__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1

ART H A B E N S

C o n t e m p o r a r y

A r t

R e v i e w

JOE MUNRO NIGEL DAWES YUNHSIN HSU MARIAM MAGSI MORGAN JOSEPH HAMILTON STRAIPH WILSON LAURA GREENWAY PAUL KINGSLEY SQUIRE MARIKO HORI in your coat performance with Bojana S. Knezevic / 2018 / ©Nikola Jović

ART


ART

H A B E N S C o n t e m p o r a r y

A r t

R e v i e w

Nigel Dawes

Mariko Hori

Joe Munro

Yunhsin Hsu

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

Mariam Magsi

United Kingdom

Japan / Serbia

United Kingdom

France

USA

Pakistan / Canada

For the past 50 years Cuba’s future has been embedded in global systems that have the ability to connect and disconnect them in surprising and complicated ways, which has effected the day to day lives of those inhabited there. My main intention during this project was to document and bear witness to particularly interesting aspects of Cuban lifestyle, industry and culture through a series of reportage driven, visual essays. My journey began in the

Yunhsin Hsu’s artistic practice explores the relationship between man and nature by challenging preconceptions about natural beauty and forcing us to look again. With the development of history and culture, humans gradually take abnormal things for granted and ignore the original truth of them. Through painted illusions, layered meanings are brought to familiar objects to provoke thought and conversation, whilst disrupting existing symbolism.

Morgan Hamilton is a Floridian-New Mexican artist currently working in Delaware, USA. He is a son of retired Navy Cryptologists and his childhood was spent moving all over the world, this lead to his love of culture and advocacy for tolerance. His work ranges from performance and video to sculpture and installation, exhibiting abroad and at home, from sea to shining sea. He is a transmedia artist and creates future realms whose bedrock is in our present experience.

Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan and currently living and working in Toronto, Canada, Mariam Magsi is a Multidisciplinary Artist working in Photography, Performance, Video, Installation and other arts. Burqatecture was realized during my MFA at OCAD University and the first exhibition of it was at my thesis show in 2017. It was experienced by quite a few people during the exhibition dates and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

I have been working with found objects throughout my artistic career, more recently with found plastic objects and fragments.

I am interested in the concepts of ‘atmosphere’ and ‘ Ma ’, a Japanese word which takes the concept of negative space farther, to define a continuum which I love the spans both space versatility, the and time. For intensity of colour, example ‘ the industrial neutraspace -in between ’ lity, and most of all, or ‘ pause in time’ the way they record might at first their histories over appear that there time and space. is nothing between Sources of the structures, but materials include actually there is ‘ beaches, the Ma ’, emptiness, countryside, cities, blank space or any place where time exist. And the discarded plastic space and the time objects are dumped have a very slight or reappear. difference.


In this issue

Mariam Magsi

Laura Greenway

Straiph Wilson Morgan J. Hamilton

Yunshin Hsu Nigel Dawes Straiph Wilson

Laura Greenway

Paul Kingsley Squire

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

I was made redundant after working 16.5 years for the University of Glasgow. I worked as a technician in the field of behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology; this encompassed the study of organic diversity, including its origins, dynamics, maintenance and consequences. Throughout my career I have used the above subjects in my art practice, blurring boundaries between associations of ecology, power and speciation.

Utilising my body as a tool of expression, my work aims to communicate themes such as vulnerability, visibility and fragility as well as focusing on sub-themes of repetition and the absurd, making links between the ritualistic nature of illnesses such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and repetition as part of performance art. This kind of performance work provides an essential look at the complex nature of human interaction, and shines a light on social issues.

Paul Kingsley Squire is a London based artist intrigued by themes of metamorphosis and transformation. As well as capturing an aspect of the sitters personality he paints a 'dynamic’ picture with vivid brushstrokes and colour. Completely self taught, Paul has created a diverse portfolio including abstract landscape oil paintings, portraits in oil, digital art created with a digital pen and tablet and intricate drawings.

Paul Kingsley Squire Joe Munro

Mariko Hori

4 26 50 82 112 126 152 174 208

Special thanks to: Charlotte Seeges, Martin Gantman, Krzysztof Kaczmar, Tracey Snelling, Nicolas Vionnet, Genevieve Favre Petroff, Christopher Marsh, Adam Popli, Marilyn Wylder, Marya Vyrra, Gemma Pepper, Maria Osuna, Hannah Hiaseen and Scarlett Bowman, Yelena York Tonoyan, Edgar Askelovic, Kelsey Sheaffer and Robert Gschwantner.

in your coat performance with Bojana S. Knezevic / 2018 / ©Nikola Jović


Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, lives and works in Toronto, Canada


Mariam Magsi

4 03


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Mariam and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a BFA (hons) in Studio Art & English Literature from the University of Toronto and after having earned your Digital Photography Diploma from the George Brown College, you nurtured your education with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art, Media & Design, that you received from OCAD University in Toronto, where you are currently based: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? Mariam Magsi: Firstly, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to connect my work with wider audiences outside of North America. I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. I am currently living and working in Toronto, Canada. I am a dual citizen of both countries and I have had the privilege of attending excellent educational establishments in both countries, though my exposure to the arts has been incredibly different and varied in the two countries I consider home. In Pakistan I was in a British educational system within which the arts entailed extensive drawing and painting inspired by Realism. It was very competitive and all about grades, which defeats the purpose when it comes to creative expression. My formal education was in painting and drawing but I had more freedom to explore my subjects of interest in Toronto, Canada at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, where I was introduced to the worlds of Performance Art, Installation Art, Digital Photography, Live Art and other more non-traditional and experimental methods of

Mariam Magsi

making, viewing and interpreting contemporary art. Later, at OCAD University as I did a two year MFA program (I graduated in 2017) I was introduced to intense theory and relearnt everything I thought I knew about art. It is at OCAD where my practice began to identify with visual languages and styles, carving space for itself within our globalized art scene. Armed with a better understanding of how art can be used as a tool for story telling, as a tool for social change and justice, as a tool to shift societal perspective, I was able to carry over all this new knowledge and information into my

4 04

Special Issue


ART Habens

Mariam Magsi

practice upon entering the professional art world after my MFA. You are an eclectic artist and your versatile practice embraces photography, performance art, poetry and documentary, to pursue such multilayered visual results: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit https://www.mariammagsi.com in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select an artistic discipline in order to explore a particular aspect of your artistic inquiry? Mariam Magsi: I feel incredibly privileged to be able to visit my home country often. In a way I am sometimes living between two societies and thus am able to observe and record differences, parallels, diversities and nuances. A lot of this engagement with the world and our people, our histories, our narratives and our heritage, has begun to show up in my work whether through clothing, food, landscape or sound. My practice is as diverse as my dynamic identity. People often ask me “Where are you from?” The age old, immigrant question, at once curious and friendly, but also rude and Othering. “Where are you from?” they ask, and I can’t help but swallow up the 100 beautiful ancestors inside my big spirit and say “Pakistan.” Truly, my mother is Punjabi and my father is Baloch. My mother’s heritage goes back to pre-partition India and dates back to Syria. My father’s ancestors came into Pakistan through Iran. Both sides have such rich histories and diverse sets of languages, food, clothing and cultural practices. Within my family home unit, I was raised by Indigenous Baloch women, Filipino women, workers from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the North of Pakistan. You could be eating sausages and eggs for breakfast, chicken adobo and pansit for lunch and Kabuli pulao for dinner. We

Special Issue

23 4 05


Mariam Magsi

21 4 06

ART Habens

Special Issue


ART Habens

Special Issue

Mariam Magsi

23 4 07


Mariam Magsi

ART Habens

celebrate Christmas, Eid and Diwali and every December 25th a tree is decorated and lit up in the living room. I know that this is not everyone’s experience and I am grateful time and again for this exposure to people, cultures, religions and diversity, because it is this very exposure that today can be seen in my work, which aims to help us reflect upon our humanity. Much of this diversity has been recorded with multiple recording devices, predominantly by my mother who would photograph and videotape everything. Similar to my diverse lived experiences, the methods that I employ, and the mediums I use are also quite diverse. I employ the use of visual mapping, so for me, it always starts with a photograph, whether captured through my phone, camera or any other recording device. That is the usual start to the subject I want to investigate and unravel. Once I have collected sufficient data in the form of visual records and documentation, I am able to make connections and visit the topic with a bigger picture in mind, widening the vocabulary of the process. The contemporary art world is so much more globalized and what we consider art also keeps shifting, so I do not limit myself to certain mediums, though my primaries are always lens based mediums that I like to build upon with performance and/or installation. Some works are process based while others are more complete performances and installations.

For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Burqatecture, an interesting immersive installation that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/214439885. What has at once impressed us of this captivating artwork is the way it provides the viewers with such a multilayered visual experience, capable of challenging their perceptual parameters. Would you walk our readers through the genesis of Burqatecture?

21 4 08

Special Issue


ART Habens

Mariam Magsi

Mariam Magsi: Burqatecture was realized during my MFA at OCAD University and the first exhibition of it was at my thesis show in 2017. It was experienced by quite a few people during the exhibition dates and the response was overwhelmingly positive. To give you a little bit of background, the installation is inspired by quite a few factors. First of all, if you visit Sufi shrines in Pakistan, you will often find barriers between the pilgrims and the rose petal covered graves of the Sufi saints. These barriers resemble the mesh that goes over the eyes on a traditional, Afghani burqa. I’ve often observed these barriers through the polar lenses of the sacred and the profane, the saint and the sinner, etc. Secondly, I was visiting desi restaurants in Ontario when I came into one that had separate, veiled, partitioned, cubic spaces for “families and single women.” While thinking about the social politics of these spaces and the function of the veil within them as an architectural element, Hanna Papaneck’s theory of the “portable seclusion” sprung forward whereby she references the social mobility some women enjoyed due to their veils. Essentially, that is how Burqatecture came to fruition. While examining the postcolonial gaze projected onto the veiled, Muslim women, often symbolic of the ultimate Other, viewers enter a veiled space and are sandwiched between two sets of blinking eyes. One might ask, is the viewer veiled, or is the entity watching veiled? The installation problematizes the concept of Purdah or veiling. I also use sound and scent within the installation.

Burqatecture, 2017 Immersive Installation Collaboration with Camal Pirbhai

you explain how your work demonstrates communication between artists from different backgrounds? Mariam Magsi: The way I see it, there are some artist with definitive styles and specific mediums that they have mastered. While others like Yayoi Kusama, Shahzia Sikander, Kara Walker, are always reinventing themselves with their multidisciplinary practices. Take a look at artists like Marina Abramovic who has worked in Performance Art, Musicals, Self Care and as we

It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established with Camal Pirbhai for Burqatecture are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project: could you tell us something about this proficient synergy? Can

Special Issue

23 4 09


Mariam Magsi

saw recently, mainstream collaborations with rapper Jay-Z. Camal Pirbhai understands textiles and fabrics with an unmatched sensitivity so having him be a part of Burqatecture was wonderful to say the least. Pirbhai has prior experience intersecting digital media with textiles and was able to understand the convergence of the visual projections, the sound installation and the textile installation.

ART Habens

Whether it is simply with a model, technical or studio assistants there are many hands involved in bringing a piece to life. When working with another artist on a project it is the differences in our two creative visions that makes for interesting work. Choosing to work with another artist is putting ego aside for the greater good of the work and understanding that the work will have a wider scope with the different angles we have on a particular themes. It is also important to be free with your own

Camal Pirbhai: It's quite arrogant to not think of all of our work as some sort of collaboration.

21 4 10

Special Issue


ART Habens

Mariam Magsi

Burqatecture, 2017 Immersive Installation Collaboration with Camal Pirbhai

thoughts and sensitivities because this is after all what gives the work it's soul, the combination of two minds if managed correctly makes for far more interesting work.

under": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? How do you consider the role of artists to tackle sensitive cultural and religious issues in order to trigger social change in our globalised contemporary age?

Your works grapple with the most prescient social issues of our unstable contemporary age, including sexuality, gender, Islam, migration, feminism. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that "artists's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in. It depends on the political system they aree living

Special Issue

Mariam Magsi: You know, I often think about this. However, if you think about it, all of those issues you have brought up: sexuality, gender, Islam, migration, feminism, these are vital parts of human society and shape our existence and

23 4 11


Mariam Magsi

ART Habens

art? How can we use art to create more access for these issues, since far too often, these discourses are lost in the world of academia or “the white cube.” Camal Pirbhai: Well, this is interesting and again the differences in Mariam and my understanding of our roles as artist and in tackle cultural issues brings in a more diverse audience to a piece. If two artists are saying the same thing one of them is useless. My thoughts on triggering social change through my work is to speak to those that oppose my views but in a delicate and subtle way. I find that beauty is a great disarmer and once someone is faced with something pleasing it is easier to make a point. This is my weaponry in dealing with the issues we face and want to talk about. Marked out with a powerful narrative drive and rich of symbolically charged elements, your artistic production seems to aim urge the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning? And how do you develop your storytelling in order to achieve such brilliant results? I’ve traveled extensively and immersed in cultures upon invitation around the world. I’ve realized, while there are many commonalities and similarities amongst the diverse tribes of human species, no two people will view, interpret or perceive a work of art in the same way.

evolution in multifaceted ways. So really, should we be asking if we are responding to current political issues, or are we responding to recurring, pendulum like issues in new, imaginative and evocative ways. If we are being given a platform, which issues and voices will we champion through our creativity and imagination? How can we trigger social change, a shift in human consciousness, a relearning of how people see and view our planet and each other, through contemporary

We are a product of multiple environmental, social, psychological, cultural factors, unavoidably impacted by class, race and gender. Rather than be attached to the outcome of how my work is being engaged with, I would rather focus on the shifts it is creating within

21 4 12

Special Issue


ART Habens

Mariam Magsi

spectators and participants. Are viewers exiting my exhibitions, asking themselves a new set of questions with regards to the work and the symbolic message being conveyed? Are viewers compelled to dig deep into the various politicized topics I am examining in my work? Are viewers able to bring nuance, contradiction and variance into their perspectives, often only shaped by mainstream and social media? I often turn the gaze back onto the viewer to create tension and discomfort, perhaps to also reflect upon my personal journey as a diaspora artist, constantly on display, being viewed, categorized and tokenized. We are the product of our environment, our upbringing, our education exposure, our cultures and societies and media. As artists, our job is to create the work, but directing how it will be seen is a whole other matter. I do believe that the author dies once the work is out there, and it continues to take a life of its own. While there are commonalities in ways of seeing, it is not possible for two people to see one work in the same way due to varying factors such as class, race, sexual orientation and identity. There will always be some difference. Camal Pirbhai: The success of any work is to get the audience to put themselves in an other space to have them ask themselves questions. Physically we didn't give them much choice but I think we achieved more then that cause once you entered the space you were really transported. I think it was important to keep the image and sound as simple as possible to allow the audience to fill in the blanks. I feel strongly that you can't tell people what to think, not everyone has the same experience to draw from so leaving just the right amount of space for interpretation is key.

Burqatecture, 2017 Immersive Installation Collaboration with Camal Pirbhai an enigmatic and ethereal and a bit unsettling atmosphere: according to Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of modern alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear: how do you consider the role of sound within your artistic research?

