Community of practice
I consider my art practice to be predominantly a visual art practice although it clearly sits on the boundaries of a diverse range of art disciplines. My work has been influenced by visual artists that explore a carnivalesque and/or grotesque aesthetic, visual artists who use an element of play in their work, superfiction, performance art, physical theatre, puppetry and creative activism.
The following three artists each create work with a ‘grotesque’ aesthetic that I know my work falls short of, but I hope to keep pushing my work in this direction. Cindy Sherman, the New York based artist has been a long standing favourite of mine. I love the way she always puts herself into her work to subvert female stereotypes and the way she captures what I would describe a feminist grotesque aesthetic in the many of her series..the clown series and even her instagram photos are great examples of this. Another artist who captures this ‘grotesque’ aesthetic I want to work towards, is the Young British Artist (YBA) Sarah Lucas. I enjoy the way her works use humor and visual puns. Mark Shorter, a Melbourne based artist, explores notions of the carnivalesque in his work and his character Renny Kodgers is an ongoing work that I just love. He performs this hyper masculine stereotype country music singer character in a hysterically funny and simultaneously rather unsettling way. Over the next few years I really want to push my own aesthetic in this direction.
Visual artists who use an element of play in their work also inform my work. The artist Tino Sehgal, a Berlin based artist, combines elements of performance art and humor in Museum settings to critique the museum experience. In one of his more recent works for example, This Is Propaganda at the Tate Gallery in June 2016, he had the invigilator in the gallery space sing the work's title whenever a new visitor enters the space. Other visual artists that I admire who use a playful humour without the element of performance, might include Melbourne based artists Alex Danko and Kenny Pittock.
Peter Hill’s and Peter Burke's superfiction work also informs my work. I am really interested in how superfiction so cleverly straddles both a fictional space and reality. Micheal Vale's movie Le Chien qui Fume inspired my mini video piece with Flaneuse Fox and Croissant. I also especially like the work Pursuit Now! 2013 by Melbourne based artist, Peter Burke. In this piece he attempted to subversively sell mini art works that were attached to the inside of his coat at the Melbourne Art Fair. I am drawn to this combination of humour and critique.
In my mind the very successful merging of physical theatre and visual art can be found in the work of Born in a Taxi’s Enlighten piece and also Weekly Ticket-the Artist at Footscray Station, a collaborative work of Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey with the artist David Wells. Born in a Taxi create a variety of outdoor improvised pieces with a beautiful combination of spectacle and audience participation. I have been lucky to have done improv classes with Nick Pappas of Born in a Taxi and hope to continue when I complete my Masters. David Wells from Weekly Ticket turns up at the Footscray station every week and will continue to do so for 15 years which is the average expected age of a piece of public art. I just love the way he artfully and comically interacts with those coming and going with just himself and a chair. This humorous ephemeral work challenges and subverts the notion of the ‘plonk and leave for 15 years’ version of public art.
I have been learning puppetry making and performance skills over the last 4 years. Last year I undertook a 2 week intensive with Spare Parts Puppetry in Perth. There are too many fantastic Melbourne based puppeteers to mention here but I will make mention of Snuff Puppets. They make large scale puppets for outdoor public space that capture a wonderful grotesque aesthetic. Being part of the Melbourne Puppetry Festival at La Mama was a great opportunity for me to connect with local and international puppeteers.
Artists who work in creative activism have also informed my work. Steve Lambert and Steven Duncombe founded the US based Centre for Artistic Activism. Steve Lambert was recently in Melbourne with his work Does Capitalism Work for You: True or False where he invited the public to come and vote with the press of a button what most applied to them. This mix of spectacle and participation I think cleverly opened up a dialogue around capitalism with the premise that it is not a given that it suits everyone. Steve Duncombe’s book Dream, reimaging progressive politics in an age of fantasy and his notion of the combination of art's 'affect and effect' has also influenced my art practice. The Melbourne based artist Amy Spiers work Miranda Must Go has also informed the direction of my work. The playful work of groups like The Chaser, The Yes Men and the Perth based group PVI collective have also been sources of inspiration. The Book and website version of the book Beautiful Trouble is a collaborative effort by over 70 different artists/ activists/ strategists and provides a comprehensive resource in terms of up to date tactics, principles, theories and practitioners. And of course, the feminist artist activists,Guerrilla Girls have inspired my work.
Finally,I would like to mention the main theorists that have informed this research. Henri Lefebvre's Production of Space, Chantel Mouffe's 'agonistic model', and Saskia Sassen have been the primary writers on public space I have been drawn to.