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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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Either Way, Make a Move

March 6, 2017

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Photo: Hazel Meyer, Hyper-Hyper (Artist in the Classroom, The Pedagogical Impulse)

A Workshop for the School of Arts Education and Movement
Dublin City University, Institute of Education

Pamela Whitaker, Groundswell

  • Classroom as Art Studio
  • Teaching as Performance
  • Teacher and Students as Artist Collective
  • Social Choreography in School
  • Students as Curators
  • Education as a Happening 

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Photo: Art Out Loud, Basement Gallery, Dundalk

I am interested in the theme of choreography, and how students can generate movement motifs through interacting with objects and words that stimulate physical actions and movement responses. Choreography is a change of space, new ways of going, and actions taking shape.

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Photo: The Medieval Garden Challenge

Dance and Movement Benefits Children’s Physical Development, Emotional Expression, Social Awareness, Cognitive Agility, Mental Health, Communication

The classroom as an artwork can inspire movement, creation and also a disruption of ‘order’ (Stephanie Springgay, 2014). We will explore lines of connection between different spaces in a classroom, and develop routes of movement that interrupt expectation. We will be unconventional, in the moment, and attention seeking. Words, situations, and objects will move us on.

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Photo: Art Out Loud, Basement Gallery, Dundalk

The classroom as a happening is about animated learning. A situation is created whereby students re-define their educational surroundings. It is subject to flexibility. Art in this sense is related to environment, an atmosphere, and a studio of ideas. Happenings were first introduced by the artist Allan Kaprow. They are experiences where art, physical action, sound, words and environment are assembled within a specific time frame to promote participation and improvisation.

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Photo: Graffiti Inspired Movement in a Pedestrian Tunnel

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Photo: The Medieval Garden Challenge

“SOCIAL CHOREOGRAPHY engages everyone’s perception and knowledge of….[movement]…inquiring if and how individuals can imaginatively order and re-order aspects of their personal, social, cultural and political lives.” Michael Klien, The Institute of Social Choreography

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Photo: Sophie Nüzel, http://www.sophienuezel.com

Stephanie Springgay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She considers a classroom a work of art.

As an experimenter, the artist-teacher does not mold students into a work of art, as if the students simply become raw materials. Rather artist-teacher-student-classroom become a creative assemblage filled with the potential to open itself to future creative instances. If a classroom operates as a work of art, not as an object manipulated from the outside, it becomes enmeshed and enlived. A “classroom as a work of art,” we argue, re-conceptualizes the artist-teacher as productively co-mingling with students and space. Stephanie Springgay, The Pedagogical Impulse, www.stephaniespringgay.com

All the listings below are links to Springgay articles:

The Pedagogical Impulse: Aberrant Residencies and Classroom Ecologies

The Pedagogical Impulse: Research-Creation at the Intersection Between Social Practice and Pedagogy

How do you make a classroom operate like a work of art? Deleuzeguattarian methodologies of research-creation

Cloth as Intercorporeality: Touch, Fantasy, and Performance
and the Construction of Body Knowledge, International Journal of Education and the Arts

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Photo: Landmarks: Nature, Art, Schools Workshops in County Louth

image-5.jpgPhoto: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Therapy Classroom Installation

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Photo and Article Link: Teaching with Contemporary Art in the Classroom by Joe Fusaro

 

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.

 

Nari Ward: In Large Part

March 19, 2016

I get inspired by things that don’t fit in (Nari Ward, Spirit of the Street, Financial Times, December 4, 2015).

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Photo: Nari Ward, Iron Heavens, 1995 (oven pans and burnt wooden bats)  in www.aestheticamagazine.com

Ward’s dramatic sculptural installations are composed of systematically collected material from his urban neighborhood. By revealing the numerous emotions inherent within found everyday objects, Ward’s works examine issues surrounding race, poverty, and consumer culture (nariwardstudio.com).

Nari Ward’s giant productions of found and reassembled objects are larger than life, despite being composed of everyday materials. He executes large scale physical constructions to evoke an experience of resonance within the reconfiguration of daily existence. His artistic residence is New York (although Jamaican-born) and the repercussions of his art are significant for all kinds of places and for all people. Ward explores the power of objects, their social formation, and their significance as cultural icons. He encounters chosen items and makes them other worldly, despite them being firmly entrenched within the crafting of human experience. His practical manipulation of matter is executed through labouring with a material. Each element holds an impression of his bodily contact, the personal markings of time spent in connection.