The combination between sound and visual plays a crucial aspect in Burqatecture and we have particularly appreciated the way its soundscape created provides the visual experience with such

Special Issue

Mariam Magsi: Ever since I began to use Installation Art as a tool for creative communication, I have enjoyed pushing the

23 4 13


Mariam Magsi

boundaries of how our five senses can be engaged and distracted within art gallery settings and the strict parameters within which contemporary artists have to work with. I employ the engagement of sound, touch, scent, sight and sometimes even taste in some of my performances and installations. Installation Art provides imaginative canvases that can be experimented upon beyond the realm of 2D paintings, photography or stationary 3D sculptures. A myriad of mediums and genres can come together to create spectacular and

ART Habens

evocative, immersive, interactive, participatory experiences that help viewers engage with material in new and embodied ways. I truly enjoyed inviting viewers into Burqatecture through scent. The space inside Burqatecture was incensed with Sandalwood on a daily basis in a ritualistic fashion, and the fabrics of the installation were scented with non-alcoholic, Ittar oils and essences. Once inside, participants could feel like they are inside a burqa or a body wearing a burqa. Amidst the heavy and heady scents, the participant is also immersed in

21 4 14

Special Issue


ART Habens

Mariam Magsi

Burqatecture, 2017 Immersive Installation Collaboration with Camal Pirbhai layered, audio echoes of whispers on loop on surround sound, enveloping the entire space and taking the participant in further into the work. Finally, two sets of eyes stare back at the participants, periodically blinking, creating yet another eerie and sinister feel to the created environment. The way all these elements intersect and are experienced through the fabrics is seamless, like good cinematography or photographic composition. This installation has pushed me to consider more works that are immersive, interactive and sensory in this

Special Issue

manner. We live in a world that is over saturated with imagery both online and offline. Works like Burqatecture require a level of sensory presence as well. These works cannot be justified or experienced through visual documentation, but rather require physical presence and full immersion. The work compels you to slow down once inside surrender to the environment created and think, process and experience, at a slower pace. However, it all depends on what is being communicated through the work and what method and medium works best to bring

23 4 15


Mariam Magsi

ART Habens

them and the small cutout forcing them to a single point of visual distraction only increases their other senses to be engaged. You draw a lot from the experience of your early life in Pakistan, where you have had the chance to grow in a stimulating family that encouraged you to engage with art and instilled in you the passion for politics and history. However, as you remarked once, it was “impossible to escape gender roles and expectations.” How does such a wide variety of experiences fuel your creative process and help you to capture the kaleidoscopic quality of our ever changing societies? In particular, how do in your opinion Muslim artists are taking up space in order to fill the lack of diversity in the Eurocentric art canon? Mariam Magsi: My family has been beyond supportive when it comes to my educational and career related goals. However, you have accurately recalled, that my experience of growing up in a patriarchal society like Pakistan has had an unavoidable impact on the topics I examine in my work, many of which have to do with dismantling global patriarchies. I’ve grown up knowing quite well that sons would have been preferred in my place, and that the hypocritical double standards impacting the lives of Pakistanis are alive and well to this day. that particular subject to light.

Gender inequality is a big issue and life is a fight irrespective of whether you’re privileged or not. Yes, financial security helps, but does not make Pakistani women exempt from oppression, misogyny and sexism. In a latest series of performative photographs, I tackle the ancient practice of Jahez/Dowry, by wearing inherited paraphernalia over my head and shoulders as resistance to societal roles preordained for women such as that of housewife, homemaker and eventually mother. These are positions I like to challenge in my work. In this series

Camal Pirbhai: Well, the more senses you can effect with a work the more likely your message will be communicated. I don't agree with this idea of a 'senses bias' in-fact our brains need to do so much more computing with visual information that sound, if used properly can affect you more directly. This was clearly our intent in this work. The fact that the audiences' sense of sight is greatly controlled with the black fabric surrounding

21 4 16

Special Issue


ART Habens

Mariam Magsi

chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Mariam. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

particularly, I render the objects useless and subvert their original functions. While I am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from home there were several gaps and holes that have been later filled with feminist scholars and artists that continue to shape the way I think about art, art making and my position as a contemporary diaspora artist. I enjoy using text in my work and I have often studied the resistance based, political works of Barbara Kruger that stand true and defiant even today. Tracey Emin is another artist I have admired for a long time for her honest and dynamic use of text to explore the female lived experience. Both artists employ the use of text but use it in such unique and compelling ways, it’s hard to forget their works or walk away from them unfazed.

Mariam Magsi: I am currently working on a diverse set of projects. The Textile Museum of Canada has invited me to make an artist collectible Surgi doll in partnership with Project Sunshine Canada. Surgi dolls are used for healing and therapy in hospitals, so I am very honoured to participate in this unique project. Keep a look out on my website and social media for further details on auction and exhibition dates at the Textile Museum of Canada. This March, 2019, I am thrilled to participate in Salon 44 at the Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto, Canada showcasing the best in Canadian, contemporary photography.

People often say “our world is over saturated with imagery.” I contest this statement because our world has been oversaturated with Eurocentric imagery over a century, and this is changing with the advent of social media that provides more democratic exhibition spaces for those of us left out of the Eurocentric canon. Our voices are getting louder, our resistance is more and more unavoidable and we are asking the dominant hegemonic patriarchies some important questions that are shifting the status quo and ruffling the feathers of historic hierarchies that have been unmonitored and unquestioned.I am very excited to be a part of this shift.

I have a few more exhibitions coming up in Canada and around the world in 2019, predominantly highlighting my photography, performance, video and installation work. I am also currently working on a film with co director, Eric Chengyang called “The Butterfly People” featuring stories about Canadians living with a rare, genetic skin condition called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). We have had some production delays but are hoping to complete this labour of love soon. I would like to thank you for taking out the time to do this extensive interview. Opportunities like this further expose our works to diverse audiences and create even more exhibition opportunities so I am grateful and always happy to have creative, thoughtful back and forth.

You have received a very generous grant from the Toronto Arts Council in Toronto, Canada to further your research on veiling practices associated with Islam and how you can use art as a tool to examine this controversial and politicized topic. We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for

Special Issue

An interview by and

23 4 17

, curator curator


Burqatecture, 2017 Immersive Installation Collaboration with Camal Pirbhai


Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

‘Insecurity' live interactive performance at the Silver B

Special Issue

021 4


Laura Greenway

ART Habens

video, 2013

uilding, 2018. Photo courtesy of The Silver Building and photographer Wiktoria Slowikowska. 422 0

Special Issue


ART Habens

Laura Greenway

3 OXO Tower wharf, 2017. ‘The Gaze’ live performance at The Bargehouse gallery40at Special Issue


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Laura and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training: after having earned your BA (hons) in Fine Art, you nurtured your education with a master’s degree in Fine Art, that you received from the University for the Creative Arts, in Farnham: how did those years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does you cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? Hello, and thank you for such a warm welcome! Yes that’s right, I studied both my BA (hons) and MA in Fine Art at UCA Farnham, and I think it’s apt that we start with a question about my education as it was my Master’s degree in particular that helped shaped my practice beyond anything else. Whilst I have had a creative inclination and a passion for the fine arts for years, it wasn’t until I began my Master’s degree in 2016 that I would really say I became an artist. Unfortunately during my Bachelor’s degree I was incredibly unwell, suffering acutely from various mental health problems, and although I learnt a lot about contemporary art and how to interpret it, I remained too unwell to really apply this knowledge to my own work. After graduating in 2014 I continued to battle with my mental health but, inspired by love of the abstract expressionist period, I began to paint to keep a visual record of my emotions. It was this plunge into art that had a profound effect on my mental state, hoisting me out of depression and allowing me to flourish in my personal and professional life. With my improved mental health, I knew that this was my chance to dive

Laura Greenway

back into education and hopefully establish a legitimate artistic direction. I began the course as a painter, and despite only painting for just over a year, I felt a strong connection to the medium, one that I felt incredibly loyal too. The course began with a three week introductory project in which the

4 04

Special Issue


ART Habens

Laura Greenway

staff encouraged students to investigate new ways of working, if only for the duration of the assignment. Eager to make the most of my time as a student again, I made the decision of exploring a new medium for these three weeks, and determined that in order to sufficiently challenge myself, I would explore an artistic area that fascinated yet adequately scared me – performance art. It didn’t take long for me to become enamoured with this broad and stimulating medium, and I quickly discovered that performing was something that not only did I really enjoy, but it felt like a more appropriate vehicle of communicating what I had to say. Initially I was reluctant to let go of the medium I had become so entwined with, but as I learnt more about performance art and its history, I realised the vast potential that laid within its incredibly broad spectrum. The MA pushed me to reconsider what art could be, and after discovering a wealth of historical and contemporary practitioners that used their bodies to discuss different ideas, I began to question my own relationship with my body and how I could use this vessel as a tool of communication. Through one to one tutorials with practicing artists I was able to openly discuss my ideas, and the lecturers encouraged me to push myself beyond my comfort zone to create pieces that not only made me uncomfortable, but that made my audience uncomfortable. I think for me that was when I realised the potential that performance art had in relation to provoking an emotional response from my audience and in addition to this, I started to consider the ways in which I could combine the mediums that I loved to create a multidisciplinary approach to performance art. I would say that the Master’s degree was the real birthing of me as an artist, and I owe my subsequent career to both the course and the tutors.

Special Issue

23 4 05


Laura Greenway

ART Habens

‘Under the Sheets’ live performance at the 2017 MA Degree Show at University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. 21 4 06

Special Issue


ART Habens

Laura Greenway

‘Under the Sheets’ live performance at the 2017 MA Degree Show at University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. Special Issue

23 4 07


Laura Greenway

ART Habens

You are a versatile artist and your multidisciplinary practice encompasses performance, painting and video installation, to question the concepts surrounding mental illness, and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.lauragreenwayart.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select an artistic discipline in order to explore a particular aspect of your artistic inquiry? I begin all my ideas with an experience – hand washing, showering, eating, meeting new people – all of these acts are ones that may seem simple to some, but for me have much deeper connotations. I select an action and then strip it back to the feeling that it produces for me, for example in my 2017 piece ‘The Gaze’ I began by focusing on the action of public hand washing, and then concentrating on the deep anxiety it makes me feel in relation to trying to get this task done quickly when in a public bathroom. I then consider how best to describe this feeling, after all, art is a form of communication and so I simply select the discipline that best depicts the experience. As you can tell from contemplating my practice, performance is the medium that I predominantly favor, however occasionally I find a different medium does an idea more justice. In 2018 I created an interactive installation entitled ‘Baggage’ in which I suspended over 80 luggage tags from the ceiling, all of which displayed a different intrusive thought on, creating a miniature environment of these menacing concerns. I then invited visitors to walk amongst the forest of thoughts, essentially employing their bodies as surrogate performers as they walked around the installation. This idea initially started as a performance using my own body, but as I

21 4 08

Special Issue


Audience members interact with ‘Under the Sheets’ live performance at the 2017 MA Degree Show at University for the Creative Arts, Farnham.


Performance remnants of ‘Under the Sheets’, 2017.


Laura Greenway

developed the idea I began to realise that in order to really immerse the viewer in a labyrinth of thoughts, it was necessary for myself to take a step back and allow the audience to directly interact with these thoughts in an installation setting.

ART Habens

encounters to the essential actions and concepts that surround them. At the time of creation, Under the Sheets was the most vulnerable and intimate performance I had ever conceived – the piece came from the frustration that I felt in my personal life when it came to my fear of sex and intimacy. Having severe OCD, physical contact of any sort can be extremely challenging for me; simple interactions like meeting a new person and shaking hands can be fuelled with anxiety and apprehension and as you can imagine, intimate contact can be even more burdensome. Therefore, when designing the performance, I knew that it was crucial that I created a very personal and intimate experience for the audience, and after conducting research into the world of one to one performances, I decided that this was the best way to approach the subject.

For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Under the Sheets, an interesting interactive performance that our readers can view at https://youtu.be/4pwRn6U3Y5I. Centered on the exploration of the fear of sexual intimacy and physical touch that you experience as part of your OCD, what has at once captured our attention of this extremely interesting work is the way it brings the themes of vulnerability and visibility of mental illness to a new level of significance, establishing direct relations with the spectatorship. When walking our readers through the genesis of this Under the Sheets, would you tell us how important was for you to create a personal performance, about something you knew a lot? And how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Obviously an incredibly personal topic, the piece was always going to be personal, but when it came to choosing a discipline for this piece, I could have created a video piece or even a photography piece that addressed the same issues, yet allowed myself to be absent from the exhibit. Instead I decided such a personal piece would require my body to be present, creating a direct dialogue with the audience. I also knew in order for this piece to work it would demand that I put myself in a very uncomfortable situation, only then could I create a performance that was equally uncomfortable for my audience.

Being an artist that makes work about mental illness, my main source of inspiration is my everyday life. I have lived with mental illness, ranging in severity for over 15 years now, and living life with illnesses such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression and Anxiety put a real toll on you; everyday tasks can be so hard to accomplish, and things that most people take for granted, like physical contact, can be also be incredibly challenging. However, having my life consumed by these illnesses also meant that when it came to thinking about making artwork, it seemed like my everyday experiences were the natural influence for me to draw inspiration from, as they are essentially all I know. As mentioned in my previous answer, I often begin an idea with an experience from my everyday life and then I strip back these

How do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of a shot and the need of spontaneity? How much importance does improvisation play in your practice? Whilst every detail of my performances are conscious and premeditated, the fact that the majority of the works are live, of course makes

21 4 10

Special Issue


ART Habens

Laura Greenway

them subject to the element of spontaneity, particularly when they involve an interactive component. At first I found the ways in which live performance could stray from the preconceived idea to be slightly unsettling, but after drawing parallels to the uncertainty and unpredictability of life with a mental illness, I established a respect and enthusiasm for improvisation and spontaneity. I definitely embrace improvisation in my practice much more now, and the fact that I never rehearse a performance also adds to that aspect. Sometimes in live pieces I will now improvise portions of the performance, as I often find that in the moment you are able to read the room and consequently evaluate if more or less audience interaction is needed. In one of my latest live pieces entitled ‘Razor Standards’, in which I shaved and waxed my body hair in the public setting of South London Gallery, I quickly realised that my audience had become mostly stationary and so I decided to actually approach them and make eye contact whilst I continued to shave. The awkwardness of this interaction ultimately made for a more intense experience and, I feel, created a more successful piece. When it comes to documentation of a piece, I believe the relationship between performer and photographer is important, and this is a topic that I researched whilst studying for my Master’s degree. I always try and have contact with my photographers before the performance so that I’m able to inform them of any particular shots that I’ve envisaged, and therefore a good working relationship between performer and documenter is key, however sometimes the nature of a performance means that unexpected shots will of course fabricate, and this is why a well trained photographer is key to snapping some great candid shots despite the spontaneity of the performances.

