week 10

filling hypothetical exhibition proposals

This week was the first hypothetical exhibition proposals. I enjoy filling these forms so much because this is such a valuable skill to learn for us if we want to become professional artists. I’m happy to have some indications to navigate towards the professional art world instead of just learning about art theory and art practice because how do we actually become artists after university ? They teach us about the nature and the amount of information that curators want from us, they teach us about discipline, rigour, professionalism, communication, conceptualizing our work, presenting it to others, etc. These forms and presentations are an excellent opportunity to gain maturity as well. Miranda designed them and redesigned them countless times to better fit the class.

proposal feedback

I feel very grateful that I got to present my project proposal to the class, these in-person sessions are so valuable. I received very helpful feedback and comments. The tutorial and call that I had with Miranda have also made me feel very lucky to receive comments that contribute to my growth and journey.

The major comments I received :

-what bowls are they ?

-what about the poem ?

performing again

I did say in my last post that I don’t see the point in doing the exact same performance so I would include my poetry and do it in front of an audience. However, it is almost impossible to find a place to organise a performance in front of an audience in less than a week (I would like to do it after the Christmas break). So again, I could consider the feedback I received and do the performance in the project room again or I could leave it as it is. Yet, I am filled with such an urge to create and to push it further that it wasn’t enough. Ironically, the project room was fully booked until Monday, the last proposal day. And I decided to push my boundaries again and do it outside. I was already sick but I thought it was the perfect opportunity to be here in Aberystwyth and perform outside despite the weather and storm Barra. I would be so disappointed after leaving Aberystwyth if I got the chance to study what I am so passionate about on the land of my father without doing outdoor art performances. It wouldn’t make sense because I am really connected to Nature. The contemplation of the Welsh landscape helps me to find the answers that I have about my identity and my origins. It inspires me, it sustains me and helps me understand where I am from. So I decided that the Welsh landscape would be part of my work, it would be the location of my performance as an integral part of the subject. In the performance, I am sat in the middle of a river, I am sat in between waters and in between lands. The liminality of the site represents what it feels like to be a mixed person. I stand still in the stormy weather and the rapid flow of the river behind me to embody stillness and acceptance. Moreover, I would interact with Nature in my performance. I would get the water from the river Ystwyth to define my curls and I would make pots from the mud of the riverbed and the woods. This is a return to Nature, a return to the source and my origins. Therefore, I walked 2 hours with Mayu near Pen Dinas to find the location. Mayu helped me film and document everything, I am so lucky to have her. We trespassed twice to get to the location which makes me feel like this performance was a transgression in every way. It reminds me of “Triggered” the performance I did last semester”.

all pictures are taken by Mayu Maruyama

simulation of the hypothetical exhibition

As aforementioned, the exhibition would contain the pre-recorded performance and the installation of the objects used during it.

The following photos are simulations that can help envision how I would like my exhibition to be.

I took these photos and edited them.

some more images of the performance taken by Mayu
how it was then vs now

here are some of the things that have changed between the two performances :

  • I got help to film by Mayu Maruyama. It was essential as last time the footage stopped at 12 minutes. Besides, we still encountered a lot of technical difficulties such as a full memory card, we had to continue on our phones…
  • the performance was outside. The performance has a deeper meaning in relation to the land of my father, it makes more sense. Doing the performance outside is why I am okay with the fact that I didn’t do a public performance yet.
  • I made the pots with the land in situ
  • I washed used the water from the river in situ to define my curls
  • I learned the poem by heart to recite it
  • the performance was in three parts.

Part 1 : the making of the pots / pottery performance : I return to the land of my father, return to the earth to create pots as an hommage to everything that shaped me : the ppl i know, Miranda, my ancestors and Nature. The pots are made with soil from the riverbeds and from the woods around me
Part 2 : the hair ritual, I return to the source and use the water from the river Ystwyth to define my curls, the pots i made contain the hair products i need to nourish my hair, define and braid it. I take care of my hair as an act of transgression against the interdiction from my mom because of intergenerational trauma.

