Studio 606

New academic year, new white space. I spent a week last semester painting the walls and scrubbing the floor of 606, in preparation for the previous 4th years degree show, so it’s only fitting I should inherit the studio.

Here it is, my new canvas.

I’ve moved some stuff in now. The addition of some collected objects and a pot of coffee has it suddenly feeling more ‘Rachael’. Last week was a bit lacking in productivity on account of 21st birthday related excitement. It was a fantastic week otherwise though. And following that high I’m now ready to make a start with the semester.

I find it easier to think about my stuff when I isolate and arrange my objects into compositions. Things look better when they’re displayed more formally, objects begin to become artworks when they stop being used for their original purpose, so I spent today putting shelves up and playing.

This is what I do.

I’m not completely consumed by any one idea yet but I have that exciting feeling that I’m onto something.

Things I’m thinking about:

Empty jewellery boxes

Old spectacles

Collecting information

Bananas

Obsessive sentimentality

Hyper recording of data

 

Make of that what you will. There’s a lot of little ideas floating around, I just need to grab and develop them.

 

Photo Time

Actually every time is photo time. I take too many photos. As anyone who knows me will have noticed. I’m the creep who snaps you when you aren’t looking and takes still lives of every meal she eats. I probably take an average of 5 photos a day. So although I’ve basically completed my practical work for this semester, making sketchbooks is going to be quite a tedious process. I always have a photo book to go alongside my installations. I think the installation and the photographs of the installation are separate things in themselves, both with nice qualities, and both with merit to be displayed. So now I have the long task of editing and selecting, and then that horrible final job of double-sided taping them all down.

Nothing to do but get it done.

Here’s some snaps of my metalwork closeup…

                                     

Not long to go til the deadline. Why am I not more stressed out right now? Since when am I a chilled person…?

Dissertation Proposal

I had a good day today. Ive been dreading writing this dissertation proposal all week.

 

Buuuut It had to be done, so I set aside my whole Wednesday to wade through it, and it wasn’t so bad really. I love researching and writing, its often difficult to start but its great when you get into something like that and can start piecing together a line of thought.

My thoughts are on ‘the everyday object as art’.

 

“A natural or man made object found by an artist and kept because of some intrinsic interest the artist sees in it. Found objects may be put on a shelf and treated as works of art in themselves.”

The official website for Tate galleries online offers this definition of the ‘Found Object’ in relation to art. The explanation is given that if an object, any object, is put on a shelf by an artist it is automatically referred to as ‘art’. Is the power then, of transforming an object into an artwork, with the artist, the object or more simply with the gallery space? Can anything be put into a white room and be viewed at with wonder? 

Marcel Duchamp writes in a 1918 edition of an avant-garde magazine, ‘The Blind Man’ that the artists’ physical involvement in an artwork is irrelevant, if he has created the object or not is unnecessary to evaluate. What makes an object art is that it has been chosen by the artist to be viewed as art. By choosing to place an object in front of the viewer as art, the artist gives the object a new identity to be considered, and therefore redefines the purpose of the object. One cannot begin to discuss the object as art without turning attention to Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 work, ‘Fountain’. Presented originally as a humorous jibe at the serious attitude towards modern art in America, ‘Fountain’ presents a perfect example of a common object being completely redefined. This event marks the groundwork for a change in social perception of the definition of art and the object as art. Progressing on from this, artists such as Claus Oldenburg, Joseph Beuys and Robert Rauschenberg must also be considered. These are all examples of artists who use found objects and adapt them within their art. Rauschenberg’s ‘Bed’ defies preconceptions of the everyday object. By simply being hung on a wall with some additional paintwork and scribbles, the viewer is confronted with something new to contemplate, regardless of the fact that they see a bed everyday.

Similarly, Christian Boltanski is able to encourage this change of perception of a common object. With Boltanski, its usually not the object he manipulates, but the surroundings and other components of the installation. In his work ‘Personnes’, the feature piece is a huge room filled with heaps of clothes and a large crane redistributing the clothes into different piles. The average viewer wears clothes everyday, sees rails of clothes in the highstreet and dumps bags of them in charity shops. However, when viewing the piles of clothes in Boltanski’s piece, one thinks of loss, scale, and remnants of the dead. Christian Boltanski manages to provoke fresh thought in objects that we, the viewer, are surrounded by day to day.

In studying the object as art one must consider the artists ability to achieve this change of perception while looking at examples of artists who have done so and how they have done so; whether by changing the object, the setting, or simply placing it within an artistic context, and public perception of the untouched object being called ‘art’.

 

After some hefty note taking, and an encouraging cup of coffee, I threw the above statement together to outline what my line of thought is at the moment. Its going to change, I can tell, so I wasn’t too fussy on the wording.

Right now this is a pretty broad theme. I’m hoping to specify more once I’ve built up my research and identified the key points that interest me. Aside from reading books and researching artists, I’m considering visiting charity shops and recycling centres in Dundee, to interview staff about what percentage of their customers are art students, buying old ‘junk’ to use in their art. I feel this would give my research a fresh insight and provide a modern and relatable side to the argument.

I’d like my dissertation to be centred around a mature understanding of this medium and be able to convey a clear argument. I’d also like for it to be of interest to members of the general public who perhaps feel they don’t understand contemporary art. I’d like for people to be able to read this piece and take some knowledge and appreciation away from it.

Why I like Christian Boltanski


I like French contemporary artist Christian Boltanski. From what I’ve read, our thoughts on art go hand in hand. Boltanksi admits that when you’re an artist, ideas of creation sometimes just don’t come, you can sit for days feeling unproductive with no drive or spark.

“You must wait and hope – there’s nothing else you can do. And when you have an idea, you can do it in 10 minutes.”

A lot of manual work, building and making, is time-consuming, but often the idea itself and the initial sketches can happen in a very short space of time. Sometimes this is reassuring because on those dwindling hours of having nothing to work on, you know that something could inspire you at any minute. Something small. Ideas come from the tiniest things. A lot of time in art school is spent sitting at my desk, idly scribbling nonsense words. Time to ‘do nothing’ is so important in the thought process. Boltanski reiterates,

“Sometimes in two minutes, you realise what you must do for the nest two years. Sometimes its in the studio but other times its walking in the street or reading a magazine. Its a good life, being an artist, because you do what you want.”

I always find comfort when I read interviews with him. The way he openly admits to artist block and even commends it is refreshing. Its easy to feel lazy when theres no ideas.

Aside from his attitude and views on art, I like Boltanski because his work is beautiful. He takes heavy subjects, the fragility of life, memory and loss, and works them with such a subtle flair, often even with humour. The image bellow of No Man’s Land shows a giant pile of used clothes and a large crane scattering the clothes into separate clusters. A good example of Boltanski’s subtle handling, the piece does not scream his intention, but allows the viewer to draw their own conclusion. A child would look in wonder at the giant crane, an old widow might see the clothes and think of remnants left behind by the dead. A young adult like myself might be intimidated by the scale of the piece. When I see this, it hits me how small I am, how many people have come and gone before me, and the traces they leave behind. I’d love to see this piece up close, to let it fully affect me.

So there’s a little bit about why I like Christian Boltanski.