Audience members participate in ‘Insecurity' live perf Special Issue

23 4 11


Laura Greenway

ART Habens

ormance at the Silver Building, 2018. Photo courtesy of The Silver Building and photographer Wiktoria Slowikowska. 21 4 12

Special Issue


ART Habens

Laura Greenway

‘Insecurity' live performance at the Silver Building, 2018. Photo courtesy of The Silver Building and photographer Wi Special Issue

23 4 13


Laura Greenway

ART Habens

We have been highly fascinated with the way you include symbols and rituals in your artworks, as the boxes in The Gaze and the circles in Intrusion. In this sense, we daresay that you art practice also responds to German photographer Andreas Gursky when he underlined that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind: in particular, you seem to urge your spectatorship to challenge their cultural categories: how are important the symbols in your work and how important is for you to trigger the viewers' perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? As a conceptual artist, symbolism is a highly important aspect of my practice. As mentioned in pieces like ‘The Gaze’, each and every aspect has strong representative elements including the boxes, the timer and the presence of an audience and I would say that symbolism has become one of the most crucial aspects of my performance work. I so often use symbols in my work as a way of alluding to particular aspects of mental illness without being too literal. Of course some of my symbols are not that obvious due to their personal associations, and whilst I think its important that some kind of symbolism is interpreted from my work, I am open to the symbols used being interpreted differently than I intended. I find it interesting to see what certain associations different symbols can trigger in a viewer. Rituals are another important element – I was initially drawn to performance art because of the strong use of rituals within the medium and I automatically drew links to the ritualistic nature of mental illness, with OCD in particular. Rituals are something that shape so many people’s lives, whether it be a cultural ritual or a simple daily routine, but rituals are an occurrence that most people can relate to. By

ktoria Slowikowska. 21 4 14

Special Issue


Audience members are invited to cover the artist’s skin in their insecurities. Photo courtesy of The Silver Building and photographer Wiktoria Slowikowska.


‘Intrusion’ live durational writing performance at THAT Gallery Basingstoke, 2017.


Laura Greenway

using these two aspects, I hope that I am able to prompt both thought and reflection in my audience – I like art that makes people think.

ART Habens

mental illness often subtly comments on the way that people suffering with these conditions can be treated, and in turn helps to start a conversation about issues that are often sidelined. I also believe that my practice can be interpreted as addressing the wider issues of anxiety, the anxiety that people may have developed surrounding the country’s political issues and the apprehension that can arise for many people in these uncertain times.

Your artworks, and in particular I used to be beautiful, that can be viewed at https://youtu.be/XXaJU-zTiaE also weave such a subtle still effective socio political criticism, to question the unrealistic body standards of society today. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "artists's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in. It depends on the political system they are living under": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? In particular, how do you consider the role of artists in our media driven and globalised contemporary age?

I believe that as an artist who has a small following, and especially in regards to having an influence on social media, it is my job to create work that inspires conversation and discussion, as I can potentially help change people’s views around specific situations. As contemporary conceptual artists I think that we can take today’s media dominated and use it for our advantage, allowing ourselves to take stage and talk about the subjects that matter most to us.

I find Gabriel Orozco’s work really compelling, and I definitely agree with this quote of his. Whilst political criticism has not previously been at the forefront of my work, you’re right in suggesting that there are most positively influences from today’s socio political environment in all of my works. I believe that it is actually incredibly hard to avoid touching on these subjects as our social environment has such influence on all parts of our lives, and therefore is visible in the work that we as contemporary artists produce.

Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies as a tool of communication, as you do in general in your practice, and in particular in your recent performance I used to be beautiful. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": as a multidisciplinary artist deeply involved in performance, how do you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the concepts that you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your practice?

My recent piece ‘I used to be beautiful’ is easily my most socially motivated piece so far as it responds directly to today’s image of beauty and the unrealistic standards that society has reinforced as essential, and after receiving such a positive audience response, I intend to explore this subject further. Through commenting on the way that the media expects bodies to look, particularly the female body, my work has also began to address feminist issues in relation to idealistic specifications, with the forefront of this influence being current commercial media. As a mental health awareness campaigner and disability rights activist, my work surrounding

When contemplating the subject of mental illness, we are confronted by an incredibly abstract concept. Mental illness is not something we cannot see, and even to put our emotions into words can be a convoluted task. A Google search of the term ‘mental illness’ coupled with the word ‘art’ generates a multitude of images similar in nature – heads between hands and

21 4 16

Special Issue


ART Habens

Laura Greenway

screaming mouths are used all too often to depict the trauma that we experience in our minds, and it is hard to escape the physical when physicality is all we know. Using the body in my work, I aim to explore these concepts but in a less obvious way. Of course I still use a physical basis, but I prefer to challenge the stereotypical bodily associations. I instead approach my topics with a broader interpretation of what the body can say about mental illness, how the body can be exhausted and pushed, just like the mind can be, and I try and create parallels between the abstruse nature of the mind and the physical attributes of the body. As you have remarked in the ending lines of your artist's statement, you aim to create awareness of mental illness and, by creating a dialogue around the subject, she hopes to challenge the stigma surrounding conditions that are often wrongly treated as imaginary afflictions. How do you consider the therapeutical function of art making? And how could art raise awareness into a wider number of people about the theme of mental illness and on how it can affect people’s ability to engage with others?

‘Intrusion’ live durational writing performance at THAT

For me, the impact that art has had on my mental health has been life changing – art has quite literally saved my life! Through out my BA degree I suffered greatly with my mental health, and when I was hospitalized after graduating I reconnected with art as a way of coping with my incredibly low mood and suicidal ideation. The way in which I could express myself through art, at first painting, and then progressing into performance and multidisciplinary work gave me an outlet that traditional talking therapies had never been able to provide, and the more I fell in love with art, the more I fell in love with life. I began to pour my emotions into creating work based around my experiences, and I even learnt

Special Issue

to deal with my panic attacks by focusing on how I could harness and utilise that feeling into a piece of work. As you can tell, I am a strong believer that art can, and does, act as a therapy for some, and I would strongly recommend trying something creative as an outlet for all kinds of trauma. In terms of raising awareness, I believe that art is an advantageous and effective medium in which to reach people from all walks of life, especially when art becomes public and breaks away from traditional gallery settings. Working for a local pop up gallery I am often able to do

23 4 17


Laura Greenway

ART Habens

Gallery Basingstoke, 2017.

performances in the shopping center where we are based, and this allows me to reach people who are just out shopping and would not necessarily be expecting to see art or be approached about the subject of mental health.

Over the years you have performed in several occasions, including your recent participation to Mind@Silver at The Silver Building Gallery, and to (In)visible at Espacio Gallery, both in London. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic research, and especially the way your artworks break the barrier with the audience, that in many performance, and more rencently in Baggage, is urged to evolve from the condition of mere spectatorship: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? And

Another beneficial facet of art is the accessibility of it – the topic of mental illness can be a hard conversation to initiate, but seeing it approached in a way that can be interpreted by the audience makes the conversation flow a little easier; I think this is why my art resonates with so many people.

21 4 18

Special Issue


ART Habens

Laura Greenway

would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Laura. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

what do you hope your audience take away from your artworks? The artist’s relationship with their audience is something that has been at the forefront of my artistic research for some time. I have been incredibly interested in how artists, particularly performance artists, can forge a relationship with their audience through their work. One such artist that has closely inspired my interactive performances in particular is the late British performance artist Adrian Howells. Howell’s work employed the use of intimacy and pioneering one to one interaction with his audience members to create incredibly unique and personal performances that established meaningful emotional connections with strangers, something that inspired a lot of my participatory performances. One element of my performances is the use of audience as my medium, rather than just my own body, and I do this by creating performances that require the audience to be involved in the work, subsequently allowing them to become a performer, if just for a fleeting moment. I like to use my audience as part of the performance for a number of reasons, one being that it allows them to literally put themselves in a vulnerable position, temporarily emulating the unease felt by those with mental illness. Whilst I cannot guarantee to make my audience member transiently feel exactly what I feel, I do believe that engaging my audience in this way definitely helps to create an emotional response in them. I like to hope that they take something special away from the piece – perhaps more of an understanding of what it’s like to live life with a mental illness, or even just a new found awareness of illnesses that can often be so easily misunderstood.

Thank you so much, it’s been great talking to you and sharing my practice with you and your readers! Coming into 2019 I gave myself a number of artistic goals, and one of these intentions was to make more work about my physical disabilities as well as my mental illnesses. In turn I am aiming to create more work that explores the social issue of living life with disabilities, including the anxiety disabled people around the country face when it comes to their own financial stability and the barriers that disabled and mentally ill people can face in their everyday lifes due to this lack of support. As mentioned earlier, I will be shifting my focus onto a more political lens when it comes to the way our contemporary government and society treat disability and mental illness, so expect to see some more politically motivated works in the future. In addition to these concepts, I am currently working on a series of work designed to explore my relationship with my body as this is an area that, due to a binge eating disorder coupled with depression, I struggle with. These works were all inspired by my time at the Venice International Performance Art Week’s summer workshop programme, and I am planning to realise these ideas through a sequence of performances, video works and photographic pieces. I also intend to continue challenging both my artistic and personal boundaries by creating performances that confront my fears and in turn establishing vulnerable and transparent pieces.

We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we

Special Issue

23 4 19


Close up of ‘The Gaze’ live performance at The Bargehouse gallery at OXO Tower wharf, 2017.


Lives and works in Glasgow

Straiph exhibiting “Hashish” Medium Ceramic/Glaze as the

Special Issue

021 4


Straiph Wilson

ART Habens

video, 2013

Sin Eater at Asylum Artist Management LONDON LAUNCH SHOW at The Crypt Gallery. (photography Tosh Marshal) 422 0

Special Issue


ART Habens

Straiph Wilson

Straiph exhibiting “Hashish” Medium Ceramic/Glaze as the Sin Eater at Asylum Artist Management LONDONIssue LAUNCH SHOW at The Crypt Gallery. (photography4 Tosh Marshal) 03 Special


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Straiph and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate on your artistic production, we would begin to this interview with a couple of questions about your background. As a primarily self-taught artist, are there any experiences that did particularly influence your creative process? In particular, how do you multifaceted cultural substratum due to the years you spent working as a technician in the field of behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Glasgow direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? What I’ve noticed over time is that it’s not so much the experience itself that was important, but the meanings I now assign to the experience as an artist. I would, however, agree that these experiences that I was privy to observe in the context of systematic deconstruction towards reconstruction are a central unifying concept that has without a doubt been majorly influential in directing my trajectory as an artist. However, as an artist to create something only to deconstruct it and then rebuild it again seems to be a Sisyphean task to solve a Promethean problem.

Straiph Wilson

believed to absorb the sins of a recently deceased person, thus absolving the soul of the person. The creative inspiration behind this recent work was generated by the scientific research work related to the concept of phenotypic plasticity that I had observed in my technician role. The experiments tested the ecological theory of adaptive radiation that predicts that the evolution of phenotypic diversity within species is generated by divergent natural selection arising from different environments and competition between species.

I recently exhibited a series of ceramic head sculptures titled “Sin Eaters” at the Copenhagen Outsider Art Gallery. A sin-eater is a character from Scottish folklore who consumes a ritual meal and drink to magically take on the sins of a person or household. What was destroyed was

In evolutionary biology, adaptive radiation is a progression in which organisms diversify

4 04

Special Issue


ART Habens

Straiph Wilson

rapidly into a multitude of new forms, particularly when a change in the environment makes new resources available, creates new challenges and opens environmental niches. Starting with a recent single ancestor, this process results in the speciation and phenotypic adaptation of an array of species exhibiting different morphological and physiological traits with which they can exploit a range of different environments. Metaphorically this series of sculptural heads are in essence a reflection of human phenotypic plasticity. The SinEaters are my attempt to create a personal journey of exploration into the relationship between the structure and function of morphological features, akin to the scientific research process of deconstructing and reconstructing hypotheses. Similar to the operation of natural selection in the universe I want to push the boundaries of the human morphology through these sculptures. I was conscious that as a technician I was always on the periphery of the scientific research and never had the ownership of the hypotheses or the results. In essence, I was the observer looking in or kind of a shadow in the academic process. Processing the science-inspired themes in my artwork has finally given me the opportunity to be the master of the experiment. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens has at once captured our attention for the way it rejects any conventional classification and challenges the viewers' perceptual parameters, and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.artquid.com/gallery/straiph in order to get a comprehensive idea about

Special Issue

23 4 05


Straiph Wilson

ART Habens

''The sixth Mass extinction' 'Fungi. Medium Ceramic/Glaze (Armany) (photography Jurate Veceraite) 21 4 06

Special Issue


ART Habens

Straiph Wilson

''The sixth Mass extinction' 'Fungi. Medium Ceramic/Glaze (Balsur) (photography Jurate Veceraite)

Special Issue

23 4 07


Straiph Wilson

ART Habens

your artistic production: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, we would like to ask you if you think that there is a central idea that connects all your works. In particular, could you explain the concept of Zones of inhibition? Having had this extraordinary opportunity to have insight into both of the opposing worlds: science and art, allows me to combine in my practice elements from these two distinctive groups. Scientists are objective and rational, artists as subjective, intuitive and arbitrary. These polar opposite forces of creativity give origin to practices that are conventionally seen as mutually exclusive, creating so-called ‘Zones of inhibition’ that are typically inaccessible to the other group. My experience in both environments allows me to draw elements across the Zone of inhibition and combine scientific themes for example with elements of folklore. As an artist, I have the power to distort these boundaries. Unlike the scientists around me who are bound by reason, I do have the freedom to create my own reality rather than trying to study a preexisting one which has allowed me this incredible opportunity to advance my critical thinking and practice. The zone of inhibition has not always existed between art and science. In the times of antiquity, the fundamental notion of exploring secret powers of the nature of knowledge (Epistemology) was a common culture shared between scientists, philosophers, and artists. At those times these groups were close interrelated via their shared interest in the essences of

21 4 08

Special Issue


''The sixth Mass extinction' 'Fungi. Medium Ceramic/Glaze (Codriel) (photography Jurate Veceraite)


ART Habens

Straiph Wilson

things or the ‘inner structure of existence.' I am immensely interested how in our modern era the egos among the natural scientists have taken the trajectory of over dominating our world, emphasizing the power scientific experimentation at the expense of more philosophical or artistic attempts to conceptualise the world around us. The dominance of science brings a danger of feeling omnipotence and starting to “play God” in the sense that we confuse the knowledge we do have with the wisdom to decide how to use it. Perhaps the scientists are too often overlooking this wisdom and ignoring the connection between reality and imagination. For now, the zones of inhibition persist but I will continue working across them and wondering: Science versus Art, which will manifest as triumphant or can they join forces again? As the saying goes “You can’t play God without being acquainted with the devil.” How importance does spontaneity play in your process? In particular, do you conceive you works instinctively, or do you methodically elaborate your pieces? The subject matter ultimately is the aesthetics of the finished work, is methodical, meticulously and painstakingly constructed. My creation process is an expression of the physical and mental undertaking which is built upon the freedom as mentioned earlier to recreate my reality rather than trying to study a pre-existing one which is an innate foundation of science. It is a reactive agitation to situations derived from instinct and experience, A visceral gut feeling relating to an in-depth inward course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition -

Special Issue

23 4 09


Straiph Wilson

ART Habens

''The sixth Mass extinction' 'Fungi. Medium Ceramic/Glaze (Blemish) (photography Jurate Veceraite)

21 4 10

Special Issue


ART Habens

Straiph Wilson

''The sixth Mass extinction' 'Fungi. Medium Ceramic/Glaze (Forneus) (photography Jurate Veceraite)

Special Issue

23 4 11


Straiph Wilson

ART Habens

an emotional rather than intellectual response to the given stimulus. The physical making of each piece that I create lies in a fractal spontaneity, in suspense and in the uncertainty of circumstances that is governed by the alchemical interaction between clay, fire, and glaze. When I embark on a creative journey on a particular theme, I become fully immersed in it. For example, last year I was part of a group exhibition in London when the Sin Eater work series creation was at its infancy. To fully feel and understand the Sin Eater and to play the character complete, and explore how he interacts with the world, I decided to morph into Sin Eater, to evade all conscience of my own, like a blank canvas, an empty vessel. By dropping a personality into that space and letting it take over, filling that void. Very sociopathic! On the opening night of the exhibition which conveniently was held in a crypt. I wore a robe that I loaned from Scottish opera, a macabre silicon mask from America (hand-made for the occasion) and black pitiless contact lenses. The presence of the Sin Eater character had a dramatic impression on the audience and helped me to take the Sin Eater theme up to another level and understand the inner being of this character. For me, the artistic process is about either giving everything or nothing. We like the way your sculptures seem to provide with a tactile nature the ideas that you explore. Michael Fried once remarked that 'materials do not represent, signify, or allude to anything.' What are the properties that you search for in the materials that you combine? In particular, what does appeal you of the materials you include in your artworks?

