MAI-LYNG ROBERTS

SEMESTER TWO

ANIMAL

WEEK 1 “suffering is key to understanding”

These are a some of the things that happened last semester :

I have been living by myself for more than a month now and I have been feeling very calm and connected to myself after the work from semester 1. I have been reading and listening to so many art reviews and conferences which has been so enriching. It helped me to have a better idea of what I would like to create and bring to a public through my art. Surprisingly, I only realised a few weeks ago that I have created the work n the photos above. It is very strange to realise that I have been so inspired and focused on my practice that I didn’t see how much I have created and how much I have grown as an artist. As soon as I printed these photos and saw them aligning in front of me, I knew that I had to do more performance art. I opened my journal and noticed that I kept writing about it constantly.

Movement journal entry 1. I miss the space of the project room.

Performance art has become a new passion of mine and I find myself constantly thinking about it and constantly researching it. I look up for artists, I look up for their works before sleep. I read about the way our body and mind behave together during performance when I’m having breakfast. I move around my flat during the day. And as I stretch my body every morning and every night, I feel a part of myself expanding and feel a huge emotional release around my hips. My body is not only the interface between the universe I have within me and the outer world (which receives and gives) it is also my mean of expression. I have always painted using my whole body, putting intention and emotion in the gesture for the entire process. Now, I need to learn how to make my gesture and movement the subject of the work. When I look back at my performance work of 2020, I am filled with so much motivation to continue what I started. It feels so right. I know what I want to improve already and there is a lot of work ahead of me. This semester is going to be very interesting.

I found a connection between the nest piece and the third performance I made in 2019 entitled hatched. Hatched is a human shell made out of wire and polystyren balls found in my mother’s workplace. The wedging particles are meant to protect the contained object. The sculpture works on its own but when the performance occurs, a narrative is added to it. The shell becomes amorphous once I am in it, it is completely useless.

hatched

So I decided to leave the shell and step out of the nest as I am ready to expose myself to vulnerability even more.

I left the human shell.

I like the idea of being like a mollusc out of its shell. The theme of this semester is ANIMAL and I’m so excited to start creating and perform as I just left the human shell. The first step is to be present and presence is not as easy as it sounds. I think presence is the essence of performance.

Some notes from research on Marina Abramovic

the key to performance art is suffering : image

‘it comes from really suffering. Suffering is the key to understanding. Suffering is the key to put yourself in a different level of consciousness. So performance art has a lot to do with the suffering.Painting, sculpting too. But performance is about staging suffering, staging fear, the fear of pain and the fear of mortality.’

‘Performance is time based art. You have to be there to witness it, to see and performance is immature body because it’s all about energy dialogue between performer and public’

‘Performance is a language and it is really important that you understand this language like you learn how to read.’

‘sexual energy is the most important energy of our body, it comes from recreation and how we transform it is essential. It can create violence, aggression, killing other human being, love, tenderness and spirituality, it s all there, the centre of everything. There are so many aspects of it.’

WEEK 2 : don’t fiddle with shit, sit with it
Discipline rigour commitment endurance

-notes from the tutorial –

I like to watch performances while I’m making my breakfast.

Pope L’s crawl performance reminded me a lot of Miranda’s work. I like that his actions fit so well with his time. They make sense. I also like that he is resourceful. The onion installation for instance allowed him to create using affordable and accessible materials.

He shares a quality that I really enjoy in Abramovic’s work. Both artists work with simplicity. I admire that a lot.

‘In performance, there’s a task you need to perform, the goal is to commit to the task. and in some cases, the task you want to commit to is nt doing something instead of always fiddling with shit.’

Pope. L

Pope.L is also an artist who suffers in his work, he shows endurance and discipline which reminds me of Abramovic’s artist manifesto. I like the idea of sitting with something. I have found myself doing that this week. The lotus sitting is an important work (it reminds me of Regina José Galiendo, I will probably talk about her next week). Pope.L has big revendications, political, societal, social and economical revendications. His anger and irony are bearable. Sitting, protesting, resisting, enduring…

Yesterday, I felt a lot of emotions and tension. I stayed up until 4:30 am. The first thing I did was meditation. Then I stretched my body as usual. I have been practicing my mind and body since the first semester. It enabled me to reach a powerful emotional release within the seconds. Then I sat with it (the tension) in order to paint it out with a clearer view on it.

