What reconstruction?Posted: October 19, 2013
Having played with the concepts of construction and deconstruction, why not venture into reconstruction? I took my dog for a walk to mull things over. I love autumn…the colours, the smell, the fact that it is not too cold yet so you can walk at a leisurely pace and take it all in. My mobile is full of pictures I may or may not do anything with. Logistically, my timetable allowed me just Friday to complete the rotation. I found that from week 2, giving myself the same deadline as the Foundation students was a good target to aim for. So I had a few hours to come up with a strategy and a ‘doable’ one this time. I couldn’t afford to be indulgent and dream of a big installation.
This is what I saw on my walk or rather what tripping over made me see.
A thought emerged from the randomly scattered roots: Devastation. I squinted my eyes and imagined a disaster like the ones we see on TV. I rushed back home to experiment with different and quick media. Charcoal and ink, which I thought were appropriate for the somber mood. By smudging my charcoal, a mask formed on the paper, full of pain and despair. I knew then what I was going to do. I picked up some twigs, leaves and printed them on paper. I added string. The lucky accidents are just the best.
I had my narrative to be arranged on a A2 PDF board as I still felt committed to a 3D piece. And if plaster could not be used, nothing stopped me from trying out polyfilla. I expected some loss of texture and sculpting quality but I was determined to make up for this by adding twigs, glass, stones, sanding paper, timber shavings and making look like everyday items washed away by a hurricane.
The face coming out of the chaotic scene is yelling without being heard or noticed. I took inspiration from The Scream by the Norwegian expressionist painter Edward Munch. The busy organization of the painting was undoubtedly echoing some of Willem de Kooning’s work such as Excavation. I particularly enjoy the energy coming out of them and the sense of incompletion. De Kooning continuously reworked his canvases. Excavation was represented at the Venice Bienale in 1954.
Picasso had inspired him early in his career and for me there are very few paintings that speak as loudly as Guernica.
I applied Heavy Body acrylics paint in a painterly manner.The furious brushstrokes are there to convey that the flesh is being ripped to shred not by the speed of the wind but by our indifference. It shows signs of rotting already. Can we sustain the gaze?
I was also keen on using materials which could be adapted in an artistic context. I found it fascinating and challenging to deal with materials not directly associated to art. In this, I am not alone, the artist Tara Donovan uses everyday manufactured materials such as Styrofoam cups, toothpicks, drinking straws to create sculptures on a very large scale.
‘In a sense, I develop a dialogue with each material that dictates the forms that develop. With every new material comes a specific repetitive action that builds the work, thus I feel safe in saying I will be able to keep finding new methods of production.’ Tara Donovan.
I enjoyed this project very much. I am relatively happy with the outcome but would have loved a much larger scale and even more 3D piece. I suppose I enjoyed it a lot because Fine Art encompasses the other disciplines and the sky is the limit as long as you stay true to yourself.
I am also pleased with the theme that I have developed. The sufferance and indifference of those in need in the aftermath of a disaster is all too real. They lost their homes, their families but the media swiftly move away to hype up the latest news elsewhere. What happened after Katrina?
By chance, the outcome of my fine art project tied up with the response to a crisis from the 3D brief (which I felt was poorly executed since I could not use the workshop having missed the induction and I wanted to redeem myself.) And if this is not obvious, this work is about the lack of reconstruction.