21 4 12

Special Issue


''The sixth Mass extinction' 'Fungi. Medium Ceramic/Glaze (Meliorist) (photography Jurate Veceraite)


ART Habens

Straiph Wilson

Sin Eater 1 (Rothschild)

Sin Eater 2 (Harriman)

Medium Ceramic/Glaze

Medium Ceramic/Glaze

Materials and methods, I'm continually toing and froing, experimenting with the pleasure of discovery and implication. Initially, I was using commercially available clays to help prevent deviation from standards, as they could to a certain degree provide me with a baseline of predictability and rationality within the construction phase. I then started experimenting more with the textures and I now purposefully distort this predictability, atonality, by introducing a local Scottish clay,

dug up from a local farmer’s field. Mixing commercial clays of Porcelain, Stoneware, alongside the local earthenware clay I’ve named “Aberfoyle” changes the properties of the material leading to volatile results from the outset. The Aberfoyle clay is highly porous, not very vitrified and unpredictable when the various clays are all jostling against each other during the firing process – I like to think it’s like alchemy. The differences in material properties make it inevitable that some of the individual pieces morph into an

Special Issue

23 4 13


Straiph Wilson

ART Habens

Sin Eater 3 (Schiff)

Sin Eater 4 (Morgan)

Medium Ceramic/Glaze

Medium Ceramic/Glaze

unexpected direction. Each time when I wait to open the kiln, my imaginative speculation is akin to a twisted pious experience. Once again, I am an observer; this time an artist in the shadow, waiting to witness the chaotic results the differing expansion forces in my mixture of raw materials have imprinted on my creation. Seize the moment and live in the mystery and embrace the effects of alchemy!

create tension and dynamics. How did you come about settling on your colour palette? Moreover, how much does your psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in a specific artwork and in particular, how do you develop a texture? My psychological nuances of colour run deep. The vibrancy of changing colours within a recent series of work called "Alchemist Garden" are purposely selected

We have appreciated the vibrancy of thoughtful nuances of your artworks, to

21 4 14

Special Issue


''The sixth Mass extinction' 'Fungi. Medium Ceramic/Glaze (Sotheans) (photography Jurate Veceraite)


ART Habens

Straiph Wilson

according to nature's ways of deception. In the natural kingdom many species, including fungi, have bright, conspicuous colours. It is called “Aposematism” and functions as a defense mechanism that relies on the memory of a would-be predator. Vibrant colours warn predators that the prey is toxic, distasteful or dangerous. I want to use this visual warning in my artwork to highlight their volatility and perhaps to initiate the conversation exploring risk-taking. The influence of the Scottish landscape is also ever-present in my work. It would seem unfortunate not to include those rustic and misty hues of Scottish moorlands considering I live and work within a remote part of Scotland with forests, mountains, and lochs close of my studio. Rich of symbolism, your artworks are marked out with such a powerful emotional: as an artist particularly interested in the relationship between physical ritual, performance and power and creating religious objects from these ideas, how do you consider the role of symbols and their evocative qualities within your artistic research? Psychiatrist Carl Jung once said about symbols that their purpose was to “give a meaning to the life of man." An honest challenge considering that traditionally science has no place for symbolism, whereas art is precious, capricious in symbolic representation. This cryptic means of communication has always fascinated me. In the ceramic fungi sculptures, that I produced in 2017 for the Cavin-Morris gallery in New York, I inscribed ancient magical sigils on the surface of each fungus. These cryptic

Special Issue

Still 1 from “The Sin Eater” film. Developed for Raw Vision

symbols are taken from the first book (Ars Goetia) in The Lesser Key of Solomon series, which is an anonymous grimoire focused on demonology. It was compiled in the midseventeenth century and is attributed to

23 4 15


Straiph Wilson

ART Habens

magazine.

renaissance ceremonial talismanic magic emphasizing mysticism as an extension and amplification of traditional religious views. It attempts to go beyond or behind traditional and established dogma, to satisfy the need

which certain individuals have to experience the Divine directly. There are two principal subdivisions under which the Ars Goetia falls: the speculative and the practical. The speculative branch of the Ars Goetia deals

21 4 16

Special Issue


ART Habens

Straiph Wilson

Still 2 from “The Sin Eater� film. Developed for Raw Vision magazine.

essentially with philosophical considerations, whereas the actual, sometimes also called magical, stress the mystical value of ancient archaic words and letters as well as their uses which allowed me the room to delve

Special Issue

into symbolism untrammelled which I believe, is once again a juxtaposition worth challenging and once done has potential for pointing us to a metaphoric truth, towards enlightenment.

23 4 17


Straiph Wilson

ART Habens

freedom to realize their perception. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning? The work I engage in can be a very internal process, seemingly without a sense of purpose. You pose the question of how important it is for me to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning. This presents a potential challenge as the need for understanding is on the viewer, and they can draw their conclusions and skewed perceptions. What I am actively engaged in is a complex matrix of personal involvement, influenced by an intimate experience spanning from two decades as a scientific observer: Me watching them watch their chosen species. These experiences morphed with an even longer influence of Celtic mysticism and folklore. To make that accessible to the viewer seems somewhat intimidating undertaking. In any case, I believe that there are no two people who would find the same message and nuance of influence from any given artwork. So, in that sense, the artistic impact is always at the heart of the spectator and not under my control. However, I hope I can provide something new and engage the viewers that will provoke them to walk along the path of reflection. As an artist with a scientific background, how do you consider the relationship between artistic production and scientific research? Do you think that there could be a kind of synergy between such opposite disciplines?

We daresay that your artistic practice seems to aim to look inside what appears to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with the

Art is often introspective while science is retrospective. The scientists I worked for were extremely protective of their work and

21 4 18

Special Issue


Still 3 from “The Sin Eater� film. Developed for Raw Vision magazine.


Straiph Wilson as the Sin Eater & Laura Jeacock Norse goddess Hel. (Modelling for artist Karen Strang)


Straiph Wilson

generally had little interest in artistic themes. Therefore, I chose a more undercover position amongst the scientist and was continuously observing them for inspiration but never gave them any inclination that I was studying them, as this would have created a tension that would have made my position untenable. This way I gathered a wealth of information on the scientific process. As previously mentioned, the way science influenced my artistic practice, it is not so much the experience itself that was important, but the meanings I now assign to those experiences as an artist. I am always deriving inspirations from the desire to convey my own experiences and that way I stay true to my craft. My works typically contain multiple layers of meanings, allegories, and references to other equally symbolic cryptic works. If I can convey an honesty of exploration and authenticity, then I will feel that I am heading in the right direction with my practice. I would concur that both disciplines, art, and science, are human attempts in comprehending and defining the world around us to deepen the individual expressions of reality. I'm curious and trying to find synergies in the different disciplines. I think there is scope bringing these disciplines closer together in the modern world and working to evaporate the schism slowly.

ART Habens

effort—it's almost a commitment. So before leaving this conversation, we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. What do you think about the role of the viewer? Are you particularly interested if you try to achieve to trigger the viewers' perception as a starting point to urge them to elaborate on personal interpretations? Naturally, I appreciate if my art has an impact on an audience, but primarily my work is driven by my inspiration to create rather than the desire to please an audience. If it opens up the potential to elaborate intimate interpretations in the mind of the viewer that is of course satisfying. Last year I was present in person at three opening nights of exhibitions that were highlighting my practice. At all three of the exhibits, the questions that asked of my practice were multifaceted, far-reaching and sincere. For example, someone asked if the pieces had a magical influence of concern. My answers were "Of course as it is the live piece of artwork." By any measure, outsider art is now an established category, and I felt that curious authenticity at these events. I feel privileged that I have a foundation to place my story upon as the people I met and who wanted to engage in conversation with me, were very switched on, meticulous, exceptionally intellectual and open to interpretations on many levels. My foundation has been a clincher on many occasions, resulting in that individual purchasing my work and additionally establishing contact to know more about my practice.

The power of visual arts in the contemporary age is enormous: at the same time, the role of the viewer’s disposition and attitude is equally important. Both our minds and our bodies need to actively participate in the experience of contemplating a piece of art: it demands your total attention and a particular kind of

21 4 20

Special Issue


Straiph exhibiting “Hashish” Medium Ceramic/Glaze as the Sin Eater at Asylum Artist Management LONDON LAUNCH SHOW at The Crypt Gallery. (photography Tosh Marshal)


ART Habens

Straiph Wilson

I have recently made a short film for the Raw Vision Magazine further exploring the Sin Eater character. The video includes emotional visual manipulation which morphs the sin eater character into an optical vortex of anguish represented by revolving and eternally multiplying images of the character. In its theme, it is complete chaos but, in its presentation, forming perfectly symmetrical patterns – again joining to opposites. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQz7xw AODQ8

Over the years your artworks have been showcased in many occasions: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Also, what do you hope your audience takes away from your artworks? Out of the three exhibitions last year, two included a live performance as the "Sin Eater." They were face-to-face, at proximity, with the audience without them having prior knowledge that such a character would be encountered at the opening night. An uncomfortable, distorted situation by all accounts to many of the audience members. That visceral gut feeling of anxiety and curiosity was palatable. Having my eyes blacked out with contact lenses, thus not allowing the audience to follow my gaze, caused an obvious aversion, an uneasiness that a behavioural ecologist with interest in psychology would find fascinating. This gives an interesting perspective to reflect if "Species that don't figure out ways of dealing with threats will go extinct." Despite putting the audience on the spot and making them deal with an unnerving, devilish character these performances were also well received by the galleries and appreciated by the viewers as an experience that was pushing the boundaries presenting ceramic sculptures in an entirely new context.

To complete the full 360 degrees, the view around the scientist versus artist development continuum, in the next phase I will complete observing an artist at work from the sin eater character’s perspective. Scottish artist Karen Strang will paint a portrait of me as the Sin Eater. This will also allow me to explore the nature through another artist’s eyes, and let’s see if what reaches another layer of depth, reveals something new about the Sin Eater character and what kind of ideas this experience inspires.

We have appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research, and before leaving this stimulating conversation, we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Straiph. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

SummerIssue 2015 Special

I am also working to create yet texturally richer head sculptures, really pushing the boundaries of morphology. An interview by and

23 4 21

, curator curator


Straiph exhibiting “Hashish” Medium Ceramic/Glaze as the Sin Eater at Asylum Artist Management LONDON LAUNCH SHOW at The Crypt Gallery. (photography Tosh Marshal)


Metroscope2000ÂŽ Kids!

Special Issue

021 4


Ray Piscopo

ART Habens

video, 2013

422 0

Special Issue


ART Habens

Special Issue Metroscope2000® User's Manual

Ray Piscopo

4 03


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Morgan and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a BFA in Studio Art and after having earned your MFA in Studio Art from the University of Delaware, yu nurtured your education with a PhD in Museum Education and VisitorCentered Curation, that you are currently pursuing at the Florida State University: how do these formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? I grew up as a Navy brat, that is, a child of two Navy Cryptologists. I spent my childhood moving between Florida, California, New Mexico, and Okinawa, Japan. My many homes broadened my horizons and exposed me to myriad cultures that not only educated me about the human experience made me appreciate my own. I resolutely believe that travel, exposure, exploring, getting lost, navigating, and adapting sewed the seeds of my creative being.

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

Like so, so many artists, especially here in the States, I was discouraged from pursuing a “useless� art degree after high school. Fine arts is stigmatized as a an elitist degree that has no job waiting for its graduate after college. It is second-class to Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering (STEM) fields, and pales in comparison to post-graduate STEM job prospects. These myths are specious assumptions based on American ideology that has been traumatized by the financial crisis and subsequent recession.

My mother convinced me to go to school for art after I floundered in several other majors like English, Business, and Education. When my compass was calibrated to my passion, I quickly entered my BFA at Florida State University and made a resolute pact to be an artist. I joined every student-run arts organization to stay involved and in-the-know, and those opened doors beyond my curricular studies, they also gave me my first taste for arts administration,

4 04

Special Issue


ART Habens

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

which would inform my career as a curator and PhD student. I was accepted the MFA program at the University of Delaware where I departed from my traditional, formal techniques like oil painting and moved into a self-led journey into installation, costuming, video, and eventually narrative storytelling. I found a passion for storytelling beyond stand-alone installations or video art, I discovered transmedia theory and how using all forms of media (publication, internet, newspaper, email, video, characters, etc.) blurs the lines between reality and virtual reality, something that our currently connected world is coming to terms with. I want to locate the border between real and fake; I’m discovering that the border is much closer than we think. I took my interests from my program with me while curating at The Delaware Contemporary and used my privilege to promote women artists, local African American artists, and video, internet, and experimental artist. While working as a curator I learned how to be a better exhibiting artist, an important skill that will help me get exposure from galleries and especially successful art reviews like ART Habens. You are a versatile artist and your practice includes sculpture, installation, performance and video: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://www.morganjosephhamilton.com in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select an artistic discipline in order to explore a particular aspect of your artistic inquiry?

Special Issue

Metroscope2000ÂŽ Kids!, boy's side eyepiece

While in school the emphasis is medium first: what is your medium? What do you make with that medium? It took me a while to discover my own process, and break from that formal approach. Since, I have discovered that I address an idea or story and it informs my medium. I

23 4 05


Morgan Joseph Hamilton

believe that’s why a viewer will find I use anything from traditional oil on panel to fake websites for a fake product.

ART Habens

an example. Over a long, cold, dark winter I began to read a book called Leaving Orbit (2015) by Margaret Lazarus Dean and absolutely hated it. It was infuriating (you can read my 2 star review on its Amazon product page). It was a book all about how the Apollo

To illustrate what I am saying, I will use my overarching project Welcome to Nastroism as

21 4 06

Special Issue


ART Habens

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

Metroscope2000® Kids!, eyepiece view

era of NASA human spaceflight was the last time Americans were “heroes”, that the Shuttle program was a less-than-stellar sibling but important, and that after Shuttle America lost all hope of being trail-blazers in space. Can you imagine? I still get heated thinking about it,

Special Issue

but it drove me to critique her philosophy and in my research I discovered many people feel the same way she does. As a way to enter her delusion and dispel its myths, I endeavored to “play along” with this idea and literally

23 4 07


Morgan Joseph Hamilton

ART Habens

it’s only mission is to get humynity to its rightful place among the stars. This touches on the idea of the afterlife and heaven, a concept I’ve struggled with as an atheist. I founded The Church of Our Humyn of the Ascension which is the sole interpreter of The Nastroism and prosteletizes its tenets of faith. I created a reliquary of objects that were made by pilgrims of the Mourning Road, a 1,000 mile walk from Johnson Center, the site of Columbia’s fate, and Kennedy Center, the site of Apollo 1 and Challenger’s fate. I created a character and his costume that primes followers of Nastroism, The Sender, and his role is to lead The Church. It has an interactive website that displays the text of The Nastroism (www.nastroism.org). I have a painting cycle that illustrates the different documents of The Nastroism with illuminated (literally) text. The foundation, or back story, is absolutely essential and is what determines the future media I use to bring the story to life and have it penetrate reality. For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Metroscope2000® Kids!, an interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at http://www.skelf.org.uk/2018/MH/Morgan/Morg anHamilton.html. With its stimulating inquiry America’s culture of borrowed nostalgia and sense of generational superiority your artwork provides the viewers with such a multilayered visual experience, capable of challenging their cultural parameters. When walking our readers through the genesis of Metroscope2000® Kids!, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea?

apotheosize NASA and its astronauts, thus the spiritual text The Nastroism was born. NASTRO is the near-future successor to NASA, it stands for National Aeronautic Space Transportation and Relocation Organization:

Like with The Nastroism, the Metroscope2000 Kids!® project started with my critique of toy

21 4 08

Special Issue


Metroscope2000ÂŽ Kids!, user experience


ART Habens

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

sections of department stores like Target, Walmart, and Sears. In a decade when gender biases are being challenged and the assumption of gender identity is part of sensitivity conditioning in society, we still create artificial guideposts to indoctrinate children into “boy” and “girl” identities. When visiting a department store, you will find that there are two choices in every toy aisle: pink or blue. This non-verbal signal forces children to make a choice, this choice often led by her or his parent. I overheard a father say to his son “not that aisle that’s for girls”, the toddler who initially looked excited, self corrected and ran for the action figures. I wondered what this automatic, unspoken understanding would look like as a children’s toy. I imagined a telescope that has two eyepieces on either end, and depending on which end you look at, you will see a different view. Because science isn’t marketed towards girls (which is to say, they are not found in the pink section), I had to consider the look of the telescope to entice girls to engage with it. So the tube of the telescope is one-half glittery pink, and one-half glittery blue. When you peer into the pink side’s eyepiece, you will see a disorienting video of girl’s toy commercials from 1988 to 2018, and likewise the inverse on the boy’s side. The one-minute video loops endlessly, a dizzying display of high-energy toy commercials that are abstracted by their scale and speed. However, two seconds is all one needs to determine whether a commercial is for a boy or a girl. As the 2-second clip progresses from a Cabbage Patch Doll™ in 1988 to a Kidz Bop CD in 2018, the videos increase in zoom to further distort the commercial stream and mimics the relationship of nostalgia. As years get farther away, it is clearer to see how they fit in their time period and what their distinctive look is.

Special Issue

23 4 09


Morgan Joseph Hamilton

ART Habens

Welcome to Nastroism postcard 21 4 10

Special Issue


ART Habens

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

Welcome to Nastroism timeline of the Universe display Special Issue

23 4 11


Morgan Joseph Hamilton

ART Habens

I am interested in defining borrowed and toxic nostalgia. So far I have used the Metroscope2000® Kids! Product and uselessly interactive website as an outlet to pinpoint what exactly I mean by those terms. Borrowed nostalgia is when younger generations appropriate sentimentality of times they never experienced. This can lead to toxic nostalgia, which is a sense of superiority over another generation due to that relationship with appropriated sentimentality. In America, the Christmas season is an annual cultural pantomime of White Christmas (1954) and a longing for post-WWII simplicity in life that has been embedded into our “American Dream” mythology which has room only for affluent white people. This albatross was handed down from the Silent Generation to the Baby Boomers, who have passed it down to the Gen Xers and Millennials. It is subtext in “Make America Great Again” and directly points to a nostalgia that shouldn’t exist. The Metroscope2000® Kids! “toy” is a marketable descendant from the Retroscope2000, a powerful omniscient telescope invented by Giddeon Golconda for President Eisenhower to help fight the Cold War. He states in the film Deep Feel (Richard Glött, 1974) that he invented a way to look at the past so we don’t repeat it in the future, but Eisenhower was only interested in the bomb. Golconda presciently claims that the Retroscope2000 will most likely end its life as a children’s toy. And so it has. Multidisciplinary artist Angela Bulloch onced remarked "that works of arts often continue to evolve after they have been realised, simply by the fact that they are conceived with an element of change, or an inherent potential for some kind of shift to occur". Technology can be used to create innovative artworks, but innovation means not only to create pieces of

21 4 12

Special Issue


Welcome to Nastroism full reliquary installation


Philosopher Mandrake Featherbuckle [Photo credit: Juliana Jones 2018]


Morgan Joseph Hamilton

art that haven't been before, but especially to recontextualize what already exists: do you think that one of the roles of contemporary artists has changed these days with the new global communications and the new sensibility created by new media?

ART Habens

interview on Google Docs and it exists in a server farm somewhere in the California desert, as well as on my screen, and ultimately on yours. I hope that we respect new media as another means of expressing ourselves, albeit to a much wider audience, rather than a tectonic shift in artmaking.

According to the theory of time travel, “presentists” believe that the past and future do not exist, only the present. One may say, “Well, what about the Pyramids of Giza? The Mona Lisa? They are from the past”, and the presentist will demonstrate the objects only exist in this present moment and are tracers of a past action. Leonardo made the painting through a stream of his presents, and after he died, the Mona Lisa came to our century in a continuing stream of present moment after present moment. I like to explain it as the present being a snow plow that stretches from the big bang to now in all directions in every dimension: it scrapes up all tracers of the past in its scoop and carries us all to a future that cannot exist yet.

When inviting the viewers to explore America’s culture of borrowed nostalgia and sense of generational superiority, Metroscope2000® Kids! weaves such a subtle, still effective effective socio political criticism. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "artists's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in. It depends on the political system they aree living under": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? In particular, how do you consider the role of artists in our media driven and globalised contemporary age? In my formal education, I took courses in art history that defy the beatified Western orientation of art criticism. I looked at art from the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, and contemporary art in African nations. In my own practice, I rely more heavily on television history, film studies, internet uses and users, reddits, subreddits, Facebook shitposts, meme theory, and transmedia theory than I do studying the “old masters”. I do not mean to shirk the historical lineage of our current artistic zeitgeist, I have always preferred the highlight the underbelly of “high culture” and revel and rejoice in the superconnectedness of modern society.

That anecdote is to say I completely agree with Bulloch, and that the second a work of art leaves the mind, the hand, the heart of an artist it is no longer isolated, it is to be looked at, studied, changed. When I create a piece in whatever medium, I know that the more people who see it, the more critique i receive for it, the more my understanding of my own piece changes! It’s an incredible feeling to see what I have wrought evolve and develop without my interference. We are all mixed up in the scoop of the present, and as we pass from moment to moment we change and polish and develop our understanding of each other and our ideas.

I am the face of privilege in a country that is an historical root of instability across the globe. America is a master colonizer, not with “guns, germs, and steel” but with McDonalds, Mickey Mouse, and The Kardashians. I have to remind myself daily that what we are taught in school is a story that we are told and are retelling, and I

Technology is no different than a pencil, a brush, a bit of plaster; it is a new medium in our tool box. What is exciting about new media is that it allows us to expand our understanding of our work by jettisoning it beyond our atmosphere to a satellite and to your computer. I am writing this

21 4 16

Special Issue


ART Habens

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

constantly have to remind myself not to fall for my own story. My artwork responds to this particular cultural moment. But this moment was created by so many moments from right now stretching all the way back to our exodus from our mother continent Africa. I know that I am privileged and my story is not one of struggle, so I use my artwork to comment on my story in hopes to empower people who don’t look like me, and change the minds of people who do look like me. The role of artists in our media-driven age is to be responsible, to think before we create. It’s tempting to shoot off a tweet or react quickly to an offense, but studied, measured, and researched artistic responses will stand the test of time in our hyperconnected era. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, superiority, Metroscope2000® Kids! aims to question a Millenial’s love of 90’s television by separating toy commercials by gender, a division that we absorb but never address: how does your memories and your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? And how do you think your works respond to it in finding hidden, crystallised moments in the everyday? I watch TV and movies, read science fiction, listen to podcasts, surf through YouTube, read the Washington Post, read The Guardian all in a day. I contemplate my existence and the edges of reality while I lie in bed, trying to sleep. I draw connections from stories I saw on Roseanne (1987) to a fight my loved ones are having. I look for flaws in films, I notice and obsess over typos in books, I scratch culturally accepted ideas until I see them for the indoctrination they are. I make time between my projects to experience the storytelling nature of humanity and how we have used it to trick ourselves into submission, exalt ourselves

Special Issue

23 4 17


Morgan Joseph Hamilton

ART Habens

Senator Kip Tunamelt (D-FL) [Photo credit: Juliana Jones 2018] 21 4 18

Special Issue


ART Habens

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

Senator Tunamelt and his Secretary Terry at Let's Write A Bill! in Philladelphia, PA Special Issue

23 4 19


Morgan Joseph Hamilton

ART Habens

out of oppression, and ultimately entertain ourselves to death as Neil Postman puts it. The joy I find in watching background characters in Gilmore Girls (2000) is equal to the moving narrative of the main actors. The lengths to which we go to tell a story so convincing we all stand up and scream at the television is close to a religious experience to me. Media in all of its forms is powerful, I take a moment everyday to remind myself that we are merely Narcissus gazing into the lake at ourselves, each piece I make is my attempt to look away. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impressed and that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled Welcome To Nastroism. We have particularly appreciated the way it walks the viewers to inquire into the relationship between science and spirituality, and especially to rethink the concepts of environmental awareness and global cooperation: how do you consider the relationship between artistic production and scientific research? I tell each new group of students I teach, “It is up to the scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians to build society; it is up to the artists to define it.� It sounds like a cheesy quote and they sigh, but I make them live that line throughout the semester. So what if we have the Internet if there is no one there to share their expression and give it meaning? What good is NASA if there is no cultural or spiritual buy-in? The faith alone it took to get a person to the moon in 9 short years was religious. I imagined what it might be like if historical and political context were lost to time, and in the future, all humans had were the word-of-mouth stories about all of NASA’s accomplishments, what would the story look like then? It might

21 4 20

Special Issue


The chalkboard on which the bill was sketched out during Let's Write A Bill!


ART Habens

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

seem ridiculous, miraculous to put a humyn on a combustible tube and send him into orbit, to the moon. I have been an atheist my entire life, and had to learn about religion as a young boy from reading and what people told me about it. It never made sense, it never added up. I often worry that I am just like right-wing conservatives, that my liberal ideology is just as fanciful as theirs. What is different though, is that when presented with new evidence to the contrary of what I believe, I will not hold on to my belief in spite of it. I adapt to my new understanding of how this all works, and it has never failed me. That relationship is the heart of Nastroism: what we believe and what is, the only difference between them is what we believe can be changed by what is, what is can never be changed by what we believe. Marked out with such an unconventionally powerful narrative drive, your artistic practice seems to invite the viewers to question the idea of perception look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, urging the spectatorship to see beyond the surface of the work of art. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning? And in particular, how open would you like your artworks to be understood? In a recent narrative I started The New Departments, Donald Trump creates four new government departments that reflect his worldview: The Department of Trust, The Threat Department, The Department of Masculine Security, and The Department of Exclusion. Each is an Id-informed, knee-jerk reaction to the diversifying world. I created large flags that carried them emblems of each of the departments that flew over a gallery in Chicago, Illinois. I wanted them to follow the federal look and from a vantage point close to

Summer 2015 Special Issue

23 4 21


Morgan Joseph Hamilton

ART Habens

Awaiting the teleconference with Governor Tom Wolfe at Let's Write A Bill! 21 4 22

Special Issue


ART Habens

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

"Always bring beer" says Senator Kip Tunamelt Special Issue

23 4 17


Morgan Joseph Hamilton

ART Habens

the ground, be indistinguishable from departmental, city, or state flags. The surface of my work is camouflage, it’s the magical field around The Doctor’s TARDIS that blends in just so at the edges of your vision. But if you look directly at it and concentrate, the subterfuge will fail. I make my works and facsimiles to be passed by and not noticed, to fit in, to be seen only by that careful observer so she can grab her friend and point it out. I am not here to sell my artwork, I want it to penetrate societal understandings and galvanize people who think differently from each other. I hope people fight over what I meant by my Metroscope2000® Kids! or The New Departments flags because that will open a dialogue, one that will bring to the surface basic misunderstandings about each other. Without that conversation I’m nothing, we’re all nothing. Over the years you have exhibited your artworks in several occasions, both in the United States and Europe, and your solo shows have ranged from full-scale installation at Gallery 621 in Tallahassee, FL to participatory performance at Practice Gallery in Philadelphia. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we would like to ask you a question about the nature of the relationship with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception? And what do you hope your audience take away from your artworks? The audience is everything to my work. In particular, they were the art in my performance piece Let’s Write A Bill! My main character, Senator Kip Tunamelt (D-FL) is a corrupt politician with a heart of gold. He hosted an event put on by the Department of Trust in Philadelphia, the goal was to educate the public about how to write a bill. He traded hokey songs and cartoons of the School House Rock variety

21 4 22

Special Issue


ART Habens

Morgan Joseph Hamilton

for a microphone and a cooler of beer. He had to write a bill to pass by midnight or he would be reprimanded by the President Pro Tempore in the United States Senate, so he relied on the visitors of Practice Gallery to come up with the major content. Senator Tunamelt walked them step-by-step through the procedure and even had bill sponsors to sign it. Governor Tom Wolfe of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania joined in via video chat to endorse it himself.

might be excluding viewers by a limited scope. I have not always addressed all audiences with my work, like The Nastroism and the Metroscope2000®, those require a base understanding of American history and culture that some may not have access to. My response to my critique of my work is to look within and touch a more primal subject. I have blueprints of a product that will follow the pattern of kick-starter campaigns and single-product start-up businesses. The Privilege Machine is a gamified embodiment of what it is to have privilege. Though still in its nascent stage, the concept follows that it will be a shiny product to display in your minimalist home setting, how you play is by inserting a dollar into its slot, and The Privilege Machine shreds it, spitting it onto the floor. In order to play you must acknowledge your privilege, the point is made two-fold as it is illegal to destroy American tinder, but for the sake of art? I believe that is the first step to end one's reliance on privilege and pay it forward to people who are without it.

The audience is half of the equation when I create. That comes from the need to tell stories and my relationship to new and old media, every story needs an audience, a viewer, a reader. Thanks for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Morgan. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? I have been reacting to and reflecting on my role as a privileged, white, cis-gendered, male American and how I have benefited from a system created to keep privileged, white, cisgendered, male Americans in power. I have a problem with this because I grew up understanding that all cultures and beliefs had the right to exist and be respected. It has been a long path, but I have begun to understand how I can challenge these notions with my work. Audre Lourde says “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” in her poignant essay The Master’s Tools (1984). She claims, “That fact is only threatening to those women who still define that master’s house as their only source of support.”

A poem I will stitch to a 25-foot flag called I Can’t Be Woke is another project I’m working on to address my privilege. It is a self-referring poem that exhibits my insecurities as a winner of the genetic lottery. I hope to expand upon it to be a physical and virtual piece having many forms that viewers can interact with. I will constantly adapt to the changing world and my changing self in order to do the most I can for the people around me. I will challenge people to think beyond their story and to consider another. I will tell stories that carry my hope for this world into the future.

