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'Material Matters'

Kicking of the week, the fine art group went all the way to Margate to visit artist studios and exhibitions. Whilst at the Turner Contemporary viewing the Turner Prize shortlist, I came across the work of Tai Shani, who deals with feminist themes in her work.

Although I was not particularly inspired by the contextual side of the work, I did find the form in took extremely interesting. The way that this wormy, catipillar-like shape almost felt as if it were alive, or once alive, as it hung from the ceiling. It's velvity, red, luxurious skin with pimples of pearls, and udder-like nipples, made me think of feminity and the feminine body at its most inticing, the need to touch, to grope, to stroke. The end spewing bubbles from inside as if excited to see you and drawing you into a specific area of its body. I felt that I heavily connected with this work due to ideas around the body, the long hanging form that it takes, and the ideas of fetish and attraction that surround it. As it loomed over me, casting it's large shadow, I felt almost dominated, but in a way that I would have happliy sat, looking up at it for hours. It has made me think more about size, could I go bigger, dominate a space, or in fact use more objects, fill a room, dominate in number rather than size, to further push ideas of lacking individuality and purpose in life.

Polly Borland 'Morph' series (2018)

We also visited the Carl Freedman Gallery for the 'Gossamer' exhibition, which was curated based on the material - the all work was made from or incorportated tights. Due to the work I did last year, and my boredom of tights, I wasn't very satisfied with the exhibition. I feel that tight's have become the obvious and cliched way to show female sexuality and the female body, and just proved that the material has been over used. By curating the work this way, it felt like a lot of the pieces had their individual meanings removed, that it was more of a cramped overview of the history of the material being used in contemporary art, that had been squeezed into three small rooms, rather than individual discussions by individual artists. However, I did find one piece that I thought was somewhat inspiring and I felt was less obviously a tight depiction. Although still obviously discussing the female body, the work was a weird fleshy emalgimation on body and stuffed tights, as if they were the same entity, producing weird and wonderful mounds. Although I am not interested in including my own body in my work (because I feel that as a woman, the work instantly brings connotations of feminist art, which I am not interesting in associating with), I do feel that this is a more interesting way of using tights than with what I have previously seen from other artists or have worked with myself.

Coming back into the studio, I tested out a method to try and thicken liquid to change the feeling of viscosity in my latex tube pieces. I tried mixing corn flour and water, which I found required a lot of flour and when it settled the mix just separated. I don't know whether it would be better to heat the mixture, but my previous test can be considered a failure.

I also experimented with a new way to seal the latex tubes, rather than hanging the piece, I stretched them out on the floor, which did make them easier to paint onto, and also meant I did not get covered in liquid latex. I also experimented with a thicker liquid latex, used for molds, which required me to spend less time using lots of layers. I decided to avoid the puncturing and leaking problem I had last time, I would cover each tube completely in a couple of layers of liquid latex. This seems to have proven to be an effective way to prevent that problem and also means that the work often sticks to itself making a more rough and interesting shape, with folds, as if it were closer to a real organ.

Wim Delvoye 'Cloaca'

In terms of research this week, I have looked into Wim Delvoye's 'Cloaca' Project, further opening up ideas about consummerism and digestion. It made me play with ideas about how I could make a print of excriment or anuses or organs and print the pattern onto clothing, curtains, wallpaper, shoes, make stickers and badges, phonecases, etc. etc. Anyway, just an idea for now that I will revisit later on.

I was also researching into work by Alina Szapocznikow, it made me consider my materials further and think about others that I could experiment with, such as wax, resin, and polyurethane foam. I liked how her work was described as "Haunting, visceral, playful, strange, sensual, unsettling, devastingly critical [and] endlessly uncanny", which are all qualities I would like my work to have, so I quickly felt and connection with her artwork. I also liked how her lip lamps discussed ideas of the body and commodities and the disturbing ways she displayed the weak and vulnerable human form with the fleshy, flacid, abandoned skin suits. One quote (from Elena Filipovic's book on the artist) that stuck with me was the "correlation between the fragmented body and indulgent foodstuff", which made me think more about cannibalism, and the line we draw between the inside and outside of the body, which is becoming more and more interesting to me. Maybe this is something I need to directly make a piece of work about, even if it's just to get it out of my system!

We also installed our 'Material Matters' exhibition into the Linear Gallery yesterday. This didn't quite go as plan, but I did learn a valueable lesson. My original plan didn't happen due to the issues with latex allergies and the work being in a public space. But thankfully I had a good back-up plan, which could have been a real issue if I didn't have anything else to show. I ended up installing the clay pieces that I have been working on, as well as a separate piece, which was a print of a photograph I took during the making of my summer project, a close up view of completed latex tubes lying ontop of eachother. During the critique session we had, I was pleased to see that the group interpreted the work the way I had intended it to be, with ideas about organs, flesh, hanging meat, attraction vs repulsion, etc. However, I did recieve feedback about the sexual connotations of the work, which although I was aware of, was not my main aim. However, due to the holes in the bottom of the clay work and the flacid phallic shaped of the vinyl print, and how they were placed opposite each other in the corridor space, I felt that they almost balanced each other in terms of male and female desire and sexuality, almost adding to the fetishism that I want these pieces to allude to. However, although I was pleased with the interpretations and suggestions for the work, becauase they were all things that I intended to be read, or suggestions that I was already planning on doing or had already done, so I didn't feel it pushed the work or my line of thinking further than where it already was, other than to confirm that I am on the right path. I think it would be good to discuss my work with people in different settings, rather than just with art students, to see if I can get some differing feedback.


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