Summer Artist Statement

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Reminiscing about why I began the theme of horror in my work, using questions such as what makes something or someone scary, I started this term certain I wanted to continue this theme. With the presence of the Uncanny Valley lying in the background of my work, I decided to try a few processes this term I’ve never used before in an effort to try and break past my artist block which I’d been stuck with since the Christmas holidays.

To kickstart my ideas on what processes I could try out I began to brain storm, keeping in mind the idea I had to fall back on from last term if I seriously couldn’t get past the block, and from this I decided to try out the moulding and casting process, using alginate, plaster and resin. My experimental batch of alginate didn’t go too well as I’d underestimated the size of the tub in comparison to my hand, the subject I planned to recreate as a cast, and therefore there wasn’t enough to cover my whole hand. Other than this dilemma the mould set quite well and despite the limited time I had to use it, 3 days until it goes moldy, I was able to create 2 casts from it, 1 resin and 1 plaster. The plaster, despite the breakage in the finger, came out surprisingly well, capturing every crease left in the mould from my hand. The resin went terribly, not drying properly despite the extended amount of time left for it to dry, and it was left with a sticky residue.

After this I begun to try another method of casting, which featured using modroc as the mould, and then pouring plaster inside it once dry. One the plaster cast was dry the modroc had to be ripped off, from this I created a face of which I’m not too keen on as the plaster set with creases throughout it.

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Before moving on to different casts, eg limbs which was an idea following finding Kiki Smiths ‘Nuit’ work, I had a crit with my tutor and group and as a whole we agreed that the work I was doing wasn’t exactly going anywhere, and I had lost my way in trying to create relevant work. I didn’t want to create pieces which could display fear, but invoke fear, or reflect feelings or scenes in horror movies. Although to follow the Uncanny Valley theory it means my work would have to look life like in some way, I think that these works just weren’t the type of life like needed to convey the fear I wanted. From this I decided to go back to the last point I knew that my work was conveying my intentions well, the masks. I was recommended artists such as Marc Quinn for his works ‘Self’, and I used sources such as the video game ‘Last of Us’, and demons from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ for ideas and inspiration. After creating 2 masks I branched out and made a modroc hand resembling a sketch I made, a hand with shard of something coming out of the wrist. I presented this hand and the 2 masks for the practise exhibition.

 

At this exhibition I finally had an idea hit me, one I was determined to try. I wanted to create a life size skeleton or mannequin and decorate them accordingly. Leaning more towards skeleton I began to track down a decent sized skeleton, as I felt the height was an important part to the work. I looked into another process I’d never tried before, Paper Mache, in the hopes it would feel and look better on the skeleton than modroc, as I felt that modroc wasnt quite the right sort of method I wanted on this skeleton. This was proven more to me after I spent some time modrocing the legs to thicken them up. After researching into other artists, such as Reva Castillenti, a particular artist popped up again, Kiki Smith. She has made a piece called ‘Hard Soft Bodies’ which is made from paper mache, and another called ‘Ribs’ made from plaster and thread. Seeing these works made me really excited as from her work I could clearly see the potential paper mache has and could have in my work, an excitement made stronger after seeing how well the paper mache was looking on the rib cage of my skeleton.

For the final exhibition in the Summer Term I plan to present this skeleton in one of the ways I’ve sketched, the main one I’m leaning towards is hanging it from the ceiling to make it on eye level with the viewer with its feet touching the ground like it’s standing, which is in a loose way recreating the scene in a horror film in which the victim tries to escape just to turn around at the last second and end up face to face with the killer.

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Exhibition Layout Plans

I’m still unsure whether the layout I want will be possible, or will even look good at all, so I decided, like I did for the last exhibition, to sketch out the 3 main ideas I had on how to present this work, and my reasoning behind each. I really think the message through it standing and looking people in the eye, recreating a horror movie scene where the killer has been shot, stabbed etc and still lives and catches him victim anyway. It also plays with the Uncanny Valley with being confronted by something that could be human, whilst not being human.

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Sasha Vinci

Sasha Vinci, born on the 13th of April 1980 in Modica, experiments with different forms of art, from performance to sculpture, from audio to writing and painting, whilst investigating the most problematic aspects of being in alive in society today. His artistic practice starts from the intimate memories of self, and evolves into a multiplicity of visions to unveil the pain and social contradictions of our contemporary world.

