Monday, December 1, 2008

A Look at Some Previous Work - Artistic Dead Ends

By artistic dead ends I mean that I tried some technique or style, but never went further and made it a part of my regular art practice. Most of the works in this post were made when I lived in Japan, back in the late 80s and early 90s, when I was still playing around with styles and materials. I guess I still do that, but the types of media have changed. At this time I was taking a lot of photographs, and using these photos in my work. Unfortunately a lot of the work from this period was documented very poorly. A lot of artists destroy their early work, but I feel that even though some of the efforts may have been amateurish, or even badly made, they make up a history of my art practice.

This first series of photographs were I think inspired by an advertisement I saw in a magazine at the time. They have no title. Very few of my works did before I started exhibiting. The person in the photos is an American friend from the time, Kevin Kennair. Kevin was an English-teaching colleague, but had studied art at university, and was one of a number of factors that inspired me to become an artist. He later went on to complete an MFA in the charmingly-named Bowling Green, Ohio. I still like the idea for these photos, but the objects juxtaposed with the photos have no relation to Kevin, except the 4th one with the art supplies. A better idea would be to match the objects with portraits of different people. These were items I had around my house that I thought looked interesting! And the lighting is terrible! So basically I think they're quite flawed, but I still like them.

This set of photographs became known as The Japorn Series. They were a series of still photos that had been placed on a video. I then photographed them from the video. They had originally been in colour. I've cropped images, and printed them in black and white. I think this was the only work were I re-photographed existing images. I have made a number of collage works, and paintings with appropriated images, but this Sherrie Levine-esque method never took off.

This is a work that I made for a Japanese English teacher I taught with at a junior high school in Funabashi. The photos are those I took of students at the school (both the teacher's name and the school escape me now! It was 17-or-so years ago. No, the school was Takane JHS.), plus some of other teachers. She was a Christian so I added a crucifixion over the photos (drawn by the aforementioned Kevin Kennair). I made a number of works at this time that involved photos I had taken combined with paint, or collage, or fabric, or assemblage.

This work is a photographic sculptural installation piece. I made it as a birthday present for another English-teaching colleague, Traci Stull. I cut up photos of her and stuck them to foam cubes. I can't imagine it has survived. Even if she didn't throw them out, I doubt the adhesive would have lasted this long. Concern with longevity and archival quality was not a concern back then. Here they're hanging from the ceiling of my apartment during a party I had for 5 or 6 colleagues. I guess this could technically be considered my first exhibition as I had works for each person installed around the apartment.

This very-badly documented work shows a number of elements that have recurred in my work - the interest in shoes (particularly court shoes, aka pumps); the use of perspex; and the use of text, particularly Letraset letters which I was really into for awhile. I made this for Frances Brignell (later Frances Fraser), probably for a birthday. I'm not sure why one shoe is gold and one is black. Maybe that was just the amount of glitter I had! The text probably was also not really well thought out. What does 'genitalia' have to do with shoes?

These are some of the very few prints that I have made. These were much later, probably late 90s. I did a printmaking class at the Waverley Woollahra Arts Centre with Robert Ives. The woodblock printing did not work out well, but I quite liked this effort, Salmon Grid. It's an etching with aquatint. It's quite small, about 10x10cm? There are 3 copies of this in existence (I wouldn't go so far as to call it an edition of 3 - I think they're all Artist's Proofs). I gave one to Robert Ives, a friend bought one, and I have one in my collection.

This print is a photoetching. It came from a photo in a newspaper which I photocopied and tried to make a bit more abstract. I think the title is, imaginatively, Crash. I have a framed diptych of this print with the same image in blue ink.

No comments: