It seems that this summer has blown by without figuring out what to work on next semester and last week I figured out the topic for my writing portion of the MFA: Lists in contemporary art, especially the kind that are absurd or foster a kind of 'nothingness'
I've always written lots of lists, partly because I'm so forgetful, and also because they're quite useful when one wants to procrastinate, but also because they put me in a focused creative fill-in-the-blank kind of headspace, and I'm really good at that. Thanks Odyssey of the Mind!
But really a lot of the advice I've been getting about where to start for writing my "dissertation" (it's only 6,000 words mind you.) has to do with having fun with it, narrowing sources so that it's clear and also to do something that relates to my practice so that it's not about 'getting it out of the way' but actually considering how it could really add to my practice.
With all that in mind I realised I would love to find out more about lists. What is are the cultural origins of making lists? Are lists simply ways of organising chaos or is it all a ruse to represent information that's not actually there much like how Powerpoints, marketing selling points and infographics are almost always misleading, contextual-less, or generalisations? Is it possible that lists are actually ironically about not actually doing anything, as they are helpful in that they organise thoughts externally while at the same time the time it takes to make a list takes away from the time available to do what the list is demanding. Have lists evolved to have a specific tone, voice or metaphor? (Rachel noted, quite acutely that my work as of late, has had an authoritative tone to it, which is an interesting by product of me trying to make work about how we make meaning...) If the internet is one big hyperlinked list is this represented well in any works of art?
Different takes on the "list" as absurdity in various genres of contemporary artwork:
- Lawrence Wiener's work "statements" devolves into a dead end of conceptual art where it practically becomes an extension of the development of art theory that had been propping up specific artists/movements:
- Ray Johnson's work, a lot of lists of the names of people he knew but represented by practically the same bunny identity. Then there's this work which I've never seen before.
- Ross Sinclair's blank "Real Life and How to Live It : Space" print.
- Evan Ackerman's work "A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter" perpetually 'lists' itself on Ebay.
- And I became obsessed with the Art Teacher's Book of Lists which now it seems is online!
I'm very interested in finding out if there are any examples of lists in women's art works/literature...
(So far I've only found Jennifer Krasinski's list of fake Collective Nouns in a very random book of 365 works made in a single day by 365 different artists) (Also if I include instructional lists then there may be more, such as Yoko Ono's 'Grapefruit' book as well as perhaps Miranda July?
And lastly, I'll end with 10 lists of 4 that are a summation of how my summer has been so far and what I look forward to with the future and things I have realised recently.
4 Projects I'd like some help with if anyone would like to lend a hand:
- Anyone's Idea.com (anyonesidea.com) A project that archives and details projects in which we wouldn't mind losing the authorship over the idea if it meant that it would have a better chance of being actualised. (I will be mailing people individual letters to get their responses, so send on your address if you don't think I have it already)
- Looking for more national/international venues that would be interested in doing Brixels or perhaps doing it on their own without my help!
- Taking people's used painting palettes to make them into paintings, only working from other artists' studios detritus (a la Andy T)
- Building a gigantic concrete play structure based off of this Moroccan Tile that I've been obsessed with all summer.
The 4 elements that make me the most prolific:
- Freedom and access to resources or a studio 24/7
- Technicians that are interested in finding the most elegant or creative ways of making things work.
- Creating work while I know I have an audience watching the process
4 Things that seem amazing to me even until today:
- When I first got into undergrad I was friends with both Janine Surma, David Blunk, Amy Rauner, Crystal Palmer, Ryan Hunt, Callie Wright, Duke Greene, Graham Hannah, and Rachel Yezbick all at the same time. (All such interestingly specific personalities)
- Some of my most successful work was large sculptures, I've always considered myself a painter and ceramicist who as a backup did a ton of art education and graphic design...
- I'm actually paying for my own graduate school through money I've made through my art. Bye bye hard earned money...
- At every point in my life I've always thought that I could/will be making better art than I'm making right now...
4 Things I realize I'll miss about living on the Southside of Glasgow:
- Walking past mansions and pretty streets just down from Nithsdale Street
- It feels like an edgy stance to live on the Southside
- I'll actually miss running for the bus and then reading once I got on.
- Having our own nice sized private space just for Rach and I, not to mention our nice sized kitchen!
4 Things that I'm looking forward to most when I'm living at our new place (Flat 1/1, 312 West Prince's Street, G4 9HA):
- Wonderfully short walk between home and school as well as living with another person from the MFA and nearby classmates (although I was next door to Stephen Murray)
- Botanic Gardens walks
- Having a separate office space for serious quiet space work
- Nice part of the neighbourhood and I've heard that our neighbours are also pleasant enough. Again, another great Landlord as well.
4 Past art projects that in retrospect were both fun, gruelling (satisfying/flow) and meaningful that I almost forgot about:
- A large knot made out of bottles and cans I collected from a single month of football games at Michigan State
- Thinking about making an abstract painting about how American abstract painters were looking at Asian artwork for inspiration. It actually was one of my first paintings and it was reflecting on my relationship between my identity as an Asian American artist and abstract painting...
- A strange retro feeling painting...
- The time I hung out with a stranger for 12 hours.
4 things that I do need to get into work mode:
- blank empty work space
- A fake deadline I can actually meet
- Food/snacks/drinks already prepared and available
- Something to procrastinate against
4 types of places where my ideas come from whether I like it or not:
- My desire to say fuck you to certain ideals
- My desire to have artwork enlighten the viewer
- My desire to be immersed in craft or understanding how something is crafted
- My desire to challenge myself to design my way out of something that is ugly
4 most dissapointing things from the past year:
- Anything I did that was too 'forced' - Friendships, meaningful artwork, trying to do a solo show quickly etc. And at the same time not taking enough risks where I could actually fail and be embarrassed if it didn't go well.
- Not winding up at enough gatherings where I only knew 1, 2 or 3 people. As well as not doing enough music with other people
- Not being disciplined enough to wake up early, sign up for the gym, reading the few required readings on time as well as writing critical notes to make sure I could go back to it to understand its importance...
- Not taking some of my 'research methods' seriously enough, and not getting 'out there' enough.
4 things I am looking forward to the most:
- Going to Berlin & Documenta
- Possibly either making a very large installation, or a complicated kinetic print work or a collaboration with creative people other than visual artists
- What I don't know I will be doing in six months from now...
- Knowing what my dissertation might be about and having more fun writing.