled ‘A Woman’s Work is Never Done’ Using my own hand as a base material, I considered it a canvas upon which I stitched into the top layer of skin using thread to create the appearance of an incredibly work worn hand. By using the technique of embroidery, which is traditionally employed to represent femininity and applying it to the expression of its opposite, I hope to challenge the pre-conceived notion that ‘women’s work’ is light and easy. Aiming to represent the effects of hard work arising from employment in low paid ‘ancillary’ jobs, such as cleaning, caring and catering, all traditionally considered to be ‘women’s work’ (Eliza Bennett, Artist Statement, http://www.elizabennett.co.uk

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Photos: Roxanne Evans Stout http://www.roxanneevansstout

Ann Futterman Collier (2011) believes that weaving, knitting, crochet, needlecrafts, felting, quilting and sewing are all threads of discourse that in essence ‘craft humanity’. Traditionally, these forms of fiber art production have taken place within communities of makers. Conversation, and processes of production have been interwoven within these collectives.

Wandering and collecting found objects from nature, within streets, or public places can infuse fibre arts with a journey of discovery. Textile artist Cas Holmes (2010)picks up discarded objects and bundles them as packages, or souvenirs of her travels. These collection of specimens for her art, are disused relics. She makes new meaning from her findings through reassembling them, re-packaging what has been forgotten or thrown away, and re-instating their meaning. She is transforming everyday objects into portable icons, each becoming a talisman to be carried for protection and guidance.

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Photo: Judith Scott, http://www.judithandjoycescott.com

Judith Scott’s sculptures are made through binding and weaving wool around found objects. The physical mass of her sculptures are evocative personal landmarks made from repetitive acts of wrapping and tying. A collection of found or appropriated objects are hidden within the core of her sculptures. They resemble cocoons, nests, bodies, and are strong icons of a visionary artist who never repeated shapes or color schemes in her entire series of sculptures spanning eighteen years.

Fibre art can also influences styles of writing and communication; the stitching together of ideas as a patchwork of felt textures, colors and fabrics of living. Writing/conversation, like fibre arts, can be interrupted – picked up and set down – becoming a collection of different time frames, an assemblage of perspectives, an aesthetic that is stitched and taken apart repeatedly during its construction.

References

Bennett, E. Artist Statement. Retrieved from http://www.elizabennett.co.uk.

Bristow, M. (2012). Continuity of Touch-Textile as a Silent Witness. In J. Hemmings (Ed.),  The Textile Reader (pp.44-53). London: Berg.

Collier, A. F. (2011 ). Using Textile Arts and Handcrafts in Therapy with Women. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Holmes, C.  ( 2010 ). The Found Object in Textile Art. London:Pavilion Books.

Scott, J. Sculpture Photos. Retrieved from http://www.judithandjoycescott.com.

 

Hands On

October 25, 2015

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IMG_1657_2 IMG_1658_2 Hand in hand, a duet of movement and an improvised collaboration prior to marking impressions upon paper. The beginning of art therapy as physical contact between service users with physical disabilities and their carers. The emphasis is upon co-creation and expressive impulses that are not pre-determined, but rather spontaneous occasions of connection. Hands that explore, caress, and evoke a silent companionship between two people who usually know each other ‘professionally’.

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A hands-on relationship that extends range and dimensions of communication, when words are not the primary means of conversation. The evocation of identities that examine each other through a range of shapes and effort qualities. The photographs along with the artworks are displayed as a way to highlight moving moments. Bringing together the sensations and fascination of touch, moving together, coming apart, and holding as experiences that allow two people to get to know each other differently. Particularly moving dimensions of relationship and coordinates possible within close proximity. The resulting documentation of the improvised hand dances are exhibited as a starting point for the next collaboration between staff and service users. The intimacy of each encounter, and the artistry of each moment is welcomed within the schedules and duties of care.

The Art of Arrangement

June 16, 2014

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Composing an arrangement of personal keepsakes and found objects can be an aesthetic practice within art therapy. It creates a situation that brings together objectified forms of what is meaningful and pertinent into a therapeutic context. Singular objects generate a collective enunciation of associations. Found objects, as ready-mades, evoke relationships to experiences and events. The act of placement is also the art of juxtaposition, finding a place for everything, but also changing the order of things as needed. Every component can be re-positioned, nothing is fixed or secure, but rather exists as a temporary stage from which to find one’s bearings.

