While in Wellington on an art trip, I was delighted to see some of the Inside-Out Project launched by JR. This was the first image I spotted outside the portrait gallery, so I snapped it as we drove by. Wish I’d been around in March when they had the exhibition proper!
I was looking through some of my old poetry and I found a couple about identity, I like this one, it is full of names and labels that defined me in the eyes of others, I may use this in a future piece of work which will also use some of the fragments that I created for this project and then decided not to use.
Anyway here is the poem:
The Naming of Me
The one who came at 4.00am
The one whose spring was autumn
She who was born on a Friday
New baby for St Swithin’s Day
Woman they call a Witch
The child who came from a caravan
Princess of a thousand books
Siouxie with hair like an Indian squaw
Who is a builder of towers
The dreamer who wakes up contented
(although she rarely sleeps)
She who ran away to the bottom of the world
Mother of Shoog, Chickpea and Beetroot
Mother of angels who walk through her dreams
Mother of Tabby and Polly and Phoebe and Boo
Sister of the worlds best sister (and aunt)
Hippy Tripp and the attachments
Bib best forever friend and soulmate of Dilly
She who cooked Bob Dylan’s breakfast
One he calls Bonegirl the lover
She who can burn in her passion
One who loves once and forever
She who plays guitar late at night
She who wants to sing like Janice and Patti
but who sings just like herself
Brighid the Goddess of Poets
Dylan the wanderer from the sea
or a rabbit on The Magic Roundabout
Daughter of the Moon
Daughter from the wild side of life
Daughter and Sister who was lost (and so
collects waifs and strays)
Daughter who was a boy named Sue
Wife who was a girl named Bob
She who followed the hares
She who whispers with goats
She who waits to be found
She who you all gave names to
She who misses you all, in every moment
It’s all true, all of this is me… and some…
We did our studio critique today. It was a great experience, there is nothing better than to be surrounded by other artists all talking about art and what it means! Apart from possibly being surrounded by poets or Tarot readers :)
I was really pleased with how my setup looked, considering I was completely flummoxed as to how to present it a week ago. The first comment was ‘Wow’ !and to be honest, that is what I thought when I walked in the room for the first time after setting it up. It does look good at first glance, but I think this is because of the uniformity of the shapes and the colour scheme. It is hard to go wrong with these colours against a white wall I reckon!
Anyway, this is how it looked today. I present my identity project, in it’s 80% finished state:
I looked at my feedback and everyone got the constructing identities part. Pauline was very encouraging, and that made me feel good. Barbara Kruger was mentioned by Natalie and when I discussed it with her after, she said it was the red labels. The labels will actually be giant dymo tape images in the final thing but I didn’t have time to make them today, so I quickly hand wrote some to give the idea. One comment that was cool was that the work felt like a media ad, because of the pixelated images, and the colors. As these colours remind me of the newspaper joke I found that interesting. The pixelated images are actually blown up photographs which I had converted to halftone, which I did on purpose to represent a magnified view of life which brings it down to dots, or points in time. Kind of like looking at life or a person under a microscope, but focusing on moments, rather than cells.
I am not sure I got the kit part across as the poster was a bit small. I think I need to make the advertising poster about four times the size, and maybe place it more strategically. Also I will make a proper box for the Identity Kit, instead of the little one that I used for show here. The images and labels and building blocks are larger than life because that is exactly how companies sell things to us, with a promise of something that is way bigger than the reality.
The identity in this project is focused on me, but it could be anyone, the message is that anyone can make themselves anything, with a camera and the right clothes and accessories, (or my wonderful identity kit toy!), but it is always only an image. To make the truth, or a reality behind the image takes much longer, it requires solid building blocks. I tried to explain this concept, using the image of myself and Pollyanna as a newborn, I looked like a mother, but I was only a mother by name. I am still learning how to be a mother 19 years later, those are the years of experience that make the building blocks. I can see why Kay thought that it may be two different pieces, but it is really just multilayered and it can be deconstructed as far as anyone cares to take it.
Anyway I will try and talk to more people about this, and see what I can do to make the work clearer to the audience. Although to be honest, does it matter? Everyone picked up the basic theme of constructed identity, and it is a fluid do it yourself kit, so people can play :)
As I mentioned previously, I had not heard of Barbara Kruger before I started this project, but the first box I made was so much like her work that one of the tutors suggested I look at her. It seems crazy I had not heard of her as her work seemed so familiar, at least the work with the black white and red colour scheme. Today after setting up part of my work in G-Space for the critique, I started to think about my colour scheme and why it seemed to much a part of me, just natural colours for me to use.
When I got home I went through some old sketchbooks and art stuff, and there it is over and over, black white and red. I wonder why I like these colours so much? The images below are from smaller pieces of art that I did between 2009 and 2012:
And the image below shows my workings and designs for posters and a T-Shirt for NMIT Creative Industries, these were done throughout 2013.
