Thursday, January 19, 2012

Theme One: Identity

As part of our first theme of study in contemporary art theory, we had Sandra Doore come speak with us about her work and practice and how it relates to identity. Sandra teaches Art 103, Intro to Contemporary Drawing and Painting that I took last year which lead to some interesting paintings . . . in particular this one(s). It quickly became apparent why she was encouraging taking drawing and painting off the wall and into real space: one of her great influences in her student days was Frank Stella, the late modernist painter who created paintings as objects in themselves (with their own sense of pictorial space aswell). She then explored the notion of making "paintings" without actually using paint (ie. neon spandex strips) which helped her take her pieces off the wall and into the viewer's space.
Sandra's work is made up of sensual sculptural pieces with complex meanings: multilayered but also visceral . . . which creates a very interesting synthesis of concept and intuition. For our purposes, the theme of identity is shown through the way her pieces are fabricated (stitched) together and what they represent as objects.
The stitch or thread is a metaphor that I've considered before when thinking about "the individual" in relation to "the group" which symbolizes a single identity in a sea of identities that makes up the "fabric" of society. In Sandra's pieces, the way they are stitched together to create the form represents the many facets of our identity that we create to make "ourselves". If we take this post-modern idea further, we see that some of the parts are in states of disintegration while other appear to be fresh or reborn: as we grow, we discard parts of ourselves that no longer serve us and cultivate new aspects of our identity as we see fit.
The subject of Sandra's work is often a critique of consumer culture (biomorphic dresses on a clothes rack), unspoken social/sexual taboos (sm evoking pieces using kitchen utensils), and questions the viewer about their relationship to art experience. She creates objects that question our desire to own things that shape our identity, or how the way we portray ourselves to others by allowing her pieces to not have a fixed meaning: to allow for a free play or association (the viewer brings their own references to the work). Her objects begin to take on theatrical aspect and function as props for the actual art work: the experience that the viewer has when respond to her work.
I found it interesting to hear that an important part of Sandra's process is reading. This is where she forms ideas and concept for her work as opposed to doodling. I find this strange because her pieces evoke such a tactile/visceral response that you'd think that she'd be messing around with materials in the studio and stumble upon these things. I've been struggling with thinking about art because I find it paralyses my process. I begin to fret about every mark and smudge. It takes a little self-confidence to step beyond that and remember that every mark and smudge is meaningful . . . even if it doesn't have Derrida or Bataille to back it up.
Some snaps of her work.
Horizontal Desires, Sandra Doore

Compulsion iii, Sandra Doore

Anatomy of Drama, Sandra Doore

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