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Photo: Artist Nari Ward on His Latest New York Show, http://www.architecturaldigest.com, November 2, 2015

It’s all about engaging emotions. I want to take that energy and propel it into some other form (Artist Nari Ward on His Latest New York Show, http://www.architecturaldigest.com, text by Thessaly La Force, November 2, 2015).

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Photo: Nari Ward, Saviour, 1996 (garbage bags, cloth, bottles, shopping carts, mirror, chair, clocks) Pérez Art Museum, Miami

I need that mind/body connection that happens with labour and repetition. You get lost in it to the point where ideas come to you (Nari Ward, Spirit of the Street, Financial Times, December 4, 2015)

Ward’s example is a call for art therapists to thing “big” in regards to reassembling found and domestic finds. The objects compose a collection, a diary of events related to finding materials and also importing a sense of personal significance, where ordinary becomes something else. The installation of these large works reside within a locality, each piece a strident voice proclaiming an occupation of space and a demonstration of personal and social issues. Within art therapy putting ourselves out there can become a commitment to large scale exposure, not to be missed.

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Photo: Rose Wylie, The Times, http://www.thetimes.co.uk

Wylie exhorts a form of class levelling, in her art everything is treated as a primary source, all materials are considered equal. Her work is an expression of a total aesthetic, in which ‘truth’ is what we see and experience, liberated from the annuals of history. With this mentality memory becomes a material, its fallibility a means to create (Choi and Lager Gallery, Koln, Germany).

Rose Wylie works from her home in Kent. At age 77 she is absorbed in illustrating her politics, ideas and values large scale. Making canvas billboards, wall paintings, patching and layering images, and voicing her beliefs through broad vibrant strokes, has earned her a prominent place in contemporary art within the UK. Her forthright approach to texturing canvas and opinion, has endeared her to many through recent exhibitions at Tate Briain and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. Wylie describes herself as “unconsciously rebellious,” an artist re-composing her training from the Royal College of Art, as a kind of spontaneous ‘untaughtness’  in an effort to directly position her figures, text and stories in a personally significant way (Interview with Germaine Greer, The Guardian, 2010).

Wylie conjures up a singular passion for representing her interests graphically, within compositions that propose that we should all pursue larger than life representations of ourselves. Each one of us configuring an expressive canvas that is both personal and attention getting. Rose’s method is physical activism combined with strong mental imagery formed to impact the observer.

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Rose Wylie in her Studio. Top Photo: The Independent, http://www.independentco.uk

Bottom Photo: www.ohcomely.co.uk, Issue Six

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Painting: Lords and Ladies, Rose Wylie (The Guardian, 2010)

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Painting: The Manufacturers, Rose Wylie

The significance of Rose Wylie’s art in regards to art therapy is its production within a studio that is not ordered, but instead encompasses spontaneous physicality and purposeful impulse. Art therapy settings are often too neat and tidy, over managed, and clean. The random spread of materials, the opportunity to paint on walls, and to walk on layers of papers (or on canvas) is often not accommodated in art therapy spaces. The environment of art therapy can be aesthetically clinical with very little messiness and eccentricity. It can also be decorated in a pleasant kind of way that inhibits disorderly conduct. An art therapy studio should be experimental and engage the senses with materials that inhabit the entire space. A kind of unpredictable and animated surround that excites rather than sedates.

Extracts from an interview by Rosanna Durham with Rose Wylie Published at http://www.ohcomely.co.uk, Issue Six. 

Why do you paint with your canvas on the floor?

I suppose it’s the opposite of the rather fancy male painter on his easel. Traditionally men go out to work and women potter around the house cleaning. Painting on the floor links to a lot about women’s lives—or far too much of it, anyway—things about scrubbing and cleaning on your hands and knees. But I hate cleaning. My paintings are, obliquely, about male domination. I don’t like male domination. I hate it. I just want equality. I think women can be different from men, but not always.

Your method of work is also interesting because you stick pieces of paper over your drawings and start again, or even stitch extra pieces of canvas onto paintings in progress.

You have to keep changing a painting or drawing to get it to look right. You handle the materials in order to do what you do. Now a lot of people think, “Oh these paintings are very nice because they have these additions.” But the additions are only there because I wanted more room on the canvas. I don’t start off thinking I’m going to add a piece because it might become a mannerism and I don’t actually like that. I’m against mannerisms. They are fake. I think they can take over and become routine.

