body things

I have been taught to hate my body all my life. I addressed these things in my work previously, from the colour of my skin to the hair that covers it.

One thing I am still struggling with is, is the size of it. The contours and the folds. The way it does not skim flat and smoothly.

I have said that I do not want the use of my body to be about the size of it, or representation or any of these big big issues.

I want to use my body as a tool. I want to stop using thin people because it’s easier and because it means I don’t have to get undressed. I want to connect with my work intensely and allow it to fully come from me.

Even if this is a jump in my practice,  because of all these political issues, it is not about my work. It’s just about bodies.

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Ana Mendieta- Body Tracks

I was introduced to Ana Mendieta during my first year of A-Levels. I was very interested in exploring female artists and art that was political and triggered emotional responses. I was instantly drawn to the fact that she was not a Caucasian artist, yet had been given this large platform and popularity. The work covered everything from performance to sculpture and I admired how fluid she was between mediums. This was my first introduction to concept based work, as opposed to working in a set medium.

Once piece that I have found relevant to my work in this unit is “Blood Sign #2/ Body Tracks”. The result of this work was exhibited in the Hayward Gallery in 2013, however seeing it in the flesh has resonated with me to this day and continues to influence my practice.

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The recorded film was the first time I had seem performance art that wasn’t categorically ‘dance’ or ‘theatre’. The themes of blood and violence carry through Mendieta’s work and I feel holds significance in the arts to this day, with the large and increased following within the feminist movement.

Looking at the way the body is used in art is something that I intend to explore, in less of the dance aspect but more subtly.  The movement in this piece is something abnormal to everyday life, and seeing the marks left behind- even without the film to accompany it- is powerful.

Fat and Art

The plan for my work to continue was to recreate the shoot with Emily, but using my body. I have found it difficult to find artists that use their body in work that are not considered ‘thin’. I originally did not want my work to be about standards in society, however I think that because I am not small, this will happen regardless of my intention, so it makes sense to address it.

Women of bigger sizes are seen in abundance in renaissance art and paintings. Even currently, artists such as Jenny Saville use ‘fat’ figures in her work. Despite this being a popular artist, I feel that these paintings do not hold them in a place of beauty, as the stomachs are seen to be pressed upon glass in a ‘squished’ and confined way.

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Even here, the grasping and grabbing of the flesh is aggressive and forced, and I feel does not portray the body as ‘beautiful’ and ‘natural’.

Searching for “plus size performance artist” on the Internet does not have many leads. One issue I have is the term “plus size”. Why must these bodies be “plus” or larger than ‘average’? Why is there a need to segregate them from the rest of society because of an extra layer of fat? This leads onto the issue of “fat= unhealthy”, and “skinny= healthy”, when this simply isn’t the case. So many people with this mentality lead to having eating disorders and this is simply unhealthy to the extreme of not being able to function.

Photographer and artist, Toby Burrows did a series called “Nothing to Lose” in which ‘plus sized’ models were used. These images involve movement and dance. The have elegance and beauty within them, however seem very theatrical in their style.

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Looking at his other works, he uses typically ‘thin’ figures that you would expect to see. Something that I have an issue with is ‘plus sized’ people being used solely because of their size. Using ‘larger’ people should not be seen as using bigger figures, but should just be normalised to the point where the art they are featured in does not become about their size, but becomes about the work.

Katharina Grosse- This Drove My Mother Up The Wall

Walking into the South London Gallery for the first time, I did not expect the interior exhibition to look the way it did in comparison to the architecture. The room was filled with an organised chaos of colour and shapes sprawled across the walls and all I could think was, “wow this must have taken forever!”

Despite the room being covered it was empty and felt like a void. Lots of white space remained which I think emphasised the harsh lines more. The work has been described as creating a “dynamic tension” within the space used.

It was difficult to tell if the medium was entirely spray paint, however reading into her work she commented that the use of spray paint allowed her to have an extended reach to areas and “accelerated velocity” of her work.

Katharina Grosse has stated that her work holds both a planned concept and an element of spontaneity, as each piece is designed around the space. I think it is interesting to see an artist have to be so open and flexible as to how their work will look as an end result.

“Graffiti is writing and making a claim…. The edge of my work is an invitation for change.”

 

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The Bee Project

The Bee Project was a piece of interactive theatre that incorporated contemporary dance. I was not sure what to expect when attending this performance however was very impressed with the way that symbolism was used throughout- using glitter to represent pollen.