I love how powerful his work feels, due to the remorse and detailing, whilst also lacking detail, of the body. I love how he also conveys his message almost entirely through the body language of the sculpture, how its slumped shoulders shows it carries the weight of the world. Even the fact that its displayed on a chair is a symbol, how it has not even the energy to stand. Although not connected to my theme I couldn’t help but include this artist when I found him as I find his work to be so fascinating and powerful. When it comes to actually deciding how to present my final piece for this academic year I will definitely have to keep in mind how powerful it can be.

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The Eternal Wait. 2008. Mixed Media.

Sasha Vinci creates haunting sculptures and installations that contemplate the nature of man’s existence. While his works can be morbid and a bit terrifying, as in his series of fleshy seated subjects waiting for eternity, Vinci also finds beauty and sexuality in the human figure. Known for his captivating and carnal sculptures, Vinci is a true multimedia artist, also exploring drawing, painting, writing, sound design and performance art. Most recently, he also finds inspiration in the absence of the figure and extension of what is human in his 2014 installation “Memento Flori”.

Sources;

http://hifructose.com/2015/08/06/italian-artist-sasha-vincis-haunting-and-carnal-multimedia-works/

http://www.sashavinci.it/index.php/biografia

Fardou Louise Keuning

Made using chicken wire and paper mache, Fardou creates what she calls ”creatures” which she then arranges around dinner tables for exhibitions complete with fake food. I find her work very interesting and I actually find her use of chicken wire as a way of creating the bones a rather interesting idea and I wonder if I can make that work myself in helping build up certain parts of the skeleton I’m working on. I love how morbid some of these look, and how for me they seem to lightly play with the theory of the uncanny valley much like I’m trying to.

Keuning, a 31-year-old artist from the Netherlands, calls these sculptures her “creatures,” and it’s not difficult to understand why. Some have deformed limbs; others have burnt skin. Their facial expressions range from Buddha-like tranquility to utter terror. She doesn’t just call them “creatures”—nearly human, but not quite—because of their unusual aesthetic. It’s because, to her, they are almost alive.

Sources;

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/the-artist-who-plays-house-with-her-deformed-sculptures

Continuation of Skeleton

I’ve started working on the ribs, and have now began to think further on what else I could include other than nails and pieces of clear plastic. Using the same method of paper mache I used for the hip and spine, but thickening it further I think this is beginning to look close to what I’m after. I really like how this section looks (just the part I’ve done as the other part I plan to leave the bone with only paper mache strengthening it), and I love the texture I’ve managed to create. I think Paper mache is the way forward, and possibly layering over the modroc I’ve already done to create this texture I’ve found using mache instead.

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Paper Mache Rib Cage.

Kiki Smith

After using paper mache on the skeleton I realised what it reminded me off. I’ve seen a work before of Kiki Smith’s called Hard Soft Bodies which had the appearance of shedded skin made to look like a human.

Kiki Smith, born 18th January 1954, is a German-born American artist whose work has addressed the themes of sex, birth and regeneration. Her figurative work of the late 1980s and early 1990s confronted subjects such as AIDS, gender and race, while recent works have depicted the human condition in relationship to nature. Smith lives and works in the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York City.

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Hard Soft Bodies, 1992. Paper and Paper Mache.

I love this piece as I feel it’s strangely morbid whilst incredibly interesting. I think that this is the sort of effect that could work very well on my skeleton, as it’ll give the impression of the skin quite nicely on the bones. Also, added in with the ideas of how I could add fake blood to it to contrast with the pale colouring of the tissue I’m thinking it’ll be nicely juxtaposed.

Whilst looking for this work I also found another which was very interesting. It features a structure hanging from a wall resembling rib bones and sternum. I found it interesting how weak the structure look whilst also how morbid it appeared too. I was surprised I’d never seen this work before, as it seemed to be quite a relevant work to mine, now more than ever.

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Ribs, 1987. Terracotta, ink and thread.

Sources;

http://www.pacegallery.com/artists/442/kiki-smith

https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/3957

Continuation of the Skeleton

I decided to work my way up, so I’ve began work on the hips and spine, and although I’ve still not got much done in terms of actual work on the skeleton, still due to my fibromyalgia flaring up, I count this as a strong start because of how well the tissue set when I tried to connect the edge of the hip and spine together, to give the impression of severely shrunken skin. This part isn’t near completion as I plan to add more layers and try to remove the look of the markings of the tissue on the work, as the decorative bumps can clearly be seen still once it was dried out.

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Spine and hip beginning with Paper Mache.