Sorry for the slight delay, I am currently sitting in a coffee in Indio and have been thinking about your work for the past days. (The first thing that comes to my mind here thinking about invisible things is heat!!! J)
First question for you: How do you think you will present the work? There are so many invisible things, but as we discussed in Berlin, if it was my project I would probably focus/ bring the viewers attention to things that are important to be discussed and many people might not be aware of, such as the virus that was brought to indigenous people of North America.
The photos, to be honest, do not help me make a connection to the invisible things. Your project idea is fabulous!!! But for this project a lot of writing or information needs to be provided to the viewer, any ways to explain invisible things to the viewer. I think I would rather collect items that help tell the story. In the case of the virus I would exhibit a blanket and then write about the fact that blankets carrying the small pox virus were given to the different tribes and then write about the impact and how many people were killed etc.
Also, the unsharp (sorry what’s the word for a photo that is not sharp) photos do not convey the idea to me of something invisible). As soon as you make something visible through a photo even if it is not sharp you still show something.
I think, you need to bring us to the void, the emptiness. Artists that come to my mind in that context would be Anselm Kiefer, who would paint an empty room of a (Nazi building) and call the painting Sulamith, thus bringing the attention to the missing Jewry of Europe. Something similar is done by Christian Boltanski’s “The Missing House’ in Berlin who also draws the attention to that void, the absence and draws a strong parallel to the missing Jewish Communities in Germany and Europe. You want to talk about the invisible, so something that is not there but missing. As you suggest, you could also talk about feelings, hate, faith etc that cannot be seen. But please also think about the things that are absent and should be there. (support for dying children in Aleppo, etc). Or, how is it talking about demagogues like Trump preaching hate and what the consequences are? Sorry, if you feel I always draw the attention to the horrible, but that is not the case……those were just examples that came to mind. Love is invisible too….:-)
How is the theme: humanity?? I am currently in the process of helping a Syrian refugee family come to Canada and that is a theme I think about a lot. Alone with this word there would be many stories you could tell……
There is an artist who recorded the word ‘love’ in all different kind of languages and only exhibited the digital sound image. So sound is invisible and I would definitely recommend you to work with sound…….
I would suggest you start and write an imaginary proposal of how you could present the piece. I don’t think it is necessary to ‘collect’ lists in folders. Yes, for now in your writing, but I would rather think of different themes. And yes, maybe it is correct to go away from the 1000, but to rather address several themes and then you would say maybe you dedicate 5 rooms to 5 different main themes. From my (unreligious) perspective faith might be a very difficult theme, you could probably fill a whole museum with that theme and still would find people who are not satisfied and think their religion did not get enough attention and was not represented in the correct way. I learn at the moment about all the different Muslim movements, it is an extremely complex theme…..
A list of 1000 invisible things is not enough. I would suggest to start with 5 to 10 themes. As I said, imagine rooms with themes in which you tell several stories around that theme.
Other themes that just randomly come to my mind:
dreams (only visible inside us),
A story is not visible but like a dream we imagine it visually in our minds. What I find interesting about humans is how we imagine a story in our mind. If you think of Scheherazade and the 1001 night stories, I think if you asked 1000 people to draw how they imagine the dream to look like not two would look the same…..
Then again think of diseases that are invisible. I know someone who has Alzheimer, all looks the same, you cannot see the illness…..
A piece that I would suggest: create an audio piece, do an interview with someone who describes his feelings. You could have an assemblage of audio pieces in which people talk about their feelings or experiences.
And then……of course……there is the amazing theme of MUSIC……..so you could also focus the whole ‘exhibition’ about senses, the things we do not see but hear, feel, etc.
Music is such a vast theme, but how is telling a story of the development of music over the centuries? Very vast theme, I know.
Another great theme is: time
Artists to compare: AiWeiWei, who talks about oppression but not in an obvious way or think of Robert Rauschenberg, his erased drawing of DeKooning, conceptual art, talking about absence, which brings me to a fabulous exhibition in London some years ago. Please look it up, you will find many artists you could write about. here I have some links for you: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/may/18/hayward-gallery-invisible-show and
I think your theme is very good and there is a lot of potential for a great exhibition. You can go very deep with this theme, the deeper the more interesting it would be for a curator. It has to be more than a list of invisible things, as I said I would rather suggest themes and then go into detail around those themes. Gabrielle, please give me some feedback to this!!!
I have looked at your work and my first feedback is: very impressive! Your writing is amazing and wonderful, you are truly gifted. I will try to give you my honest feedback to the visual work. Let me know if you have any questions or issues with that.