I take her essay with me when I venture a new project as it reminds me to think outside of my coding and indoctrination, to consider how it looks to viewers of all backgrounds, how I

SummerIssue 2015 Special

An interview by and

23 4 21

, curator curator


Inventor Giddeon Golconda [Photo credit: Juliana Jones 2018]


Special Issue

021 4


Yunhsin Hsu

ART Habens

video, 2013

422 0

Special Issue


ART Habens

Special Issue

Yunhsin Hsu

4 03


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Yunhsin and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a MA of Fine Art, that you received from the University for the Creative Art: how did those formative years influence your evolution as a multidisciplinary artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum due to your Taiwanese roots direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? I focus on painting and sculpting skills when I was in BA courses in Taiwan. In the UK MA courses, I focus more on exploring concepts, and constantly train myself to use different perspectives to see the world.

Yunhsin Hsu

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, has at once captured our attention for the way it explores the relationship between man and nature, combining the figurative with the surrealistic. We would like to invite our readers to visit https://vinci0129.wixsite.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production: when walking our readers

through your usual setup and process, we would like to ask you if you think that there is a central idea that connects all your works. “What is ‘familiarly known’ is not properly known” (Hegel and Baillie, 2005) We like the powerful narrative drive that marks out your artistic production and the

4 04

Special Issue


ART Habens

Yunhsin Hsu

way it achieves to awaken people to percept awareness and to rediscover familiar things in daily lives, bringing the notion of eveydayness to a new level of significance: would you tell us how does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? Try to probe things in as many angles as possible in life. Use subjective gaze to look at things that exist objectively, which will result in many different experiences. The tagline of your Fruit series is: What your eyes see is not what your heart sees; remember you have other sensitive organs. Rich of symbolism and — we daresay, humour, as well — your artistic practice seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning? It doesn't matter what the answer is. Actually, I believe here does not have an unique and correct answer. What I expect is being able to have dialogues and think along with my audiences. What are the properties that you are searching for in the materials that youselect for your artworks? I use readymade objects as main creative media and paint them with my subjective cognition. At the beginning, the idea is to use a variety of materials such as plastic, gypsum and wax to make fake fruits. And then, trying many

Special Issue

23 4 05


Yunhsin Hsu

21 4 06

ART Habens

Special Issue


ART Habens

Special Issue

Yunhsin Hsu

23 4 07


Yunhsin Hsu

ART Habens

different methods to process these fake fruits. For example, I can distort them or cut them. In the process of producing, I kept thinking about the significance of making these models by myself. And then my thoughts changed, what I need is not these models, the most important thing is to extend or change the meaning of something that most people believed. We like the way you artworks convey such a stimulating combination between figurative elements and captivating surrealistic feeling: how would you consuder the relationship between abstraction and figurative in your practice? In particular, how does representation and a tendency towards surrealism find their balance in your work? Most people in this world share the same objective existence, Each of us has adopted this objective existence structure in different subjective worlds. I call this subjective world a surreal reality outside the real world. If it is an entirely subjective, abstract, surreal work, I think the audience may seem too strange and weird. So my work tries to build a bridge between the objective world and my subjective world. As a bridge, it must be able to pass smoothly, and the distance shall not be too long. The way of combining my subjective world with the objective world can help the audience think my work with a more straightforward mode, thus building a bridge of communication.

21 4 08

Special Issue


ART Habens

Yunhsin Hsu

As you have remarked once, you aim to challenge the senses by giving objects different faces, as metaphor for hypocrisy and fake human behaviour. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "artists's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in. It depends on the political system they aree living under": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? In particular, how do you consider the role of artists in our media driven and globalised contemporary age? It is very interesting. Artworks not only convey artists’ emotions but also record the way humans think and live. Of course, I also show my experiences in my works. Today, in the age of advanced information technology, people are able to receive a huge amount of information in a short time which is great. However, to discover the beauty of things seems has already become a luxury act, or shall we say that people are losing the ability, little by little. You are a versatile artist and you practice involves lots of techniques and mediums, including Sculpture, Painting and Printing: what does attract you of such a wide variey of mediums? And how do you select a particular medium in order to express the idea that you explore in your artistic research? For me, media and techniques are means to express concepts. Finding appropriate methods to combine with thoughts is the most important part in the process of

Special Issue

23 4 09


Yunhsin Hsu

21 4 10

ART Habens

Special Issue


Yunhsin Hsu

ART Habens

creating. It is a pity if the idea is limited by skill. Over the years your artworks have been showcased in a number of occasions and you currently exhibit widely in museums and galleries in solo and group shows, including your recent participation to 166 RWA Annual Open Exhibition, in Bristol: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? And what do you hope your audience take away from your artworks? I will ask the audiences’ ideas in different exhibitions. It is very exciting to hear many exciting answers that I have never expected. My work raises two questions for the audiences. When will choose food be a rebellious act? Can we keep calm when things around us become distorted and weird? We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Yunhsin. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Material conversion, reversing into works of different concepts An interview by and

Special Issue

, curator curator

23 4 11


Yunhsin Hsu

21 4 12

ART Habens

Special Issue


Lives and works in London and Dorset

Nigel Dawes is a sculptor and installation artist, currently working mainly in found plastics. He trained at Goldsmiths College, London, graduating in the early 1990s. After several years working the prop making and set design, he presented the first works from found plastic components in a duo show in London, 2014. His studio is based in North London, around which a lot of raw material is collected. Other locations for material, ideas and construction are coastlines and forests, particularly in the south west of the UK and in Italy. He is currently working on a series of larger scale sculptures made from vacuum cleaners.

Special Issue

DysonDC03Insect (2017) 021 4


Nigel Dawes

ART Habens

video, 2013

422 0

Special Issue


ART Habens

Nigel Dawes

Shipwreck (2016)

Special Issue

4 03


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Nigel and welcome to ART Habens: we would start this interview with a couple of introductory questions. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your Diploma Art And Design, you nurtured your education with a B.A. (hons) in Fine Art and Art History, that you received from Goldsmiths College, in London: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist and help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different materials? Moreover, how does your substratum direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? Hi, thank for this opportunity to discuss my work. After I graduated my work had become heavily conceptualised and I had lost a lot of my enjoyment in simply being creative, which is very important to me. So I began to concentrate on drawing again to explore my artistic identity and reconnect. That was an important stage in how I now work, especially in how I communicate my ideas. My attitude to experiment with materials was certainly encouraged at art school, primarily through access to excellent facilities, tutors and technicians. My early attraction to art school came from a Iove of making things, and I wanted more space and time to learn how to manipulate materials in a creative way, and to learn specialist techniques such as colour photography, casting and welding etc. Those skills remain useful today, though I suspect that Lego and Star Wars memories from the 1970s have far more influence over how I work now as I often reflect on memories of childhood projects, such as

Nigel Dawes

recreating an ‘X-Wing Fighter’ in Lego, or a rocket from yoghurt pots. Since completing art school I have spent a lot of time working in theatre and events, both constructing and designing, and I love model making too. My job has generated different ideas that I transfer into my artwork. My artwork has a

4 04

Special Issue


ART Habens

Nigel Dawes

DysonDC03Insect (2017)

theatrical element to it. I often build dioramas of

condense in a single work of art such a coherent

imagined scenes from undisclosed productions or

combination between intuition and a rigorous

narratives, particularly when I am working with a

aesthetics: when walking our readers through

restricted set of objects and am searching for a

your usual workflow and process, we would like

strategy.

to ask you if you think that there is a central idea that connects all your works.

Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to

One idea that binds my work together is the

visit http://www.nigeldawesart.com in order to

journey of discovery taken through the gathering

get a wide idea about your artistic production.

and manipulating of objects. There is always an

What has at once captured our attention of your

element of chance involved in my processes,

unconventional style it's the way it allows you to

which acts as a catalyst, a challenge to create

Special Issue

23 4 05


Nigel Dawes

something of depth and interest or surprise.

ART Habens

import unifying role in the tensions in making sense out of random finds. I can contemplate darker themes that attract me this way without becoming too serious , and I enjoy that a lot.

I can never completely anticipate what will happen when I go out to search for things, I aim to discover something new as I work, and I know that I will so long as I resist deciding beforehand what I want to do. I am often disappointed when I embark on a specific preconceived task or goal; the excitement is gone and I revert to a duller form of production. I prefer to let the materials lead the way, and I use humour and irony in my work a lot, and refer to memories of my own childhood activities. This combination plays an

For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected 20000 Thousand Leagues, an interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Would you tell us something about the genesis of 20000 Thousand Leagues? In particular, do you conceive you works instinctively or do you methodically elaborate

21 4 06

Special Issue


ART Habens

Nigel Dawes

20000Leagues (2017)

your pieces? How importance does spontaneity play in your process?

from collecting. I like to allow an automatic or

I do both according to what Im working on and how much immediate time i have to follow on

process, especially when out in the countryside,

Special Issue

unconscious state to exist during my collection and it happens effortlessly on the coast. The sea

23 4 07


Nigel Dawes

ART Habens

has something to do with this, entwining itself into

Back at the studio I am gathering larger, complete

my mind. The sea and my detachment from

items off the street. A lot of this material is stored

everyday life combine into unexpected results

for later use in larger scale works like the

giving rise to ideas of a more mysterious origin.

‘Seabeast’ or the float lamps series.

21 4 08

Special Issue


ART Habens

Nigel Dawes

‘20000Leagues’ is one such piece, made from components of multiple origins, acquired over a longer time period. The focus was the ’tentacles’, from a massage hula hoop on the street, and donated to me by a friend who saw their potential. I often refer to the sea in my work. It plays a large role in my raw material selection processes too. And I often refer to sea stories and survival accounts. I plan many more to come after ‘2000Leagues’ and ’Survive the Savage Sea’, another sea-themed work (after the true account of epic sea survival by the Robertson family in the 1970s). You collect lots of raw materia, that you find in North London, as well as in the south west of the UK and in Italy. A work of art can be considered a combination between understanding reality and hinting at the unknown: how does everyday life's experience and your surroundings fuel your creative process? Within the nature of the things I find are reflected the character of the environments from which they are taken. On an adventure during a long coastal walk, for example, I have a lot more time to contemplate my selection of objects as I have allowed more time to be there. The experience is immersive and expands as the days go by and the rucksack fills. I will see beauty in nature and simple things, and my mind will settle in the elements, the prehistorical past, an iron age landscape of magic perhaps, maybe a nautical feature or event, and the work will follow. At home and work in the city, often instant decisions are rapidly taken, items grabbed impulsively, wrongly, sometimes abandoned again, resulting in the acquisition of more complicated objects, ones that require dismantling, cutting, and a struggle for meaning. There is a more frenzied feel to the process, the shocking nature of abandonment, evidence of a hard environment. I often collect

Special Issue

23 4 09


Nigel Dawes

ART Habens

Hooverplatypuss (2017) 21 4 10

Special Issue


ART Habens

Nigel Dawes

TheDevilRidesOut (2016) Special Issue

23 4 11


Nigel Dawes

ART Habens

household items that have been raided for copper wire in electric motors, or for the lead in car batteries. These events have already contributed to darker themes and I am merely following others before me in pursuit of value and meaning in these objects. Photographer and sculptor Zoe Leonard once stated, "the obects that we leave behind hold the marks and the sign of our use: like archeological findings, they reveal so much about us". We’d love to ask you about the qualities of the materials that you include in your artworks, with a particular focus on your current artistic production: as an artist working with found plastic objects and fragments, how do you select them and what does you address to combine found materials? I tend to guide my selection process by creating rules, otherwise I would not know what to choose or when to stop. Firstly, there will be the geophysical limitations such as what is actually there and how accessible is it. After an initial assessment I will start picking up what attracts me and begin filtering my activity according to what I feel and find. Certain finds might challenge me to look for things that I can use to build an idea I have just had. Often I will find multiple objects and may feel compelled to gather as many as possible. A series of ‘what ifs’ begins to resemble a crude computer program: For example, if I find a Kinderegg Shell, then I should search for objects small enough to make a model that will go inside the shell. If while i am doing this I find a Prosecco bottle top, then I can combine it with the shell to make the beginnings of a bust figure. I have time and the freedom to play games for as long as I like. However, walking around town, I am mainly salvaging discarded whole domestic objects and toys. Here Im attracted to form and colour in a more primal way, driven by a strong curiosity for what exists inside. This urban foraging energy is different, darker, and the works from it seem very different to the poetic nature of beach finds. In the city I am taking objects much closer to the moment when they became disposable, and the characteristics

21 4 12

Special Issue


Seabeast (2014)


ART Habens

Nigel Dawes

DysonDC03 parts

that make them individual and unique were

help entering a more sinister mentality as I

recently inflicted by us. Items may be burnt,

consider what I might contribute to extend their

smashed, stolen or raided for parts, and I can’t

futures.

Special Issue

23 4 13


Nigel Dawes

ART Habens

Hooverplatypuss (2017)

Marked out with a powerful narrative drive, your

relate to and build stories upon, as your

work focuses on material that can be utilized to

stimulating Dyson Insect, that is part of a series of

display a meaningful idea where people can

larger scale sculptures made from vacuum

21 4 14

Special Issue


ART Habens

Nigel Dawes

cleaners: in this sense, your artistic practice seems to invite the viewers to question the idea of perception look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, urging the spectatorship to see beyond the surface of the work of art. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning? And in particular, how open would you like your artworks to be understood? In my own personal meaning I often consider that my thought processes will never be completely experienced by someone else viewing a piece of my work, so I try to expose selected evidence to connect me to the viewer. My choice of objects, the artwork’s title, stating the material locations, fragments of graphics and manipulation of electronics are some of the clues I present in order to bridge that gap. I hope that there remains a sense of exploration and investigation in my artwork, but what motivates me is personal, hidden. I want the audience to investigate and prepose theories about why these objects are and what they might be for, especially in recognisable forms like a vacuum or an activity toy. As you have remarked in the ending lines of your artist's statement, a found object may reference something historical, political, geographic by its form, its location, its condition. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that "artists's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in. It depends on the political system they aree living under": how do you consider the role of artists in our globalised and media driven contemporary age? And how do you think your interest in the histories of objects respond to it in finding hidden, crystallised moments in the everyday? Of course an artist’s role in society may differ around the world according to wealth, politics and multiple other factors, though I don’t think that my own view of what an artist is and does has changed much for me. In our new globalised world where everything is

Special Issue

23 4 15


Nigel Dawes

ART Habens

Ghostship (2016) 21 4 16

Special Issue


ART Habens

Nigel Dawes

Lunarover (Work In Progress) Special Issue

23 4 17


Nigel Dawes

ART Habens

accessible to a rapidly expanding audience by more creators than ever before, through an ever greater number of disciplines, art ’s intrinsic value and purpose for me is to display the magic and wonder of this activity as an essential part of human development. My opinion takes from statements by Beuys and Warhol among others. Everyone is an artist and everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. Globalised media is certainly giving the artist within everyone a voice beyond the physical limitations of location, and now more people have access to a global audience through the internet and of course social media. Now art is also a stronger medium for changer than ever before because more people consider it and theres a lot to say. We sometimes tend to ignore the fact that a work of art is a three-dimensional, physical, artefact: how do you how do you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the concepts that you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your daily practice as an artist? Often the two become intertwined as I search for ideas and narrative within my processes of searching, collection and construction. For example, take the process of making ‘The Devil Rides Out’. As often, it began with the exciting find of a strong piece, the skull head, a theme for something dark and dangerous. Components are limited to the finds from that time and place only, so I am forced to do whatever I can to make something happen. I am excited by this restricting challenge , and also by not being in control of where the piece is going. Because I force the conditions of making through rules, things appear unexpectedly as a result. Over the years your artworks have been showcased in a number of solo and group exhibitions, including your recent participation to the group exhibition Arts for Education, at the House of Vans, in London: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? And what do you hope your audience take away from your artworks?

