DJCAD Reflective Research Journal – Week Seventeen

A lot of info at the Monday meeting again. But feeling more on it now. Peter Amour talked about the Cooper Galleries BlogSpot and how we could submit our responses, as artists, to the exhibitions, which I would like to do at some point.

The film screening was ‘Never Sorry’ about Ai Weiwei, which was fascinating, for lots of reasons and quite emotional.

I did some research into puppets and performance art theatre, lots of ways to go. Discovered Snuff Puppets, who made a huge puppet of a woman giving birth in great detail, very visceral, loved it, I presume there are people inside all the different parts of her, including the baby. I love the idea of performance on this scale., though I would worry about the vast amount of materials used of course!

Tuesday was an etching induction. I had wanted screen printing, but it was full. What a long fiddly process etching is and I don’t really want to work with acids and toxic fluids, but I knew they were involved. I would have been excited by it years ago, but am kind of forcing myself to try it now, to keep my foot in the door in the print workshop because I might want to do more printing sometime. I prepared a zinc plate with a hard ground and borrowed a needle tool to take back to my studio. Plenty ideas, which to choose though…

My lack of patience for ‘making’ seems to be getting worse or is it just that I can’t get into a calm, creative, meditative, making mood when I am surrounded by people? I really only get work done in the evenings still, but the seeing and talking to people and sharing in the crisis’ and excitement feels important too. I am sure I have said all this before.

We have met as a group to discuss the Our Space project, which no one is very excited by as far as I can gather (me included) but it’s to encourage group work, events organization, curation skills etc., so I see why they set it as a task. We have a good idea though and it’s a few weeks away yet, so it will be fine.

The highlight of the week was Wednesdays artist talk by Richard Layzell, who’s talk and work was so fresh and funny but without taking away from the seriousness of the issues he raised; which were ecological, e.g. the loss of the Elm tree and human rights; the shame he carries for his ancestors abuse of the Aboriginal peoples in Australia and other first nations peoples.

I went on a performance walk with him in a group later, which was freezing, but kind of didn’t mind, because again, his ideas, or the way he presented them seemed very fresh and interesting to be part of. He took is to the stairs down to the Tesco bridge and pointed out the piece of waste land. Then showed us the sign saying it was prime development land. Then said he questioned whether Dundee even needed development because there seemed to be a lot of empty buildings. He took out a roll of rubbings he’d taken of trees (their trunks I think) and then found a blank sheet and took a rubbing of the sign. Which was bizarre because none of the writing was raised so it was a rubbing of a smooth surface, but I kind of liked the sort of futile gesture of it, the absurdness of it, but also the point I think he was making. Then we walked properly on to the waste ground, which is a lovely green area with Broom, Buddlia, Ragwort, Plantain and Dandelions among the grass, which I think must be kept semi cut by rabbits, as I saw droppings. It would get called an ‘ecosystem’ now, by someone trying to protect it, but it was clear from the responses at the end of the walk, that places like that are more important than that, though that is very important too, but should really go without saying. The people on the walk, talked about playing in places like that as children, in both urban and rural environments and one girl talked about her distress at her childhood wild patch getting bulldozed, to build on. I talked about wild ground like that disappearing and farmers not even having to leave hedgerows anymore and how important it was to draw attention to these places and how children and adults are drawn to wild ground, maybe without even knowing why.  Makes me think about Colpy and Pranya in Dad’s unpublished manuscript – ‘The Smoke People’. The last magical beings, who appear only on this little unremarkable, untamed patch of ground. Maybe I could do a video or performance piece to honour the weeds of wild ground? Or get Dad to send me the manuscript and I could use some of his text.

Richard also performed a small ceremony on the land to acknowledge, in a small way, the damage that had been visited upon Aboriginal people by his ancestors, by pouring a bag of white sugar and a can of beer together on the ground. The two main substances which were gifted to them in a devastating gesture of supposed appeasement for the commandeering of their land.

I filmed some more video sketches of ideas on Wednesday afternoon and evening, including one, with the working title; Pink Spider Crab. During the editing I discovered I can superimpose paintings or other pictures over the film and make them semitransparent which is exciting. Still don’t really know where I am going with it, need to find a narrative I think, but struggling with that. I also practiced my performance for Friday (Generator members show, opening night) and made a cardboard head out of cereal boxes which fits over mine…to see where that leads.

Richard Layzell also mentioned Anthropomorphism, I like the word, if I can learn to say it properly,  it could possibly use it to describe my work in which animals and humans are get confused, thought the meaning is actually putting human attributes on to animals…

On Thursday, I had my open tutorial with Pernille Spence and we talked puppets and live performance versus video. She gave me some ideas for areas of research, like Da Da and the futurists and Butoh, which is a Japanese form of dance/movement/theatre/performance. Its fascinating and exciting to watch. Very expressive and angsty. Which I am always drawn to, but I maybe don’t feel quite the same need for angsty, emotional, expression as I once did, but like the idea of taking elements of it and combining with maybe spoken word performance poetry. This would be new for me to try.

The Friday lecture was on Time and the Image by Sandra Pummer, followed by Gair Dunlop’s; Art and Ecology. Gair’s was more up my street, though I wish they wouldn’t do two lectures back to back like that. He mentioned Jeremy Deller’s, Sacrilege, which was a massive touring bouncy Stonehenge. I didn’t get a chance to ask Gair at the end why he hadn’t mentioned the fact that it was made of vast amounts of plastic?? Actually, I think the lecture title may have included activism and I this may fall under activism rather than ecology and I suppose they are not always the same thing. He did mention some artists residency program in Alaska (or Antarctica) had had their ecological status questioned because they flew artists there from all over the world.

Friday ended with three art openings in one night (there were actually four, but we only made three of them); The Archives exhibition at the Lamb Gallery, the Art and Philosophy one in DJCAD foyer and then Generator, which is the only one I had work in. I did my ‘Destroying Desires’ performance around 7pm and wondered again why I feel the need to put myself through that sort of thing, but It was good too. The space didn’t work quite as well as the big stage at Church and because I was so low down and there were so many people, I wasn’t seen maybe that well. But it was still good to do, and it generated some good conversations. The film documentation of my performance in Church will now be shown on a loop of other films in their little cinema space. There was loads of great work in all the exhibitions, which I couldn’t take in all in one night, so will try to go back.

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