I had this in a separate mail, but am including my recommendation for artists to look at here:
Phyllida Barlow, (the book: sculpture 1963-2015, look at the gallery section), this is a fantastic book I would recommend you to get,
the piece 'suspended playtime' by Wangechi Mutu,
light boxes by Rebecca Warren (if you ever create an installation inside; it might work for your assemblage of material) and, of course,
In regards to the installation, where you say it doesn’t really make sense without the writing. A piece of visual art should be able to be perceived, just with what the viewer sees, without giving an explanation. I have a similar issue in my work and I always feel the need to explain why I do this and what it means. Through many critiques I had in my life in art school in Canada and University in England and also the mentor program in Berlin, where I met with three contemporary artists, I have understood and learned that it is important to create that ambiguity in your work. If we explain exactly what we do and why we do it, then there is no space for the viewer to engage with the work. It took me 10 years of working in the arts to really understand and I agree, it is wonderful to be open when I go to an art show and just think about my own interpretation of the work. Remember our experience in Berlin on the first day?
So your titles should not necessarily explain what we see, but maybe ‘comprise’ (summarize/sum up?) (zusammenfassen) what you are saying in your writings about the piece. You can also refer to another artist’s writings or visual pieces (btw I like your piece about Walter Benjamin) with your title and add another thought or reference to the piece.
So the question is: if this was to be installed in an art space, would you present it differently? How would you present it? If you did not have a chance to present it with a lot of writing, which titles would you give to the pieces? If you had to chose one of the pieces which one do you think is the strongest and why?
That said, you can think about a title for the different pieces that adds an additional layer and meaning to the work. That said, I find that the pieces are all very strong, I can engage with all of them and they make me think.
A part in the wrinting I find very strong is where you go into depth with : Yet now, at the risk of putting too much of a melodramatic spin on it, I’m beginning to see that the State I needed to get out from under was my own nurturing of discontent–my continued harping on being detached and disconnected from my immediate environment and longing for somewhere else.
Is it the vulnerability that makes the writing so strong?
Also your title : ‘1:1 map of itself’ is a very good title.
To read about your thought process and working process is very interesting
I am happy to see you enter new terrain, you going away (not abandoning) from your previous collages and experimenting with sculpture and installation.
The piece that speaks most to me is Hollow Earth, yes, I read your text after I thought about the piece. I can say, all kinds of thoughts come up, environment and vulnerability. Not only can I engage with the piece, I also find it ‘works’ very well visually.
I ‘understand’ your petrified forest, the thought about loss, extinction etc. But here I agree, the piece is much stronger once I read your text, hear your story how this is coming about. Your love for rocks, the story of the trees in your yard etc. however I think that it could be installed maybe differently. Pieces of the petrified wood and rocks together with one piece of the newly cut wood might engage the viewer more…..The question is what better title you could give the viewer, if you were not able to give us the explanation where it is coming from. The title of a famous poem by someone who talks about loss?
Almost the same goes for the compost piece, which I find, however, visually more compelling. Is it because I expect the petrified pieces more in the Natural history museum, not sure, anyways, the compost piece is much stronger visually. It is nice to get all that background information you are providing me with, but I do not necessarily need this to enjoy the piece. Title Derek?
Telescope Bridge, you mentioning Home Depot takes the viewer in a direction, I would suggest you don’t mention where it is coming from. Anyways, it looks interesting, but can the viewer look through the telescope? Can you provide us with a photo of what one sees. It is interesting and yes makes me think of this reaching out to the outer world and it is a nice contrast to the other pieces, and responds especially well to the hollow earth piece where we look into the abyss.
Harmonial spheres : it is a bit overloaded. Visually it is a bit too much with all the wires and cords is there a way you could install it with transparent fishing wire? This is the piece I find the least compelling, not because of the content, what you describe is very interesting, visually though it is hard to get the piece, at least on a photo. Maybe if it was spread out more or the individual pieces could be seen better…..
Erth bath: visually compelling, very interesting. Many earths, nice that the racoons enjoy it too.
So long story short, I really enjoyed looking at your work and going through your reading (I won’t be able to do that more in the future, spending most of my day in the studio writing this), very complex piece, but the installation all sums up and the pieces work well together. The strongest for me is the first piece and I can imagine this standing alone with the telescope, without the other pieces.
