Monday, 21 November 2011

Ontologically Anxious Organism (Episode 1) from Let Me Feel Your Finger First on Vimeo.

by Let Me Feel Your Finger First


Abstract Expressionism historically has been posited as a heroic and pure ideal; certainly in relation to 50’s American manifestations – it’s almost like a bad rep that’s proved difficult to shirk. Apart from the political appropriation of the abstract, it’s always struggled with being esoteric, since many cannot recognise themselves or their values with in it. It gets me thinking again about consciously trying to make ‘universal’ artwork – I’ve heard this word a lot recently. I’m kinda sick of it, cus in reality we work in very small clusters of common interest. The very large ones cost a great deal to maintain – like our crumbling economic one.

Now I make black blobs on paper sometimes, I’m not sure how long I’m gonna make them. But I found myself at a symposium about abstract art a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued to see how artists positioned within this field approached the abstract conceptually and methodologically. As I suspected it wasn’t simple, the exhibition that accompanied the event was a vague commonality between the artists involved. Each had very different perspectives and all were very conscious of being branded in way that felt limited. Naming is tricky as it brings you to a historical context, requiring confrontation, complicity or avoidance – take your pick. And of course that confrontation varies in relation to who it is, and where they are. So as a student of art, a teacher of it, as well as being black, a woman (and any other bandings I could fit under) abstraction in relation to expressionism is a tad problematic. I put my drawings on bulky old technology, in a time when ‘identity’ seems to be a debate left in the 80’s and 90’s.

Monday, 7 November 2011

TTFN Studio

It may seem like a strange thing to do, giving up studio but ‘post studio practice’ is more a acceptable mode of operation nowadays - I’m told.

Well... there still needs to be site for production. I make self-contained stuff these days, so I need somewhere relatively private to make it, and I'm lucky enough to have options. The ‘studio’ as a professional resource can become an affectation. Right now it just feels like burden, extremely expensive to run in some way or another.

Knowing that I was going to give it up (for a spell-ish) gave open studios a bit more meaning. In some respects its allowed coming to terms with the black studio project. It’s been as a kind of analogy for being bounded by a convention of ‘art education’ or 'art practice'. I've had the same studio for looooong time. Its become an institution in itself. If context is half the work, then it makes sense to change it every once and a while. Lets see what happens…

Thursday, 3 November 2011


As a slightly younger person, I couldn’t do anything without music– I always considered my life as one big mix tape. Being a little older concentrating takes a bit more work, so less noise… But the studio always has some kinda noise; I’m not talking about power tools here (although I’m partial too them on occasion).

I recorded bout 6 or 7 hours of video while cutting the hairball, at times the process was meditative, other times frustrating and I will admit - even a little boring. Labouring seemed to be a big part of it, I dunno, maybe as a substitute for skill. I used to be really obsessed with skill, but that kind of preoccupation felt limited for me. I was really ambivalent about the ball, one day I would go in with the intention of making it ‘right’- another day I would go in to fuck it up. That’s a big milestone, as I’ve always been rather precious about the things I’ve made.

UTBA Sphere 2011 (still)
Big thanks to Paul Jones for technical assistance

So I made a trio of pieces, the remains of the ball, a speaker sculpture and a virtual animated projection of the elusive ideal. The sound piece and its delivery system had gone through some evolution. Lets say it was another good exercise in recycling and making do.

For open studio I wanted to pay homage to the space, I planned to take break from it. Actually I’d become too attached to it, its been like a home. There were some really beautiful (some might call) corny moments like listening to Jimmy Scott during a thunderstorm or a drum lesson ricocheting down the adjacent corridor. It got me thinking whether the speaker piece could operate somewhere else (like the bags I made so many years ago) - or whether site specificity would prohibit its existence or relevance in another space and time…