GIVE HER A PATTERN

Spring 2018

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‘Men act and woman appear. Men look at woman. Woman watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and woman but also the relation of women and themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed, female. Thus, she turns herself into an object and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.’ - Ways of Seeing, John Berger (Berger, 2012)

 

Using my body as a paint brush to capture a true image of the female form. I aim to explore further, how I view the female body on a personal and subjective level whilst also creating a dialogue between my artwork and the viewer around the objectification of the female body.  

 

My practice revolves heavily around using my body as a liberating material to evoke emotional responses attributed to how society surveys the body. It is important to me now,  to continue to experiment with the idea of my body being an extension of my drawings into real time and literal space. One piece, I feel was most successful in portraying this idea, was ‘Me and My Shadow’. Thinking about 506 feedback and how I can develop pieces such as this, I aim to study Yves Kleins theory on colour, taken from ‘The Evolution of Art towards the Immaterial’ (Harrison and Wood, 2011), in which he expresses the belief that one colour on a canvas initiating a sensibility and indulgence from the viewer. From this I will develop my work, primarily using black and red charcoal, into single tone pieces.

 

These new forms I have begun to create are fluid, segmented and undetermined. Reversing gender binary roles and taking control of my own gaze within my work, I act as both the creator and the voyeur. To my audience I am presented as both the object and the subjugator. This approach to confronting the male gaze has been explored by many feminist artists, such as Carolee Schneemann, who dedicated her life to examining the role of female sexuality. Using her body as ‘visual territory’ she too, uses her body as an extension of her paintings. Schneemann has inspired my work in the past and resonates with my current practice also (see ‘Up To And Including Her Limits’ from 1976). As a key progenitor of feminist and performance art, I feel it is important for my studio development to study her work further, especially in light of creating performances.

 

‘If one believes that “the personal is political” then using one’s body in an art piece is the ultimate political act.’ -Renegotiating The Body, Kathy Battista, (Battista, 2013) 

 

Inspired by D.H. Lawrence's essay of the same title (1929)

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The De-Ribbing Process Performance Piece

 I began this project by looking at Yves Klein’s theory on colour, in which he states that two juxtaposing colours on a canvas, prevents the audience from entering into a state of sensitivity. I questioned how colour in my work is read by my audience. Testing the effectiveness between the two prominent colours, red and black, this lead me to experiment with how I use marks and colour on my canvas. One thing that has always been prominent in my art practice is the ideals of feminine sexuality and the erotic. When using black alone in my work, there was a focus created on the physical form of each figure, rather than the entire sensation of the female body.  The idea of exploring how marks can be created also led me to experiment with laying my canvas on the floor. This approach created a free and fluid movement within my work, whilst still depicting the distorted vision of femininity, that I have continued with throughout this module. 

 

After creating these two images, it was important for me to step back and evaluate my work from an objective view-point. To question who I was creating my work for. In my practice, I often talk about disrupting my audience’s perspective of the female form, however I began to realise that I contradict myself in the creating process when re-visiting each of my drawings through blocking out figures and limbs.

To explore this, I first off created 3 clay sculptures. It felt important to me to isolate each form I find in my drawings and validate them in 3d format. I liked the outcome of these pieces and feel like the style and fluidity of my drawings were translated well into clay. However, whilst validating my own vision of the female body was a cathartic and important response to my drawings, it was still just as important that my audience experience this for themselves. Leading me to revert back to my drawing process, leaving my piece as raw marks sprawled across my canvas. 

 

Whilst creating these drawings I became aware that my practice demands from me, complete submission and immersion into the materiality of my work. The documentation of my creation process (both in drawing and video format) leaves me entirely vulnerable to my audience. My body is my site and my medium, and the most important part of my practice is the act of creating itself. It was at this point in my project that I had become to think critically about my thought process and how I act upon it. I began to free-write when my brain was most active. From this I wrote the poem ‘Venus’.

 

This was a pivotal point for my art practice. In order to determine my stance theoretically, I decided to create a performance piece for the PUFA Conference. Studying the works of artists such as Carolee Schneemann and Rachel Lachowicz and the theory of ‘Acts’ from theorists such as Husserl, Ponty and Judith Butler, my performance involved me moulding a form from my drawing ‘Give Her A Pattern #1’ out of clay whilst repetitively reciting ‘Venus’. This act validated my position between my materials and making process, even further validating this idea in the eyes of others by inviting an audience to observe this intimate act.

 

At this point in my project, I question where my practice lies between drawing and performative acts and what constitutes a performance. I question how the documentation of my creation processes may determine how the act is seen and how it may be marginalised.

For my final piece I intend to explore this field by inviting an audience into my private, creative space. Visually immersing myself into my creation process by placing myself in a box, I will use my body to draw as my audience stand, as the voyeurs, looking from the outside in. Working in a white body suit my process will transfer onto me and the process is carried out, further determining my relationship with my drawings. A risk I take by choosing to do this, is the chance of altering my head space and therefore the entire process by surrounding myself with others. By exposing myself and my privacy, I am disturbing my boundaries of comfortability within my cultural and political practice.