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Personal mementos may be relics of the past and/or contemporary objects that provide comfort during times of transition. They are familiar and tactile forms that can be collected and used as focal points for discussing current and changing circumstances. Each relationship between items is an emerging possibility. The idea that nothing is stable, or still, breathes new life into the potential of moving things around in order to gain a different perspective.

Art therapy can illuminate the significance of personal collections that restore memories and also represent personal interests and captivations. The significance of arranging what is already at hand reflects an individual’s visual culture. It shares what has been lived and what is currently being manifested in the course of daily life. Bringing into art therapy these lived expressions, changes the nature of the therapeutic encounter. The art therapist does not start the conversation or structure the session, instead they are a witness to an act that is an encounter with lived possessions. The art is in the act of arrangement, the display of what has been selected, and the assembly of associations. Art therapy is not always about making, but re-making what is close by and relevant.

 

 

 

 

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Photo: Tino Sehgal, Outside the Tate Modern, London

The artwork started to emerge. I started to see how the performers inhabited the space, telling a narrative of sorts. They seemed to be conducting a commentary on a progress of being human. Not progress in technological terms, just a simple progress of bodies moving in time and space, a progress apparently disrupted and changed by encounters, disrupted by moments that change the way thoughts and consequently bodies move (Miranda Pope, “Wish You Were Here: Tino Sehgal at the Tate”).

German artist Tino Sehgal choreographs experiences, he constructs situations in public locations that catch people off guard, beginning conversations and contact between strangers. The orientation of his performative art form is influenced by his background as a dancer. The materials of the dance between strangers is physical presence, happenstance and discussions related to human experience and philosophy. People come together in unplanned encounters that stimulate contact through a sense of being together within a particular place and time. Participants are stopped in their paths, in order to meet within an enhanced level of human connection. Names are not important, but sharing opinions, beliefs and experiences entangle the conversation with different approaches to meaning.

Sehgal’s work is not theatrical; it is a choreography with choices. It is about movement, pathways, interactions and encounters. He implicates habitual movements within public thoroughfares with surprise meetings. Somehow awakening the body, while awakening the mind, while inviting new ways of approaching everyday worlds.

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Photo: Tino Sehgal, These Associations, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, 2012

In 2012 Sehgal produced These Associations at the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in London. He trained interested members of the public to walk, sing, jog and talk to strangers. The movement of Sehgal’s volunteers was described by the Tate’s Gallery Director Chris Deacon as an “anarchic experience, a flow of energy that gave a feeling of recognition and belonging” (Tino Sehgal Takes Over Tate Modern Turbine Hall by Genevieve Hassan).

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Drawing: Doris Schlaepfer, Drawings After These Associations

Unknowingly, I became part of Sehgal’s production in the Turbine Hall.  I was swept up into a wave of people pacing the large cavernous space, at first in lines, then running, then scattering suddenly. I was approached by one of Sehgal’s mediators, who talked about family, regret, confusion and loss. The conversation happened not at the beginning, but in the middle. There were no introductions, no mapping out of identities, just two life currents meeting at mid-stream.

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Photo: Tino Sehgal, These Associations, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, 2012

In their recent book Art as Therapy Alain de Botton and John Armstrong reference Sehgal as a political artist changing the nature of human interaction through addressing the collective personality. The art that Sehgal choreographs is both intangible, a passing experience, and also the making of a mind and body imprint.

To call the experience Sehgal has set in motion life-affirming would be no more than platitude. This is a profound work and at the same time riveting; a new form of art somewhere between theatre, performance art, dance and memoir and yet based on an immense gathering of humanity that includes all of us as live participants. Life art, I suppose…Attention is what it is all about, this precious thing we scarcely give one another and which is both the substance and the object of Sehgal’s work. We often speak of art as life-changing; this event truly has that potential in all its fullness and humanity. One learns about other people, and one learns about oneself. I shall never forget it (Tine Sehgal These Associations – A Review of Laura Cumming).

