Angela de la Cruz – is there anyone who isn’t a Goldsmiths graduate? With a background in philosophy, de la Cruz got her BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths in 1994, then an MA in sculpture and critical theory from the Slade. In this exhibition she ‘mangle[s] the stretcher’, to ‘unleash [the work] into three-dimensional space’. I wish I could find this kind of work interesting but unless I know what it’s trying to say, it just passes me by. Novel idea but if it isn’t speaking to someone who would like to hear from it, how can it be communicating?
Dianna Molzan – every piece in this series is titled ‘untitled’ and I have to ask why. Did she not have some motivator driving them? What about whatever it is the pieces are saying? Where do we start as viewers trying to make something of them? What’s apparent is that they subvert the stretcher (and now I know what that is, so I have a small win!), exposing it, putting it onstage instead of letting it sit quietly behind the scenes. These, at another exhibition, seem to include a waffle and a pair of lungs.
Sarah Crowner – to quote: Sarah Crowner’s diverse practice ranges from paintings and ceramics to sculpture and theatre curtains. Her bold and colourful paintings and tile works incorporate forms found in architecture, nature, and in the history of twentieth-century art and design. Her stitched paintings are created by using an industrial sewing machine to sew painted and raw irregular panels of canvas together, simultaneously revealing the painting’s composition and construction. From Sarah Crowner | Simon Lee (simonleegallery.com).
It’s probably self-evident that I don’t get on with abstraction and despite OCA’s (and my various tutors’ best efforts) this is not changing. I need meaning in pieces of art and so often there appears to be none unless the artist is interviewed, in which case anyone privy to that interview – and you have to move in particular circles to be so – can read or hear a wealth of detail about how they came about.
But isn’t this a form of elitism? An exclusivity by virtue of accessibility such that only those ‘in the know’ will experience what is hidden from the rest of us? If I read the right parts of the right papers, watch the right TV programmes, find the right podcasts – all of which presupposes a pre-existing knowledge about where to look and what to look for – artists are more than willing to share their experience of making art with me. This feels wrong, to me. If that degree of ‘knowing’ is confined only to those who already want to know, where does that leave the majority who are not even aware that they’re being excluded by default?
I hadn’t thought about this much when I began this degree; I documented my work contemporaneously almost by instinct because it seemed valuable even if only to me. Now I believe it’s a way of making whatever I’m working on, alive in the minds of anyone who reads the fits, starts, hiccups, and surges that go into the final piece. I hope it makes the titles I give some pieces, the ones that seem to merit acknowledgment of that kind, more understandable. Does it detract from looking? I don’t know, it’s something I’d like to investigate experimentally – do people stay longer, look more closely, at a piece about which they have additional information from the artist, or is it just the initial visual impact that draws or doesn’t draw them in?