Monday, 11 April 2011

The anxiety of Influences…

Martin Puryear at MOMA

The ideal of being excited everyday, by the prospect of facing your own thoughts and makings can be a difficult thing to live up to on a daily basis. I still think I’m trying to find a happy place with my work like most artists, perhaps the ‘ideal’ is the frustrating part of all this. I look outside (more than I ever used to) to inform the work, but I often feel distracted – sometimes I think that kind of emersion can be a good way for avoiding ones own creative issues… I’ve been reading a catalogue on Martin Puryear. One essay briefly touched on Harold Bloom’s ‘The anxiety of influence’, which speaks of a conflict between influence and originality. Although AOI refers to literature in particular, I think many artists will relate to being inspired (and using devices) by a particular influence. As well as the worry about being derivative; feeling trapped in mannerisms – and wanting to escape to one’s own special and unique territory. I haven’t read the book, but from what I’ve gathered Bloom proposes acceptance of these influences and a kind of ‘misreading’ of them, an idiosyncratic interpretation, which allows new ideas to form.

I started looking a Puryear as one of the few examples of African Diaspora artists actually concerned with ‘sculpture’. The work is a conversation between that craftsmanship of necessity (associated with the functional everyday) and a Western European sculptural formalism. Throughout his oeuvre, Puryear’s conditions and predicament is betrayed in a lot of the work. I don’t mean this as negative - its very specific, the reasons we have for certain choices. Although my sphere of influence is broadening, I’m still looking for black artists interested in making ‘things’ (objects) as opposed to making things happen…

'Suspended' 2011 Mona Hatoum

I saw Mona Hatoum at White Cube last week, one of my very early influences. Hatoum’s work generally articulates themes of mobility, belonging and displacement, informed by a close connection to her mother country. It seemed like an eternity since I’d seen any of her work in the flesh. I’d stopped looking at her for some reason - probably because the work was always some form of lamentation. I could relate to the loss but not the sadness.

Sometimes you come across things at the right time. ‘Suspended’ got me thinking about creating a current in the space, a breeze to animate some of my pieces. Hatoum’s swings were rocking back and forth without a motor in sight. I couldn’t help but pull the context of the ‘gallery’ into the piece, since the assistants were doing all the pushing...

No comments:

Post a Comment