I listened to one of the best lectures today, by Daniel J Edwards: artist, curator, writer and picture framer. Congruently.
He captivated us by uncovering the Importance of Finish in Contemporary Practice.
Preservation Presentation Perception
You would never think, fully and in depth, about the importance of choosing the right materials and the importance of their quality, unless someone actually told you. I might create something (and don’t get me wrong, I am fairly pernickety in my own work) but then I do not follow my own production year after year after year to see how it aged. I might choose the best material and the best options to display my work but within a short life-span, more of with a temporary attitude, the timeframe of the exhibition (and this is how I have always worked in my previous 7 exhibitions…).
But it is when the object is placed in the gallery, that it becomes a work of art. Or is it? What about when I am in the studio, studio-space, living room, garage? If I define myself as an Artist, the moment when I am creating something, that is already a work of art, a piece. Art.
But it is also true that the object is recognised as Art by the viewer. The gallery, Dan said, changes the alchemy of any object into Art. A urinal is a urinal until it is centre stage in a gallery. Then, it becomes a work of art. In this case, not just any art…
The presentation itself is an extension of the work, it is part of the whole experience: does it give breath? what can you see? what do you see? what information am I collecting from the exhibited piece? how close are the other objects?
I remember Tracey Emin’s My Bed in Liverpool: standing alone, in the middle of a large room, purposefully painted in deep bloody red. The doors opened into this very private bedroom: sensuality, pain, devilish emotions, carnal hurt, shame. It is all there. The large doors, in heavy glass, allowed you to take a peak before. Us, curious, nosy, voyeur. What emotions were stirred there already?
And then, that white line stopping me to go any further. I am not allowed any closer.
I can sniff the pain, I can sit, I can breathe its air, I can smell the alcohol, the tears. I can almost hear (but definitely imagine) the words spoken, the pleading, the thoughts ruminated. But I cannot touch. Or, in my case, I cannot go and clean, and make the bed, and sort, and change the sheets. I cannot enter and be the Perfect Daughter. Because that bed was my mother’s bed.
So, thank you, Daniel, for allowing me to re-process my experience, and thinking about my own [next] exhibit. Something else has been touched briefly, but it meant equally a lot to me: how do we handle our work? How do we handle others’ work? How do others handle our work? How much care do we put into our space, tools, objects, finished product? Unfortunately here at College, I have often noticed how some people just don’t care: tools are left out, not cleaned, not saved, not put away; works are walked on (!)… where is the respect? Daniel asked: how rigorous are you with your work? Thank you, I know I am, Very. I respect my creativity, the whole of me who is an artist, the suffering that took me where I am now, the struggles to go back to College this September and my history, my past but also my own legacy: i.e. my work, what I produce. And I will not accept nor expect anything less from anyone handling my work. Nor will provide anything less when handling others’ work.
The following day, I went to the opening of his exhibition, at the PRISM•CONTEMPORARY in Blackburn: delicate, vulnerable, minute, but screaming a personal need to be perfected. And I couldn’t help but notice the “everything has been done before” art piece:
On the left, there is Equivalent VIII by Carl Andre (1966) [described as the most boring controversial artwork ever, here] and on the right Daniel’s beautifully made paper bricks. Made, one by one, carefully, by him and embodying personal love for his craft and Art.
Go and look at his work. Go with an open heart. He will fill you with compassion and dedication. Un•conditionally I do ♥ you.
More about DJ Edwards, here.