Dogville

My interest in Floor Plans as a way to illustrate space reminded me of the film “Dogville” (2003) directed by Lars Von Trier. In this film (which was incredibly polarizing) the set is made up almost entirely of chalk lines with furniture only to make the space minimally identifiable. The missing information is filled by the audience and represents the simple life of the inhabitants of the small town, and perhaps the starkness of the environment. This film was interesting to me because of its representation of place. The characters interact with the space as they usually would, but in an almost surreal fashion as the walls and other architectural features have been removed. This forces the audience to focus primarily on the performance and narration itself, leading them not to be distracted by the minimalist set.

Dogville

This led me to think that perhaps instead of making entire environments, perhaps I could include suggestions of space. This would amplify the importance of the objects I wish to exhibit whilst still altering the space the objects inhabit.

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The sparseness of the space even extends to the dog of the town, Moses, who at the conclusion of the film is restored from a chalk outline to a living, barking animal. This instantly re-centers the audience to reality which again subverts the accustomed environment. This is something I wish to experiment with as well.

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Franz West

Franz West is most known for his mixed media sculptures which he terms “Adaptives”. These objects are meant to be “ergonomically inclined” that only fulfill the role of artwork when they are handled, carried, worn etc. West is interested in the dialogue between the viewer and the object, the relation between sculpture and painting and what it means to be aesthetic. West manipulates everyday materials and images and challenges the interplay between what is concealed and exposed, what is acted upon and what is being reacted to. This happens both in and outside of the gallery setting.

West typically uses papier-mache, wire, plaster, aluminium and other materials. Initially West started painting but then started creating collages and sculptures. In the 1990’s West began making large aluminium pieces inspired by Viennese sausages – which became well known for his “Adaptives” – which were meant for lying and sitting.

Like Oldenburg, I am interested in the outdoor, accessible nature of his work and the fact that the work invites interaction that includes more than looking. The audience is invited to sit and feel immersed in his installations. The fact that West’s installations are only considered art when they are interacted with further heightens the importance of the work being tactile. This is what Ellie and myself want to consider with our future work and it was a suggestion in our feedback in the Things That Matter project.

Claes Oldenburg

Oldenburg is most notably known for his sculptures that combine the banal with the everyday. His public sculptures include objects that are easily recognizable to the public yet are made somewhat fantastical from their size. The use of scale defamiliarizes the object yet creates an uncanny effect: they are at once familiar yet unsettling. There is also a whimsy that is present that reminds me of Alice Through The Looking Glass, the environment is reduced in size while the objects are made gigantic. As they reside in a public space, it is open to the elements and unhidden from discovery. They invite contemplation in a fun and playful way, not taking themselves too seriously yet still inviting discussion. This is amplified from the installation being situated within the elements, they are not confined to a gallery or museum. They are open and accessible and demand attention from a wider audience.

This is another method that myself and Ellie can pursue, removing our recovered, and similarly banal, objects from the studio setting and recreating them in a different way within the public sphere. Not only are the objects not discarded and forced to reside in a room, they occupy a wider space that communicates their importance we feel they have.

Thomas Demand

The work of Thomas Demand is at once real and artificial. Demand began as a sculptor and began taking photographs as a mode of documentation of his paper constructions. In 1993 this stance reversed, and he began making his constructions for his photography. The artits begins by taking images from the media, normally a political event, which are then adapted into life-size models made from paper and cardboard. Demand also creates architectural spaces and environments which are built in the image of other images. Once they have been photographed, these environments are destroyed.

Whats interests Ellie and I is the use of a false environment to suggest a reality that does not exist. The setting is fake yet implies that such a place could exist. The use of material is also interesting, they are impermanent but suggest permanency. The whole environment is deconstructed and recreated to subvert perceptions and force a closer analysis of each image.

Elad Lassry

Elad Lassry rediscovers images from various sources and re-imagines them in an array of media which includes film, drawing, photography and sculpture. Despite this diversity of medium, Lassry has a very distinctive style of work which primarily focuses on the meaning of the contemporary image and our perception of it/them.

Lassry’s pictures are always the same scale and inhabit a space between image and sculpture. This is done through the manipulation of virtual space and real space. The image displayed conveys a virtual space and the frame, which is an extension of the image, facilitates the real space for the object to inhabit.  The images that Lassry uses can range from Hollywood headshots, magazine snapshots to photographs taken in a studio. Often these images reflect the traditions of still life. Lassry uses these images to create and ambiguous “signifier” that combined with the frame reinstates these images into a kind of uncanny still life, subverting the conventions of tradition into a contemporary discussion surrounding the image. Lassry questions if the object affects the reading of the image and how the subject affects our interpretation.

