This session, we were divided into pairs, but being an odd number, I volunteered to work alone, a bonus actually as I was feeling a tad fluey and agoraphobia makes it easier for me to work alone than in constant negotiation with others. We were given some of the  blue boxes that museums and galleries use and asked to make a text that summarised and/or explored a  theme and then present it positioned within the blue box. Now in post modernism, text is anything that can be read, so no words need be included, it’s about presenting something which has accessible meanings.

I opted for the easiest (to me!) theme of  Kafou the exhibition currently on show at the Contemporary, about Haiti, Art and Vodou (voodoo). I nipped upstairs for a refresher on what was there as last time I saw it, work was still being hung. And indeed, more sculpture by the Atis Rezistans had arrived and some film viewing areas set up. I sat down and caught by serendipity some very powerful moments of Leah Gordon’s film about contemporary practitioners of vodou…one of the members of atis rezistans was saying “Death does not exist for the artist”. He sees and feels the souls and spirits of his dead parents and they inform his work as an artist, and because his work will live after him, he will live, and even they will live on. This resonated very strongly with me, as I feel Andy’s CD and ‘Insight in Mind’ (the film he made as part of Swings and Roundabouts) and his hundreds of pieces of artwork  maintain some part of his presence and effect in the world, and will continue to, long after his death.

A previous partner of mine from the 90s is also now dead, but people are still listening to Third Ear and playing work he composed just before his death, and I play mix tapes and CDs of African music he introduced me to all the time. This is one of the gifts of the creatives, that by living lives full of interest, they heal the broken, encouraging the kind of magical thinking that helps individuals and communities resolve challenging experiences that are part of everyone’s lives, death, illness, natural disaster, loss. Artists often share the role of shamen and have roles in their communities that bond those communities, by creating communal experiences (music, dance, play, theatre, healing/cathartic  experiences like comedy and ritual, think of the fool in King Lear and the mummers and morality plays, Spitting Image, Punch and Judy…) that help us process issues and think out better solutions than failing leaders…

So I came back down ready to make something about artists as creators of the kind of magical thinking that helps us heal…so the piece you see above is what I made, and people did pick up on the artist as officiant, though no one got the red fragments of the heart being healed by art/ the artist, a version of the Erzulie ( Haitian orisha/healing goddess). They liked the reflection and the bright colours/ metallics reflecting the materials used by the flagmakers of Haiti but missed that the pegs that clip art to the black cone of death and the arteries are shiny gold and not strong enough for their task…so not my most successful piece! But I enjoyed it very much.

Pat and Hilary chose the theme of being  on the contemporary conversations course and made this piece ‘through a glass darkly’. The curtains are parted over another quote, from Toussaint L’Ouverture, the amazing leader of the successful rebellion of the slaves in Haiti in 1804 :

“We will form a single unified family of friends and brothers”

everyone agreed the reflection of the object in the acetate was a really powerful part of the piece, as although the curtains are open, even held open for us to see what is on show, we cannot but see it through our own experiences, so they are   always reflected through that lens, which may be completely other to what we are being shown. The course has had a ripple effect in our lives, we take it home with us, it comes out of the box, and life is reflected through the lens of what we see in the art as much as vice versa…

lots of admiration for this piece, very successful!

Mary and Rekha had the theme of the physical environment of the course/ Nottingham Contemporary, and we came up with lots of interesting interpretations of the piece, but failed miserably to notice the huge juicy clue they gave us – see the blue and red arrows?  The ceiling flues are all exposed and had we done what the arrow in the box said and looked up, we would have seen the same arrow on the huge pipes above us… 😉 d’oh! this was agreed to be our fail, not theirs! As soon as they told us this, the rest fell into place, the box resting on the scrolled corrugated cardboard was the internal experience within the lace cast concrete pillars of contemporary, the lace and yarn tangle was the textured baffle ceiling…it was all there!

Eric and John were given a fun theme – a philosophical enquiry about art and the course…the rotating meanings of

is this life

this is life

life is this?

with the plan of the lace market and the concerns peeps might be bringing all colliding between two kinds of art, abstract and representational (read real)
it made for a very zingy piece and when I said the pencil in the box with the sign made me think of a jack-in-the-box springing out, delight ensued! That’s actually meant to be Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout! But with 20 mins to make him, wire but no pliers, no springs, they were crippled by lack of materials, they’d had to abandon that idea…but something must have kept the flavour!

At this point I realised I still had flu and should go home, and when the next task was revealed to be making a congruent exhibition of the 4 pieces, I ran, not walked away! 😉 coward! I hope the others had fun with it …

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