Key research questions and other things I didn’t want to talk about

Reflecting on the recent crits from July and September seminars has help to form language around central themes and concepts I’m wondering about, and I’m using this feedback to create questions I need to ask myself. These curiosities are emerging from the work I have produced and presented during crits and my studio research, which grows from hunches, play and imagery rather than questions defined by words.

Talking over Unbound; Gathering material, for CTANZ Symposium 2018, Larnach Castle, Dunedin

It has become clear that my lived experience as a woman is very present in my practice; themes such as girls stories, family relationships, my grandmother’s lives – my whakapapa – and the work I do as a mother feed into my research and inform my current knowledge of myself; moving forward, facing my past.

As I continue with this research in the back of my mind is that it might be viewed as ‘women’s art’, why do I feel like it’s not enough to be pursuing themes around women’s lives and women’s work?

On-trend, Shoes on men at Objectspace opening

The source material I’m drawing from is personally significant; often objects from my family archive. How can I work with them, recontextualising the central themes or content without being sentimental? Related to this is, how do I explore personal histories and experiences with some neutrality or distance? Without sharing too much; is it editing, is it media, such as text, performance, stitch, or objects themselves?

How does performance change the work? Do I need to look at more diverse methods / media to ‘perform’ or ‘activate’ the work more fully, or more effectively open up the conversation? Sound/audio audio visual for example? I refer to Sriwhana Spong and Yoko Ono, as their respective practices incorporate performance and feminist themes, and as artists who embrace multi disciplinary approaches to resolve their projects.

More talking over Unbound; Gathering material, for CTANZ Symposium 2018, Larnach Castle, Dunedin

Projects such as Unbound; Gathering material for CTANZ in Dunedin, that incorporate social practice or relational aesthetics are adding other considerations; what is the ‘art’ and where does it exist; is it in the work, is it the experience in the making, the social interaction, or the finished object itself? Where do I sit with projects that are collaborative, am I a facilitator? artist? collaborator? editor?

Working on Unbound; Gathering material, for CTANZ Symposium 2018, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin

Artists that I have been examining include Mata Aho Collective, a group of four artists who work collaboratively, same place, same time, on large projects, and Maureen Lander, who ‘outsources’ work to other artists, craftspeople and makers. Are these ways I could expand my practice, and how to I navigate such ways of working without exploiting people? In the heart of my making is a sense of community and desire to collaborate, learn and share, which contrasts with the desire I have to express my own voice.

Working with children, in response to Into the Sunshine: Are we there yet? at Yvonne Rust Gallery, Whangarei


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