Located outside the main doors to the Walker is where I would like to set up my smash pile. Probably for 1 day or 1 weekend. I am not sure I can find that many pots to last longer. There will be an outline of the project for participants, where they are invited to choose a ceramic object of there choice and and then write an intention or whatever they choose and it will be attached to the piece . They will hurl the piece against the wall with gusto and then they will be asked to record their intentions and thoughts or feelings after throwing the object and having it smash. It will be based around beauty, the value of an object, attachment and non-attachment.
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Cm: What are some of your first memories of making art?
LM: I went to a Catholic school and we had an arts class, it was more like arts and crafts and my first memory was making these little baskets out of pine needles and I remember being very fascinated by that. None of my family makes art and I never thought I was creative or artistic.
CM: What was it about those little baskets that you really liked or enjoyed?
LM: I think what I really liked then was that they were a useful thing and I really liked making something with my hands. I like the idea of picking something that is around me, and making something out of it. I liked the utilitarian side of it. I was studying psychology and wanted to be a social worker before I went into art, so I have always been logical about things.
CM: You moved to the United States when you were 14, do you feel that your move had some impact on the art that you are making now?
LM: I think I definitely wouldn't be making art if I didn't moved here because in El Salvador you have very practical careers, especially for women. I wanted to be a doctor when I was little. I wouldn't have had the luxury of making art; my life would have been much different. Most of my friends back home have, like, 3 kids, that's good for them so...
CM: What was your first your first experience with art that made you change your path?
LM: I applied to San Francisco State to be a social worker and I had a year off so I wanted to take classes I always wanted to take. So I took piano, because I have been trying to learn the piano since I was little but my fingers are really fat and not good for that. I took photography because I always loved... I bought my first camera and it was one mega pixel and it was this really fat Kodak camera and I really liked taking photos, and people would tell me they are really nice photos, but I was never really secure with myself and doubted my abilities, so I took a class. I know this is pessimistic but I was hoping that my teacher would tell me that I wasn't good at it so I could get this crazy idea out of my head that I wanted to be a photographer. But he told me that I was really good. My professor told me I should consider persuing this more. We became really good friends and then at the end of the semester I decided that I wasn't going to major in social work. It was a big process because before I went into art, I was volunteering and was very involved in the community and I really wanted to help people but when I went into photography I felt that it was a very selfish route and I had problems making the decision, but I knew it was going to be the right thing for me.
CM: Do you think that your desire to be a social worker and help people comes through in your work?
LM: I think how it comes through is that I am really interested in people. I want to get to know people; I want to have intense relationships with the people I meet. I have always been interested in why we do things, how do we react with others and for me I still struggle with what my purpose as an artist is, and how am I helping the world. I feel like I am not but I am working on it.
CM: How do you come up with your ideas and your concepts? Where do they come from?
LM: They come from the things that I am interested in. One project that I haven't talked about was Online Dating. It was the only project that I dropped because I couldn't deal with the ethics of it. I do a project because I want to figure something out. It the only way I can answer these questions for myself.
CM: Tell me more about Online Dating!
LM: I am really interested in the idea of online dating; I am interested in the idea of trying things on. I'm interested in how people present themselves, the things that they write to get your attention, the photographs they use so to get other people to see them. I was doing this project where I was going to on these dates with these men and I was documenting everything, phone messages, photographs, but it was the first project that my subjects didn't know that they were part of a project and I couldn't deal with that. It has to be collaboration. I couldn't deal with me playing with people's feelings.
CM: It sounds like it was an amazing project! It seems that them not knowing would be the only way to approach the project in order to get their authentic self or it would become something else entirely.
LM: The thing was I went on three dates and the guys were so nice and they were always asking me out again and I was always like. ...Oh... no, thank you...
CM: It seems like you put yourself in a lot emotionally compromised positions. Do you feel like this is the basis of your work; as an exploration of emotions more so then the images themselves or the concepts?
LM: I am definitely more interested in experience. In the end I do get a product out of it. I do get photographs but the experience is number one. The person I am interacting with is number one and then the art follows it after. I am interested in me and people experiencing things together.
CM: Is there a body of work that you would classify as your defining moment as an artist.
LM: Yeah, definitely my Sleeping with Strangers project. I was exploring something I was very interested in and getting the answers I was looking for. I was interested in what happens when you just meet someone and get into bed and talk to them and experiencing things together. What happens when I come to your house, your sacred area, and I am coming there asking you about your childhood, I watched T.V. with them. It was an honest experience that I was really enjoying.
CM: So your work seems to be about humility and intimacy.
LM: Definitely about intimacy. Sometimes forced, but it is genuine at the time. It is genuine in a forced encounter.
CM: Who are some of your influences?
LM: My first influence was Dwayne Michaels. I really like how he thinks that photographs don't tell the truth, like a photograph of someone crying doesn't tell you what it feels like to cry. He says we are feelings not what we look like and how do you explore deep things, how do you explore questions of death and heartbreak. How do you answer those questions? I was always interested in that philosophy side of it. He thought that most photographs were boring. I got to take a class with him and he got to see my work and he wasn't very interested in it. He thought it was boring, but it was an amazing experience, he is very funny and very smart and he changed and still influences the way I see things. Diane Arbus as well, not so much her photographs, but I read many journal entries, and I read many things about the people she would interact with. I was interested in the way she thought that the subject was more interesting then the photograph, more important. I like the relationships she had with the people she photographed and she had a lot of respect for them. Respect is important to me.
CM: Do you have a favorite a least favorite part of your process?
LM: Doubt. I also feel like I do a lot of things by instinct
CM: So working instinctively, that would be a favorite?