I like things happening spontaneously. So when I’m drawing, I work a lot with ink, and you can’t rub it out or remove it. So I stick a bit of paper down and go on over it. If that’s not right, I stick another piece and then that may be better. The paper can get quite thick.

References

Choi and Lager Gallery, Koln, Germany, “What Means Something, Rose Wylie” http://www.choiandlager.com

Rosanna Durham, “An Interview with Rose Wylie”,  www.ohcomely.co.uk, Issue Six.

Nancy Durrant, “Why Painter Rose Wylie is Hot Stuff at 76”, The Times Visual Arts, http://www.thetimes.co.uk

Germaine Greer, “Who is Britain’s Top New Artist?” The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com

Karen Wright, “In the Studio: Rose Wylie Artist”, The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk

 

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Photo: Rebecca Cross, Textile Artist

The substance and physicality of fabric…conveys multiplicity, temporality and complexity. Various processes contribute to the somatic history of the fabric and its multiple transformations…As sensuous materials suspended in space, casting shadows on the walls and floors, they confront the viewer differently from different perspectives as they subtly oscillate in response to the atmosphere, becoming ultimately, communicative memories…By creating line as well as openings, and by delineating positive and negative space, the edges frame information – or demarcate the lack of information – caught within, behind, or beyond the edge…The gossamer layers of experience, depending upon our perceptual vantage point, are transient, creating a mutable, translucent skin that keeps quietly changing as we proceed forward in time (Rebecca Cross, Artist Statement)

Textiles portray a sense of ritual, of making special everyday places through a quality of adornment and presence. Cloth enriches architecture, people, furniture and objects with significance. Binding, stitching, knotting, and layering thoughts into a weave of cloth evokes memory and the passage of time. The drawing of threads in and out of cloth, the mending of fraying edges, and the matting together of fibers are all physical experiences which translate a narrative into material form. Cloth is intimate, another skin, a boundary and a caress. It designates function, and also layers on a story. Cloth is a textural overlay, it wraps and drapes itself over and around personal interactions.

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Within art therapy fabric can be embellished to make a variety of items:

Book Covers, Sheets, Curtains, Purses/Bags, Tablecloths, Scarfs, Cloaks, Tents, Pillow Covers, Veils and Quilts

Encouraging the inclusion of fabric within art therapy offers new ways of exploring stories as they are told not only through words, but through the rhythm of going in and out of strands of meaning.

Layering cloth, with words on paper, beads, thread, small branches, dried flowers and souvenirs, can enclose fragments and symbolic ‘findings’ within a wrapped collection of meaning. Stitching together memories of experiences, that are tactile and remembered through the senses, can be nurtured through cloth that tells the story of the body’s journey.

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A thread now most often means a line of conversation via e-mail or other electronic means, but thread must have been an even more compelling metaphor when most people witnessed or did the women’s work that is spinning. It is a mesmerizing art, the spindle revolving below the strong thread that the fingers twist out of the mass of fibers on an arm or a distaff. The gesture turns the cloudy mass of fiber into lines with which the world can be tied together. Likewise, the spinning wheel turns, cyclical time revolving to draw out the linear line of a thread. The verb to spin first meant just this act of making, then evolved to mean anything turning rapidly, and then it came to mean telling a tale (Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby).

References

Rebecca Cross quoted in Ann Futterman Collier, Using Textile Arts and Handcrafts in Therapy with Women.

Rebecca Cross Website http://www.rebeccastextiles.com/

Gwen Hedley, Drawn to Stitch: Line, Drawing and Mark Making in Textile Arts.

Cas Holmes, The Found Object in Textile Art.

Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby.

Pieces Found Along the Way

November 8, 2013

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The Irish artist Tony O’Malley (1913-2003) was well known for his paintings, however his wooden collages or constructions are captivating assemblages of his everyday journeys. The Royal Hibernian Gallery in Dublin has produced an intriguing display of these three dimensional drawings or inscapes. The wooden collages seem to formulate constructions of a home away from home, a series of storyboards portraying O’Malley’s Irish memories while living in Cornwall. Abandoned pieces of wood have found a new purpose within O’Malley’s wall sculptures. Discarded and lost fragments are composed into a new whole, a collection of waste materials transformed into new compositions of meaning.

