DJCAD Reflective Research Journal – Week Nineteen

This week, the Monday film screening was ‘The Rat Catcher’ by Lynne Ramsay,who I hadn’t heard of. It was extremely good and desperate and sad and made me think about film making, but still in terms of shorter art films as I don’t have the patience or skills, I don’t think for a feature length film.

I did some research into the wolf in fairy and folk tales and also bluebeard as I had made my wolf character blue and I think this was because blue beard was also in my mind; they are both predators. Clarissa Pinkolla Estes says in Woman Who Run With The Wolves, in her analysis of the Bluebeard story, that it’s not possible to awaken to full self-knowledge without a confrontation with the predator. Took lots of notes on the traits of wolves in stories and they fit well with my placing of the wolf.

We had a group tutorial with kate on Tuesday morning where we talked about the essay On Not Knowing by Elizabeth Fisher, discussing different strategies for allowing us as artists to be ok with not knowing exactly where we are at with our work all certain times. And that it’s from these spaces in between that ideas suddenly arise and that its good if we can relax and be ok with not knowing sometimes.

In the afternoon, we had individual tutorials and I told Kate about my idea of using a life sized painting of a woman to interact with in my performance instead of a real person and about the idea of stripping back layers, which laurie suggested (maybe pinned on pieces of canvas over her pubic area and breasts for example to take off to indicate shaving and a breast lift operation.) She didn’t like the idea of peeling back layers to reveal perfection and I immediately saw why. I showed her the latest cardboard wolf head I had made, painted with watercolour like a fairy tale book illustration and said maybe this could be my thing, performed illustrations of modern fairy/folk tales. We talked more about other methods of messing up these areas in the painting, maybe with paint during the performance, leaving her looking mauled by the wolf, but she liked the idea of keeping a real person (Hannah), playing the woman in the performance but still using the painting as a way to explore the performance ideas. I have been stuck on literally trying to include the painting in the performance /video work, when it’s still part of the process and could be exhibited alongside a video without physically being part of it.

I also talked about my wariness of showing such overt judgement, but she pointed out that Grayson Perry, for example, made judgements all the time in his work. I talked about using recordings of woman’s voices in the performance, giving the reasons why they shave and that I feel that we all as woman tell ourselves stories all the time about why we shave to make us feel it’s our decision, but the truth is we do it for men usually, or at least other people, and to fit in with the current social expectations, not because we want to for our own sake. We may say we like the look of shaved legs better, and that may be true, but it’s because of cultural and social conditioning. I also worried about blaming men (the wolf is definitely masculine) but looking back through the history of woman shaving body hair, I feel it’s probably fair enough to put the blame at men’s door originally, but maybe I need to do more research on this. Kate said there was so much in the etching that narrowing it down to being about shaving was a shame.

The Wednesday talk was by Merlin James, a painter and lecturer. I felt he wasn’t a great speaker which spoiled for a lot of us what he had to say. Parts of it sounded interesting, but his delivery really detracted from the content. He also said that no contemporary painter could produce anything of worth without having seen A Lady Taking Tea by Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin from the 17th century, which I thoroughly object to!

On Thursday it was my tutor groups day for our ‘Our Space’ event. We did a performance inspired by John Cages 4’33, (suggested by Guen) or rather a non-performance. It was a good experience, surprisingly so. We all met a few times to discuss and hone down the ideas of making it as non a performance as possible, while staying within the recognized structure of a theatre performance. Everyone contributed and we allocated tasks. I had been worried about disappointing people who had come to see what essentially was being billed as a puppet show (Chantal made posters and the name was the Italian name for The Puppet Show which Guen provided us with.) There were some disappointments but also a lot of differing responses, who talked about it being very meditative to watch and about us being aesthetically pleasing; like living sculpture. We did three short performances at specified times where we were all dressed in black. There was a puppet master (Rebecca) who stood behind us, elevated a little and who wore a white mask. We were all took part in the performance by arranging ourselves flopped prone on the floor, like a pile of puppets. Aimee set up chairs, Micheal brought a tape player and Rebecca pressed play, even though there was no tape in the machine, this was to mark the start of each performance and to set up the expectation of a performance and Guen and I provided video cameras set up on tripods, one filming us and the other filming the audience. Guen and Anna will edit the film material for our presentation at the Monday meeting after the strike. (The strike started on Thursday, so we had no Art and Media Culture lecture on Friday – it continues for nearly 3 weeks and we have been instructed to direct any anger we may have towards the Dean of the University).

I did some body hair shaving research:

https://www.scienceabc.com/humans/when-did-humans-start-shaving-and-why.html

 

https://www.mic.com/articles/151191/the-unusual-and-deeply-sexist-history-of-women-removing-their-body-hair

 

https://www.vox.com/2015/5/22/8640457/leg-shaving-history

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