What I find interesting is the dialogue between depth, object and image. The image is layered and contains a multitude of components, yet it appears flat and two dimensional. As the scale remains the same for each completed image the flatness is amplified yet if attention is paid then the eye focuses on the differences and the impact of the layers on the image. It allows for consideration and for the audience to contemplate what it means to see.

 

Robert Gober

Robert Gober is most known for his meticulous sculptures that discuss themes of politics, sexuality, nature, relationships and childhood. His work is often centered around his past memories, or on familiar objects that can be found in his home or studio. These include sinks, doors, body parts, chairs etc. What interests me in his installations is the subversion of these objects. Unlike mine and Ellie’s previous work, the objects he provides aren’t Readymade’s, they are painstakingly recreated as sculptures which inject a sense of the uncanny into the installation. At once they appear normal yet Unheimlich: unsettling yet comfortable. One of mine and Ellie’s criticisms of our work was that our objects are too like themselves after their recovery. Gober here is a good example of how to overcome this. Not only is Gober recreating these objects but displacing them from their original use and location; a further subversion of their purpose. This is also an interesting approach to removing what is conventionally known about these objects, and inviting a discussion surrounding them.

Robert Gober

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From looking at his early dollhouse works and to his curatorial exhibitions – as shown below – myself and Ellie are interested in perhaps not altering the objects themselves, but the environment we place them in. Instead of having a large volume of objects, we can disrupt the objects by the environment they are situated in. From this we were discussing building rooms or floors and placing the objects in them, creating a sense of the uncanny whilst also maintaining that the objects should be considered as important. This would be shown by their size appearing larger when in fact they remain the same as they have always been.

Robert Gober Curation 2

Robert Gober Curation

Above is a scale model of the gallery space that Gober curated and below that is the actual space. The use of scale and copies is interesting to me an further comments on value and worth – themes that our collaboration have been interested in this year.

The Grandmother – David Lynch

The Grandmother is a short film made by David Lynch in 1970. The films duration is 30 minutes and premise revolves around a boy who, after the constant abuse from his parents, grows a grandmother in his bed to help protect him from further abuse and trauma. The film is mostly silent with interjections of music and guttural, almost incomprehensible, noises from the characters featured. The synopsis of the film lies below:

Mom and Dad wriggle up from the ground. They rut like animals, and their Boy is born from the ground in much the same way as they were. The Boy is neither understood nor loved, and his dog-like parents bark his name at him: Mutt! The Boy is incontinent, and his father beats him for it, rubbing the unfortunate child’s face in the bright yellow stain on the bed. Unhappy, the Boy finds a seed, plants it on a bed, waters, waits, and a Grandmother sprouts out to love and comfort him.

At a particularly difficult family dinner the Boy flees his enraged drunken father and goes to the Grandmother’s welcoming embrace. He fantasises about executing his parents by crushing them. He and the Grandmother spend some time poking each other with their index fingers, then she enables him to grow into some kind of dribbling cartoon flower. Sadly, the Grandmother whistles herself to death, and the Boy is despondent. The last image is troubling and difficult to describe, suggesting the Boy has somehow killed himself.

Taken from: http://sensesofcinema.com/2006/cteq/the-grandmother/

This film combines animation with film which contributes to the surrealist feeling of the piece. Costume and setting also adds to this as the boy himself is painted very pale with only bright red in his lips serving as the only indicator that he is in fact alive. The set appears to have been painted black which makes it difficult to place the setting as being somewhere real. The story itself of a boy being able to grow a solution to his abuse highlights the dreamlike quality of the film whilst the animation featured throughout further detaches itself away from reality. What was particularly impressive to me was the way in which the narrative was communicated effectively despite the fact that there was next to no dialogue. This allowed me to consider my own practice and contemplate whether an explanation is really needed to the things that I create or install; sometimes ambiguity is more effective.

I found the themes behind the film interesting whilst the surrealism featured was hard to comprehend, it allowed me to consider how to approach narrative in a more creative way. When the boundaries of logic has been breached, the possibilities of the film – an extension any form of art – become infinite.

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