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O’Malley is a self taught artist who began generating artworks in his 40’s. His constructions are composed of wood, string, yarn, nails, and oil paint. The compositions are personal symbols, re-instating the discarded into a reclaimed dignity. The collages forge new relationships; they are collections from walks deeply felt. Wandering, finding what is needed, and making odd things come together is an art. It is a formulation of personal icons, that could also find a place within art therapy.

In O’Malley’s sculptural collages, there is a sense of reconfiguring what could easily be forgotten. He integrates what has been lost into the found. Bits of string, yarn and nails hold pieces together. There is a sense of being in O’Malley’s work shed when viewing these artworks. A work shed with wood, tools, twine, hooks, fixings, and paint cans, a personal space for rummaging and reconstituting meaning. The shed as an enclosed studio or cabin of the imagination, holding found and hardware materials in drawers, shelves, and workbenches. The sound of hammering, the smell of paint, and a process of inscribing lines on the surfaces of old relics of once functional items.

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O’Malley’s constructions are the materials of a personal memoir, the inscapes of a traveller walking down beaches and back roads searching for more of himself. The found pieces of his journeys are not unlike pages of a journal, each a fragment of memory, a collection of passages.

Photos: From the exhibition Tony O’Malley Constructions, at the Royal Hibernian Academy Gallery in Dublin. 

Everyday Readymades

October 24, 2013

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Photo: Everyday Objects by Rhea Batz

“Experimentation also involves attention to the normally unnoticed” (Allan Kaprow, Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life)

Does newly produced art have to always be made in art therapy? Or, can art therapy also incorporate personally significant collection of everyday objects? The readymade objects that inhabit domestic life, work, leisure and daily experiences are many. Gathering and assembling items that have symbolic meaning can act as a condensed personal archive. Combining different dimensions of life into a mini-installation, or life sculpture, brings into relationship many kinds of experiences. Allan Kaprow used the idea of “life like art” to describe art that reminds us of the rest of our lives. He encouraged us to be conscious inventors of the life that also invents us. How can we revision the materials we interact with on a daily basis as artworks in art therapy?

It’s a strange thought, that personal identity and qualities of mind and character can be discovered not only in people, but also in objects, landscapes, jars or boxes. If this seems a bit odd, it’s because we have, by and large, emptied the visual realm of personal character. Yet when we feel kinship with an object, it is because the values we sense that it carries are clearer in it than they usually are in our minds (Alain de Botton and John Armstrong)

In his book The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard describes how domestic objects are in essence hybrids in their role as subject-objects. Subject-objects are intimately felt, they are handled items that reflect what we hold on to for practical and symbolic reasons. A subject-object could be a piece of clothing, photograph, pen, mobile phone, a piece of jewellery, an inherited ornament, or something picked up off the street. The organisation and display of a ready-made assemblage can be a vital composition, highlighting the life situations of an art therapy participant in a concrete way. Reconstituting ordinary objects into a re-mixing of meaning  (or finding the valuable in the taken-for-granted) is not only a guide to self-knowledge, but a way to replenish awareness of what’s around us.

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Photo: A Display of Shoes and Sticks, Belfast Art Therapy Summer School, 2013

A recent article in the Financial Times by Susie Boyt called “Identity in a Biscuit Tin” describes the work of Christian Boltanski, whose recent installation at the Pompidou Centre in Paris is composed of 646 old biscuit tines, containing 1200 photographs and 800 documents gathered by the artist from his studio over a 23 year period. Boyt writes, “standing in front of Les Archives made me think of so many things: exile, humility, childhood, home, concealment and display, and how we as humans come to measure and regard our own personal history, our memories, and our suffering”

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Photo: Les archives de Christian Boltanski 1965-1989,  placed in biscuit tins.

From personal objects arranged as a documentation of experience, to biscuit tins as containers of personal history, the subject of what is an art material in art therapy requires critical consideration. Using everyday readymades is a means of inviting art therapy participants to “come as they are” to “be themselves” rather than fitting into art materials that don’t suit how they live their lives.

It’s a strange thought, that personal identity and qualities of mind and character can be discovered not only in people, but also in objects, landscapes, jars or boxes. It this seems a bit odd, it’s because we have, by and large, emptied the visual realm of personal character. Yet when we feel a kinship with an object, it is because the values we sense that it carries are clearer in it than they usually are in our minds (Alain de Botton and John Armstrong).