The significance of Sehgal’s work for art therapy is choreographing experiences – generating public art forms that ignite interactions within the extended practice of art therapy. The essence of Sehgal’s art is meeting people where they are in the moment. Exposing the materials of daily life, as the materials of art therapy in a combination of togetherness and sharing. Art therapy needs to embody spontaneous gestures on a larger scale, and to embrace public happenings as important therapeutic interventions.

References

Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong

Tino Sehgal These Associations – A Review by Laura Cumming http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/jul/29/tino-sehgal-these-associations-review

Tino Sehgal Takes Over Tate Modern Turbine Hall by Genevieve Hassan http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18957938

Wish You Were Here: Tino Sehgal at the Tate by Miranda Pope http://www.theweeklings.com/mpope/2012/11/18/wish-you-were-here-tino-sehgal-at-the-tate/

Doris Schlaepfer, http://dorisschlaepfer.com/sehgal.php

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The poetics of fiber (fabric, paper, felt, wool, fleece, etc.) contains folds, which can metaphorically link to physical and psychological dimensions of space.

What if the poetics of cloth were composed of ‘soft logics’, modes of thought that twist and turn and stretch and fold? And in this movement new encounters were made, beyond the constraint of binaries? The binary offers two possibilities, either/or; soft logics offers multiple possibilities. They are the realm of the and/and, where anything can happen…Soft logics are to think without excluding…And if soft suggests an elastic surface, a tensile quality that yields to pressure this is not a weakness; for ‘an object that gives in is actually stronger than one that resists, because it also permits the opportunity to be oneself in a new way’ (Pennina Barnett, “Folds, Fragments, Surfaces: Towards a Poetics of Cloth in Jessica Hemmings (editor) The Textile Reader and Max Kozloff, “The Poetics of Softness” in Remderings, Critical Essays on a Century of Modern Art).

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Philosopher Gilles Deleuze believed that the concept of the fold was an image of the mental and physical landscape. The fold is not unlike exercising the brain to perceive differently; it is experimental thinking, a creative activity that is triggered by a new encounter or conditions that are unfamiliar. The fold is tactile, embodied and sensuous. It is not an interpretation, but a response, a feeling of being ‘touched’ in a unfamiliar way. The caress of an unexpected happening can inspire and rejuvenate. The poetic fiber stretches out, enfolding a new set of experiences. The mental and physical sensation of being stretched (unfolded and unformed) through new ideas, new people, new places, and spontaneous activities exercises both mind and body to be more flexible.

The smooth space of experimentation, where ideas and body may flow is not unlike felt.

Because it is made by rolling fibers back and forth until they enmesh, felt can potentially extend in all directions, without limit, entangled in a continuous variation – a fabric, at least in principle without top, bottom or centre (Pennina Barnett, “Folds, Fragments, Surfaces: Towards a Poetics of Cloth” in Jessica Hemmings (editor) The Textile Reader.

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Felt is a metaphor for extended space, an enmeshment of influences that shape our character and actions. The friction needed to produce felt, is indicative of the effort and force needed to create the material of our lives. Rather than uniformity, felt is entanglement. It also reflects the transformation of one reality into another, as loose fleece becomes a strong cloth through concentrated action.

References

Pennina Barnett, “Folds, Fragments, Surfaces: Towards a Poetics of Cloth” in Jessica Hemmings (editor) The Textile Reader

Max Kozloff, “The Poetics of Softness” in Renderings, Critical Essays on a Century of Modern Art

Photos

Crocheted Seed Sculptures, Suspended by the Grand Canal, Dublin

Sheep’s Fleece from Finland, Sculpted in a Washing Machine, Ireland

 

Body, Space, Image

March 8, 2013

Take an image, let it hang in the mind, let the sensation of the thought dissolve through the body. Let the movement inside the body…move outside. Allow the sensations their own time and expression…waiting for a space between the thoughts, an unlocking of the parts of the body – a gap into which something new can emerge (Miranda Tufnell and Chris Crickmay, Body, Space, Image: Notes Towards Improvisation and Performance).

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Gilles Deleuze developed the concept of the fold in relation to developing an idea of space that actualized the body in different ways. Architecture has been influenced by his ideas of fluid space, which can influence the body’s capacity to move. Architecture is a frame or scene that can enfold the body within its dimensions. An inflection of space, can potentially be connected to improvisation.  Improvising movement in response to the topography of architecture experiments with the body in relation to the spaces of a built environment. Deleuze’s concepts of architecture understand it as a dynamic force which can influence physical possibilities. Architecture can direct physical formations and qualities of movement.