I felt so shaken as everything around me was really loud, everything I touched was vibrating through me and pounding in my head and nervous system. With the tip of my fingers, I moved the water from my painting jar onto the table to create a line. I sat with it and I did a simple action.

After this, I sat in bed watching performance art works of multiple artists and ended up reading ‘The analysis of performance art’ by Anthony Howell. I learned a lot from it.

Notes from this week’s class :

WEEK 3

Notes from the class

WORKSHOP 1 :

extremophile studies

Extremophile, an organism that is tolerant to environmental extremes and that has evolved to grow optimally under one or more of these extreme conditions, hence the suffix phile, meaning “one who loves.”

Britannica

Extremophiles tend to be very small such as shrimps, insects or micro-oraganisms.

Some of the things that I have watched/read lately related to the workshop :

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/21923937?print=true

https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/can-animals-live-inside-active-volcano/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00422-007-0158-0

http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/how-do-volcanoes-affect-plants-and-animals

https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781119166191.ch3

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-do-animals-perceive-the-world-1264109/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2016-08-05/how-to-scientifically-name-species/7681634

Other things that I watched/read :

  • All of Regina Galindo’s performances
  • I watched the manifesto so many times because I realised that I also built a manifesto of moral conduct in my head.
  • Gina Pane

Gina Pane is a performance artist from South West of France. This is one of Gina Pane’s most important photograph for me. It’s entitled ‘ideal situation’. The artist stands on the horizon line, at the vanishing point. It means that she stands at the point of infinity. According to Gina Pane, the artist should stand between the sky and the ground. The artist is present. Performance art is an art of the present (live art).

WEEK 4
Thoughts on the group project

I loved Mayu, Matthew, Ellie and Ania’s ideas. Perhaps we could join the projects together as they all had something interesting in them.

-SOUND- recording imaginary animal sound samples to create an instrument with the keyboard, then make a music piece. Each letter of the keyboard becomes a sound. So a text could be translated into the imaginary animal language

-VISUAL- creating a video using our live stream screens. Imaginary animal shadows could travel from a screen to another so that we will all be interacting with each other. Or perhaps we could consider the screens as one big screen instead.

-QUESTIONS- how can we use the vile? how can we use our reflection on imaginary species?…

Sexual energy

My sexual energy is the most important energy of my whole body, it’s the force of life, creation, sensuality, passion, love… It’s the strongest energy, it pushes us to do the worst or the best things as living beings.

Lately, I have become aware of many changes in the flux of this energy.

One of the most important one has been my periods.

I did a 2x 1,5 hour performance in which I was sitting on a large piece of paper. At first glance, it seems like I am just sitting there for three hours but as I walk away, the viewer realises that there has been a lot going on internally.

This has been the longest performance I have ever made. It enabled me to work on my self discipline, endurance and commitment (qualities that I have admired in other performance artists).

On this last photo, you can see blood pouring out of my vulva onto the paper.

side note to find space in my flat, I cleared the space of my wardrobe. Performances can take place anywhere, there is no excuse.

WEEK 5 blood

I became interested in blood. I got inspiration from Gina Pane, Regina José Galindo, Marina Abramovic but one of my favorite performances is Death of a chicken by Ana Mendieta. The artist is holding a decapitated chicken, moving in agony. Blood, cultural rites, animal, raw, period, life, rape, death. The splashes of blood on her body were inevitable.

This piece feels different now that I learned about the circumstances of her death. She fell from the 34th floor of a building after an argument with her partner and artist Carl Andre.

The Guerilla girls have also denounced violence against women mentionning Ana Mendieta

There is also ‘Untitled’ (Blood sign 2/ Body tracks), Untitled self portraits with blood or Sweating blood by Ana Mendieta.

There is also the work of other female artists such as ‘Action Laure’ by Gina Pane, ‘Bitch’, ‘Pigs blood’, ‘Quien puede borrar las huellas’, ‘el peso de la sangre’ or the weight of blood by Regina José Galindo or Juliana Notari ‘diva’. I would say that I am not really interested in the ‘violence of blood’ and extreme practices but I am interested in blood as a natural organic fluid. In these works blood has been used to convey different ideas, some had a political meaning, some were about the female condition or the concept of life itself


SEMESTER ONE

NATURE

L I M I N A L S P A C E S,

L I M I N A L T I M E S

Beginnings

It is nice to start from where we know.

