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To work with the hands – body engaging work – has an effect on the intellect. It puts the mind in a mode that might not be achieved in other ways.

I’m interested in exploring ways to engage the body in a digital age. How do we insert that labour that we are programmed to do into an automised industry where most people sit still?

I’ve had a hang-up on this Bob Marley quote since I came over it the first time.

I don’t have education, I have inspiration.

As described in previous post, I have a sentimental (maybe fetish?) thing for Bob Marley. I used his songs as comfort when I was a child, they would suggest that things were not as complicated as the they seem and maybe life is easy.

I think the quote works good as a slogan for my investigation in working as an artist. An investigation that includes questioning:

  • individualism + the old image of the artist as a tormented genius working alone
  • intellectual interpreting of art
  • the boundaries between design, art, craft, fashion

I questioned these things and wanted also engage my body and hands more in my practice. I thought of art forms I like that are occurring mainly outside of the contemporary art world. I started using:

  • graffiti / tagging
  • typography and caligraphy
  • crochet & knit
  • drypoint intaglio printing

Even though intaglio drypoint printing obviously is an accepted art form it to me has mainly connotations with old tradition and artists that worked before Romanticism in a more collectivist way. I enjoyed combining the aesthetic of the graffiti with the drypoint medium.

I have used ‘No education’ as a sample tagline for practicing typography/graffiti techniques.

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I’ve been questioning myself striving to be part of the art world: an intellectual realm that makes me insecure and that I believe shuts out too many and and can serve the patriarchy (Sontag).

So I started seeing alternatives to institutionalised art and thought of graffiti and craft. I thought of beauty and design. I like decorative and accessible art. Maybe it relates to the ideas of making art “that can be understood on a primary level” like Erwin Wurm. What is universally attractive visually? Natural beauty? Flowers, natural patterns…

This lead me to read about the Arts & Craft Movement, its British front man William Morris, his heritage and following across the Europe.


The Arts & Craft Movement different followers all rejected the idea that art develops. They claimed great art is timeless, universal and eternal. (Harrod)

“The specialised definition and perception of art as objects conceived and created exclusively for aesthetic contemplation is a relatively recent cultural creation, one largely defined by Europe and United States”.

To define craft as something which main purpose is function might be to elevate “art” rather than the right definition of craft.

All art and craft has a “use” be it physical or cultural – signifying a political, economical (etc) orientation.

A more productive approach might view all objects as manifestations of a complex matrix of cultural interchange – as bearers of meaning that reflect the time, place and culture of their creation.

(Burgard, Bearers of Maaning)

So there’s one notion that great art is timeless and one that art and craft is connected by time…

The Arts & Craft Movement connection to Modernism, shared inspirations: “The Bases of Design” by Walter Crane (1898) and “Art” by Clive Bell (1914).

An admiration for the abstract form and structure, a distrust of the illusionism of the art of the High Renaissance, a delight in the spontaneity that flows from a fusion of design and facture processes. (…) Appreciation focused on simplicity, earliness and primitivism that surfaces periodically in the history of art.

(Harrod)

Are we in one of those times and places where we appreciate the “primitive” and “authentic”? The Hipster movement is really about authenticity. What is labeled as luxury becomes more “simple”. 

In the 1930’s the world changed so that individual effort, spontaneity and primitivism wasn’t as attractive anymore. People’s social security was decreasing and writers like Herbert Read changed his opinions on creative craft practice to promote an industrialised manufacturing of artefacts. Inspired by USSR and Walter Gropius from Bauhaus he thought that planning and communal effort should extend to the arts and started arguing for a new sort of aesthetic that was of no less value than the handicraft but that should not try to imitate it either. (page 15)

(Harrod)

Bibliography:

Paradise Postponed: William Morris in the 20th century”, Tanya Harrod (published in “William Morris Revisited: Questioning the Legacy”)

“The Art of Craft: Contemporary works from the Saxe collection”, Timothy Anglin Burgard, 1999


Questions:

When does art becomes design?

Is there a way out of the cube and in to the homes, onto the bodies? Can art be craft in a contemporary setting. And can it be produced in an industry?


Quick quotes/links:

“The Arts and Crafts Movement began in Britain around 1880 and quickly spread to America, Europe and Japan. Inspired by the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris, it advocated a revival of traditional handicrafts, a return to a simpler way of life and an improvement in the design of ordinary domestic objects.”

(http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/a/arts-and-crafts/)

“William Morris and the British Arts and Crafts Movement directly influenced the Swedish painter and interior designer, Carl Larsson (1853-1919).  He, in following Morris (he was 20 years Morris’ junior), created an artistic house.  Larsson and his wife, Karin, filled their home with their artistic touches.  Where previously only the “fine arts,” painting and sculpture, would have been used to decorate a house, they painted and decorated walls, furniture and textiles.”

