In the talk, Sidsel Meineche Hansen introduced us to her work through an eight minute video called ‘Seroquel ®’ which used CGI animation. The video tracked a pill through the body and was cut with scenes of an animated woman in a kitchen etc. The artist briefly described how the piece commented on an ideology of progress and addressed themes such as suicide and the use of anti-depressants. Meineche Hansen commented how this piece addressed the regime of governance that creates a shifting self which is highlighted by the transparency of bodily function: everything is left bare yet constantly altered by this pill. The artist stated that she doesn’t make the animation herself and instead outsources the material.
In the work ‘Eva 3.0’ Meineche Hansan took an appropriated a model of a woman from ‘Turbosquid’ and started using her in her practice.The artists wanted to explore how 3-D objects modified how gender sat in relation to products and commodities and the object and subject status. Sidsel Meineche Hansen also explore virtual reality and showed us a basic ‘game’ which involved the character or ‘you’ that you were playing interacting with Eva 3.0. Meineche Hansen suggested that virtual reality is what happens after Facebook and acts as an extension of the capitalist reality.
Sidsel Meineche Hansen stated she was also interested in the genre of porn and body horror. This is evident in her work ‘No Right Way 2 Cum’ which explores the female ejaculation and the stigma behind it. In the animation the viewer is shown an animation of a woman pleasuring herself which eventually leads to her ejaculating. The camera is positioned as such that what is ejaculated is aimed at the camera. This piece was considered as an extension of the Eva character thorough the depiction of femininity, sexuality and the place of porn in a virtual world.
Megan Nolan is primarily a writer who has worked in the mediums of journalism , poetry and performance. Currently she is writing a book which we were privileged to hear an extract from. Nolan started writing at the age of sixteen but lost interest when she went to university and because of this, dropped out.
For most of the talk Nolan read from her work. I found her writing incredibly moving yet emotionally raw. It was difficult to determine to what extent her writing is true or fiction. In her writing gender and relationships were continuously called into question as she described her/the characters dependency on the opposite sex and the resentment this held. This relates particularly to her stance on the term ‘confessional writing’ which she rejects entirely. Nolan has noted that all of the writing as personal as Nolan’s have been deemed as ‘confessional’ if written by a woman, yet classed as a ‘memoir’ or a ‘reporting’ if written by a man.
Nolan hopes to capture and describe a factual reality and stated that: ‘Life is embarrassing, why not art?’. Nolan herself is incredibly honest with her past and herself. I felt she was incredibly brave for writing, almost in a cathartic sense, about her abortion (which were banned in Ireland) and her tumultuous relationships. Often she found that stories such as hers were presented and displayed in the media with stock images of young women looking sad and defeated. Nolan recounted how this made her feel as if her pain was entirely shallow and one dimensional ‘lacking in [a crucial] self’ which sparked a frustration that is evident in her work.
A student asked Nolan about how she dealt with such raw, real, almost tangible emotions when writing and she replied once her work is performed, she feels entirely cleansed of them. She also explained that it normally takes her a full day to get out what needs to be written or said.
Andrew Cooper works as a performance artists, protester and teacher. He creates his own platforms for change in his works often incorporating puppets and other props. In a particular piece that he showed us in the talk, he had adapted milk cartons to form puppets, and made them converse about their mortgages; all of the time Cooper himself was covered by a blue pillowcase, removing himself completely from the piece. Cooper works with communist groups to create similar protests, sometimes involving performance, sometimes involving posters and sometimes involving sculptures.
Cooper was particularly affected by how people were unable to afford housing and this theme seems to appear frequently in his work; social injustice resides at the heart if his practice. He is particularly interested in exhibitions that take place on the streets that require an interaction with the public. It appears that as his work focuses on the public itself it is only natural that his work features then prominently.
Throughout the talk Cooper mentioned a lot of theories that I couldn’t fully comprehend yet, as a powerful closing statement he expressed that: ‘it’s so important to be confused’.
Janette Parris is a visual artist who deals with themes such as success, failure and aspiration, as well as the contemporary urban experience. She uses the everyday as the basis for much of her work and uses different media including: animation, drawing, and performance. her work is strongly narrative and often in the form of comic strips which captures the humour in life. One of her works was an animation about a group of friends who frequent a greasy spoon cafe ‘Fred’s’. In addition to animation she also a musical devised a about a group of graduates pursuing romantic relationships which included popular music (‘If You Love Me’ 1999).
The pieces of work I found the most interesting and humorous was the work with Arch Comics and ‘Bite Yer Tongue’. Parris’ Arch Comic works was the first attempt at a socially engaged practice which centered around elderly residents in a care home and the conversations they had in them. This was later followed by a second edition where contemporary art was commented on and the lives of artists. ‘Bite Yer Tongue’ were extremely relatable pieces of handwritten texts that provided a humorous take on the struggles of every day life.
Bite Yer Tongue
Along with animation and comics, Parris is also interested in music. She decided to learn to play the guitar and later began constructing performance pieces that were often site specific. ‘Museums at Night’ in 2014 is an example where the artifact of the museum were used as a context to Parris’ work.