21 4 18

Special Issue


ART Habens

Nigel Dawes

I am full of anticipation, often wondering how much of my thought process actually travels to my audience. I do concentrate on leaving certain pointers in my work such as their locations and condition. Occasionally the collection dates add access to what Im thinking, such as pieces made on new years eve, or 9/11. Of course no one will really know what Im thinking exactly, thats the intrigue of art, though I hope the viewer feels something of the playful excitement of making things, and that an opportunity to create is all around us. If the audience gets to sense the hidden random excitement of my own discoveries then Im very happy. We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Nigel. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? I have just moved my studio to a fantastic new countryside location near the sea and I will now have the space to work on multiple projects at the same time. One area of interest is learning about micro controllers so that I can begin to manipulate the electronic components that I often find in objects. I would like to create light and sound effects from led lights on circuit boards and motors, a development of the light effects I created in my ‘Seabeast’ piece. I will be applying this firstly to my ongoing series of vacuum reimagining, currently the ‘VaxPowerPet5 HooverBeetle’. I am also planning a series of work that grows seeds gathered from the same locations as the plastics.

Floatlamp#002 (2017)

illuminated adult play treehouse-like construction: It will be much bigger than previous works, and will expand on my exploration of the value of play in life and how through artistic activity we can revisit the minds of our childhood selves.

Special Issue

, curator

An interview by

I am also working on a much larger interactive sculpture that utilises discarded plastic playground components for a festival environment to create an

and

23 4 19

curator


Shipwreck (2016)


Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Danse Macabre

Special Issue

021 4


Paul Kingsley Squire

ART Habens

video, 2013

422 0

Special Issue


ART Habens

Special Issue The Time Has Come

Paul Kingsley Squire

4 03


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Paul and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. As a completely self taught artist, are there any experiences that did partcularly influence the evolution of your creative process? In particular, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? First of all let me say hello and thank you to the Art Habens team, it’s a great honour for me to be selected for your publication… I was born in 1966 and as a child avidly read Asterix books and Marvel comics, and I would spend hours drawing and copying the characters. Art became my favourite lesson at school, I wasn’t a prodigy by any means but I always had this strong interest in drawing and visual art. However I really got into playing the guitar and writing music when I was a teenager and chose between attending the local art school at 18 years old, or moving to London to share a house with the band I was in at the time. I chose the latter and spent most of my late teens and early 20’s recording, writing, gigging and touring around the UK. So years later, I think this love of music has influenced the Metamorphica series, I’ve heard people exclaim “These are very rock ’n’ roll” at various exhibitions.

Paul Kingsley Squire

photo manipulation, which eventually led to using a digital pen and tablet. I also started educating myself on the history art itself, reading artist biographies, monologues, novels and memoirs. It was like I was making up for lost time, as I slightly regretted not attending art school when I was younger. I still read and collect art books now, and have gained so much inspiration from other artists work. I also started painting

In my late 20’s I started working with the emerging digital technologies becoming a professional graphic and web designer. During this period I became interested again in creating art and explored digital image making, firstly through digital collage and

4 04

Special Issue


ART Habens

Paul Kingsley Squire

Stay Cool

The Golden Fleece

around 10 years ago, as a reaction to working on screens so much of the time. This impetus came from a need for a more emotive expression and I found that oil paint was the perfect medium for this, very fluid and a completely different approach from working digitally.

We have appreciated the way the results of your artistic inquiry convey such a coherent combination between intuition and a rigorous aesthetics, and we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.paulsquire.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, we would like to ask you what did address you to explore the themes of metamorphosis and transformation.

I have found that the medium and tools that I use to create work, very much dictates the end result. I work in series around themes, and can quite easily switch between painting, drawing and digital, abstraction, surrealism and figuration subjects, without the need to combine these into a single style.

Special Issue

Visually I’ve always found these themes very interesting as they can be used to express many different ideas and concepts. As I researched world mythologies, I realised that

23 4 05


The Summer Of Love


All The Young Dudes


Paul Kingsley Squire

ART Habens

Hope Springs Eternal

Rise of The She Wolf

the themes of metamorphosis and transformation were pretty universal, not only describing natural processes, before the advent of modern science, but human psychology as well.

For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Metamorphica & the Danse Macabre, an interesting ongoing project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Drawing inspiration from mythology, symbolism, pop culture and contemporary fashion , this body of works has at once impressed for the way it creates such a consistent combination between humans with paganistic totemism and skeletal decadence: when walking our readers to the genesis of Metamorphica & the Danse Macabre, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? In particular, do you

So I think there is something inherent in human consciousness that links us with the natural world with images and symbols as expressed in esoteric belief systems such as Freemasonry, Paganism, Shamanism and Wicca. These use anthropomorphic imagery to express archetypal ideas about the nature of existence, and I have used subtle elements of this symbolism in my work, without being tied to any particular philosophy.

21 4 08

Special Issue


ART Habens

Paul Kingsley Squire

The New Republic

Peace And Love And All That Jazz

conceive you works instinctively or do you methodically elaborate your pieces? How importance does spontaneity play in your process?

transportation and completed the works with a sun /moon symbol background. The ideas for specific pieces just kept coming to me, “how about a bull biker?”, “a punk rock Leopard?” or “a peace symbol waving Lion?”

The initial idea for the Metamorphica & the Danse Macabre series came through this interest in mythology and symbolism. I had been thinking about if these anthropomorphic personifications existed, how would they look in today’s world ?

After I had completed a number of animal hybrids I introduced the skeletal (Danse Macabre) figures, as I wanted to add a darker element to the series. I intended for these characters to be oozing in luxurious decadence, literally dripping in sin.

I wanted the works to be very contemporary, rather than go for a sword wielding fantasy art style, so I dressed them in today’s fashion, gave some of them cool methods of

Special Issue

I generally find the initial ideas come quite easily, although the actualisation of the work

23 4 09


Paul Kingsley Squire

ART Habens

We Are The New Gods

Beyond The Horizon

requires a long methodical process to completion. I have found that people often find themselves drawn to individual pieces, possibly seeing aspects of their own personalities reflected and identifying with them on an inner level.

blurry. How do you consider the role of digital technology playing within your work? I recognise that the possibilities are endless, and the new technology is allowing work to be created, that could not have existed at any other time. I’m pretty happy with my current method of working digitally, although new techniques can always develop, and a new series of work may well contain some method that I’m yet to discover. The main element of drawing by hand will remain, as I think this gives my style a very individualistic look.

Meticolously refinished, your artworks are created using a digital pen & tablet that allows you to highlight exquisite details: manipulation in visual arts is not new, but digital technology has extended the range of possibilities and the line between straight and manipulated artworks is increasingly

I would like to experiment further with lighting effects, backgrounds that integrate

21 4 10

Special Issue


ART Habens

Paul Kingsley Squire

The Time Has Come

Hope Springs Eternal

more fully with the figure and elements of design, which would enhance the overall layout. Currently I’m not really interested in animation, 3d printing or creating video, preferring the impact of still images, but who knows this may change in the future…

decide to include in a specific artwork and in particular, how do you develop a texture? I’d been involved in graphic and web design for many years before branching into fine art, and I think this experience greatly helped in balancing colour schemes. Each work has to be harmonious in both colour and tone. I’m not really into garish or fluorescent shades preferring colour that reflects the animals features and natural markings for example.

We have really appreciated the vibrancy of thoughtful nuances that marks out your artworks, and we like the way they that vivacious tones are not necessary to create tension and dynamics. How did you come about settling on your color palette? And how much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you

Special Issue

Emotionally I seem to stay quite detached from the digital process. That is expressed much more in my paintings. I have come to the conclusion that life is an interplay of opposites,

23 4 11


All Tomorrows Parties


Human Nature


Paul Kingsley Squire

ART Habens

Human Nature

Human Nature

a view most closely aligned with Taoism. This is reflected in my artwork, as there is both light and dark at play, a nuanced seriousness mixed with humour.

Your approach deviates from traditional art making to provide the viewers with such a heightened visual experience, to subvert the clichéd techniques, developing the expressive potential of the symbols that you included in your work: how importance do symbolically charged images play in your work?

The digital work requires a great deal of patience and by making the original line drawing very detailed, I can build the texture, light and shade, creating the illusion of a 3 dimensional figure. Each space within the intricate lines of the drawing is individually filled with varying colours, from light to dark in tone, a bit like a stained glass window. It’s a very time consuming process, but the only way I can achieve the dynamic quality of the final piece.

I love symbolism. It’s all around us, in architecture, branding, religion, belief structures, company logos, you name it there is a pictorial symbol of it ! So I try to make use of certain symbols, not really to say anything profound but rather to convey an idea or trigger a discussion.

21 4 14

Special Issue


ART Habens

Paul Kingsley Squire

Throughout the whole history of western art, symbolism has played a huge role in expressing certain ideas, and I like the notion that the individual images in the Metamorphica & the Danse Macabre series, could be read symbolically by others. For me there has to be something left unsaid in each piece, a mystery for others to discuss perhaps? SUPERNATURE is a captivating oil on canvas series of abstract landscapes that has at once impressed for the way its abstract feeling creates such an oniric atmosphere: how would you consider the relationship between abstraction and figurative in your practice? In particular, how does representation and a tendency towards abstraction find their balance in your work? The Supernature series of oil paintings is really a journey into the medium of oil paint itself. What can I do with this, what can I create that is unique to me as an artist ? These works are very abstract but hint at landscapes and structures within the composition. There is a rhythmic flow to the paint strokes further enhancing the idea of energy forming the world around us. A sunset for instance is not a static event, it is constantly changing and evolving. It’s through the use of thick layers of oil paint that I can create the textural effects. The texture can be further enhanced with lighting either with spotlights directly above or below the painting, or next to a good sized window. As the light of the day changes, the shadows created by the brushstrokes change how the painting is viewed. However it’s really in the area of portraiture that I hope to develop a greater blurring

Special Issue

23 4 15


Paul Kingsley Squire

ART Habens

Oracular Spectacular | Oil on canvas | 92 x 122 cm | 2019 21 4 16

Special Issue


ART Habens

Paul Kingsley Squire

The Triumph of Time | Oil on canvas | 92 x 122 cm | 2017 Special Issue

23 4 17


Paul Kingsley Squire

ART Habens

between abstraction and representation and am interested in how far this can be developed. Walking the viewers to the border of consciousness, you invite them to question the tension between the abstracted and the expressionistic: in this sense, we daresay that your artistic practice seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning? I openly invite viewers to give their own views on the work and it gives me great personal satisfaction to hear their interpretation. If people ‘get’ something from the work that is wonderful, if not, so be it ! I am trying to express in these paintings, something appearing from the elemental world, swirling mists of energy in a state of becoming, through the loose composition of a landscape. Another interesting series that we would like to introduce to our readers to Human Nature, an ongoing series of pencil drawings and paintings centered on the interlinking relationship between natural landscapes and the human: we have particularly appreciated the way you seem to convey a surrealistic quality in object from everyday life's experience: how would you describe the relationship between ordinary surroundings and your creative process? How does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? I live in North London in probably one of the ‘greenest’ areas of the city, and we are surrounded by some wonderful natural woods. I quite often walk through Highgate

21 4 18

Special Issue


ART Habens

Paul Kingsley Squire

Eternal Return | Oil on canvas | 100 x 100 cm | 2016

woods, which dates back hundreds of years, on my way to the studio and have derived some of the Human Nature works from photographs and drawings of this area.

Special Issue

I create the digital work at home, keeping the painting and drawing, separate in the studio. Oil painting can be a messy process and laptops really don’t mix too well with paint !

23 4 19


My Life in the Bush of Ghosts | Oil on canvas | 92 x 122 cm | 2018


In a Time Lapse | Oil on canvas | 92 x 122 cm | 2017


Paul Kingsley Squire

My time is usually split from digital work at home and work in the studio, which I find is a good balance.

ART Habens

We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Paul. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

All experiences both positive and negative, can fuel the creative process, so I feel it’s important to try to get something out of everyday life, and channel emotions back through the art somehow. In that way it also becomes a cathartic experience, adding more depth and meaning to the work itself.

Thanks so much ART Habens, it’s been a real pleasure !

Over the years your artworks have been showcased in a number of occasions, including your recent participation to the Trinity Art Gallery Group Winter Show, in London: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? And what do you hope your audience take away from your artworks?

I am working on a new series of portrait paintings in oil, using palette knives instead of brushes, in which I hope to push the boundary between abstraction and representation . New digital artwork in a similar style to the Metamorphica & the Danse Macabre series, which will expand to include other worlds, outer space and different dimensions.

To have any kind of interest in your work is quite special, so if it makes a connection with a viewer then that is great ! I hope the audience ultimately enjoy the work and if people feel that they connect with it on a deeper level then that is also incredibly rewarding for me as the artist.

New pencil drawings which will explore scenes within handheld crystal glass orbs. And returning to my love of music composition, a new album of instrumental electronica…

I’m not convinced you can really define your audience too much, as people from all ages and backgrounds have collected my work, both in paintings and prints.

I released an album of chillwave electronica in 2018 under the pseudonym “Kinetic Alchemy” just search “Kinetic Alchemy” on Spotify, Apple Music etc to stream the album - one of the tracks is being used by a professional UK dance company, in a contemporary dance work in 2019. I’d love to collaborate with more dance companies in this way as the music really does lend itself to choreographic interpretation.

Even though feedback can be incredibly beneficial, especially when you are trying to establish a style or new direction, I try to be open to both praise and criticism, without worrying too much about either ! Ultimately my art is an expression of my own inner world and being self taught has helped me to discover some fairly unique ways to do that. An artists work will never be universally liked, so it’s best to accept that and just get on with it.

An interview by and

21 4 22

, curator curator

Special Issue


Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Cuba Youth Boxing Club

Special Issue

021 4


Joe Munro

ART Habens

video, 2013

422 0

Special Issue


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Joe and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a First Class BA Honours in Illustration, that you received from the University of the West of England: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does you cultural substratum due to the influence of neoclassical artists, as well as your work as a graphic designer, direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? Joe Munro: My years at university were crucial in the development of my practice as an artist. My tutors encouraged me to heavily research and understand my subject matter when interrogating a project idea. This understanding allowed me to create thought provoking narratives that would flow throughout and drive each artwork.