I first discovered what is a state of liminality at the end of my first exhibition entitled IN MOTION, an exhibition centred around the states of perpetual inner and outer change and transformation. I would like to push this idea of transformation even further and focus on liminal spaces and liminal times.

The phenomenon of liminality is a transformation process of Nature that we can observe in humans too.

STRANGE SPACE, HERE, NOT THERE YET, NOT THERE ANYMORE, SOMEWHERE, NOWHERE, EVERYWHERE, ANYWHERE THAT IS NOT HERE OR THERE BUT WHERE ?

During the first Interdisciplinary meeting, I was in self isolation for fourteen days at Balmoral, seafront. I was in this capsule with myself and as time passed by, it felt like the capsule was in motion. I had left Toulouse but I had not moved back to my new flat in Aberystwyth quite yet. I was transitioning in this space on a geographical and personal level. I was in a space of nothingness which I have been enjoying at times. I was in a space in-between.

During these fourteen days, I have been able to deeply experience the way our environment and surroundings help us to understand who we are. The Nature of what is around us helps us understand our own Nature. Therefore space is intertwined with identity because the landscape cannot be separated by the person who perceives it, the landscape is the visitor within Nature and the Nature within the visitor.

4th of October

Self portraits i took the day after I moved into my new flat, discovering my new environment, my body is embracing curves and moving in response to this new space, welcome home

Fish eye selfportraits make me feel like the viewer has an insight to myself in my habitat and intimacy, the viewer can perceive the way I behave in a room of my own.

Photos from the 30th of September

WEEK 1 :

For this first session, we had a sharpie and a few sheets to our disposition to express our impressions on the art projected on the screen. I enjoyed the combination of sketching and writing. I found it easier to understand myself as I looked back at my notes.

We watched a broad spectrum of definitions of Nature. All of them were deeply intertwined with our human relation to it. It was about the human experience of Nature.

THE CORRIDOR as a liminal space

After having experienced the space of my room, I have noticed that the corridor that my flatmates and I go through to the shared kitchen or enter or leave the flat is a liminal space in itself. It is a space of transition. There is a sense of nothingness in this corridor, it is moving. At the end of this long tunnel, there is a large rectangle glass window frame with a view of the forest. It is a great contrast from the plain white wall façades with its artificial light to the natural landscape.

stream of conciousness

MODELLING : a liminal process

Sometimes you just need to play before finding out.

The phenomenon of liminality is a very complex subject. It can be related to many disciplines such as anthropology, philosophy, spirituality, art, literature, music, architecture… I got too fascinated by this new word, it was very abstract and unsettling. I have done too many researches and the accumulation of windows open on Internet is overwhelming. Without noticing, I have been absorbing too much information at once without giving myself the time to let it sink it and sit with it. 25 tabs on my laptop and 41 tabs on my phone.

Instead of letting myself drown in this tornado of enthusiasm, I decided to sit with what I learned from the process of liminality.

What could liminality be made of ?

An organic shape, something malleable by humans and our environment, something made of clay. It is liquid, changeable yet solid. An interesting molecule structure. Modelling paste is a liminal material.

What does it look like to me? But really, what is the shape of liminality?

Liminality sometimes looks like a moving capsule with an open door at each end.

Sometimes it resembles a tunnel of time with many doors that merge into the walls (they are camouflaged) and a large window that looks like an exit but isn’t.

Sometimes, it looks like paths in a labyrinth : not all of them lead somewhere yet humans can go there. Useless and useful paths. Useless and useful places.

Waiting spaces : places we go to before going somewhere else, a quarantine studio.

A shape that we can’t see entirely, part of it is hidden.

A surface with holes in them.

A piece of fabric in the wind.

WEEK 2
I would like to build tunnels and bridges that lead to nowhere in Nature, spaces of transition.
I would like to pass through.

How does it feel when you “touch liminality “? How does it feel to reach it or to be in it?

