MRes wk 03 - 12OCT22
This week's readings - at least 2 of them because I have been naughty and did not read one at all... - touched me particularly. The first one, re. the Panopticon, this tower of power, of being watched, observed, scrutinised, analysed, codified, boxed. We could argue for hours about its validity, how it has been also used in movies such as the 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy [and in a very subtle way...]; we could add Orwell's 1984, the Nazis, CCTV's, using credit cards to do your shopping, having an online presence, you name it.
I am a strong believer that true freedom is utopistic and there is a need to monitor and manage the incredible amount of people living on this small planet. We are social animals, we always interact with others, there is a need to compromise and mediate, and even on a lonely island, we are subjected to the elements, nature, fate / destiny so we are never free. I need also to add that it is borderline impossible to live now without an email and a mobile phone, without even mentioning social media or online bank accounts.
But instead, I focused on my York Open Studios experience of being watched while drawing. This was part of the experiment I have been carrying out since 2019, on the side: how do we change our drawing and practice while we are being watched? Does my mark changes? Is my arse swaying more slowly and gently if I know [or only think?] someone is sitting and looking at me? Who is running the show: the artist or the viewer? What about the overstepping of boundaries? I am the one being watched, but what about if I suddenly turn and look at the ones watching me? Who is the voyeur between us?
If you are interested in power and as an artist where power lies within your material and your structure, please check the Foucault reading detailed at the bottom. I was also particularly interested in the Grosz reading - which I encountered before - where she creates a clear distinction between "freedom from" and "freedom to". I think that there comes a time when we need to step up, evolve into adults and consciously forget about the oppressors [we all have some, in various shapes and forms], consciously box off the pain, acknowledge the fear, but especially move forward. I do not want to focus on the "freedom from" that comes from validation and conditioning, the men of my family, the bitter women in my entourage, the envious colleagues, the financial situation, the cultural oppression, Brexit and menopause. I want instead to focus on being "free to" create, make, do, discuss, express, sell, go back to uni, move to another country, make love and eat loads of cheese. All of those "from" have become a sort of gentle background humming noise while the "to" are inspiring and at times scary, definitely powerful, extremely adventurous, and so much needed.
So, if you need any inspiration, here is it: go and do something. Now. I love you and bless you and I do not give a shit about what you do. Nobody does and this is freeing. The only person who should give a flying monkey is you. That's all.
Another thought I had concerning power is this idea of language as power... [see what I did just now?!]. Please look at this beautiful image of the 1563 painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder titled "The Tower of Babel". Doesn't it remind you of anything?
onwards and upwards,
Foucault, M. (1979) ‘Panopticism’, in Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison. Harmondsworth: Penguin, pp. 195–228.
Mbembe, A. (2019) ‘Three: Necropolitics’, in Necropolitics. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 66–92. Available at: https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.yorksj.idm.oclc.org/lib/yorksj/reader.action?docID=5969507&ppg=77.
Grosz, E. (2010) ‘Feminism, materialism and freedom’, in New materialisms: ontology, agency, and politics. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press, pp. 139–157. Available at: https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.yorksj.idm.oclc.org/lib/yorksj/reader.action?docID=1172290&ppg=150.