What should I do in my final year at art school?
Evolving from a feeling of creative emptiness at the beginning of the final year of my Fine Arts degree, I created this project, which resulted in a series of video works.
My father had come to visit from interstate, I had shown him some of my recent work and he had responded by saying he didn’t like it and that he couldn’t believe that was what I did at art school. At the same time I felt as though I had a creative block, perhaps from the pressure of beginning the third and final year at art school. As I had no idea of what I wanted to do, and others around me seemed to have an opinion of what I should be doing, I asked about 30 people – family, friends and associates this question, ‘What do you think I should I be doing/making in my final year at art school?’
The collected responses functioned in different ways - as dares, instructions, proposals and interchangeable gifts. They were interesting in themselves but acting on them was also a way of negating my feeling of creative doubt and failure.
I responded to about eight of them. The resulting videos were interpretations of these proposals in some instances, a kind of collaboration and interchange of the artist and viewer roles. We could both project our ideas and values into the work, which revealed their perceptions about art, themselves and me.
The project created an open dialogue and exchange but some works, more than others, are shaped by private relationships or surprise encounters with certain people.
I found myself questioning the meaning of ‘participation’ in some exchanges as issues of social responsibility, ethics, love and relationship expectations were raised.
The ritual celebratory action of confetti being thrown in the air is expanded from a fleeting moment into a lasting rhythmic downpour. Over time the materiality of the confetti becomes more perceivable, removed from its association with celebration. It hints at its transformative qualities, a matter not unlike rain or moving particles.
My mothers’ proposal for me was 'to go deep into my internal spiritual vortex' with her as a guide. I guess I was always a little critical of this so-called spiritual side of my mother as she had always been a self - help book queen but to fulfil her proposal I went to her for an oracle card reading.
Surprisingly the ‘Study’ card came up as well as the ‘Let Go’ card. Let go and it will all fall into place is such a clichéd response but I realised that was exactly what I needed to do. When I did so I realised I didn’t need to make the work, in this case, this encounter was the work.
I was happy that the encounter allowed the participant, my mother, to project more of herself into the work. It was a convivial encounter but there was a tension with the mother/daughter/teacher relationship – that feeling of having to go to your mother for advice. It allowed me to transcend the privileged role as the artist as I became the more vulnerable interlocutor who had to listen, which can be hard to do coming from your very opinionated mother.
Filmed in the country, on a clear dark night, I walk up a mountain, lantern in hand, towards twinkling stars above. The proposal was to play with light and shadow. I had been thinking about how the closest star would take at least 180, 000 light years to reach, it was such an impossibility. With the abstraction of light, dark and time I could simultaneously blend into the environment and be seen. Through video I could momentarily walk into the galaxy and become a star.
This proposal I treated quite literally and just carried out the instruction. Obviously I could not dig a hole in the MCG so I dug one in my local football field. My friend had a strong dislike of football and perhaps couldn’t dig one himself as he is confined to a wheel chair because of his disability. He thought the video was very funny.
This video was more of an interpretation. My ex-boyfriend had requested I make a wind tunnel with different coloured smoke trails coming out of it, like a large Land Art work. I wanted to find a simpler, more poetic way to interpret his request. So I used my breath for wind and lights in my bedroom to create the coloured smoke trails. I made it a private, rather than public work. Instead of monumental it was intimate like blowing a kiss to him. I sent it to him in London.