Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Advisor meeting April 25

Andrew Cooks and I had our advisor meeting on April 25th. Initially, we discussed my new painting and I told Andrew about my experience in England and the response I had gotten to my video.

Regarding the painting, we agreed that I had added too many elements on top of the map of the Scheunenviertel and that the painting was too busy. At the moment, I do not know how to respond to this chaos and Andrew suggested that I let it sit for a while to avoid overworking it and making it worse. I agreed that I should rather start with a new painting now and re-address this one at a later point in time.

I had received very positive feedback to my video at the Future Imperfect Symposium in Plymouth and feel encouraged to continue with video in my second year. I told Andrew about some of my ideas regarding a new video. I mentioned that I am interested in giving people a voice and let them tell their story. In my second year of this MFA, I would like to go away from researching artists who investigated German identity but rather go towards researching video and film makers. I mentioned film makers Adam Curtis, Werner Herzog and Michael Moore who I could possibly write about in my thesis next year. Andrew recommended that I should focus on the story I want to tell and said that the research will fall into place in time.

One of my ideas is to create a video that shows different events that happen simultaneously all around the world. I was inspired by a passage from a text in Anthony Doerr’s book All the Light One Cannot See which I read recently. I want to read this passage while I want to show different events that happen at the same time. My intention is to raise awareness to the non-equilibrium around the globe.

Another idea for a video is to continue to tell Farid’s story. I told Andrew about Farid’s current situation, that he is in Berlin and his wife and three children in Turkey and that it might take several years until they can reunite. In the context of ‘giving others a voice’ Andrew recommended that I read John Berger’s A painter of our time and watch Marcel Welm’s film Wim Wender’s story of his early years, Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams, and Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisgatsi. Andrew also sent me links, among others to an interview with Cy Twombly by Carol Manasi Ungari, from the Artist Documentation Program.

Most importantly, Andrew confirmed that my project of the second year can indeed consist of two components: painting and video making.

I definitely want to continue to paint and improve my paintings. I am happy I did let more lose during the past year but feel now that I need to find a better composition while abstracting my work more. Also, I want to improve my brush work.

I thought about our conversation the whole day yesterday and I realize that it has become so much clearer now that I should make a film about Farid and his life as an artist and not (only) as a refugee.

It’s been an extremely useful conversation.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

April 15th Blog Post

Blog April 15

1.  Future Imperfect

This last month I travelled to England to go to the Future Imperfect Symposium to contextualize my video Black Milk of Daybreak which was screened in the cinema of Plymouth University. I had a chance to talk for about 15 minutes about the video. The symposium was a great experience. A day full of interesting keynotes, talks and discussions, screenings of almost twenty 5 to 15 minute videos and workshops.

I also went to London where I saw the following exhibitions:

-     Robert Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern
-     Richard Mosse’s film about refugees: ‘Incoming’ at the Barbican
-     White Cube : Ibrahim Mahama: Fragments
-     Serpentine Galleries: John Latham : A World View
-     Wolfgang Tillmans at the Tate
-     Howard Hodgkins : Absent Friends at the National Portrait Gallery
-     Whitechapel Gallery: Eduardo Paolozzi

-       The first 4 images are from Ibrahim Mahama's exhibition at the White Cube and the last 5 ones are from Richard Mosse's video installation 'Incoming'

      And in St. Ives I went to see Barbara Hepworth’s studio

Of all those exhibitions Richard Mosse’s video was one of the most relevant exhibitions for me. Mosse had filmed refugees that were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by other big ships. He filmed his video with an infrared camera so that the viewer cannot see the skin color of the people shown in the video. I was sceptical about this intention, the video alienated refugees in a way and made them more ‘strange’ or foreign instead of showing that these are people like everyone else, only they are not in a safe place and take on this journey during which they risk their lives. The images through were overwhelming and the installation was done very well. Three videos running simultaneously next to each other on huge screens. There were no interviews or any voiceover, just very loud sounds. The piece was very impressive.

I loved Howard Hodgkins work, so bold and courageous. Unfortunately I was not allowed to take photos. But here is one of my favourites. 

The show that absolutely blew me away was Ibrahim Mahama’s installations at the White Cube in Bermondsey. The artist has worked with this material for many years, on the huge white walls of this gallery the pieces have a great impact. They remind of Anselm Kiefer’s work. Mahama talks about the economy in Ghana. There was a huge installation of hundreds of shoe boxes, but the most striking are the sewn together jute sacks. Very powerful work.

 2. Photos

While in England I took many photos, and created several series. Unfortunately, I did not have my good camera with me, so I only took photos with the phone. Even though I was not able to work with shutter speed, aperture etc, I still was quite happy with the outcome. I put one of the series together in a little film. This is a series about all the stains on the stones in St. Ives. It is a fungus. Those stains are remarkable. The initial film was over 6 minutes with all the photos of those stones that I had taken. I shortened it to less than 3 minutes now:

3. Painting

During the last two weeks in March I had started the following painting. I would love to discuss this with Andrew next week when we meet on Skype. In contrast to my Structure IV painting I feel the composition does not work so well. It seems way too busy and the eye movement does not work so well. Initially I was inspired by the color palette of Agnes Martin, but then decided to add further colors. I think the brown on the first layer is a very difficult color and the map of the Scheunenviertel is too dominant in the background. It makes it to a ‘field painting composition’ and at the moment I am not sure how to solve the composition.

4. Video
I did break down my video and re-edited the piece into the following he sections:

a)  The Todesfuge projected on images of the destroyed city of Homs
b) The interview with Fareed together with images of people on their odyssey from Syria to Europe
c) Primo Levi’s poem projected on Burning Refugee Homes
d) Showing right wing extremists in Germany

I realize that now, that the elements of the film are broken down I need to spend a lot more time to find new and more material to make the individual films work better. 

I think I need to carry on with this project in the second year.

 5. And other things…..
The article I wrote recently for ‘Art Avenue’, the Federation of Canadian Artists publication, was published at the beginning of April. Here it is.

My first sentence was edited and I am not quite sure how they changed my
I was born in Germany and my work talks about the different identities places take on over a period of time”, into their first paragraph, but oh well. I am happy about the promotion of my art.

Have a great weekend !