25 September 2006

Russia, language and perception

Working in Russia, at Academicka Dascha with students and researchers from Germany, Sweden, Russia, America, Canada; including people who had been refugees from Kurdistan and Rumania; provided more insights into working with visual art. The isolation from familiar signs, alphabet, words and sounds made this so evident, as though I had been given this opportunity to try out my ideas.When I say 'given' it was not free!
As a research project into the learning process and use of facilities by visual artists outside an academic institute, there was an overemphasis on words and discussion, not enough use or value put on the visual. Even among a group of practicing artists, many left handed, dyslexic and able to use 3Dimensions really effectively the accepted practice seems to be that discussion and writing is more valuable and effective for the working world.

We had spent several days discussing, listening and reading complex work and ideas; as a visual artist using tactile materials I really felt the need to make a work, to feel and see the physical actions of others. I made the action to help my own understanding of the work requires, to see and fell the actions and understanding of others involved in expressing the physical world.
The central stone signifies our goal to make a joint exhbition, as a newly formed group with no real link; the small pile of stones surrounding it signifies the artists, writers and curators involved. I asked them to place a stone at a distance to show how close they felt to resolving ideas and understainding of the goal. I encouraged them to make theplavccing of the stone a personal experience, and to take a stone away with them to remind them of the people involved and the task.

I was touched by how alll participants took this action very seriously. One in particular moved the whole blanket/page. I understood this to mean that he thoguht our focus was off centre, it also showed a respect for the aim of the work.
Using simple materials, recycled blanket as the 'page' to draw on and pebbles collected from the gardens all participants could express themselves without prior knowledge and skills.
I feel as though this is a significant piece of work - it happened after so many days of walking, thinking and watching the environment - including people and their interactions. I know I will use it again, with all kinds of people and places.
I asked some of the academics in the group what they thought they had seen - even asking it seemed a bit strange, they each took their time and came back to me with really considered replies. I had responses like - 'it seemed a significant statement, participants wanted to make their sdtatements. The process is amazingly inclusive' another said 'I think it is significant that you have made a piece of work withthe group, allowing an opportunity for the group to work together visually'

I have deliberately not put names to the statements, if they are published somwhere else I will ask for more formal responses and include all acknowledgements there.