Zoe Buckman is an artist who works in sculpture, installation and photography, exploring the themes of feminism, mortality and equality. I was really attracted to her pieces where she will embroider sexist and violent rap lyrics onto lingerie. Buckman is relatively aware of how the male gaze affects her work as she states that she finds herself trying to counter it by “[focusing on] what grows inside our bodies (placentas), to what goes on our bodies (lingerie), to what goes inside our bodies (gynecological instruments)..” saying that “Women are present everywhere in my studio, yet the body and face itself is distinctly absent. It’s my way of avoiding fetishizing or objectifying women. I don’t want to see women hanging on walls or on pedestals anymore.”
A photography series I was also influenced by was Petra Collins’ The Teenage Gaze. Where she explores the experience of youth, particularly young girls through their eyes. Bring attention to a not so glamourous, intimate view of experiences like waiting for a lift, waiting for your friends to get ready, waiting to be legally allowed to buy alcohol, waiting for someone to have a crush on you.
Her work has been described as a “dreamy, hyper-feminine approach that sometimes appears under the headline “the female gaze.” With mainly portraits of young women that “seem to allude to the fact that they were created by a young woman. The subjects are seen in moody, inward moments that emphasize their interiority and hint at a larger narrative. ”
As we begin to start thinking about our own practice this term, I initially considered working in plaster, but over the past few weeks after some research I’m leaning towards maybe more photography/film projects. This is particularly because I’ve really liked the work of Sarah Bahbah, a photographer who heavily uses social media like Instagram as a platform for her work.
Her work particularly is known for being an explicit transparent exploration of the internal voices of young females. She especially explores emotional freedom and the power of embracing indulgence. Her work has an aspect of making the private – public with her colourful 90’s inspired episodes. Her aim for her art is to empower women to abandon self-censorship and take ownership over indulgences.
Bahbah described these episodes as glimpses into her own life. With characters with taboo thoughts for women, which at times are things she wished she had said in past moments. With the dialogue on the photos Bahbah aims to change the expectations from women, showing them as unfiltered.
For the main sculptural unit of our placemat piece, we had Kate MacDowell as an artist reference. In her statement about her hand sculpted porcelain pieces, MacDowell sources her work as being a “romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment” with the pieces being “in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops. They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones. In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world.”
My chosen artist who influenced my piece was Arturo Herrera – a Venezuelan visual artist whose mediums include collage, works on paper, sculpture, relief, wall painting, photography and felt wall hangings. His works use fragments of imagery from popular culture, which mainly consists of an intertwining of cartoon characters with abstract shapes which aim to tap into a viewer’s subconscious memories.
He works around found images from cartoons, colouring books, and fairy tales. He combines fragmented characters with violent and sexual imagery which unsettles the innocence of Disney-like characters. His work plays on dark psychology and the human mind – with many of his works also containing elements linked to dance and music. His work has been described as a balance between figurative and abstract painting.
For my piece, I drew influence from his style of work in a painting. I worked in a similarly slightly figurative way and tried to abstract a slightly recognisable Disney character – Winnie the Pooh. My use of colour was to trigger the recollection of the well-known character and to also apply elements of child-like painting in terms of the visuals by using loose paint strokes and vibrant colour.
During the 1990s, Rachel Harrison developed an eclectic sculptural language in which abstract forms are juxtaposed with seemingly ignoble materials (jars of honey, aluminum cans) and peppered with pop-cultural references. The resulting works, which mix the seemingly incommensurate languages of Minimalism and Pop, are powerful both as three-dimensional structures and as assemblages of two-dimensional imagery.
Looking into Rachel Harrison’s work, I was fascinated by her weird sculptures and their relation to other objects. As as weird as it looked, they somehow manage to work together in the finished pieces. I think this showed me that effect of having more common being alongside an almost out of this world structure can somehow make it seem slightly more logical strangely.
Cy Twombly’s sculpture made between 1948 and 1995. Composed primarily of rough elements of wood coated in plaster and white paint, these objects are fundamentally abstract, yet they evoke a range of associations to both the built environment and the natural world.
Cy Twombly’s sculptures are crude and elegant, tough and refined, ancient and contemporary. These spare, complex wooden constructions are evocative of archaic relics but distilled through a uniquely modern language of sculptural form.
These sculptures were my main influence for my sculpture. I really loved the relation between plaster and the rough elements being a strange and interesting constrast between the structure of the sculpture and the material used and felt like it successful brings to attention the form of the objects. This is something which I wanted to incorporate into my sculpture.
Ellen Urselmann is a Dutch artist who works in a variety of medium. Her website describes the motivation behind her work as work which “defines the indefinable. Whether it is a thought or a feeling, there is only a short moment it can be captured before it loses its palpability.
The fragility of the present, the tension between future and past.
Between someday receiving and never again having. She captures thoughts at the very moment they gravitate towards intangibility.”
When researching artists for my sculpture, I was initially drawn to her tap sculptures which are created with a combination of blown glass and found objects (the spout of the tap). I was fascinated by how she used the blown glass to almost create a moment frozen in time, with the unrealistically large water droplet being forever suspended in the tap. Making it almost an illusion, an effect which I may want to achieve in my sculpture.
“Germs (2013) is a 3-minute green-screen video, which follows a glamorous female protagonist through a series of advertising tropes. Moving from a perfume to a bathroom cleaner commercial, she converses with a persuasive masked woman and becomes increasingly paranoid about the omnipresence of microscopic germs. Rachel plays every character in the piece.”
From our art lecture, a video which stood out to me was Germs. It stood out because I felt like it was more relevant to the type of art film my group was making which was a bit more cinematic than the other videos shown. I found the style and concept of the video really intriguing – especially how the point of the film seems to come across through weirdly dark humour.