Personal Statement

Embodiment:

/ɪmˈbɒdimənt/

noun

  • “perceptual experience and model of presence and engagement in the world.”
  • “phenomenology of movement, sensation, metaphor and emotional transmutation”
  • “inner sense of intuition or sensibility” [Kant (1978/1800)]
  • comprised of “five external senses plus proprioception (our sense of being in a body and orientated in space)
  • evidenced in  “practice [which] includes everything that falls under Mauss’s (1950) classic notion of techniques of the body – swimming, dancing, washing, ritual breathing in meditation, posture […] in which the body is at once tool, agent and object.”
Adapted from: Csordas, T. J (1994) Introduction: the body as representation and being-in- the-world. In: Csordas, T. J. (ed.) Embodiment and Experience: The Existential Ground of Culture and Self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.4-16.


 

My practice explores the body as a means of image production and ‘proprioception’, our sense of being in a body and orientated in space. So, most of my work aims to make sense of, document or record perceptual experiences in particular places and times. As a result, there is often a site-specific element to my process of making because the imagery I use tends to arise out of a close research investigation and exploration of a particular place. For example, mapping the historical and contemporary boundaries of Roath over a three week period (Milkfloat Projects, 2013) or documenting the print rooms at Frans Masereel Centrum and University of Northampton.

Since the advent of post-modernity, we are experiencing an increasingly fast, performative and mediated culture which bears much critical reflection. The body, particularly the female or ‘othered’ body, has very often been marginalised, disenfranchised and undermined. Particularly, the body as a site for the production of knowledge. Yet, somatic methodology and the philosophies of embodiment talk about the body’s capacity to both learn and to create knowledge outside of and in critique of systems of power: the body is both tool, agent and object. The philosophical turn to practices of embodiment is a means to engage politically in countering the neo-liberal and capitalist reductionism of human value to productivity and units of commerce.

My recent hand-built screen-printing machine, is designed to record minute shifts in bodily pressure. The large scale of the work deliberately exacerbates, makes strenuous and draws attention to the movements of the printmaker.  This performance of a printmaking process was one of endurance, where over the six days my body was increasingly unable to perform the task of printing. For me, the choice of the medium of print was because it is layered with association to the mechanisation, mass-production and mass dissemination of the modern era. In this sense its history is tied up with capatalist agendas. Yet, printmaking is also tied up with political dissent and sub or counter-cultural means of communication. Performance art equally is profoundly political in its anti-commerce stance. It is not an object or an artefact, it does not endure beyond the end of the performance, except in documents which are not the same. A longitudinal performance also tests the possibility of transactional engagement. It complicates the possibility of ‘seeing the work’. As the artist in this work I have to slow down to produce anything at all, I have to exist in the exact moment, I have to pay attention to my body, learn from it, respond to it. As the viewer you have to slow down, look from all angles, wait for the fabric to move before you can see anything, you have to return multiple times to ‘see’ the work unfold.

My work can be seen to sit within the context of printmaking in the “expanded field”. In this area we have seen dynamic and challenging uses of print extending the boundaries of the practice over the last decade or so. Performance Art (in its various guises) has formed part of this interdisciplinary expansion of printmaking. For example: Live ‘print’ events and ‘Happenings’; interactive ‘live’ printmaking workshops; travelling or portable print ‘machines’; interdisciplinary/ collaborative projects (theatre and print/ dance and print/ sound and print) and use of the body and action to make marks in print etc. all of which have become a means of raising awareness of printmaking processes as part of this wider desire to reimagine and reignite interest in printmaking (Hyland and Joyce, 1997; Graham, 2004; Behrman, 2006; Huebsch, 2006, For relevant artists see list below*) . As well as helping to raise printmaking’s profile, these methods are becoming a profound approach to conceptual, critical, philosophical and political discourses on contemporary life.


 

*Artists/ Art events using print and performance:

  • Nathaniel Stern ‘Compressionism’ and ‘Rippling Images’,
  • Pilar Nadal ‘Tired Press’,
  • Ann Hamilton ‘Paper Chorus’,
  • Darren Van De Merwe ‘The Printer’s Grey,
  • Sofia Larroca and Ana Wahren Brie ‘SA Oficina de Estampas’,
  • Scott Kolbo and Lance Sinnema ‘Escalation Final’,
  • Jason Urban, Printeresting and JULM studios
  • Chris Dunne & Phil Eastwood ‘Performance print situation’,
  • Sarah Bodman ‘An exercise for Kurt Johannessen’,
  • The San Francisco Center For The Book ‘Roadworks’, a Steamroller Prints And Street Fair,
  • Helen Brown, Ann D’Arcy Hughes, Brenda Harthill, Bernard Lodge, Hugh Ribbans and Jane Sampson ‘Roadroller’ Brighton Art Fair,
  • Joel Gailer and Michael Meneghetti ‘PERFORMA PRINT’
  • Kyle Durrie ‘Moveable Type’
  • Maurice Carlin ‘Performance Publishing’

 

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One thought on “Personal Statement

  1. Hello this statement puts me in mind of a body of photographic work I completed titled ‘Spaces and Gaps’ it was documenting just that. My own angle was to document the spaces left behind by the ever changing face of the inner city, in my case I photographed in and around the Roath area of Cardiff such sites as say a closed fuel station due for change of use of land , these areas spring up from time and sit unused some for long periods where others appear only momentarily before they are transformed.
    I found Elizabeth Tomos and her project to be most appealing.

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