It seems like being in a state of liminality is out of circumstances rather than free will. We found ourselves there instead of intentionally going there. However, I feel like once we reach it, we can choose to stay in it and appreciate this state of uncertainty which make it last (this is what I did with this project : instead of trying to finish my researches to find my answers, I decided to sit with it).

I took pictures of my hands because the process of modelling the paste and thinking in three dimension left a mark on me : a very thin powder brushed on my skin as if I had passed through a corridor of white mist.

I would like to create a liminality corridor that covers us with a white powder as we pass through it (clay, chalk, flour?) which disappears (melts or gets blown away ) when we leave it. The powder disappears as if it was never there because it is not about the end result, it is about the process. When going through the corridor in my flat, nothing really changes to me, it is only a corridor of transition. Before and after the process of transition, it is as if it never happened, I didn’t even notice the corridor of transition at first.

LIMINALITY AND MENTAL HEALTH

It’s quite strange – the fact that the state of liminality is a state that we do not choose but end up in out of circumstances, it is a state that can feel our of our control since it is unknown. It is a state of uncertainty with no landmarks and uncomfortableness that we try to avoid out of our natural tendency to want to stay on a safe ground instead of a moving one. A state of liminality is a state of vulnerability and anxiety, a transition space that determines our outcome. Sometimes we don’t even notice it, it’s merging into our everyday life.

The reason why I find it strange is the fact that we were created in that liminal liquid in the placenta as an embryo, we have been expulsed out of the vagina of our mother. Often our parents then instituted us into a sphere of education, a household and took care of us since our birth. I don’t think I can remember being in the placenta for nine months, evolving inside my mother’s body, waiting in this developing space of liminality until I came to the age to be born. I believe that Nature could be defined as the Cosmos and this liminal liquid of nothingness and everythingness, a space where things are happening. I wonder can the space that we originated from be so feared ? Is it because of the violent process of birth after it? The moment that we step through a new threshold, into a new world? The fear of the future or the abrupt change? I think that this anxiety comes from the knowledge that what we have learned from our previous habitat won’t serve in our new world and therefore that we will have to get accustomed to our new world and develop a new way of living.

I am enjoying this state of liminality since the end of my exhibition which was one of the most important moment in my life. I like noticing when I step into liminal spaces and liminal times. I think that being mindful in this state of transition is giving me peace instead of anxiety because I look at it with compassion. I feel lighter as if I was floating. I believe that it is because I enjoy this idea and this process of liminality in my everyday life without being obsessed with the final outcome that I grew to appreciate the liminal states in my life. I feel mindful and present at every step. I am not passive, the liminal process is a collaboration with me. My project is unfinished, yet when I stop and reflect, in this corridor of evolution, I feel very happy and I have faith in the process that I am in. The liminal state is a playful state, it can lead anywhere! It is an open door to new horizons, how exciting…

WEEK 3
ANA MENDIETA
Silusetas, Mexico, 1975–1975, 50 x 41 cm. (19.7 x 16.1 in.)

 When I think of liminality in art, I think of Ana Mendieta’s Siluetas.

Ana Mendieta has been on my mind a lot lately. There is something about her siluetas that lingers on my mind.

It looks like she lied on the ground (the earth as a steady supporting her) and left a mark. Another interpretation of these fascinating siluetas could be that her body sinked into the ground and a her presence emerged at the surface.

Energy flows from her body to the ground and from the ground to herself and beyond. Ana Mendieta achieves is in osmose with Nature.

What strikes me the most in this series of work is her position, she is lying flat on the ground and it looks like an energy is pulling her in. She looks absorbed by the ground by a force other than gravity. Perhaps she grew roots underneath her body. It is a self-portrait captured in a powerful contemplative pose which offers a full vision of what is above us.

I am wondering where the artist stands. Is she above the ground, did she leave these marks, is she below the ground. I believe that she is in the middle, in-between herself and Nature.

The word that I would associate with this work of art is : “to vehicle”. There is a transition in the state of the artist, a shift and an exchange of energy.

When I looked at the artist’s statements on her work, I realised that it was really about this transition phenomenon in which she was. The liminal state.

