The Art House, Wakefield
15th – 29th June 2009
The following is a transcript of email communication between myself and my collaborative partner, Zeev Parush, to generate ideas prior to the start of the residency:
My name is Louise Atkinson from Leeds, UK and I’ll be your artist partner for the upcoming residency. My main interests at the moment are in communication and I have been studying the cultural significance of hand gestures and animal idioms. I have a blog and archive that you are welcome to have a look at, it’s still very much a work in progress but might give you an idea of what I do: http://louiseatkinsonblog.blogspot.com.
Look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas,
I am very happy to hear from you. I took a tour of your blog – it’s interesting (loved your drawings by the way) with a lot to digest. I found very interesting what you called “slippages of meaning within language” and the reference to the word Différance. It relates to the fact that our all perception is context sensitive (something I know and use in my work… the one I do for living 🙂 ) Your current interest and focus in communication and the emphasis on visual aspects of it, sound like subjects where art and science goes great together – I love it.
I use my art in the last few years as a way to express some of my inside world, thoughts and ideas. Currently I’m interested a lot with the question of Identity and the way we perceive each other by visual look. You can see work I did about it in my gallery here: http://www.pbase.com/zeevpg/vagueness_of__identity.
I use photography as the tool for my art work, but I don’t see myself as a photographer. You can see also the work I do on Self Identity in my gallery I call Bittersweet Chocolate: http://www.pbase.com/zeevpg/bittersweet.
Looking forward to our collaboration and the upcoming 2 weeks.
p.s. Hope my English is not too bad (I do use the speller a lot…)
Hello again Zeev,
First of all please don’t worry about your English, it’s perfect, and definitely much better than my Hebrew :). I’m also intrigued to know more about your job and how it relates to the topic.
I enjoyed looking at your pictures very much and wondered how you would feel about us exploring this collaboration using photography as a primary medium, at least in the first instance. I was also wondering if there was a particular line of enquiry you wanted to follow in this project.
Some ideas I had previously with the hand gestures specifically involved exploring cross-cultural dialogue and meaning, basically using photography to depict hand signals from different countries/cultures to create a ‘conversation’, perhaps from the left hand to the right. Not sure if this makes a lot of sense but let me know what you think or if you have any other ideas. I’ve attached some pics of my hand drawings.
Whats up? First of all using photography as primary medium for our collaboration is perfect for me since in the last few years all my artistic work is based on photography and the digital dark room. I don’t really have a particular nor “must” direction for the project, so I’m coming with an open mind and willingness to collaborate. In Hebrew slang it is called “to flow” 🙂 I love your drawings and I like the subject of hand gestures and the part it takes in dialogues and feelings externalization (hope it’s the right word…)
I’m not sure I understood your idea. Did you mean creating a kind of “conversation” by connecting a series of hand gestures in a panoramic view? One area that I’m exploring as part of my own self “Identity” project is the relationship between the creator and his subjects or viewers. Like this image:
There is a relationship there, who exposes and who is being exposed, which to my opinion is not trivial at all… I actually have a plan (one day) to create an homage based on this painting where I myself (or the same person) play both roles, because a lot of art work is actually exposing one self.
I hope I didn’t drift too much.
Have a great day
I was thinking that maybe for the Identity Cards project, we can work together on combining the hand gestures language idea with my own self identity project, especially in the images of my interaction as artist with my subjects and viewers. This can be a good connection between our work – what do you think?
Sorry for the delay. I’m busy installing a tactile show and finishing some sculptural work for that. I’m working on a reply with some possible answers for both your emails and will send that through soon. I wanted to ask if it was ok with you if I publish the transcript of our emails on my blog as part of the documentation process cos I think it is quite a valuable part, both for us to assess and review our creative decisions and also perhaps for people to understand how we arrived at particular solutions and conclusions.
Hope all’s well with you 🙂
Thanks for the Hebrew lesson. I love learning languages! Do I say it back the same way? Or does it change for a female speaking to a male?
Re. the idea of art as a game, I definitely think the two are not mutually exclusive and I love to embrace humour and playfulness in life and art as much as possible. I’ve recently been working on a Tate Britain project called Visual Dialogues, creating gallery interpretations to allow audiences to engage with historical artworks more easily. One example of this involved placing signs around the gallery in response to the paintings, challenging the meaning of the work as well as the identity of the gallery space. The feedback was extremely positive and produced interesting audience interpretations which were both humorous and poignant, sometimes for the same piece. I felt that these contrasting responses were equally valid as it showed that the intervention managed to break down fixed meaning and allow the audience to respond to the work on their own terms.
Anyway, back to the idea of games. When I was looking at the Vagueness of Identity project it reminded me of a kind of card game and I started to think about the game Top Trumps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Trumps.
Looking at your pictures, I started to think about the judgements that we make about people from appearances and how true they are. So I thought we could devise a grading system and display alongside photographs on cards that people could play with. This raises a number of questions: Who grades? Us? Them? An independent party? What are the categories? How quantifiable? eg. artist v lawyer, politician v estate agent? This also allows players to decide their own grading structure and argue which card is more valuable.
