Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.


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#Selfie 1: Right then.

Leafs and St Louis Blues are skating like mad 2.5 feet above my head, with a soundtrack announcer who could clearly like the Leafs to tie it up & stay in the game.  2nd period, 13 minutes to go.

Blues just scored

Blues just scored

I’m writing in a local bar so I can get some distance from the #Selfie project that so dominates my studio.  I’m having a very good time digging in to define with paint, music and written language what it is about selfies that I find so abrasive.  It’s difficult to admit to intolerance, but I do.  I admit it with the caveat that I GET it:  if I’m intolerant, I’d better damn well be prepared to dig in and articulate exactly WHY I so resist and revile the selfie. By producing and publishing my own. Ow.

ikes...

As an artist I believe I am required to identify and explore my own intolerances.  To work with what is abrasive and uncomfortable.

One of the St. Louis Blue’s players is pounding the hell out of a Toronto player.

I couldn't be less interested.

I couldn’t be less interested.  This is not the same as intolerance.

Many indigenous peoples have felt, when faced with the cameras of apparently benign foreigners (some Mayans still refuse to have their image copied and used by anyone), that a photo contains part of the soul of the person photographed.  Mississipi artist James W. Bailey believes this too, and addresses his internal conflict this way:

I hold a religious belief, probably inherited from my paternal Mississippi grandmother, who was 1/4 Choctaw Indian, and who was extremely distrustful of photography, that photography, more than any other art form, has the ability to capture a living element of life, a flashpoint of the soul if you will. …  When such photographic images are taken, the only thing the photographer can do to make the universe right with what he or she has done is to place the photograph, which I believe to be a living organism, into a context of positive growth….

The great photographers, whether they know it or not, are photographers who have taken stolen elements of life and have placed those living substances into a context where the photographically captured life force has been encouraged toward positive growth.

Are we as careful with our own images of ourselves as he is on our behalf?

Are we as careful with our own images of ourselves as he is on our behalf?

So in I go, straight to the coarse sandpaper. My rules so far are these: 1. I work with and publish only images I take by myself of myself. 2. I publish each one first on social media before I use it in painting, writing or song. 3. I include whatever the response is in the work that develops.  Including zero response. 4. I ask everyone I know what they think of the selfies phenomenon. 5. Be unfailingly honest and up front about whatever vulnerability I feel throughout the whole process.

Show opens in June, in Owen Sound.  It will include performance art, music, and a small hand-made book which will document the process of building it.  I’m also booking it into a tour – through galleries, highschools, colleges & universities, museums & clubs. I’ll keep you posted.

hmmm.

hmmm.


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Follow the loose rein

I stood grinning on a hill in the spring wind without the protection of my long winter coat and smelled the turning of the planet towards the sun.

Geese-are-back

This Titanic winter season has run amok of the inevitable.  As did the Titans when banished to the underworld and the unsinkable ship when torn by an iceberg, even the strongest behemoth must surrender, eventually, to change.  I can feel the chill through my window, yes.  But it can no longer reach my bones, which glow golden.

Everything is white again.

One of the blizzards from 2013-14.  I lost count.

In requiem to the five white months that are now passing I need to acknowledge my grief too, because I will miss it. This winter has tumbled and shaped me like a river-rock, exposed me like a quartz that had been encased in calloused grey stone – in the safe invisible of frozen white.  It was as though all internal weather was played outside these windows – serenity, calm, beauty so sharp it hurt, but also rage, fury, sorrow, wilfulness.  I’m different.  A lot different.

falls2_October2013

I’ve just agreed to make twenty pieces of art, write, record and rehearse twenty minutes of music and  – what the hell – twenty+ pages of a hand-made, limited edition book that will explore the idea of exposure and vulnerability, or “The Public Intimate”.  It’s a true child of the winter that’s passing, this show.  I’ve become deeply intrigued by what we do as humans and artists when we look at ourselves and make portraits, then publish them.  Selfies – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Munsch, Cohen, Joni, Camus, Anne Michaels…  If all art is in some way autobiographical, then in fact, making and publishing ‘selfies’ are the job of artists.  We hear a song, read a book, see a great self-portrait, and we are moved to tears.  They are soul food.  But self-publishing is also the work of every human, right?  Even the duck-faced self-portraits published on facebook that are so vulnerable, awkward and exposed are expression of our human need …  to be visible?  Still working this out, as you can see.

My answers, for whatever they’re worth, will be published in a gallery in 13 weeks.  You can bet you’ll be hearing more about it.