“Josef Frank would have been familiar with Larsson and Morris’ work.  And as a last generation of the Arts and Crafts Movement, he held on to the love of brightly colored, stylized natural motifs(…)”

(https://upstagedbydesign.com/tag/josef-frank/)

 

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©Nina Kihlborg

 

Genius is not something you are.

“In its earliest meaning in private cult, the genius of the Roman housefather and the iuno, or juno, of the housemother were worshiped. These certainly were not the souls of the married pair, as is clear both from their names and from the fact that in no early document is there mention of the genius or iuno of a dead person. The genius and iuno were probably the male and female forms of the family’s, or clan’s, power of continuing itself by reproduction, which were in the keeping of the heads of the family for the time being and passed at death to their successors. In this as in all forms of his cult, the genius was often conceived as appearing in the form of a snake, although he is also shown in art as a young man, generally engaged in sacrificing. At every wedding a bed, the lectus genialis, was made for the genius and iuno of the husband and wife, and its presence in the house was a sign of matrimony.

Owing to the rise of individualism and also to the prevalence of Greek ideas concerning a guardian spirit, or daimon, the genius lost its original meaning and came to be a sort of personification of the individual’s natural desires and appetites. Hence the phrases indulgere genio, genium defrudare, signifying, respectively, to lead a pleasurable life, and to lead a stingy life. The development, however, did not stop here. The genius came to be thought of as a sort of guardian angel, a higher self; and, as the Greek daimon was sometimes rationalized into the individual’s character or temper, so also the poet Horace half-seriously said that only the genius knows what makes one person so different from another, adding that he is a god who is born and dies with each one of us. This individual genius was worshipped by each individual, especially on his birthday. A few inscriptions even mention the genius of a dead person, as Christian epitaphs sometimes speak of his angel.

To show reverence for the genius of another or to swear by it was a mark of deep respect; hence, it is not unnatural that the genius of Augustus and of his successors formed objects of popular cult. Thus, to worship the genius Augusti avoided affronting the feeling against worshipping any living emperor, which remained fairly strong in Italy; for, of course, all genii were divine and might properly be worshipped.

As with the Greek daimones, there was a vast variety of genii, or guardian spirits—those of places, genius loci, including buildings (genius balneorum, etc.), and of corporations of all sorts, from the state (genius populi Romani) to small bodies of troops, guilds of tradesmen, and so forth. A very curious development is that one sometimes heard of the genius of a god, even of Jupiter, or of the iuno of a goddess.”

(https://www.britannica.com/topic/genius-Roman-religion)


Spiritual/artistic technique of First get to practice then be inspired. 

Trance dance is a ritual where shamans dance as women clap the rhythm and sing special medicine songs. The San believe that these medicine songs are full of a supernatural potency. This potency comes from god himself, but it is also in the stomachs of shamans (medicine people).

“The dance can take several forms. Women can sit around a fire and clap while shamans dance, or shamans can dance in the centre while the women stand around them. As the trance dance increases in intensity, the women’s clapping and singing combine with the men’s persistent dancing to cause the potency to ‘boil’ and to rise up the shamans spines. When it ‘explodes’ in their heads, they enter trance.

For the San, trance is the spirit world; it is here that they heal the sick, remonstrate with malevolent spirits, and go on out-of-body journeys. The now-extinct southern San also believed that shamans could make rain and guide antelope herds into the hunters’ ambush. Moreover, the San saw parallels between the behaviour of a dying antelope, especially an eland, and a shaman ‘dying’ (dying is used in a metaphorical sense, meaning to enter the spirit world) in trance.

In  parallels drawn from trance behaviour, shamans and  dying antelope tremble, sweat profusely, stagger, bleed from the nose (RSA WAR1 1R , RSA LOM1 26) lower their heads (RARI RSA GAM1 5R; RARI RSA GAM1 102) and eventually fall unconscious. The San also believed that hair grew in a man in trance, and this feature is also seen on antelopes and on shamans with hair standing on end (RARI RSA GAM1 5R, RARI RSA RSS1 2R, RSA HEL1 2), bleeding from the nose (RARI RSA FET3 5R, RSA WAR3 1R, RARI RSA CAP1 1R, RARI LEE RSA GEE1 16), staggering and lowering their heads. At times in the art, shamans are placed next to a dying eland (RARI RSA WID2 171) because an antelope is believed to release its potency when it dies.

The trance dance is the San’s most important religious ritual, and an understanding of its various features and purposes is an essential key to appreciate the art.”

