The Kitchen as a Womb Experiments

Here we have a selection of some of my experiments so far this term from looking at the kitchen and especially baking as a way of conceptualising the creation of a child. Let me know what you think, I’d love some feedback. 🙂

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jur•nl Promo Video

Video

Here’s our promo video of a project five artists, including me, have started embarking on… Let me know what you think.

www.jur-nl.com

We are shifting our project slightly pace-wise at the moment, but I’d love to know what you think of the site also or the project in general.

Past established artists contributing have been Elina Brotherus, Zed Nelson, Miranda Gavin, Emma Critchley, David Ellingsen and Laura Pannack.

The Boy & The Twins – Åsa Johannesson

I saw Åsa talk about her work recently and I couldn’t wait to share it on here. The Boy & The Twins is an absolutely fabulous piece of work and her work in progress series Aryan looks absolutely superb also.

The way she interweaves the staged posed images of the boy against her own autobiographical images of her and her sister in their tomboy childhood is so beautiful and works so well. Coming from knowing quite a lot about and having experienced from others the issues and feelings around being transgender, I’ve felt in my own experiments how difficult a subject it is to tackle as an artist, as we are surrounded by imagery and projects on gender that I feel sometimes almost work against the feelings and reality of being transgender.

As far as I can see; to be trans is not necessarily to be flamboyant or loudly self-expressive, nor is it to comply to strict social rules on gender purely to blend in. It’s the ability to be yourself and be happy with that, much like everyone else. It’s not ABOUT becoming something else, it’s purely about being (and sometimes, becoming) yourself and being true to that. Anyway to move on, I love how she gently juxtaposes the two halves of boyhood. There’s a time in some trans individuals’ lives where they almost return to this boyhood or girlhood they perceive to have ‘missed’ and follow an accelerated version, returning back to secret dreams and desires they may have repressed (either consciously or subconsciously) from their childhood and perhaps adolescence. This idea is what comes across so strongly to me in the juxtaposing of the two images.

There’s an awkward sense of reflection on the part of Jacob, the boy; where it’s almost like the images of Johannesson and her sister become projections of his own subconscious past as perhaps two halves. Some might feel this split is about gender directly but others feel this split is between the physical body and the inner identity.

The Johannesson sisters are almost stalked by Jacob across the images, like he is observing them; perhaps their behaviour, perhaps just their twin-ness; much like one would observe animals on safari or in a zoo. Jacob’s poses suggest a sense of frustration and boredom which I feel is very telling of his own life story; there is always a lot of waiting and seeing involved.

Jacob holds a banana skin with a semi-clenched fist, his eyebrows sense a certain agitation, whether it’s because he is being photographed in the first place, play acting for the camera or if the image touches in on a subconscious frustration at the time. The banana’s reference to absence of full male genitalia is interesting especially as it appears like knuckle dusters, another subtle reference to masculinity.

Jacob and his partner stand on the path together; their clothes echo one another and they stand together staring out at us. The path looks fairly derelict and just behind them lies the remains of a broken children’s treehouse, once again whispering suggestions of boyhood. The image is named The Path, naturally echoing Jacob and many others’ journey ahead.

http://www.asajohannesson.com/

http://www.rca.ac.uk/Default.aspx?ContentID=504992&CategoryID=36646

David Hockney RA Exhibition

I had the delightful opportunity to see Hockney’s new exhibition at the Royal Academy. I’m a big fan of Hockney, not all of his work but I feel he has something like no one else especially in regards to the photographic. His portraits are my favourites so as you can imagine I was slightly worried going to an exhibition of his made up solely of landscapes. However, I should never have worried as there were so many surprises.

I’d studied Hockney’s early work at school, especially being fascinated by a book in our library of his photo collages which after seeing a few times became a gimmick. Yet to be confronted with an image I had picked apart so much let me relive that first discovery. That first moment where you realise what he has done. It was wonderful.

I realise the exhibition has been blogged and spoken about by anyone and everyone but I’d like to use this opportunity just to say what jumped out to me the most. In this piece above his use of colour to push you away from others yet keep to the naturalness of the scene is genius. The delicate pink of the flowers in the shadows of the trees and the red orange of the leaves and earth in the light work beautifully together for example. I’m intrigued by his use of 6 canvases in one, when in the exhibition for me they just worked so well. Splitting up the painting like his previous photo collages yet never disturbing the eye. Amongst seemingly natural paintings were ones like the first I have listed on this blog where he moves between fantasy and the real, almost Van Gogh, back to the psychadelic sixties… it was something refreshing.

