Society and Audience
'Memory Is All I See'
'Memory is my disease'
'Trapped', Eva Kotatkova
'Study for a Portrait' 1953, Francis Bacon
After the summer holidays and the Rag Factory 'Threads' show, I felt my work was visually exhibiting what I wanted to convey more. 'Memory Is All I See' showed me that the main features of my work are cut-outs along with a symbolic physical structure.
‘Art and Alienation’ & ‘Art and Society’ by Herbert Read
Read writes that art is a depiction of humanity and has a function and the power to “reform, unify and educate” (p32).
The identity and status of an individual equates to their social value and if a 'discriminated figure' is undervalued in society this impacts on their feelings of self-worth. As Caterina Albano states in 'Fear and Art' "Shame relates to one's identity and inadequacies in relation to an internal and external gaze" (p138). Within my work I am depicting the "gaze" of myself looking within and without, but I also include the viewer's social gaze. They look at a victimised figure, look at society, then to look at themselves in relation to all this. The audience's perception is vital to the meaning of my work.
'Outsider Art' by David Maclagan made me think more about the social circumstances in which art can be made. Art can depict a mental response to extreme illnesses or alienation from the everyday world, and fundamentally indicate what it is like to be human.
“suffering is not as straightforward as it seems… confinement can act as an insulation from the pressures of life"(p36 Outsider Art)
This contradictory and double purpose of the cage is something that I explore; rules are necessary.
I really like Eva Kotatkova’s performative cages installation 'Trapped' as she looks at how society complies with restriction through social norms and institutionalisation. She mentions a “widespread societal malaise where we are moulded by and dependent on the very conventions that hinder our ability to think, speak and act independently”. I find 'Trapped' communicates this perfectly with its high-impact presence as well as aloowing audience participation. (quotes taken from the article by Sophie J. Williamson in Frieze magazine No. 161 (p162), March 2014)
Society is partly a mental ideology that is fabricated and adhered to. The wanting to belong within a community can be very misleading in terms of the individual's actual needs. The above article made me see that the social aspect of my work is a vital element. My symbolic structures are depicting the 'norm' as a mindset, showing it can have a detrimental effect upon the individual. I realised that my interest in society as a construct makes my work socio-political.
I like the way Francis Bacon interweaves social commentary of the human condition within a society, using raw energy and emotion. His personal style and language is something I find instantly moving and disturbing.
During this degree I have been developing my own language and I feel more confident with what I am producing as a result of this consistency of imagery and style of cutting. This compliments the idea of a diary, presenting to the outside world a voice but wanting to hide it as well.
The social aspect and audience are key to my work. I look at a social perception and individual’s perception and how the two can compliment and conflict. Initially it was purely personal, but as the MFA has shown me, if I want to exhibit my work to the viewer I have to make my work relevant and universal in order to convey a message and be thought provoking.
The audience is important in my work if I am to make social statements and depict a relationship between the individual and society. As Albano says in 'Fear and Art' the artist “posits the activated viewer as a political subject” (p10); therefore the viewer has some power.