My exploration through my art of the relationship between myself and nature has been a clear result of my having been torn from my homeland during my adolescence. The making of my Silueta in nature keeps (makes) the transition between my homeland and my new home. It is a way of reclaiming my roots and becoming one with nature. Although the culture in which I live is part of me, my roots and cultural identity are a result of my Cuban heritage.

Ana Mendieta
CANDICE IVY
Hummm, Fitchburg Museum, 2020

Hummm is an intriguing mixed media sculpture installation made by Candice Ivy. It is a contemporary work of art that explores the intricate links between liminality and space and Nature. This work of art made me think a lot in terms of composition, the use of space and the materials used. It reminds me of a portal, an entrance. The broken glass screen from broken cars reminds me of a flow of water. I imagine a rapid and strong flow of water captured in its essence. The ceramics, shells and wood assemblage at the centre draws my attention in. This powerful work really captures the essence of Nature as a strong transformative force, constantly in motion. I can only imagine feeling the vibrations and the resonances of this work from across the room if I was at the Fitchburg Museum, it must be an incredible experience to stand next to it.  I can really envision the idea of liminality and the state of in-between in the way the composition was thought about. This work of art looks like an opening. Moreover, the diverging dynamics of the water flow which seems to be pouring down and the wood which seems to point the ceiling create this sense of transition and state of in-between. This work of art is open to many interpretations, the title “hummm” makes me think of the uncertainty of the liminal state.

Body, motion and space

The notion of liminality is tied to the motion and space as it is the undefined state that exists after the crossing of a threshold. It make sense to write an entry on dance performances to illustrate this idea of body, motion and space in time. It also follows the previous artist research I made as I have looked into the representation of the artist’s own body in Ana Mendieta’s work and the use of space in Candice Ivy’s work.

Just dance : Inter-liminal, filmmaker Daveion Thompson, choreographer Juri Onuki, dancer Lloyd Boyd

This performance is divided in three different acts like a stage play performance which goes with the narrative nature of the work. A man dances with a silver chair in a concrete outdoors environment. The first act, casual interactions represents the normal uses of a chair as if it was used indoors.

The second act, out of place illustrates the rupture with the past habitat of the chair. Now that the chair is outside, it feels out of place. The chair is now upside down, there is a sense of discomfort as it  is not where it is supposed to be. The motion and the dance changes, the dancer uses different ways of holding and interacting with the chair. They have different grips.

The intermission ‘we shall return shortly’ screen gives us enough time to understand the way liminality has been interpreted here. The dancer has crossed the threshold with their silver chair, it is now in an in-between state where they have understood the way the chair could not be used in the same way as it used to be used in its old habitat. A shift in attitude has been made by the dancer as we see some shots of the busy streets of a city in the United-States.

In the third act, conforming to, the dancer is trying to understand how the chair could work in this new environment. They found ways to fit into the chair and behave to its new system. By crossing another threshold, they belong to a system with its set rules. The dancer is adapting themselves and therefore losing parts of their own nature to feel a sense of belonging. Yet, the most important sense of belonging that we must follow is our own sense of self. This is when a new third act appears as a denouement. The dancer is conforming against. They are staying true to themselves and conforming to their own nature and going against premade labels. As we read the caption, we understand that Lloyd Boyd is debunking societal boundaries to stay true to themselves despite the discomfort of socio-liminality. They are non-binary.

WEEK 4

Reflection entry

For the past few weeks, I have started creating multiple projects aside as an immediate response to the interdisciplinary practice and this environment. I haven’t been posting about them on the online notebook although the link between every single project made a lot of sense in my head. I have noticed that I tend to not enjoy speaking about ideas that have not sprouted yet because it seems a bit useless to talk without achieving anything. I felt very strange to the idea of announcing concepts that aren’t tangible yet because it doesn’t align with how my work is linked to performance.

It seems to me like a waste of time to talk about all ideas of projects before realization as most of ideas aren’t worth pursuing in the end. I would say that it is like that first workshop that we did with the acorns, we went to the woods to select a handful of green acorns just to plant one which might not even start sprouting. So many conditions might interfere with its achievement. It is extraordinary that one in ten thousand acorn becomes an oaktree. I would say that it is very similar to ideas. As I wondered how this figure could be applied to humans, I read that humans have approximately 60 000 thoughts per day, which would lead to only a few interesting thoughts that we can remember at the end of the day.

