I took a sneaky break from drowning in the abyss that is my grad film and went to the Saatchi Gallery. I always find it refreshing when you’re in the midst of an intensive consuming project to go and experience a different kind of art. It’s like a break from reality but I feel like it also feeds back into the work you make, and I always find myself surprised by how you can find visual and contextual ties with your own work in others art. I find it encouraging seeing someone else somehow visually or conceptually dealing with ideas I find myself struggling and working with. Yet at the same time, stumbling into completely different perspectives and spaces I wasn’t even aware existed can be just as encouraging and inspiring.
The exhibition on was called Known Unknowns, and I quickly discerned my two favourite pieces within it. The first is by Francesca DiMattio.
I also loved her artist statement a lot, hence the photo. The notion of ‘disrupting traditional depictions of domestic space and femininity’ is something I think very much directs how I create my work. I find myself unable to make work without questioning what narrative I am making in terms of femininity and traditional gender roles, in re-appropriating the feminine to be powerful (even while being aware that the word ‘powerful’ has masculine connotations and we shouldn’t need to be masculine to be taken seriously) while also being aware of the restrictions of traditional femininity and masculinity and exploring the space of post-gender creativity. It is in itself a very contradictory train of thought, but I find myself constantly running along it.
While making my film I was hyper aware of the troupe of a ‘strong female character’ and my strange aversion to the phrase- we shouldn’t need to be strong to be taken seriously and just because you’re female or display femininity doesn’t mean we can’t be fully fleshed out characters who can do destructive and sometimes vindictive things. Which is why my film character is quite cutesy and small yet she is doing something inherently strange and absurd and pretty problematic, but she is also fully in control of her own actions. She is the drive of the story, she is creating the narrative, not reacting to it. “Disrupting traditional depictions of femininity.” Yet like Di Maccio’s work I still embrace inherently ‘feminine’ traits through the visual aesthetic choices of the film. These are all half ideas, and something I want to somehow make sense of hopefully for my presentation at assessment so I can try and show my bumbling thought process somewhat coherently.
My second favourite piece were the works by Stuart Middleton. Which, much the opposite of DiMaccio’s work, I was drawn to because they made me laugh.
I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post -the one where I went to the Masters Photography exhibition in the Truman gallery- how I find myself drawn to portraits of people without their faces. I think that’s what initially drew me to Middleton’s work, but honestly I think here my main enjoyment comes from seeing the human body turned into something else entirely (again, tying it to my film by my use of the body as landscape, but I don’t know if I even made that connection until now or if I’m just going a bit nuts with this project).
Once the grad film is finished and (hopefully) fabulous I want to spend a lot of my time slothing around galleries.