It is important for people to feel at home in art therapy, to feel relaxed and share who they are. The Irish artist Kate Murphy’s writes that home

…is an extension of The Self, an archetype of both physical and psychological boundaries and the primary site of the development of personal, cultural, gender and sexual identity. The house or dwelling, as an artefact, serves as a source of materials, forms and objects with which to investigate notions of social convention, ritual, nostalgia and the unconscious.  (Home) is personally grounded in expressions of longing, loss, embodiment and the duality of protection versus isolation (Kate Murphy, Exhibition Catalogue).

Subject-objects picked from home and found in life, sculpt a series of stories waiting to be heard. These items are  the autobiographical grounds of subjectivity as it travels through neighbourhoods, streets, paths, and different zones of life activity.

References

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong

“Identity in a Biscuit Tin” by Susie Boyt (Financial Times)

The Blurring of Art and Life by Allan Kaprow

Kate Murphy, http://katemurphyartwork.blogspot.ie/

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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

 

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The creation of an environmental installation by many hands, is largely an improvisation of collective desire. An installation can be a meeting place. Manipulating materials and physicality, re-shaping space and investigating possibilities, composes a landscape of ideas. The desire of each participant generates meaning as a production. The energy of actions with others, can reassemble an area, and become an installation of a new environment, that unfolds within a pre-existing environment. Another location erupts from collective intentions.

As we reacquaint ourselves with our breathing bodies then the perceived world itself begins to shift and transform. When we begin to consciously frequent the wordless dimension of our sensory participation, certain phenomena that have habitually commanded our focus begin to lose their distinctive fascination and to slip toward the background, while hitherto unnoticed or overlooked presences begin to stand forth from the periphery and to engage our  awareness (David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous)

Poetry Fiber 2

Sculpting public space, through collaborative artworks, creates new arenas of exchange. Physical and mental affects are refreshed. Installation art can re-make a specific area into a new social ecology. Weaving the supports for new movements and new perspectives, can ignite the  adrenalin of experimentation. The desire to exceed pre-existing life structures, and make new formations broadens experiential dimensions. The architecture of life becomes malleable, a living art. Subjectivity is an ecology that involves a web of influences. Collaborative art can structure improvisation and new gestures of growth into a shared social assemblage.

The social context, is an ecology of human biodiversity. Relationships between people manufacture artworks that exude complexity, divergent paths of discovery and new areas of exchange. The collective takes us out of our habits, compulsions and routines. A social movement, can be a group artwork. Movement is a basis for perception; it can induce more fluid or lateral thinking that includes the ‘ands’ of the group experience.  Our own familiarity of how we do things, is challenged; it is not always ‘right’. Making art within a community of people, goes beyond personal limits, and we are challenged to create in ‘unusual’ circumstances.

The core of the movement experience is the sensation of moving and being moved. There are many implications in putting it like this. Ideally, both are present in the same instant, and it may be literally an instant. It is a moment of total awareness, the coming together of what I am doing and what is happening to me. It cannot be anticipated, explained, specifically worked for, nor recreated exactly (Mary Whitehouse, “The Tao of the Body” in Don Hanlon Johnson (editor) Bone, Breath, Gesture: Practices of Embodiment)

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Community sculpts us differently. Physicality and structures of thinking can be re-shaped and opened through contact with others and new experiences. Certainty is questioned, and the power of improvisation is the capacity to experiment with materials, conditions and people without knowing what will happen. A certain reverie enters through sensory stimulation that takes us out of our usual physical postures, ways of moving, and social presentation.

And even more important, this moment of surrender and new sensation can demonstrate to me that I am not permanently obliged to continue acting out a habitual compulsion. I can see that the habit is a habit, that I am something else, and that for the moment I can choose to repeat it or not. And if I can drop a compulsive behavior or attitude for a moment without causing a crisis, then perhaps I can dispense with it altogether (Deane Juhan, Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork).

References

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics

Felix Guattari, The Three Ecologies

Deane Juhan, Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork

Mary Whitehouse, “The Tao of the Body” in Don Hanlon Johnson (editor) Bone, Breath, Gesture: Practices of Embodiment.

Photos

Petronas Gallery, Habitat Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1999