Friday, July 9, 2021

Residency 2, Day 9: 'I am interested in Europe as a promise but also as a pathology, as a virus, as an epidemic.' - Christian Nyampeta

Everything you can think of has been attempted and, quickly, it is possible to find evidence of such, visual and textual, online, if not a digital work, say, itself. I was interested in the different usages of the landscape and have been looking at three aspects of that: the emergence of wind farms, the existence of golf courses, and the road system with its traffic. I am aware of this work by John Baldessari, The Artist Hitting Various Objects With a Golf Club (1972-73) and BANK's Zombie Golf (1995) J. G. Ballard's Crashed Cars exhibition (1970) is just one of many examples of the usage of cars by, whatever you call them, artists. Individuals like Sarah Lucas and Richard Prince in more recent history have incorporated vehicles in their work. The former had Au Naturel for instance, and let's not bother referring to R. Prince's antics. Inflatables seemed like a novel medium to work with but as I investigated, numerous examples turned up. For instance right now Hot Air is taking place: I have interviewed female art golfers, art farmers and farmers, carried out actions on golf courses, looked back at this to see if something like it was practical, and more. Finding that past or present people you respect, have done work which seems similar in some way (conceptually, or in terms of media used, or, dare I say it, aesthetically) simultaneously undermines the motivation to do it and acts as confirmation that this might be a good thing. It is a 'great minds think alike and fools seldom differ' type argument. Of course it's never the idea but how it is rendered: anything worthwhile is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration. Lots of aphorisms and sayings can be brought to the table. In art school, students learn not to produce 'derivative' work but at times making derivative work could be original. There are no easy routes out of the conundrum of attempting to be original, or that other overused, now corporate term, 'creative'. In the end you are dealing with questions of life or death in fact. The real question is why bother to stay alive? The answer is not as obvious as it is presumed to be. Don't get me wrong, I find life worth living, and the accident and mysteries of consciousness enchanting. Pondering existence, tickling and entertaining each other, goofing around, as David Graeber put it, is surely what we humans are about.

PS: the quote in the heading for this post has nothing to do with what's been discussed above. To make up for that lack, here is part of an exchange I had with Christian Nyampeta a long time ago. From me: '"daoine gorm" in the Irish language literally, translating to blue people, is the term instead for black people. There apparently were movements between the West of Ireland, Portugal and Africa (which is still the case, my cousin a fisherman from Donegal, fell for, and married a Moroccan woman in recent years) so the term may be related to Tuareg dress but it could also be seen as a truer appraisal of skin colour. I guess there are difficulties with such discussions but there is something poetic in it, or rather than focus on skin tone alone, lightness or darkness say, colour points to more multi-dimensional understanding of others. Alternatively the use of blue is a kind of uncomfortable or critical, apparent politeness, or worse still a patronising racism, similar to the way in which ‘coloured’ was used, though I doubt it, because presumably people dwelling on the west of Ireland in the past would have more likely been in awe of black skinned visitors than seen themselves as superior and the term dates to before ‘black’ was embraced as matter of pride.' He responded: 'That's a fantastic message, a gift. Thank you so much.'

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