Part 3 : the Būqālah/ poetry performance. I do a poetry ritual in the Algerian tradition of Būqālah. It’s a ceremony in which women sit in circle and recite poems about love, sexuality and freedom forbidden by the French. It reunites the idea of the pots but also the Welsh and Algerian tradition of oral poetry, folklore and awe of Nature. I learned by heart the poem that inspired this whole performance project because the women before me didn’t go to school and they didn’t know how to read or write. Furthermore, the word Būqālah means pots, in the Algerian tradition, women make pots with clay and they pass it around as they recite the poems so with the materiality of the pots, the repetition of the performance and the immateriality of the poems (which don’t exist on paper) it becomes something spiritual, like a trans. That’s why the making of pots was important.

some inspirations

Vivian Chinasa Ezugha

Vivian Chinasa Ezugha was born in Nigeria, Enugu State in 1991. She graduated from Aberystwyth University, School of Art with a first-class BA in Fine Art 2014. She is a contemporary interdisciplinary artist deeply “interested in history and how history is performed in the mundanity of everyday living”. In her performance entitled “Because of hair”, the artist is addressing the power and symbolism of her hair. Vivian Chinasa Ezugha is wearing a mask of human and animal hair. She circles around the audience and dances. Progressively, she is shedding layers of materials from the mask. She writes “As a material and a bodily matter, hair is simply a coverage. However, when placed in the context of race, identity and gender, hair is more than a material for adornment. It is a language, a symbol and most importantly, hair can conceal.”. The history and upbringing of the artist are key to the full understanding of her work. Vivian Chinasa Ezugha is a black woman living in the UK, she is also an interdisciplinary artist who uses her body to express herself. Through her performances, she is empowering herself and contributing to the decolonization of her body through self-reclamation. When I had a conversation with her, she emphasized the importance of self-awareness and assertion especially in the process of healing wounds. Vivian Chinasa Ezugha states that ‘hair plays an important role in the way [she sees herself] in relation to [her] peers. […] In many ways hair symbolises a process of rejection and acceptation. Philosophically hair in African culture is used to represent social and economic power; as a material that is constantly malleable by human hand, hair becomes an object, subject and a symbol of identity and culture.”

  • Phylicia Ghee

Phylicia Ghee is a contemporary artist who is also interested in the healing rituals through performance, transitional ceremonies, and rites of passage. In her statement, the artist gives credit to her grandfather who is also an interdisciplinary artist and taught her everything at a very young age, her mother’s writing, her grandmother’s sewing, and her great Grandmother’s skill in quilting. She affirms that her work “is not just [hers] but also of those who came before us.” By acknowledging her caretakers and her ancestors, she emphasizes the power of transmission through generations. Phylicia Ghee has been working on difficult and personal subjects such as the healing of intergenerational trauma related to slavery, colonization, women’s condition, and racism. What inspires me the most in her work is her ability to find momentum through the practice of rituals rooted in the physical world and through that momentum, her ability to engage with the unseen and the spiritual. She says : “I think ‘ritual performance’ just makes more sense for what my work is. It is ritual. It’s about ritualizing the mundane — the things that seem very simple, but also are very complex. Ritual can be the simple things that we do but the ramifications are so deep for what we experience. [It] deconstructs or reconstructs [us] internally.”. Her work ‘Intrepid’ is set in the landscape in situ, Ghee is writing the healing affirmations “I am, I am, I am, I surrender…” repeatedly using black charcoal on a large square sheet of paper for 45 minutes and 46 seconds. Starting from the centre and rotating towards the edges, the artist is creating a ritual momentum. Throughout the process, the artist’s skin is progressively covered in charcoal residue. As soon as she finishes her drawing, the artist symbolically walks away and vanishes in the ocean to release trauma.

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