As far as the writing, the left over in ‘protected: the short version’ is concerned, it is very strong! It really gets me thinking, it is engaging that your thoughts jump from here to there, very vulnerable and poetic! I would like you to read the poem, can you record it? I would like to include it in my collection of sound recorded poems in which I included the voice of the Syrian refugee, my voice, so far also Louis and Malvina, the voice of the Turkish lady were I had coffee in the morning on the way to residency in Berlin. Your poem would fit in really well……
Anyways, well done Derek, you are off to a really strong start!!!
hugs to you and please let me know if you think this was any helpful or not, so that I can make it better next time. Xxx
As you suggested I watched your video Blackout 1 first before I read your description. It is very engaging and brings up thoughts such as absence of human existence, presence and power of other energies, the universe, the human scale in all of this, endlessness,
Then I read the text about this project. Actually, I find a strong part is the fact that it is not perfect. It brings us back to ‘humanness’ in all of this vastness. Perfection would probably not work at all, but I think this piece is very powerful. It leaves it also to the viewer to engage with the piece and to create his/her own thoughts about it. How long is the piece altogether? I agree, it has to be seen as a big projection in a totally black room. The title works very well too.
It is interesting to read about the process and what you used and how you shot it, but this information is actually not necessary for the piece to work. The work can stand by itself and can speak for itself.
Is there sound with the piece? You said it is quiet. But I would actually suggest you would add sound to the piece. I am thinking for example of Ry Cooder (soundtrack of Paris Texas for example, there are some great pieces that would work with the piece) or Pink Floyd’s (shine on you crazy diamond and many others)
would add another layer of meaning to the piece (like probably 1000 other possibilities for music pieces…..there is also a Liszt piece called Solitude, that might work.
here are some other pieces : https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Anyways, I would suggest you experiment with sound, just sound not necessarily any text/singing,
Inner Memory, again the title is a very good connection to engage the viewer and explain in which direction you are leading the works. However, I wonder how you would present the piece? As photos mounted on the wall? Is sound of the performance included? Again, it is interesting to read about the process, but that would not work when you present the piece, how would you think about a writing about your feelings/emotions of your inner memory?
How do the drawings and the installation relate to the abstract photos of dancing? Please explain a bit about those pieces, also please address the image of the window, how it relates to the images of dance. Would you present them in the same piece? Here I feel I would need another layer of meaning in addition to the photos. But as you said, it is a process piece. I can imagine that you perform simultaneously while these images are projected in the room. Onto a wall? Onto your body maybe!
Space is an important element of the images, which I find are distilled to the essence and bring your thought of inner memory very well across to the viewer. I would suggest also, you record your voice and talk about your thoughts about inner memory and play it simultaneously while you perform.
I enjoyed the experimental element in your work. An artist that comes to mind is Mona Hatoum I remember have seen a video piece with her body and x-rays that kind of striped the image down to going inside the body. The issues Mona talked about I think were more involved with the idea of surveillance and observation but I think it would still be good to look at her video pieces.
Hugs from Canada, be well and looking forward to seeing you soon in NYC
Sorry it took so long to look at your work. I only discovered Gabrielle’s e-mail with the link a couple of days ago…..anyways…..
I find the choice of the artists you compare in your written element very good. There is lots of written material about all of them and I have seen their work here and there over time and of course discussed them during my art studies at University. Anyways, great choice.
Your piece: the selection of words is detailed/complex enough to work in many many different directions. I would suggest that you also determine how much time you will take for one piece. 2 weeks for each piece seems a bit too even to me. Sometimes we create the most amazing things in just two days and then for another piece we take four weeks. I would not put any constraints on yourself time wise. Sometimes a piece just takes 6 weeks ……
What I miss in the 1st circle is also the option for installation or sculpture, sometimes, to work on an idea it is important to have other means than drawing and painting and photography. I would suggest that you also add sculpture to your piece…..or that if you have two other words on circle 2 or 3 that you leave it open for you if you want to convey and discuss that idea maybe with sculpture/collage/installation.
As we discussed in Berlin, I find the idea to this piece absolutely awesome. The project is about chance and randomness and then goes into a very specific direction. I think the choice of words is good and you will probably see after the first 10 or so projects if you want to add or substract some words. The only thing that I could mention is the following. You define in the two outer circles HOW you do the work (mapping, archives, listing etc) and WHERE (urban, outdoors, river, room etc) it would be situated. You do not add so far any emotional connotation. Would that maybe help if it said angst, frustration, hope, relieved etc (plus 20 others) Or words that have to do with politics : oppression, guilt, power, etc. or would that constrain you too much if you added this layer to the work? Just an idea…..
How will you work the wheel? Blindfolded? How do you decide which overlays to choose? Will you like someone else to turn the wheel for you and give you three words?
Cannot wait to see the first pieces in NYC.
Take your time now Malvina, all the best to you. Get better soon.