I realise we’ve already discussed quite a number of other options previously including specifically the hand gestures/self identity work and I’m more than happy to expolore any or all of these ideas. I was also wondering whether we need to do more practical preparation or if you’re happy to keep having these conversations. I wouldn’t like to contrive the process but I think we could easily talk forever! 🙂 I don’t mind either way and I’m not sure what practical prep we could do but if you have any thoughts…
Ma nishma ? First of all let’s conclude the Hebrew lesson (that can be a bit of a headache in terms of gender :))For male you say Ma shlomcha? For female, it’s Ma shlomech? Or you can just say Ma nishma (it is more like what’s up, then How are you) which is good for all gender.
The project you did on Visual Dialogues, where text can take or give different meanings to visual work, is a great way for the audience to express their associations and feelings regarding the art work, without the need to give a methodic opinion about it… This reminded me of another idea I started to explore with a friend of mine, to create a kind of duet where I supply the images and she will add her associative text. Our first try was really very surprising and funny for me to see the direction it took the image… Here it is. What she wrote is beneath the image.
The artist books is a field that I have no experience with, but it looks very exciting with lots of creative possibilities, both as a whole conceptual work and as a way of presentation only – got to give it a try :). It does give a different experience and I think it is definitely something that we should explore as one possible outcome of our collaborated work.
On a more conceptual point of view, I think that artist books is more like an intimate centered kind of experience (within a context of one work) as opposed to regular images on the wall kind of experience, where space, size, spread out images, layout, light and even the audience, creates a powerful overall look & feel of the entire work.
Back to our collaboration, I think we can find a way to combine both experiences (not sure if this is what you meant). I have no specific idea yet, it can be a kind of drilldown per topic as you suggested, or any other creative way we’ll come up with. (hey, that’s why we joined this collaboration project in the first place :))
I just found this link on artist books, I’m sure you familiar with it already but just to be on the safe side here it is: http://artists.arts.lt/1artists/artistsb0.html. It’s full with some great art books examples. The all art books idea is very exciting and I hope we’ll find a way to incorporate it somehow in this project. I plan to create such a book from my own Bittersweet self identity project in any case – but I guess this will be later on.
Hope all is well with you.
What’s up? Here is the Internet catalog that was published here in Israel by Amili Gelbman: http://israblog.nana10.co.il/blogread.asp?blog=404212&blogcode=11054415. In my page there is a link to our correspondence in your blog.
Thanks for the links, both to the online catalogue and the artist books. It’s always good to see new work. I’m really glad that you are interested in this medium and I hope that we can both get a lot out of it. I’ve also been thinking more about interactive possibilities relating to perception and it brought up memories of the kid’s game ‘Chinese Whispers’. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it, but the idea is that a group of people pass a secret message between each other and it gradually distorts as each person perhaps hears it slightly differently. It reminded me as well of your collaboration between words and image. Visually, it could be represented by the Surrealist game ‘Exquisite Corpse’ which we call ‘Consequences’:
Not long to go now. Are there any more practical preparations we can do? eg. prototypes, recruiting participants, etc?
Yes, not long to go now and I’m eager to get there… Work on Identity can vary from being very personal on one side, to conceptual meaning of it on the other side. It can express one’s personal point of view, feelings and thoughts that define his own identity (like the path I’m exploring) and it can on the other end deal with the notion of Identity and the relativity of it (like the hands gestures you explore). I think that connecting these 2 ends is our biggest challenge, and the way we’ll do it can influence some how the visual implementation and presentation. So, I don’t know what more preparations we can do. I plan to bring with me few printed images from my Bittersweet work, in case we’ll find a way it can feed into what we’ll create together.
What do you think? Am I making any sense? 🙂
L’hitraot (See you)
That sounds great. I guess we just need to meet and discuss the ideas we’ve had and see how we can implement those. I could bring a few images of my work and bindings for books in case we decide to use any of those in any of the work we produce. Bring as many of your images as you like (could have some digital as well as I’m sure we’ll be able to get access to printing facilities through Art House).
Look forward to meeting you next week,
This all project sounds great and I’m sure we’re going have a fruitful (and fun) collaboration. So will meet next week, and to help you recognize me amongst the crowd (It’s all about Identity after all) here is an image of Me, My Family and Other Animals
See you there 🙂
The Israeli artists arrived on Monday 15th June and met up with their collaborative partners the following day to discuss their respective projects and eat Indian food…
We set to work the next day and, after discussing many possibilities and directions for the project, we decided to use a photograph that Zeev brought with him as a starting point for exploring the politics of identity. We walked around looking for locations to shoot and then Zeev played about with the images incorporating some Origami cranes from a Japanese architecture show preview…
After a busy day working we were invited to participate in some kind of meditation labyrinth created by Linda King at Westgate Studios. Some people were more into it than others…
Back in the studio we finished making our work with a slight detour to see what the others were up to…
The finished work ‘Birds to the Parliament’ with statement:
‘Birds to the Parliament’ mixes Israeli political satire and British slang as a starting point to explore social identity. The triptych incorporates cultural symbols from history and language to discuss the nature of democracy and class within different systems.
After a hard weeks work, we went for a well deserved break at the pub; the girls thrashed the boys at pool, Roee showed his competitive side, and Zeev defied gravity…
The install was hectic (as usual) and we posed for photos…