We improvise the moment we cease to know what is going to happen. Setting the mind loose from the ongoingness of everyday life (Miranda Tufnell and Chris Crickmay, Body, Space, Image: Notes Towards Improvisation and Performance).

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The surfaces of buildings and interiors, the spaces they inhabit and generate are the stimulants of exploring representations of the body. The body can repeat patterns of movement through space, or add on new ways of investigation spatial features. The desire of the body can be enacted within different kinds of spaces, that encourage instinctual expression. The body’s desire is about production, becoming and connecting. A community of bodies within a shared space will enact the space according to different desires. Each participant will go their own way, animating their shared space through their own interpretations. As animate forms, bodies imagine space differently.

Where you are when you don’t know where you are is one of the most precious spots offered by improvisation. It is a place from which more directions are possible than anywhere else. I call this place the gap. The more I improvise, the more I’m convinced that it is through the medium of these gaps – this momentary suspension of reference point – that comes the unexpected and much sought after ‘original’ material. It’s ‘original’ because its origin is the current moment and because it come from outside our usual frame of reference (Nancy Stark Smith quoted in Miranda Tufnell and Chris Crickmay, Body, Space, Image: Notes Towards Improvisation and Peformance).

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Deleuze is interested in how we occupy different kinds of space within a social assemblage. Explorations of space using improvisation are nomadic, wandering through physical positions both familiar and unfamiliar with others simultaneously undergoing the same kinds of experiences.

Each person is at once responsive to others and independent of them, ready to be changed by, but not absorbed into another person’s activity. The skill lies in being able to include what another person is doing, while not losing one’s own momentum of thought. Each person must become an ingredient in the mixing and making of a piece. There is no place for manners or mannerisms. Social conventions, routine habits of polite or impolite daily life, suppress the sensory and imaginative world from which this work begins. (Simone Forti quoted in Miranda Tufnell and Chris Crickmay, Body, Space, Image: Notes Towards Improvisation and Performance).

References

Miranda Tufnell and Chris Crickmay, Body, Space, Image: Notes Towards Improvisation and Performance. 

Ian Buchanan and Greg Lambert (editors) Deleuze and Space

Photos

Graffiti The Royal Canal Dublin

Pigment on Handmade Paper at The Creative Arts Retreat, Wales

Drawing with Words Exhibition, Ardee Library, County Louth

Connectivity

March 7, 2013

There is no being, which is separate from the processes of becoming. Our world consists of moments of becoming, the mingling of bodies, the meeting of forces, a constant interpenetration and interconnection of all phenomena. (Simon O’Sullivan, Art Encounters: Deleuze and Guattari Thought Beyond Representation)

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Simon O’Sullivan’s book Art Encounters: Deleuze and Guattari Thought Beyond Representation discusses how movement forms the basis of art that physically connects to instinct, impulse and improvisation. Movement connects locations of subjectivity, through transversal actions. Subjectivity is a becoming that can be appreciated more in the making of art than as a representation of an artwork’s meaning.

Meaning is always fluid and plural for Deleuze and Guattari, the self is never enclosed as an entity, but instead a work of potential becoming. Potential is in the production of “new plots of land”, it is not a re-tracing of one’s steps over what has gone on before, but instead creates a new landscape of connections. Each artwork adds on to identity as an accumulation, a series  of ands.

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Deleuze and Guattari use the word subjectivity to denote a system of environments that compose identity not as a singular entity but as an assemblage. Their plea is for everyone to experiment with opportunity, to realize potential in many different places. To embrace life as a learning system that grows laterally. In art terms this system of life locations, could be called an imagescpae, a collection of personal images that reflect a variety of life activities and circumstances.

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References

Simon O’Sullivan, Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought Beyond Represenation

Photos

Textile Workshop – Stitching with Wire and Plastic, FE McWiliam Gallery, Northern Ireland

Scratched Line on Ochre Cliff, The Creative Arts Retreat Wales

Artist Book made with Sandi Sexton Book Artist, Ireland