MONDAY

On Monday, lengthy manuscripts were extended across the room with a simple layout : a place to put our shoes in and a box to present the outcome of our research for the group project. This idea reminds me of the inspiration I got for my blog page as a stream of conciousness by Jack Kerouac’s 120 foot long manuscript for On the Road.

I started writing the words “step by step” in my natural cursive letter handwriting. Then Miranda told us about a student who left materials for us to use in the little room where all the acorns where planted. To my delight, as I looked up, into this room, I saw these huge bouquets of branches and flowers hung upside down. I knew these would be s o helpful for my group projects which consists of doing a collaborative creative practice performance for three hours. I will write a set of tasks for everyone to achieve individually without knowing what the others will do around them. The idea is to imitate the way Nature achieves very graceful and dedicated gestures everyday around us and is a powerful creative force in perpetual motion. I traced two intertwining lines across the entire paper which I really like. Miranda moved her little oaktree across the room which left muddy water drop marks on my work. I found them so nice.

WEDNESDAY

I booked the project room for Wednesday afternoon for my personal and group project and I invited Anna Musiol to join me.

It was the perfect opportunity to materialise all the ideas of projects that I had! These included :

  • the photographs of me using my body as a modelling material (fluidity, motion, shapes, silhouettes)

It was fantastic to be able to finally see all these projects in a physical state with the help of Anna who understood everything that I had envisionned and helped me to capture that. No one was at the School of Art, it was just us two shaking with excitement, the dim projector lights and a room filled with Nature! We work together in perfect connection.

Moreover, as soon as I entered the project room, I explaimed “We should build a human nest!”. So we build a nest and then we filmed and documented the process of leaving it. (As I am writing this, I just texted Anna about building a giant nest or tower that could fill the entire room.)

  • photographs of modelling clay sculptures placed on my body (artist become the interface between Nature and Art, there is a corridor of transition and transformation)
  • photographs of the fabric I created out of my Nature element collection (a patchwork of memories)
  • photographs of me wearing the fabric of memories as a piece of clothing
WEEK 5

Week 5 was the group project proposal week, when I thought about what we could do together, I immediately thought about Tracey Emin, one of my favourite contemporary artists. In one of her conferences, she talked about the times when she was commissioned to create a public artwork for New York city and Sydney, huge cities where thousands of people pass through each day. She asked herself what does the world need? The answer is love. Love!

Tracey Emin's Valentine to New York City
British artist Tracey Emin releases a 'flock of birds' in Sydney as part of  public art work - ABC News

In these crazy covid times, I have talked to so many people who said ‘I just wish we could go back to normal’. Yet, now is the new normal and here is a lot of stress and insecurity because things that we considered as normal have been taken away from us. We miss standing closer than the social distance, hugging our friends, buying non essential things, going to museums… the things we never thought that we could lose. The control that we have on what we have is actually more fragile than we thought. In a few days, a few months, a few words exchanged, a few bacterias and the entire world has been facing a pandemic, a series of lockdowns and all sorts of crisis. It reminds me of one of ‘La Peste’ by Albert Camus (the Plague), one of the most important novels of the 20th century. In this novel, humanity is having to face the fragility of our control on things when the plague invades the world. The plague is a metaphor for the inexplicable, unpredictable and absurd disaster that can hit anyone at any moment for no reason. The plague is a metaphor for the uncontrollable and illogical tragedy that reminds us of the fragility of the human condition. The plague is also an abrupt reminder that we need to be grateful of what we already have in the present moment. In French, we call that ‘une claque’, a slap is realization of something that makes us come back to Earth, hit by reality.

How about building a safe place for us all, a place of love, a home. Homes have a very different meaning nowadays, when we cannot leave our home because of lockdown, our homes don’t feel like home anymore. ‘We want to go back to normal.’ Too much home destroys the idea of home. As instead of going home, we are stuck in it. I was thinking of ways of making a place feel like home. An I thought of a few different artists who make “comfort art”.

Then I thought about Karin Larrson, a Swedish artist who dedicated her life to transform her house to a home inspired by the patterns and organic shapes of Nature.

