Practice Workshop: Interpreting and Conjuring, Storytelling as Performance

  • Introduction

This day we were assigned a quick project to explore the way of thinking and how to visualise it, then gathered each works at the end.

After the briefing (containing references of artists such as Eleanor Antin, Rolly Anderson, and Francis Alÿs etc.) in the morning, we got into pairs and worked together and acted in concert until 2:30 PM, and presented ideas visually on the Instagram hashtag #ChelseaStage1Group2. Our tutor also introduced us a well-known artist Richard Long representing the land art (earthwork) movement, questioning how we correlate with the environment. In his record, an artwork was the part of nature.

Having looked at different artists and works in the morning, probably we were suggested to think about the way of seeing. I took some photos and footage around collage, then considered why these things attracted me in terms of art or for some reasons.

I think I was searching for something looks profound. People often leave something on the ground or anywhere without reasons, not intentionally, however some of them evoke different scenes. In order to interpret these images as my own work, I tried to associate some elements in the photos with other meanings or memories, and talked about that in the studio.

  • What I found and Presented

We explored almost entire college and around including Tate Britain.

1) A wood block on the skylight, I found it near the library.

It looked floating in the air, and there was nothing around that block so it was on it’s own, as if someone put the spell on it. I and my colleague had no idea why and how it is on that place. There were also some clouds in the sky after raining which makes this a bit enigmatic.

This first discovery was fairly useful for me because I was kind of struggling to come up with any ideas from ordinary, everyday things, and realised that changing the viewpoint is the centre of this one-day activity. Not presenting the well prepared artwork.

2) A chair with two plastic bags placed in front of the window, surrounded by bricks.

It reminded me of a book which I have read few years ago, about a locked room murder of two people on the chair, even though this chair in a photo was left outside. This place was below the street level and it is actually quite similar to that situation in the story, the narrow window plays an important role as well, and bricks might suggest murderer attempted to use them as a stepladder to make an invasion.

I had to reach out my hands over the fence in order to take a photo and that fact also made me feel like investigating a crime scene.

3) Two different kinds of lines on the ground.

I found it within the college and considered that it was not made on purpose, because these lines was going nowhere and nothing around them. It seems to be possible that someone might have spilled white paint and oil whilst they were carrying a bucket or something.

Tracing these unknown things was a bit weird experience as I did not know how they were made, and it gave me a feeling of exploration in the forest or some kind of field. I remember one fairy tale which is in my childhood memory, in “Hansel and Gretel” (originally from Germany), little sister and brother followed the trail of small stones to go back their home after being abandoned by their parents. They succeeded once, however, the second time their mother did not allow them to collect some peddles. Hansel tried to use crumbs of bread instead, but all of bread was picked by some birds and Hansel and Gretel ended up being trapped at the evil witch’s confectionery house.

When it comes to today’s activity, for me, it is like chasing after some kind of animals, the invisible beasts inhabit around Chelsea. They are bleeding for some reasons and we can only see the stains of blood on the ground when it is dripped from their bodies. The question is: how they are injured, and what if I could really see them?

  • Feedback

Once I finished my presentation, our tutor pointed out that my interpretation of these images are possibly relevant to anxieties of living in the modern city. This was unexpected comment and really worth considering. We are now in such a complicated system of society and occasionally it is overwhelming, people have no clue how things around them are actually working in everyday life, therefore living with uncertainty could be a little bit horrifying. Some descriptions I added to the photos contain words like “murder”, “spell”, and “bleeding beast”, so they might have given unpeaceful impression to the audience.

Someone in our group also defined my act (creating the another meaning or background from photo) as storytelling, and my presentation as performance. This feedback reminds me of Polynesian mythologies which has an oral tradition. In a tribe, a storyteller play an important role to get everyone across to what happened in the ancient times of their ancestors and gods. Their way of verbalizing might be interesting topic to search for the future artwork.

  • Self Evaluation

Overall, I have become more aware of that how I and my works are affected by narratives.

Giving explanations to unknown, mysterious or inscrutable things is what people have been trying to do through the ages. Some weird phenomenons could be proved in the field of science, but some are still veiled and wrapped in the mystery of our mind and psyche, as Carl Jung said in “Analytical Psychology”, we can not go beyond the border between consciousness and unconsciousness. People have often created stories, myths and folklore to convince themselves or their children to avoid dangers around villages or communities.

I think that stories such as fairy tales and folklore are no longer working as a moral lesson like they used to do in the past. However, as an artist, I am intending to get involved with them in contemporary way.

In addition to that, the book which I am currently reading written by Jorge Luis Borges is relative to a kind of “fake (forged)” story. If I found something should be mentioned for my practice, it would be posted on the blog later.

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