LM: Yeah, I do things by instinct, in the beginning I am not sure how to answer why I take certain photographs or why I picked it or why I put them together but I know that's the way it has to go and it takes me a while to justify it and that's when the doubt comes. I do trust my instincts enough to go for it. I can be very doubtful and distracted in my work. That's my least favorite part.
CM: Where do you see yourself in ten years with your work?
LM: I have very simple goals, I think. I want to make art for the rest of my life but I am not interested in the rat race. I want to keep taking from my personal relationships and own life experiences in order to follow something. I am not interested in constantly pursuing something; I just want to keep making art. I would like to teach part time because I really like teaching. I would like to have a family, make art, teach, grow my own vegetables and have dogs... That's were I see myself in ten years.
(Chris, Emily, Josh, Lorena)
The exhibition introduction reflected on the extreme cultural and political upheavals that have taken place since the late '80s, which began the years covered by the show. Commercialism met idealism, news events were commodities, and the iconoclasts of the era became characters in a global drama.
As a group, we wondered how these "characters" would react to work that was done as a reflection of the era. Our catalog would include fictionalized accounts by Kim Jong Il, East German protestors, Mikhail Gorbachev, Donald Trump, Michael Jackson, Ronald McDonald, among others.
Dedicated to Her Majesty the Queen (from a departed Subject aged 31 1/3)
Queen: (please excuse the familiar)
I feel the need to express my position with regard to my recent departure from the United Kingdom on May 15th from Heathrow Airport. Specifically Glasgow for eight years prior to that, mostly the beautiful neighbourhood of Bridgeton (it needs attention, just FYI).
Although I changed status in the immigration office of Newark airport, in New Jersey on March 23rd of this year ("Welcome to America!"), I wish to reassure you that this was not an ideological event! And though I adopt the style of the New York School poets to construct this missive please do not feel that I have gone native. They may decide these efforts constitute a "legitimate rape" of the genre, but perhaps my efforts are too fumbling and insincere for the body of the New York School to need to "shut the whole thing down".
And while I am now subject to the whims of that popular international figure, Barack O'Bama, I do not consider myself his Subject. I will always feel more akin (a kin?) to your grandson Prince William, with whom I share a name (or gave my name to? My first steps on your fair isle did precede his by a year).
My status may be immigrationally concrete, it is far from secure in my mind. I am other. I have always felt other, but until now I have put that down to a Creatives perspective. Here I am fish-and-chips, a phrase which has begun to feel uncomfortable even in my mouth, I have only been here two months. I resent my mental preoccupation with minor cultural insignificancies, a knife and fork do not define me, and baked beans with meat flavour is not a crime no matter what my inner Beefeater may be shouting from behind his fifth pint of Real Ale. A bean makes not the (English) man.
I have previously decided to launch myself into this lifestyle to make the best of it, and though I know there is a lot of best to make, it sometimes feels more like shake n' bake. Homesickness is a constant GPS reminding me of where I am not. It repeatedly fails to answer the question of where else I should be. I never identified as a Brummie, a Geordie, a Cockney, or a Manx. The closest bad description was applied in Scotland, where I was a Soft Southerner, occasionally a Fucking Englishman, or possibly a Proddy Bastard. Here, I am at least primarily Artist, which is a nice elevation and balances many quiet doubts and second thoughts.
So I have chosen to build my Englishman's Castle in this former colony. A former coloniser becoming colonised by American culture, an undeniable gigantic dildo that must be accepted with good grace. Artificial as the phallic analogue but still capable of providing great pleasure if you can accept it, which you must or go mad since it is not often allowing of an open relationship.
Pen pals then, it shall have to be, but I cling to the awareness that when traveling far one must travel light. I can choose the baggage I shed and search through my collections for the best things to carry along as keepsakes. Like Kerouak, I resolve to revel in the journey no matter where it takes me. Sifting and shedding on the way to identify those parts of 31 years that are worth framing, and I assure you Your Majesty that there will always be a portrait of you at the back of my cultural suitcase. Representing a beautiful national ideal that is hard to recognise in the mescaline experience of life in the United Kingdom, but is a much stronger structure in the isolation of an expats yearning.
When I fall asleep tonight, six hours out of phase, I assure you, I will dream in England.
Angela Grauerholz: The Inexhaustible Image
Martha Hanna, Marnie Fleming and Olivier Asselin, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2010, 240 p., bilingual
A quote from the book that caught my attention, from an essay by Marnie Fleming describing Grauerholz's piece, "Églogue ou Filling the Landscape," (p. 81):
"If we were to take a close look at the structure of the museum, we would see that it follows the paradigm of the archive - the parcelling of objects into rigid categories according to medium, in which artworks are examined for style, attributions, dating, authenticity, and meaning. Artworks are divided into various historic periods or by media. These divisions and classifications reveal the modern epistemology of art, where more often than not it is made to appear autonomous, or something that is apart; referring only to its own internal history and workings. The effective removal of art from its direct engagement in social life and its placement in an autonomous realm prevailed, and continues to prevail, within the museum."
I kept walking past this book on the shelf, and it's bright bookcloth spine called at me. I relented and slipped it off the shelf because the binding was interesting (and pretty!). I had never heard of Angela Grauerholz, and am glad to know about her work. I'm a photographer using historical references and processes to address contemporary issues of our experiences with time and space. Grauerholz's work with archive models is elegant and comprehensive. I'm especially drawn to her investigations into how we navigate space, and how we use photography to mediate that experience.
The quote I selected describes an interesting geometry, where assorted timelines of the museum/archive run parallel to the external world and rarely intersect ordinary reality.
Here is my second lesson learned, as I am also moving into the book arts: an interesting spine will lure the distractible.