Fishing net

With the upcoming week 5 exhibition, I was looking into buying a fishing net to include in a piece, as it is an essential part of the lifestyle of the artisanal fishing in Saint Louis. However, after a while, I thought it could be interesting to try and make one instead.

I followed a rather simplistic video tutorial on how to make a net:

And bought the string and start making it. Below are the progression pictures and the finished net.

 

 

Overall it was quite a good experience as I feel like having a hands-on relationship with the material used in making this gave me an appreciation for all the crafts involved with the fisherman lifestyle.

 

 

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Pirogue (fishing boats)

Whilst doing my research about aspects of Senegalese culture that I could use in my practice, I think one of the main ideas that I was drawn to was the modes of transport in Senegal. The public buses are known as carrapides and the local fishing boats are known as pirogues. From a young age, I’ve always loved the vivid colours of these buses and boats and to me, they are one of the most unique and distinguishing features about Senegal.

And I did a few sketches of some pictures I took of them whilst I was in Senegal over Christmas.

I was particularly interested in the pirogues as artisanal fishing is still the main type of fishing in Senegal. I also have a strong personal link to them as a mode of transport as my mother has always taken pride and told us about the history of fishermen in our family.

I was intrigued by how the paintings were designed, as although from afar they look quite similar, all the pirogues have different names, personalisations and motifs.

An interview with a painter of the pirogues (https://www.au-senegal.com/bet-les-yeux-des-pirogues,13837.html?lang=fr). The drawings on the pirogue are called “Bet” in Wolof, which translates to Eyes. Painter Tala Mbaye grew up watching the painters of the pirogues and as a painter, he said his inspiration for every pirogue varies. The owner chooses the name of the pirogue, which is often named after wives, cousins or sisters. At times they will put symbols into the boat which are meant to bring luck. They also often put the flag on the front and the back of the pirogue with the name in the middle.

This video gave me a valuable insight into how I would go about creating my own design for a pirogue

 

Mind mapping ideas

After my study abroad, I felt a bit lost as to where to go with my studio work as most of the modules I had taken were theoretical and the two practical modules I had were project based. I decided to start mind-mapping ideas of a project I could do relating to cultures I’ve experienced growing up as enjoyed doing essays on this topic whilst I was in Australia.

Below is my first mindmap where I was looking into ideas I had about the different places I had lived in:

In a second mindmap below, I focused a bit more on my Senegalese background because both my parents are from there, it is where I found the strongest links despite never having lived there. I was also interested in the idea of cultural hybridity and felt that in a sense this resonated with Senegalese culture due to the French colonial history. Senegal now has a lot of aspects of French culture, particularly in terms of language, integrated into society.

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In my research on this topic, I found that this was especially prevalent in Saint Louis, as it was the first colonial town in Senegal. Saint Louis also happens to be my mother’s home town and is somewhere I visit often as my grandparents live there, but I had never realized this about the town.

A documentary I watched with my mother (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG97eLusQDU) also revealed that the initial arrival of the boats of the French colonisers struggled to cross the mouth of the river into Saint Louis and had to be guided by the local fisherman. The fisherman culture in Saint Louis is a vital part of the local livelihood and is something my mother would tell me about from a young age, as stories about great grandparents feats fishing are an important part of my maternal family history.

 

Rachael Minott

Today we had Rachael Minott, an Art student Alumni come in to give us a talk about her experiences whilst at university as well as her after she graduated.

I found her talk extremely inspiring as a lot of her processes into her 3rd year were quite similar to what I’ve experienced. Rachael had also been on a study abroad and found herself a bit lost when getting back into the swing of the studio module in Reading.

I had earlier considered doing a project relating to my Senegalese cultural background as it is something I’ve always wanted to do work into but haven’t really looked into whilst at university, and Rachael’s practice at university was linked her Jamaican heritage so it gave me quite a lot of insight into the type of project I wanted to start doing.

Rachael spoke a lot about how research influences her practice which interested me but was something I was quite sure how to balance in terms of your practice. After speaking to her after the talk she gave me some useful tips on how to approach research with your work. Particularly that I use structured questions, and ask myself why I want to do the work I am doing.

 

Curating Practice

In Curating: Practices we had varying guest curators lecturing on a weekly basis and had to deliver a final curated project.

For this project, I chose to do an exhibition where I explored the issue of artwork being shared on social media without being credited. By placing the works of artists – whose main platform is Instagram – in a formal gallery space, with their names “deleted” from the labels, I aimed to portray the immorality of an act which is widespread (and often inconsequential) online.