(http://www.sarada.co.za/subject/trance_dance/)


Picasso

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“Spontaneous Evolution: Our  Positive Future (and a way to there from here)” is a book written by Bruce Lipton PhD (whose research and ideas I’ve encountered and taken inspiration from before, see Humanity as One post)  and philosopher Steve Bhaerman.

Notes from chapters:

1. What everything you know is wrong

Considering the possibility that science can be interpreted in different ways. The same data can in reality be interpreted in multiple ways. See image:

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(…) before we go out to change the world, we must first look inward to change ourselves. Then by changing our beliefs, we do change the world. (page 26)

True power to the people is understanding that our beliefs are fundamental for our development. We are actually “in control” of our bodies.

 

2. Act locally evolve globally

Our body is a community of cells that through co-operation and technological advances developed into our human form. Which makes us a superorganism in ourselves.

Communal awareness

 The collective awareness afforded in a community of cells was ar greater than the that of an individual cell. Because awareness is a primary factor in an organism’s survival, the communal experience enhanced the opportunity for its citizens to stay alive and reproduce. (page 30)

Can the brain control the subconscious, only that it’s preoccupied with the self-conscious? Through meditation humans have proved to control involuntary functions. Self-conscious and subconscious works as a team. (page 33)

3. A new look at the old story

Western civilisations 4 basal paradigms:

  1. Animism
  2. Polytheism
  3. Monotheism
  4. Materialism

Monotheism –> Enlightenment –> Materialism

Enlightenment philosophers such as Rousseau influenced by animism! Noble Savage….

So in western history you can roughly say that the time before polytheism (hunter gatherer societies basically) and for a brief time during the enlightenment we where in harmony with the world, equally emphasising the spiritual and the material realm. But could we, as we discover more and more flaws to our scientific answers, be on the verge of a new paradigm.

 

Uncreative Writing by Kenneth Goldsmith

What is the difference between appropriation and collage?


Maya Conran introduced in her seminar on October 25th:

Appropriation is using an element from outside to strengthen one’s personal agenda (?)

Collage is simply putting one element from outside together with another one, that does not necessarily make sense or build a narrative (?)

Compilation is putting together elements from outside in attempt to make sense or tell a story (?)


Bob Marley & climate/culture

I’m not interested in mapping out different cultures’ differences but rather the ways different climates shape us as social beings. Everything that makes up our surrounding affects how we will go about our lives and after generations that becomes a culture.

When I had my first mp3 player I listened to Bob Marley to relax and tell myself, “everything will be alright”. For me the reggae classics represented a faraway culture of spontaneity, authenticity, simplicity and warmth. Very far from Sweden – a place for sincerity, depth and dramatic contrasts etc.

US court backs family over Bob Marley shirts


El Perro Del Mar

KoKoro – El Perro Del Mar (Sarah Assbring) – Video by Nicole Walker & Hedvig Jenning

A dream of utopia where our differences in language, tradition and appearance is truly of equal value and the globalisation means exchange and confusion of the concept of nations. 

To me this work inspired to look at a basic human experience: needing to survive, wanting to progress, being steered by love and fear of not belonging, of not being meaningful.

By playing freely with non-european images and materials as white western people they are not accepting the idea that doing so is automatically privileged and disrespectful.

What is cultural appropriation?

Cultural misappropriation is when members of the majority group uses elements of a minority group that is strongly related to their singularity and cultural identity in a way that is ignorant of the minority’s status in society as underprivileged. Minorities in western cultures often have histories of being systematically oppressed, whether it is by colonisation, slavery, law enforced discrimination or simply xenophobia. (Wiki)

As a white westerner I have to be aware of the privileges I have. However being silent is not always the solution. As Roxane Gay’s saying in her “Bad Feminist: Essays”

“We need to stop playing Privilege or Oppression Olympics because we’ll never get anywhere until we find more effective ways of talking through difference. We should be able to say, “This is my truth,” and have that truth stand without a hundred clamoring voices shouting, giving the impression that multiple truths cannot coexist.”

and

“To have privilege in one or more areas does not mean you are wholly privileged. Surrendering to the acceptance of privilege is difficult, but it is really all that is expected. What I remind myself, regularly, is this: the acknowledgment of my privilege is not a denial of the ways I have been and am marginalized, the ways I have suffered.”

Is there a way to celebrate our wholeness through juxtaposing wildly with body types, attributes etc?

Is there a reason to not be celebrating our similarities rather than our differences once in awhile and can we do it, without disregarding the fact that a lot of people have been brutally oppressed through history based on their cultural and physical attributes?

As a white european I need to interview people with other origins to find out.