Seeing the dance within this show was a new experience as I have not seen live dance before. The actresses’ bodies were used to represent bees and their movements while pollinating and flying.

I was very interested to see this because of the environmental awareness that it aimed to raise. It made the audience become very conscious about consumerism and the vast amount of waste that we produce. It focused on things such as pesticides and local produce, emphasising that bees are very much in danger due to our actions.

One thing that I was very impressed with was the use of environmentally friendly glitter, as usually this is made from plastic. Glitter is something that has become very ‘trendy’ especially with the increase of ‘festival fashion’. Biodegradable glitter is a small change that people can make, without losing the aesthetic and fun. It is reassuring to see a project stick with its values of what it is trying to raise awareness for.

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The Bee Project- Camden People’s Theatre

Sigur Ros- Manchester Apollo

“That song that’s always on BBC Wildlife documentaries” is how I usually explain who Sigur Ros are. An Icelandic band that have an unusually large English following for a band that sing and perform in their native language. Regardless of this, the tones and notes explored in their music would make most of it ‘nonsense’ anyway.

In comparison to the creative videos that accompany their music usually, seeing their art away from this collaboration brings a whole different element. The venue was seated and unlike most concerts, it remained that way until the end. It is incredible to see a band captivate people in silence as they experience the performance.

Most concerts I have attended have loud screams and excitement that is audible from the audience, however in this one, not a peep was heard until the end of each song.

The lighting was very specific to accompany the sounds played. It was less like a traditional concert lighting- but more like artwork to accompany the sound and add to the whole experience. The sounds went from delicate and quiet to loud and bellowing, as it invaded your whole body. The vibrations and pure noise that was projected made a trace-like, along with the lights, lasers and projections.

Seeing this artist live was unlike any other concert/ live music experience I have had, and it felt like an immersive art performance with every element considered.

Sigur Ros Live 2016 Starálfur | Sæglópur | Glósóli [Post Rock] [Live Concert]

Reflective Review of Ryoji Ikeda’s “Test Pattern No 12”

Ryoji Ikeda is a sound artist from Japan, who’s work challenges the frequencies that a human’s hearing can take in. The Works “Test Pattern No 12” was commissioned by Store X The Vinyl Factory which premiered at The Store studios: 180 The Strand. The work instantly created discomfort however then began to feel trance like. Ikeda uses 0’s and 1’s as a barcode representation and has a mathematical sense and is an example of science and maths being relevant to the arts- as often seen as an opposite.

Test Pattern No 12

The work began by removing shoes and entering a room which had flashes of lights and a striped “barcode” projection changing patterns that seemed to both be random and follow a specific pattern. The vibrations from the loud sound and the high frequency glitches filled your body. There were changes and breaks in frequencies which left you feeling heavy in your body and grounded.

With this work seemingly engaging most of your senses it seems that it was designed with full body- abled people to experience- as a clear sign stated the work was “unsuitable for people with epilepsy”. This was a piece of work that was fully immersive and felt like a non- human experience, and yet it was not accessible to everyone.

Art can be seen as an ‘exclusive’ subject area to those who aren’t actively a part of the ‘scene’ and yet it contributes to all areas of life. Many people still picture a traditional art gallery, where you are a viewer and so- in my experience- distanced from the work. I have always been bothered by this as it closes off art as a practice for “fully abled” people. For example, those with sight impairments are unabale to experience these works due to both their own barriers and physical ones around the work.

I thought about ways that Ikeda’s work could have been easily adapted for those with these disabilities and how, as artists, we can be lazy to the idea of having to change ideas we are so set on. This closed mindedness shuts out a large demographic who could become inspired or moved by the arts. I found that the use of lights and distorted sound mimicked the idea of therapy rooms, which are yes, far more ambient and calming but are designed with them in mind.

Creating a separate room without the flashing lights, having only the vibration travelling through the body instead would have been an easy adaptation that would have made part of the work accessible so that more people could experience an element of it. Despite this it comes with the argument that you can’t adapt work for every possible demographic or disability. Does the concept then change if you make it with a group of people in mind? Is it no longer relevant and so becomes another work entirely? There could be too many possibilities to consider, but I feel if you must put up a warning sign excluding a ‘type of person’, then more can be done.