She chose to focus on art and craft and was one of the main inspirations for the brand IKEA. Her husband painted her multiple times and her colourful home atmospheres were always figuring in his painting.

My idea of the group project then became clearer : using an empty dining space to build a home from scratch.

Karin Larrson used wool very often and Aberystwyth used to be known for its wool industry.

China Raw Sheep Wool Fiber for Carpet - China Carpet Wool and Sheep Wool  price
Blanket project starts year with wool drive | Mossel Bay Advertiser

The art and craft movement inspired by William Morris at the end of the Victorian era was all about trying to go against the hectic industrialisation which brought a lot of anxiety and hassle. The world had never changed so fast and humans had to keep up with the machines. The idea of the art and craft movement was to bring joy to work, satisfaction and wellbeing. It was the opposite of the Taylorism and Fordism working rhythms. The art and craft patterns were all inspired by Nature as well.

Furthermore, crafting is also very important in the Welsh culture, the Welsh have made beautiful tapestries, patchwork, ceramics, love spoons and baskets.

My group project proposal was to wrap up every piece of furniture, every little object, every dish and piece of cutlery into colourful wool. Creating a home in three hours, bringing comfort in a state of emergency is a challenge that we all have to be able to do as artists. Whether that is through reminding ourselves of our human condition, telling the truth, creating a home or making ourselves feel.

WEEK 6 : Outgrowing ideas and leaving the nest.

During my last tutorial, Miranda advised me to choose one of the projects that I made to develop. I had covered my body with clay sculptures, I had build a human nest and made a piece of clothes to walk with Nature and keep a memory of my walks. The idea that I chose to develop was the human nest which makes a lot of sense considering the necessity to bring safety in these times. I even considered trying to build a nest as big as the project room, a nest that would fill the room just like the apple in Magritte’s painting. So I started to look up for artist references and I discovered that so many artists had already build nests out of branches : land artists, conceptual artists, etc.

And just like that, I outgrew this idea. To me there is no point in trying to do something that has already been made and I am not sad about it actually. I am happy that it has been made and brought to this world. Now, I have other things to do, other projects to think about. I have outgrown the other project ideas as well but outgrowing ideas is normal. It is part of the process. If we couldn’t let go of some ideas then it would have been a frustrating situation! Anyways, I am still thinking a lot about this final project and I am confident about it. There is no point in trying to force an idea knowing that it doesn’t lead anywhere. I am letting go of the nest to invest my time and energy to another idea. My egg has hatched and I have left the nest behind me.

WEEK 7 : trust in the liminal state

The theme of my work is the liminal process and the more I think about it and come up with new ideas, the more I realise how important trust is. Trust is the key element to the process of transformation and creation. When I do an action, the energy that I put into it is motivated by hope, curiosity and trust. It’s such a strange thing to think about. How come do I have trust for something that I cannot prove yet? Perhaps it is because I am passionate about what I do and know that I can learn from any possible outcome. Every idea can be pushed and pursued and artists make decisions. They choose where to invest their time and energy. They choose what to consume.

Anyways, my point is that I am realising that trust is so important in a liminal state and I would like to explore this theme. The artwork where the process has to be trusted.

The Kiss.

I would like to introduce you to my all time favorite artwork : The Kiss by Bridget Riley. I don’t know the exact reason why it has been my favorite artwork for so long nor the reason why it makes sense to introduce it now. But it makes so much sense in my head for a lot of reasons.

It was Bridget Riley’s first abstract work which represented a turning point in her art journey. It was the first time that she ever used the curve as a shape.

I see different things everytime I look at it and I enjoy artworks that make me see different things each time. Sometimes I see the inside of a kissing mouth, a the black circle hovering over a black square on a white background. Sometimes I see the sunset. But today, I saw the space before we touch. Graceful space full of physical and spiritual tension. The curve is purposefully not centered and it is so close to the bottom line without touching it. In this faint gap, there is so much tension. The curve is drawn towards the steady straight line which feels like it is absorbed.

The Kiss is like the birth of new possibilities, it looks like an opening, the two black surfaces are spreading to let the light come through.

PROPIOCEPTION

I have talked about propioception in my presentation of William Cobbing’s work. Propioception is said to be the 6th sense that not everyone has but that can be trained.

