The York St John MA Fine Art studio social was a success! There was representation across all 3 years of the undergraduate degree, as well as friends and professionals within and outside the university. A good time was had by all!
First off, things kickstarted with a crit-a-thon (as we so lovingly called them on our BA degree) from 3:00-5:00 with the third year undergrads. As expected, everyone went around and talked about their work and, as exhausting as they can be, I found it an immensely productive experience for my own work and it was a much needed confidence boost to say the least!
I’ve been in a bit of a slump in some ways with my masters practice (not what one needs when doing the degree full-time!) and really feel that I’ve benefitted from just talking about my work again with others. Such a seemingly insignificant thing as talking just concretes and crystallises all of your thinking by forcing you to articulate it. More and more I am finding it easier to talk about my work as I develop my personal arsenal of language for dealing with the material (physical and philosophical) over time. Though I did my usual routine of reading, feeling like I don’t know enough, and temporising over doing work (without actually doing much of the stuff of course), the verbal vocabulary I’ve sedimented into my brain over the past 3.5 years has helped me to not only better understand the visual vocabulary I’ve been dealing with, but also my intentions within my work: Who is it for? Who does it speak for? Do I have a right to speak for anyone but myself? It helps to confirm that I can just make and play with the materials because I already understand what they do in a space and how they work together.
Thinking about research questions within my practice (which I do now finally feel IS indeed research, albeit an auto-ethnographic one), has also done a lot to help me realise how my practice has importance not just for myself, but for others (and indeed, my fellow Others). Auto-ethnographic art has a legitimacy and importance for the person who brings this situated, personal knowledge forth, but it also has an importance in its translatable meanings for others to understand the cultural situation being explored. So then, for instance, my personal explorations into nomadism, displacement, and living ‘in the interstice’ in my own experience are translatable to a number of other artists, particularly those dealing with questions of culture in our particular time of globalisation and globalisation.
The work for this crit came with a name of its own, but I didn’t quite realise it at the time. ‘Property Inalienable’ explores ideas and my own feelings of place, belonging, portability and home in a globalising world.
I create a portable home from the pallets (the quintessential figure of portability, moving, and globalisation), make-shift materials (made, and shifted) to house a single bare light and an erased map. As if to interrogate or elucidate, the bulb bathes the map and the space in the light and casts shadows, activating the space and including the viewer as part of the work. The title is branded into the grain of the pallet, and ‘Inalienable Property’ becomes a question as well as a statement about crossing borders and nomadic existence. As I feel that I am constantly living in the interstice, between points of arrival and comings and going, my nomadic idea of my self becomes manifest in sculpture.
This work dealt with ideas of home-building very explicitly. It is essentially a tent made of pallets with an erased map as a sort of blanket on the ground and a single, bare light source.
The process of shuffling and moving these pallets around to place them felt quite important to me as they are these things that get shuffled across the globe, platforms for movement in a way. This is why I find them so interesting, they gain ‘character’ and their own sense of narrative by moving and being bumped into and affected by the things shoved on them and by being moved around and this is the affinity I feel like I have with them. In the process of making this work I have wondered that if you could see your ‘self’ if it might not have bruises and be shaped by its experiences in life too.
It’s a very contemporary experience of life today for people to be affected by places other than the one they grew up in and to feel you don’t entirely come from one place. England is probably a very good example of this because moving from one region to another can throw you into an entirely different cultural experience within the same bloody country. Sticking someone from Liverpool into London gives them a VERY different experience of life, and as people move so much for work and whatever other opportunity or reason, its an increasingly common experience. It blurrs the national/regional borders you feel in your own identity, and it is in this way that dealing with maps is so important in my work. Whereas in the Disjointed work I was acting as cartographer in making my own marks, in Property Inalienable I work towards literally erasing these marks. By sanding the map I’m physically erasing all traces and senses of place within it. It renders its function useless, but allows it to take on a different function as a non-place to ground yourself on. By grounding yourself on a non-place and therefore having no ground, it opens up this weird paradox whereby everywhere can become your ground that I quite enjoyed. It also had some weird god-complex connotations but that’s not exactly what I was getting at, but it was this strange feeling of wiping out places that gave you odd power in the process which I had intended to be more about empowerment in the sense of a lack of ties but simultaneous increase of connections at the same time. This little home I built was a way of me thinking through how I personally don’t feel rooted but also feel connected to two places at the same time. It was a portable little nomadic shelter for my sense of place and home.