I chose six works by six artists to display in this exhibition (Sarah Bahbah, Sarah Andreasson, Jheyda McGarrel, Prue Stint & Honey Long, Polly Nor, Loza Maleombho). All of which being the works of young millennial women artists who have established a strong following through Instagram. I felt it important to display these artists and their work as they explore the experiences of young women and create a representation of this experience in a way that is quite absent in gallery spaces. Their presence in the art world is valuable but also may not have been possible without social media, as galleries do not historically feel as inclusive and representative for young women artists.

I also decided to include a take-away text in the exhibition, placed on a table by the prints hung up. In this text I included an explanation of the aim of the exhibition with all the links and names of the artists displayed in the exhibition. Through this I aimed to allow this exhibition to create an opportunity for the audience to personally engage with the artists seen at this exhibition with a heightened sense of awareness of the power and responsibility that comes with this engagement.

 

A final addition to this exhibition was to have a sign indicating that there is no photography or videomaking allowed in this space. This was due to the fact that at times, people will walk into an exhibition, will browse and take photos, but not read the text. Hence, through this sign I intended to reduce the risk of someone taking a photograph of the pieces they liked and sharing it on social media, without crediting the artists as they did not see the text.

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For me, the main beneficial aspect of having this curating project was that this was the first time I was creating an exhibition where the “art piece” wasn’t necessarily the main focal point in the dialogue I was trying to create. I was out of my comfort zone but was happy with the result. It made me realize that I’d always approached curation in terms of themes and how pieces looked together. I had never really experimented with it beyond hanging a painting on a wall. This term I aim to be more experimental with regards to curation and create pieces in which I’ve put in more thought into how the presentation can affect the relationship the viewer has with a piece.

 

Life Painting Class

Painting: Materials and Methods module, was a class comprised of creating 4 paintings in class; a still life, a nude model, a clothed model and a self-directed still life.

Painting has been one of my main mediums for the past couple years, so I mostly expected this class I took this opportunity to have a weekly 4 hour session to practice and improve my skills. Particularly since most of my other classes were theoretical.

In doing this class, I realised that I had never actually painted from life and had only worked from photographs. The difference was surprising as it felt far less rigid and more productive as a class. I felt less pressure within myself to completely recreate a scene and to rather focus on my use of colour and technique. To focus on the shape and the colour of what I’m seeing and creating I feel has developed my relationship with painting and how I will approach in upcoming projects.

Final Piece and Artist Statement

Artist Statement

My piece explores representations of women and their relationship to food from a Western and non-Western perspective. While experimenting with portraiture, I aimed to create a piece to challenge the historical portrayal of women as passive bodies presented for pleasure. In my portraits I aim to engage the viewer with the effects of the male gaze and representations of women with food in different social contexts. The contexts being a Western one which has elements of sexualisation, and a non-Western one which enforces gender roles.

Last term I made a video with a series of portraits of young women in their own private environment, with a recording of a male voice reading a passage from Laura Mulvey’s essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. The video documented my experience of female youth culture portraying women from my female gaze, as opposed to the male gaze. To achieve this, I tried to keep the photos as candid as possible, for them to be intimate pictures of women “being themselves” in an all-girls environment. However, I didn’t feel that my piece was as effective at subverting the male gaze as I would have liked. From this I began to develop my ideas on how to approach this large concept of the male gaze.

Research on Chloe Wise’s portraits relating to the sexualized portrayal of women and to the consumption of food made me consider the similarities of visuals in advertising of food and sex. Often food adverts are playing into the viewer’s desires, with movements that are almost erotic. This relation can be seen in the media as recently as in December 2017 with Emily Ratajowksi’s Love Magazine Advent Calendar video where she is rolling around in pasta in lingerie.

I also found this link between women and food in advertisements when I was home in Senegal over Christmas. Gender roles are quite strongly imbedded in Senegalese culture and this is reflected in the advertisements. Almost all food related adverts will not only have pictures of women promoting it, but the food products themselves are named after traditional Senegalese women’s names, indirectly relating women to consumption.

In my two portraits, I incorporated elements of Pre-Raphaelite portraits due to their history in relation to the male gaze. With the women always looking away, there is an asymmetry of the gaze and she appears more passive. A male fantasy is thus created and the body is easily fetishized. I chose to replicate the poses of the women and how they held the food, based on the way in which the women held fruits or heirlooms in Pre-Raphaelite paintings. However, I changed the gaze in my portraits, here the woman challenges the view of the male gaze by looking directly at the viewer.

Pop-art was also influential in my paintings, where I have vivid coloured backgrounds to relate to consumerism. The food brands and labels are visible in the paintings and this is especially significant with the non-Western portrait as they are all the brands with women’s names.