When I was in secondary school, I hated the way I looked so I stopped looking at the mirror. Then a few years later I realised that I forgot what I looked like so standing in front of the mirror was always so surprising. Doing self portraits and art performances by myself is a powerful move to rediscover and regain my sense of self. With practice, I get to know myself enough to know what does my body look like if I move in a certain way in space. Proprioception is about being aware of ourselves which is very linked to self awareness and mindfulness. I feel the happiest when I get to be aware of who I am and when I know my worth because it is a deep connection with the present and the surroundings and myself.

The Kiss by Bridget Riley reminds me of the power of propioception because of the space before we touch. There is a space of tension that is almost magnetic when we reach an edge. I would say that this space of absorption in liminal spaces happens just before crossing a new threshold and commiting to an idea. It’s about the split second just before we are sliding into new territory. Try this : close your eyes and join your hands together without touching them. Try to get as close as possible without making them touch. Do you feel the attraction between your hands? The tingles in your palms and fingers? Do you feel how warm it gets? It’s such a crazy thing to experience and it makes me feel very intensely.

WEEK 8 stills from the final project
WEEK 9 presentation week

After my presentation, I felt this very deep sense of connection within myself, the best way I could describe it is alignment. Throughout my creative journey, I have never been so concious and aware of myself and my surroundings. I find meaning in every little action that I have done just because it felt right. It’s so impossible to describe how much I am passionnate about what I do. I do these things a lot, these weird little actions constantly without noticing it. Like the time I moved into my new flat and tried to fit into the shapes of my room to be aware of space or dancing in the project room although I am not a dancer. I have never done a dance performance before… I’m not a dancer, I just feel. I don’t know why I do some of the things I do, they have no purpose but they feel so right. Later, days, months or sometimes years later, it all comes to place and it all makes so much sense.

Miranda and I had a wonderful talk as we left the room. I felt very emotional because everything kept aligning in my head. I told Miranda about the time Anna said to me that I’m an art performer which felt like a huge epiphany. It is something that was so obvious yet I never came to its realisation. Miranda gave me a lot of interesting points to push my video forward. There is a big contrast between what the viewer sees in this immaculate white room compared to the waves of vibrations that I saw in my head as my eyes where closed (imagine a lot of orange, purple and burgundy). I love that contrast.

What is in the project room stays in the project room. We have to accept that lot of things happen in the studio but they can’t all be brought to the gallery.

Miranda Whall

Then, Anna S, Anna M and I went to Coffee #1 to celebrate the finalisation of our projects with our presentation and we just talked about our creative process which was fascinating. We are all so different in this group but we work so well together. Again, we were all feeling very connected.

I made the video longer and added fading at the beginning and end of the video.

This week, I booked another slot in the project room to film the discussion with Anna.

WEEK 10

This week I have taken into consideration the feedback from week 9 by changing the music to avoid copyrights. The first idea that I tried was humming the melody and then multiplying the sound on different layers. It sounded terrible.

So I decided to download a music software to work with the pre-existing segment of the instrumental. The software is called Audacity. I have changed the tone, the tempo, the reverberation and did some layering to the instrumental. Then I added some experiments on fading, blending and distortions of the sounds. In order to check if the audio would still be copyrighted, I uploaded it on youtube in private despite the audio modifications. It was still copyrighted.

Consequently, I downloaded a few apps to create my own music from scratch since I never took singing lessons or learned how to play an instrument. I have tested the apps ‘Music Maker Jam’, ‘Groovepad’ and ‘Bandlab’. ‘Bandlab’ is the app I ended up using as it was more adapted to what I was looking for. After a few hours of playing with it this week, I started to understand the way it works at the end of the week. Here are a few of my attempts :

WEEK 11 final twitches

This week I have finished the song that I am using for the video.

I also re-edited the wholevideo from scratch because the more I was modifying the footage, the more it lost quality.

Final reflections

I felt very lucky and grateful to be part of the exhibition in the end. I didn’t really expect to be part of it at first. Despite all the technical difficulties, the online show was a positive experience that I will remember. I enjoyed watching all my classmates expressing themselves in their own way, it was very interesting and inspiring. The live chat enabled us to reach the audience who was very active during the exhibition. Thank you ever so much for making this possible ! 🙂