Now I have all the elements of my project, I have been trying to come up with an idea of how to display them, and present the concept. The original tower idea has been translated into boxes. They are three dimensional and can be constructed, knocked down and reconstructed in a different design or pattern – the main building blocks are there and they are solid. The posters are only two dimensional, they are images, or visions, of what they appear to be. There is nothing behind them except the image. I want to show that although the images look the part, and they appear authentic, they are only one moment, captured, that anyone can imitate. For example, a wedding photo of a bride and groom – in theory it shows a man and a wife, but they are only acting the part for the camera. There is far more to being a man and wife than can be gained in one photographed moment. The building blocks, ie my boxes, represent the years of experience that it takes to fill out those two dimensional images.
Anyone can buy an image, but this means very little. Companies sell their products by creating an image of a lifestyle that is usually far bigger than reality. I have tried to portray this with my huge images and boxes, or building blocks. Tonight I came up with the idea of presenting the whole project as a ‘toy’ construction kit. I still need to make the box for the construction kit and the labels, but I have designed the packaging and advertising poster. I tried to use dated graphic design, which reminds me of the sensational claims of toys and packaging from when I was a kid.
So… here is the front of my Construct Your Own Indentity Kit box…
I spent most of today making large sheets of paper from my poster images and then using them to wrap my boxes. I discovered this method yesterday after a few days of trial and error, working out how to get the pictures around the boxes and have them look good.
I tried spray glue but that was awful, no moving around time and it gunked up my hands, and it will not come off!
Then I tried diluted PVA, but it wrinkled and the pictures looked messy and very play school. I didn’t mind the box texture coming through, but this was just icky. I could not live with it.
I hmmmmd and ahhed about covering boxes, and then once again, I went back to basics.. How do people cover boxes and make the look neat? Then it came to me, wrapped gifts! So I made a huge sheet of wrapping paper from my A4 poster parts, and wrapped a box… FANTASTIC! I loved it, so I did another…
I love this video!
This is artist Olivier Grossetete again, but this video shows the construction of the tower in Glasgow shown in the previous post. There are a lot of messages in this work, and some may be unintentional on the part of the artist. This video raised a lot of interesting questions about what art actually is. I have attempted to put some of my thoughts below.
Things I read are:
Art is only as high as the people make it
Man is stronger than anything he can construct
Working together achieves things we cannot achieve alone
The grand is only an elevated construction of the simple
Kids and adults love to jump and trample al over cardboard boxes
Art is art as long as it lasts.
Experience of art is greater than the art itself
While researching my tower and cardboard box constructions and how they have been used in art, I found this fantastic link to a cardboard box tower
The peoples tower was a work by French artist Olivier Grossetete. It was built in Glasgow with the help of locals and then broken down by those who built it. I love this concept.
The tower from the inside
Man against art, as the tower is pushed over.
Deconstruction is fun!
This video shows the story of The People’s Tower that Grossetete built at Glastonbury, this one was supposed to be a replica of St Michaels Tower on the Tor.
I went through my notes and samples for my identity project, from the beginning, and began to unpack my concept and all my thoughts to date. Something was nagging me about it which kept me unable to move forward. and I have finally worked out that it is too much stuff, and too many ideas, something I always struggle with.
So I went back to the beginning, and it all started with the empty Dilmah teabag box, which I looked at one morning and thought, tea, me, part of my identity, box, construction… a constructed image…
I took the box and covered it with part of a blown up poster I had been playing with as another identity concept. Then I added some red dymo tape labels a bit like Barbara Kruger, although I have been using this concept for years, before I heard of her, I have to admit it looks Barbara Kruger’ish’ and that ok. It is her concept that matters not the images themselves, and I like that attitude to art. Kruger in her way fits in with Warhol and Lichtenstein and Duardo Paolozzi, making art out of the ordinary, but she added another dimension with her labels and messages
This is a photo of that box, which I thought I had posted here right at the beginning, but I guess it got forgotten in all the other manic ideas!
In this close up of some of the words, you can see I used an old Dymo tape labeller. My sister and I loved these when we were kids!
I like this box, and I like my giant posters. I took them into college and everyone who commented said I should use them. So I looked at my fragments and fabric prints and decided that I want to stick with the posters, dots, constructed box concept, and not muddy it or dilute it with all the other stuff I have done, (like the fragments etc.)
But I still want my tower of strength, so I went on another recycled cardboard hunt and I got lucky! I have printed out the rest if my posters and the whole lot will be pasted to cardboard and constructed into my tower. I am going to use the three colours here, because of an old joke I remember as a kid…
What is black, white, and red all over?
The newspaper of course :) But identity is like that too… and labels, we read into things stuff that appears black and white but isn’t. We construct identities for everyone we meet by reading things which we feel are balc and white but maybe they are not.
Now I have to think about how I will make this tower… it will have to be constructed in situ I think, or at least in easily assembled parts, in order to transport it to college. Meanwhile back to cardboard and glue and a whole lotta dots…