The next visiting artist talk that we were given was by Katrina Palmer, a sculptor and artist who spoke to us about her work and the inclusion of writing and the spoken word. She informed us about her work ‘End Matter'(2015) which was based around a quarry in Portland. Palmer commented on how the carving away at the land seemed like an ‘inverted monument’ and how the stone in these quarries were transported to create monumental buildings, yet the land these buildings were derived from is slowly being eaten away. What I found interesting was Palmer’s analysis that the excavation of the land also acts as an excavation of the past and that the land itself was not barren, but rich in its own history. There was a definite paradox to the quarry: the island is disappearing yet remains entirely dependent on the industry that is destroying it. For the work itself, She recorded and wrote about the Portland cliffs and people could walk around whilst listening to them.
‘The Fabricators Tale’ (2014) was also another interesting piece of work. The audience was provided with headphones and were able to spy through a 3 mm gap in the wall to visualise what was being spoken to them through the recording. What was spoken included a list of what was included in the scene. The work itself is partial and constrained through the limitation of sight. This is slowly reversed as certain objects are revealed though lighting as the story itself is revealed. Palmer initially worked with sculpture, using clay and Plasticine, questioning what sculpture is and what are its limitation. From this exploration she felt that writing became appropriate for her practice as it also became physical when written down and had a presence of its own. Yet, despite this shift in material and medium, she commented how her entire practice is one extended work.
In terms of research, Katrina Palmer stated that works like ‘End Matter’ (2015) she finds out about the location, then visits the location and walks around it; immersing herself in the landscape. Writing is also assisted in the research even if it just be by the process. Although writing feature in her practice, and are often displayed on walls of galleries,the extended narratives of her work are better listened to rather than being read directly from a wall. Perhaps this is to shield from an overwhelming of textual information or to give more of a ‘voice’ to the narratives and the people and experiences she is describing. This consideration of the appropriateness of her work in a gallery space is something I would like to incorporate in my work. Like Palmer I intend to make sure that each piece that is displayed will be enhanced in its installation rather than hindered.
Dawn Mellor is a British artist whose paintings depict distorted portraits of popular figures within society. Mellor has created a large body of work of small portraits each including either/or philosophy, famous figures and cultural references. The individual is prevalent in Mellor’s paintings as their identity is either enhanced or subverted. Often the figures are consumed in popular culture and overwhelmed in excess, a commenting perhaps of these popular figures themselves as well as the creative industries that support them. The selection process for these celebrity icons is random, but are often found from the internet and magazines. Mellor’s work is rich with messages and are used to challenge cliches and stereotypes as well as to express her political opinions. For example, the pieces involving Dorothy from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ – ‘Dead Dorothy’, ‘Partisan Dorothy’, ‘Death Army Dorothy’, ‘Yellow Bricks Dorothy’, ‘Cigarette Dream Dorothy’ – is a satirical protest and rhetoric used to talk about various issues and circumstances such as terrorism in the USA and women’s labour.
Mellor’s work is also resistant to the collector market as she has commented that as she works with paintings, she was expected to produce work constantly. This along with general feelings of simply being a ‘filler’ for galleries helped contribute to her feelings of frustration with the system. I found it particularly interesting that through this irritation, Mellor still found ways to maintain parts of herself and her unique style in her work. Often phones are visible in her paintings as if the figures are all secret conspirators, in a sense, removing the gallery from the world of the painting; the gallery is not privileged to all information. Similarly, The gaze of figures are sometimes fixed on one another, so the paintings are not solely individual but always remain part of a collection. This atmosphere of paranoia and anxiety could have been something that Mellor thought whilst being in what she perceives as a hostile space. In this way, Mellor always becomes part of the work she produces rather than a machine expected to manufacture profit from work she is not wholeheartedly passionate about. This form of protest outside of the work itself resonated me and made me aware that I should make work that I feel connected to, rather then create something that is expected of me.
Liv Wynter describes herself a “queer, working-class artist working and living in South London”. She uses spoken word, poetry and rap, Wynter draws out issues of about gender, domestic violence, sexuality and class. During the talk, Wynter performed a few pieces of her spoken word poetry; one of the most raw being ‘Body Apologies’ which tackled issue of domestic abuse as well as self love. The piece was incredibly moving and was spoken with an ‘aggressive vulnerability’ that was incredibly jarring yet simultaneously honest. Another piece that was discussed was entitled ‘Headfuck’ which was Wynter skyping 31 people from her bedroom and performing a spoken word piece. This performance was not free and was not recorded and remained entirely in the moment. Wynter, with ‘Headfuck’ explored sustainability within art and how someone could become untraceable.
Wynter has also tackled the galleries in her work ‘WHEREISANAMENDIETA’ after Carl Andre’s work was shown at the Tate Modern. Her work was used against her in her trial and which spurred Wynter’s anger. As stated online:
‘WHEREISANAMENDIETA is an archiving project which collects the artworks and writings from artists who are female, non binary or people of colour as a retaliation to the erasure of our works and our histories by institutions. It intends to create a platform where people can safely create this work without risking institutional backlash or being blacklisted for political involvement.’
Wynter is not afraid to challenge authority or injustice as she protested the New Comtemporaries for charging artists simply to enter. She also criticised them for not paying travel and general artist fees as she herself knows the struggles of pursuing an art practice as well a earning enough money for basic necessities to live.
As a self described ‘angry feminist’ Wynter challenges the status quo as shown in her rap battle for the series ‘Don’t Flop’. Wynter pursues ‘Anti-apathy’ and the right to protest. What resonanted with me most was that what matters is that you care enough to try and amend what is wrong and not be stuck following an authority that is far from fair.