Monday, 24 October 2011

Recently I've been trying to make my arts practice more practical. I've been trying to get away from planning projects that would be fantastic if I only had the right resources. I've been trying to approach art from the angle of 'what resources have I got', 'what resources can I easily get my hands on', 'what can I do with these resources'.

Surprisingly, this approach is very liberating. With a recent project I whittled down my resources to myself (performing), a video camera, charcoal, paper and a white space (hired space at the Rag Factory just off Brick Lane - well worth a look with cheap deals on weekend eves if your budget's tight). But the most refreshing part of this project was re-discovering how creative a blank white space can be. With nothing but the resources above, I just wanted to sit, and play, and think - which is exactly what I did.

Artist's often spend a lot of time seeking out inspiration - galleries, theatres, books, talks, films. Perhaps there's so much of it out there that it is more important to find the right space to reflect on what we have seen - the doctor's waiting room, that cafe with a particular vista, the front seat of the top deck of a bus...

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

First blog / Yang Fudong

I once heard a comedian say that his mind was like a washing machine, and it seemed amazing that anything could ever make sense, which sums up why I want this blog to remain loose in structure. Having said that, this blog is bound to be influenced by my interests, which change from time to time, but here are the constants – video/film, stories, psychology, black and white images, charcoal drawings, London (where I'm based).

I went to see Yang Fudong’s exhibition One half of August (on till 6th Nov 2011) at Parasol Unit the other day – fantastic craftsmanship; beautiful images I could watch for hours. In Fudong’s 35mm film work Fifth Night various iconic characters wander or hurry aimlessly around a Shanghai square. Businessmen sit calm and statuesque amongst the slow and slightly dreamlike events that take place.

The work is shown on seven screens, each a different perspective of the same square and the same events. All the elements are there - the characters, the evocative scene, the expectant atmosphere, all waiting for the narrative to unfold. But there is no narrative, and the characters continue to wander aimlessly, staring absently at nothing at all.

I am always on the look out for works that can compete with the Hollywood aesthetic, and this work certainly can. In a sense it is the Hollywood aesthetic, but without the story. This aesthetic allows the work to reach a wide audience, and in some ways I think of it as an alternative cinematic experience, rather than film and video art (with all it’s DIY connotations). It's great to see this kind of film art with blockbuster capabilities. However, I question what happens once narrative is removed. What stands in its place?

The characters that wander the square are full of stereotype, perhaps hinting at something political; blue and white collar workers drift the square along side ladies in evening dress and stoic businessmen of the old guard. My question is, in the absence of narrative, is this cinematic metaphor enough?