Text on Method 2nd Draft (April 3 2014)
Gently subversive and often desire-driven, my work is part rational critique part emotional homage. Often focusing on the idea of the obsessive archive and its subsequent sentimentalities, through my practice I aim to confront popular and personal histories with both humour and sincerity, following the lives of ideas rather than focusing on simply the start or the finish. Most recently these concerns have manifested themselves in bodies of work that are linked by their dealings with the idea of idiosyncratic collections inspired by various moments lifted from the everyday.
Notions that come up often in my work are those of popular or public grief and emotional languages. Combing various corners of popular culture for hints of feeling, I often turn to collecting to make sense of things. Examples of these archival tendencies are evident in several works, where I use these albums of instance as a way to sort through my own experiences of sadness or trauma.
Country War Songs (2011) is a small songbook printed in red, white and blue that contains the lyrics to thirty contemporary country war songs written post 9/11. The songs presented in this volume vary in theme from anger and retaliation, to sorrow and loss, to criticism and calls for peace. This collection provides a record of a nation's artists processing tragedy through popular culture and music, which is at once problematic and comforting, heartfelt and disturbing. I’ve always been fascinated by country music and culture, despite its incompatibility with my artistic life (considering it's right-wing leanings, simplistic narratives and sexist implications.) However my awareness of these negative attributes hasn’t stopped me from being affected emotionally, and this is the crux of my explorations; sometimes I am still tricked, touched, and end up in tears as I listen to country radio. This moment, where something funny and far away becomes sad and relatable, is of great interest to me; the moment when I should know better, but still give in.
In Contenders (2011-ongoing), I collect screenshots from the last episode of every season of popular reality TV dating show The Bachelor, each image depicting the moment when the losing of the final two women is told she is not The One. Some grief-stricken, some angry, some humiliated, the women of Contenders play with the public/private notions of heartache, resisting the joke while telling it themselves. The chosen images from each season are edited together into a silent, slideshow-like film, using an effect of panning in and out on each image to create drama. As a new season airs, a new screenshot is taken and added to the end of the. Initially this project came about as I was going through a break-up and looking for relief/reason/hope. By examining the heartbreak of others, I aim to focus my own. Sometimes I loathe the fact that I am now in a happy relationship, as the part of me that allowed this work to come into being is now closed.
In You Are All I’ve Loved (2012-ongoing), I draw more on personal experience rather than that of the world at large (though I am interested in it's relatability as a framework: what would you do if all the lovers you ever had where in one room together?) Here, I am completing life-size monochromatic oil-paintings/portraits of my past lovers according to my synesthetic associations with their person, distilling memory to a single chromatic essence as a way of untangling and dealing with sadness or loss in a manageable way. The titles are numbers, according to their chronological appearance in my life. Each panel is two feet across, with the height dictated by the height of the actual man himself. The paintings lean against the wall suggesting the way a person might do casually a party, or an opening. The colours range from white (the worst) to soft pastels (mediocre) to deep, saturated hues (the most meaningful). Here, again, I enjoy how my relationship gets in the way of the initial intention of the project. That I would have to deviate and ruin the thing I wanted most, stability in love, to keep the work going, is an appealing aspect of the piece.
Hot 100 (2013) consists of ten bouquets of flowers in clear vases, each based on/for one of the ten songs that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2013. The bouquets were arranged with specific flora according to the flowers’ symbolic meanings as noted in Victorian text/romantic guide book The Language of Flowers. Displayed on two long tables, the bouquets were accompanied by a list of corresponding song titles (from Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”) as well as the types of flowers of which they were composed. In Hot 100, I was thinking about the possibility of a kind of crashing together of popular emotional languages (each with varying readability), slow vs. fast romantic communications, and the fickle, temporal and ephemeral nature of these love-filled declarations, both florally and musically. I think of popular music, at it’s best, as touching on a collective feeling that sits just below the surface of the part of ourselves we show to the world. I was interested in how this related to the gifting of flowers as a passing on of a romantic message, the declaring of which out loud would have been considered improper in the Victorian era.
In Rarities (2014) I have put together a video collage consisting of found footage from jewelry programs shown on the American Home Shopping Network, and photos I have taken of Renaissance portrait paintings, more specifically close-ups of the hands therein that feature rings. Sound bites from the programs and images/video are layered on top of each other to create a pleasure-filled dissonance of new and old sparkle, questioning desire, luxury and the artist as magpie.
I was recently speaking with an artist who said that embarrassment and nervous laughter are very good places to start when creating or conceptualizing work. I think that humour and embarrassment are linked, and they are both points of entry that I value in my art making. I used to think my practice was about making fun-- but looking back, I see that was just an excuse. I realize now that I need no justification, I am simply making art about things I like, and I aim to not only convey that desire, but pass it on it to the viewer as well.
Blaser, Robin. The Holy Forest. Berkeley, U. of California Press, 2006. 503.
Ingram, John. The Language of Flowers London. New York. Frederick Warne and co., 1846-1916.
Robertson, Lisa. “Etel Adnan by Lisa Robertson” BOMB Magazine. http://bombmagazine.org/article/10024/etel-adnan
Badiou, Alain. In Praise of Love
Niermann, Ingo (Ed.) Solution 247-261: Love