Walking into the Spring Room you are confronted with two large walls covered in beautiful prints of Hockney’s iPad drawings/paintings, I was spellbound by these. Walking up and down, walking closer and further away. They are at once completely and totally Hockney and yet you are still drawn back to the tool itself. Muchlike all hockney’s work, I like looking at them at a distance. I’m more concerned with the composition, use of colour and form in the paintings as opposed to the brushstrokes and the actual creation of the paintings.

The biggest surprise and probably my favourite element of the exhibition was Hockney’s use of moving image. You walked into a large dark room with 3×6 screens, where hockney had attached 9 cameras to his assistant’s car and had moved through the landscape slowly at different times of year. The cameras aren’t completely ligned up like his collages and so there is a disjointed relationship with the tracking of the movement and yet it is the best sense of 3D I’ve ever come across. It works a lot more like our eyes in that our eyes are not like cameras who can only focus on one view but have peripheral vision and can see much further. The silence of the video is haunting but works beautifully as the snow falls or the wind blows. He also had another surprise as with these landscapes he made some films in his studio with the same technique. I’m a big fan of dance, especially tap dancing and there was a fantastic tap dance routine with dancers in his studio where the bodies of the dancers were pulled and pushed together with the different viewpoints. It was like watching paint come together on a canvas before your eyes.

So there you have it, one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in a while. Definitely worth negotiating the crowds.

Observations on Photography sat outside Notre Dame, Paris

A slightly long title but I thought you might enjoy one of my finds in my notebooks. I wrote this last October whilst on a trip to Paris. I spent a few hours alone wandering up and down the river and sat outside the Notre Dame observing strangers (which I do constantly, but I don’t always write it all down). There were some sketches of what people were doing, their behaviours and poses etc but they aren’t really necessary with my already sketchy writing. I’ve been reading through my notebooks as I have a new brief/theme at University to explore and it is Culture, especially in regards to digital and new cultures. I found my writing quite relevant despite being a mixture of rambling and excitement. So here goes…

I’m sat in front of Notre Dame after walking from the Latin Quarter. Someone is doing wedding photographs in front of this massively historic building. I’m not sure what that means; to be photographed in front of it apart from stating ‘I was here’. I feel like Martin Parr, sat there observing the poses people make, the people in the images and the way they photograph. Some are knelt down, some use tripods, some use flash, some photograph people photographing. It’s madness really .

I feel like going around and asking if people want me to photograph them. Just by walking into this area, I must already be in hundreds of people’s family holiday snaps. I wonder if they’ll ever look at the photographs and wonder who I am. The wedding party has gone. Now there’s a film crew doing an interview. I’ve started a game with myself; counting the people that I can see without a visible camera on them. I’m at about 4.

Oh my, someone just used a timer in front of me. They look adorable. Now they move to a different angle of the Notre Dame. Madness I tell you. People seem to have disappeared; the cameras are still out though.

Vivre la Photographie.

Monday 3rd October 2011

After reading through and collecting it all together, one sentence in there sticks out to me and that is; Vivre la Photographie. I cannot quite remember what I meant by that. My french is good at times but I’ll often give it a guess and be wrong, and something about that phrase made me uneasy. I think I was attempting a “Live on Photography” type of line but in fact I said something far more intrinsic to what I was saying.

Vivre la Photographie, essentially means… To live photography. This could be seen as:

  • To live through photography
  • To live with photography
  • To live by photography
  • To live in photography
  • To live using photography

I asked a friend who knew more about the definition I was trying to capture and they came up with a more rounded answer. Vivre la photography means to live through the idea of and by the ideals of photography.

Erwin Olaf Photography & Films

Olaf is well known for his photography  but I was not aware of his film-making so much until last year when I stumbled upon his book in a library, it came with a CD of his films and it was fascinating. I hope you enjoy a few of these trailers for his films, you definitely get the feel of them. Perhaps I love them so much as they are all about a strange suburban american dream that gets twisted in different light, a bit like gregory crewdson’s series.

Annabel Elgar

Annabel’s work was a fascinating find at the recent exhibition at the Wapping Project: Bankside (http://www.thewappingprojectbankside.com/exhibitions/index.shtml). I kept returning to her work more than any of the others as they were dark and beautiful, reminiscent of fairytales and full of strange narratives.

The exhibition had this to say about her work:

Annabel Elgar stages her work in imagined places that might initially appear idyllic, but contain unsettling details that suggest otherwise. Her photographs recall strange fairy tales and cultish activity, but their subject matter is real life torments: relentless s truggle between the rich and the poor, the home as a site of poverty and ruin; the family a source of treachery and despair.

http://www.annabelelgar.com/