Joe Munro

I also learnt key draftsman fundamentals such as drawing what I see and not what I think I see. The importance of picking out points of focus in a drawing, capturing enough detail to suggest a form but never over working it. Leaving negative spaces in a drawing allows viewers eyes to rest and adds attention to other parts of the composition. Drawing daily from primary reference also brought my line to life. The instantaneous nature of people moving forced me to make raw and spontaneous marks.

compositions and how each viewer will visually read my artwork. Once I had learned these fundamentals, I was able to engage my audience on a new level. What I leave out of a drawing will often emphasize what I have chosen to leave in. We have appreciated the way the results of your artistic inquiry convey such a coherent combination such an extremely high care to details and a rigorous aesthetics, and we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.joemunro.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production: when walking our readers through your usual

My experience working as a designer allowed me to understand the importance of

4 04

Special Issue


ART Habens

Joe Munro

setup and process, we would like to ask you if you think that there is a central idea that connects all your works. Joe Munro: I have always been fascinated with capturing contemporary life, particularly how we play out our regular day-to-day lives. I love to spend hours in an environment, as I am able to take in all its visual surroundings and connect with it with all my senses. By investigating a subject on location I am able to create organic content, uncover hidden narratives and overhear conversations. I try to uncover beauty in moving objects and people. By changing the opacity and line weight of my line strokes I am able to convey depth to my composition. For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Cuba, an interesting series that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your insightful exploration of Cuban lifestyle, industry and culture, is the way it unveils the tension between humans and their surroundings, inviting the viewers to such a multilayered visual experience. How did you develop the initial idea for Cuba, and what were your initial sources of inspiration? Joe Munro: I was inspired to document Cuba as it was a country that for so long had been stuck in a socialist time warp, disconnected from the rest of the world. I had read before my trip there was there was no advertising anywhere, very little internet and no chain restaurants. I was curious to see how Cuban people had been affected by the embargo and how it had impacted the locals daily lives. My aim as an illustrator was to capture a completely different culture and environment from what I would regularly draw in the Western world. Research can only tell you so

Special Issue

23 4 05


Joe Munro

ART Habens

Somerset Levels Floods 21 4 06

Special Issue


ART Habens

Joe Munro

Foodcycle Kitchen Sketch Special Issue

23 4 07


Joe Munro

ART Habens

much of the story, I decided to act like any journalist worth his salt and go find out for myself. We have really appreciated the vibrancy of your minimalistic still detailed style, and we like the way it create a such a powerful narrative drive. In particular, Cuba has drawn heavily from the specifics of its locations: the ambience doesn't play the mere role of a mere background: how did you select the locations and the details to be represented, in order to achieve such a brilliant results? Joe Munro: When out on location hunting for my next subject to draw my decision-making is often driven by a particular idea or concept I want to illustrate. In Cuba there is a rationing system of food distribution called Libreta de Abastecimiento (supplies booklet). The system is controlled by the government and Cuban families are required to use these books every time they visit a supermarket. The Libreta system was introduced in 1962 by Che Guevara and entitles citizens to a basic ration of groceries such as rice, eggs and beans, which they can buy at their local bodega. Distribution and product delivery is often unreliable in Cuba, a country that still imports about 80% of its food. Some months there can be a shortage of an entire food group and when products finally arrive at random; the bodega queues are long and disorderly. In Vinales, there had been a shortage of food for several days and I was waiting anxiously to capture the moment the food did arrive. As a tourist you were often hidden from the poverty. When living with families in a Casa you were always given the best room in the house and fed well. I had no idea how long I would need to wait - I might of missed it entirely. I was walking past the supermarket on my third morning in the small town when hundreds of

21 4 08

Special Issue


Organist


Skipchen Charity Kitchen


ART Habens

Joe Munro

Cubans appeared running towards a truck carrying eggs. It was at this moment I began drawing frantically capturing the scenes as they unfolded. People came speeding past on motorbikes, running out of their houses and even riding towards me on horses. I had never seen anything like it. After drawing for 30 minutes I began to take photos and made short videos to ensure I would have enough material to work with when back in the studio. Following the event, I spent time thinking about what had just taken place. This wasn’t something that you would ever encounter online or in a Lonely Planet handbook. The way people had to fight frantically just to put basic foods on the table highlighted the poverty in Cuba and how the locals have to live through this broken system on a daily basis. I wanted to bring this to life in my illustrations and felt my loose ink aesthetic would be perfect to share their story. As you have remarked once, you have uncovered your stories from local cubans and communities about how this has affected their lifestyle and shaped the landscape around them. A work of art can be considered a combination between understanding reality and hinting at the unknown: how does everyday life's experience and your surroundings fuel your creative process? And how do you think your works respond to it in finding hidden, crystallised moments in the everyday? Joe Munro: As an artist inspired so greatly by the observed world, I am forever searching for ways to make art that can translate these observations into powerful social commentary that suggests the realities of the future. I believe my journey is similar to the way a documentary photographer or filmmaker

Special Issue

23 4 09


Joe Munro

ART Habens

Pianist Fingers Cary Grant Festival 21 4 10

Special Issue


ART Habens

Joe Munro

Pianist Cary Grant Festival Special Issue

23 4 11


Joe Munro

ART Habens

approaches a project: making work on location that is informed by all of the human senses. Although I research each location before making my first visit, I always try to have an open mind and absorb the textures of the environment on arrival. I try not to overthink what I choose to draw and let my instinct identify my subjects. I want my audience to be able to quickly read emotion, atmosphere and urgency from a single line stroke. Because of this, I try to avoid looking for something too specific as it could tighten up my drawing style. By working with loose marks I often feel these can be suggestive of passing time and how a drawing is just a distilled snapshot of a much more complex narrative taking place. By also applying washes of colour I am able to give life to certain areas of focus in the composition. We can recognize a subtle, still effective socio political criticism in the way you invite the viewers to question the contradictions that affect our contemporary society: Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "artists's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in. It depends on the political system they aree living under": do you think that your artistic research responds to a particular cultural moment? And how do you consider the role of artists in our globalised and media driven contemporary age? Joe Munro: Artists have been crucial from the very beginning of our existence. I think as the worlds communication has accelerated, being able to decipher individual cultural movements has become tricky and I wouldn’t say my work responds to any one movement in particular. Although the outcomes have changed I think the role of the artist will never change. Art is about connecting with people’s emotions on a personal and universal level. Art is about

21 4 12

Special Issue


Skipchen Charity Kitchen


Joe out drawing on location


Viñales, Cuba


ART Habens

Joe Munro

Foodcycle Kitchen, Bristol

unearthing truths whilst also being true to yourself. There is a great quote by Picasso that I think sums up how I feel about this, “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know

Special Issue

the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.� I sometimes feel in my experience there is a pressure to work quicker and get my artwork out faster and faster. This seems to be the times we are living in

23 4 13


Joe Munro

where people want constant updates and want to see behind the curtain of an artist daily life. It is upon the artist to carry the burden of this on their shoulders and release good work that unearths truth. I like my work to give voices to people or communities that

ART Habens

might be drowned out by the rest of the world’s noise. It is my responsibility as an artist to give a true account and reflection of my subjects story.

21 4 14

Special Issue


Raul Havana, Cuba


ART Habens

Joe Munro

Kebab Culture

Another interesting project of yours that we couldn't do without mentioning is entitled London Salsa an ongoing project documenting the underground salsa clubs in London and the diverse groups of people that end up there. We have really appreciated the vibrancy

Special Issue

of the nuances that marks out your artworks: how did you come about settling on your color palette? And how much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in a specific artwork?

23 4 15


Joe Munro

ART Habens

Richmond Poppy Factory

started to learn what it was that made these clubs so special. The variety of people in attendance and diversity among the dancers was incredible. I spoke to a bus driver from Peckham who was dancing with the CEO of a bank from Chelsea. There were people dancing

Joe Munro: This was a project that began by me visiting different salsa clubs around London and recording the dancers each night. After many conversations with the different dancers and hours spent observing and drawing I

21 4 16

Special Issue


Salsa Club London


Netflix - Five Came Back


ART Habens

Joe Munro

Netflix - Five Came Back

together who would rarelymix in the same circles beyond this salsa club.. This realization was then my focus to capture as best I could in the drawings. Using colours to show the diversity and range of skin tones and dress. I wanted to use myloose marks to emphasize the movement and rhythm that boundthe figures on the dance floor.

Special Issue

We daresay that your artistic practice seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meanings? And in particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

23 4 17


Joe Munro

Joe Munro: I always think it is important to create images that engage my audience enough on a surface level to intrigue them to want to know more about the project and seek deeper meaning. There are many talented draughtsmen and draughtswomen out there who can draw, but their drawings are only one dimensional if they are not driven by a bigger idea or concept driving the work. I heard a term at art school that the thinking through an idea is the struggle and the drawing is the reward. This is of vital importance in all my work and something I would encourage anyone looking at my work to look for other meanings. I hope my audiences personal experiences can be reflected in my work.

ART Habens

on their experience, their analysis of the art. They cannot do otherwise. Even if they receive the information about the artist's intention, they will add that to the "mix" of themselves and that, too, will get analyzed based on their preconceptions. With this in mind I try to make suggestions of the location and its future but let the audience fill in the gaps. We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Joe. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception? And what do you hope to trigger in the spectatorship?

Joe Munro: I am currently working on a project in London that is investigating the future of London’s definitive Food Markets. The City’s historic Smithfield meat market could leave London for the first time in more than 800 years under plans to move it to the fringes of the capital.

Joe Munro: In "Death of the Author", Roland Barthes says that a writer is merely a scribe, and that whatever he intends by his writing, it is immaterial. Once he writes, only what people read and interpret from the words becomes reality. I believe this is also true for visual art to.

A former oil refinery site in Thurrock, Essex, is on a shortlist of four locations for a vast, new megamarket which could also house Billingsgate fish market and New Spitalfields fruit and vegetable market. Also looming is the uncertainty of the ongoing Brexit negotiations and what this will mean for UK Trade. As part of my project I want to document the tenants, traders and their customers and find out their thoughts on what the future might hold for these iconic places.

As an artist I may have an intention of what I want to be perceived and understood by the viewer but I don’t have full control. Every artwork is perceived differently by every single person who comes into contact with it. Each person only sees him or herself in each work:that's all they have. They have their own history, their own knowledge set, their own preconceptions and their own taste, whatever. And that is what they bring to bear

, curator

An interview by and

21 4 18

curator

Special Issue


Lives and works in Belgrade and Amsterdam

‘ between a day and a gate’

installation with a man who tries to replace se Special Issue

021 4


Mariko Hori

ART Habens

video, 2013

veral objects slowly again and again / 2018 422 0

Special Issue


ART Habens

Ray Piscopo

the future is made from something floating 4 03 installation with a stone and a broken plate / 2018 Special Issue


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Mariko and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a B.A. in Architecture, that you received from Kyoto Seika University, in Japan: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum due to your Japanese roots direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? First off, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity. As an artist, it feels like I am still ‘doing architecture’ through my installation work, that deals a lot with the themes of atmosphere and ambience.

Mariko Hori

Through my study, I started to realize that a certain atmosphere which old or used buildings have attracts me even more than architecture itself.

too many new buildings which ultimately might end up as surplus. I believe that one of the next steps for an architect is to try to create alternative spaces without buildings. That is how I started to make installation works.

And it seems impossible to re-create this strong sense of enduring existence that old things have. It also appears to me that modern societies are building

4 04

Special Issue


ART Habens

Mariko Hori

Many times viewers told me that they could feel some kinds of Japanese spirits from my artworks even I have never tried to put my Japanese background intentionally in it. It is maybe because of that one of my interests is ‘ Ma’, a Japanese word that can be roughly translated as "gap", "space", "pause" or "the space between two structural parts." We use this word a lot even in daily occasions. The space or time in between is as important as (or even more) structural parts and in Japanese culture, we admire ‘ emptiness ’. In my work, I also think that the space in between objects composing the installation is actually more important than each objects I chose. You are a versatile artist and before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit https://marikohori.space in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, we would like to ask you if you think that there is a central idea that connects all your works. Preferably I’d rather not to have any central idea and be able to work on whatever I feel like at any occasion. As I will never run out of my curiosity about many different things. But if I’m forced to say something, it would be something between time and spaces. I think the concept of those two words are close to each other. As I mentioned, many

Special Issue

23 4 05


Mariko Hori

ART Habens

between a day and a gate installation with a man who tries to replace several objects slowly again and again / 2018 21 4 06

Special Issue


ART Habens

Mariko Hori

a table of cosmographia collage with star chart, wild plants and old books / 2018 Special Issue

23 4 07


Mariko Hori

ART Habens

of my works deal with atmosphere and ambience. And sometimes I talk about atmosphere which express past, future or something between them. For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected The future is made from something floating, an interesting work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Your artistic research is focussed on the process of uncovering concrete perceptions through broadening or changing the focus in the details of daily life: when walking our readers to the genesis of The future is made from something floating, would you tell us how does everyday life's experience fuel your artistic process? In this work, the falling stone and already broken piece from the past express the past and the future at the same time. Actually, we always live at this moment in everyday life and the past and the future is parts of now. In that way, past and future have a very slight difference and I even feel like that the time may be just an idea which was made up. Especially in the city life, we tend to plan ahead and don’t focus on things just in front of us. But whenever I spend the time in Stari Banovci, a small village in Serbia where I have my studio

21 4 08

Special Issue


a table of cosmographia installation with stones, broken glasses, cloth and fishline / 2018


a table of cosmographia installation with stones, broken glasses, a whale and fishline / 2018


Mariko Hori

ART Habens

researched and I would like to experiment more.

in a private museum called Muzej Macura, I feel the time so slow and I can just think about today that I feel as if I lived in the past. This kind of everyday life inspires me the most. And it helps to realize tiny things around me that I can get new ideas from almost everything.

Your installations, as the interesting between a day and a gate, you challenge the viewers' perceptual parameters: in this sense, we daresay that your artistic practice seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning?

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you are particularly interested in the space between the objects as each objects carries with itself many places that each need their space to unfold meanings: could you comment this aspect of your artistic research?

It is very important for me and I really wish all the viewers can elaborate personal meaning for all the works that I don’t have to describe the concept any longer. Although I always have a concept or a message for every single work, it is not easy to explain it by words. This is one of the reasons why I like to express things by images, which is beyond words, in my case. And I think anything do not necessarily have to be descriptive only but also imaginative and ambiguous.

As I mentioned, the space between the objects means a lot in my work. I always choose the objects carefully. Each of them need to have some kind of aura which float around them and characterize the atmosphere inbetween spaces . And what is interesting is that what you feel from the atmosphere is changing depends on how you place each of them, even you use exactly the same combination. Maybe it is like colors on canvas. Even if you use the same amount and combination of the colors for the same shapes, it will look completely different if you change the composition. But this topic is still being

Viewers are free to perceive whatever they wish and at least I will be happy to offer them the opportunity of feeling something from my works. Photographer and sculptor Zoe Leonard once stated, "the objects that we leave behind hold the marks and the

21 4 10

Special Issue


a table of cosmographia collage with star chart, wild plants and old books / 2018


fragility is vibration of sensations installation with a better thing from the past, a hope for the future, a tool for observing and the sounds of this moment (awareness) / 2017


Mariko Hori

ART Habens

affect your workflow? And how do you consider the tension between the work of art and the exhibition space, in order to archive the visual results that you are purchuising?

sign of our use: like archeological findings, they reveal so much about us". We’d love to ask you about the qualities of the materials that you include in your artworks: as an artist working with diverse media, how do you select them and how combine them, in order to achieve such brilliant results?

I consider my artworks small though, actually you are right as whole the inbetween spaces are the most important parts of the installation. When I install work, at first I am very careful not to fill up the exhibition space with objects. Even I give up to place some of my favorite materials if I feel it is already enough. It could look still empty for some viewers though, my visual limit for the proportion of objects to the space is quite small. As I also respect the existing atmosphere of the exhibition space that I try to combine it as one of the materials.

It is so true that the objects can hold the marks and the sign of one’s use. And I feel that the atmosphere or aura of ‘ found objects ’ can be partly made by those information. I love using those used objects which have stories but I have to admit that I am very picky. This is exactly what I can’t explain by words that how I select them. It’s just feelings. I need to like each of them very much. I also collect things from the nature such as stones and minerals. The selected ones always look beautiful to me and have special charms. I don’t mind to look at them for hours.

In the case of group exhibition, sometimes I need to ask bigger spaces like artists who exhibit huge sculptures. I leave more space empty (or fill with atmosphere) than some people expect.

And I am picky for arrangement, as well. I can try to find the best position forever, like the performer does in the work of ‘ between the day and the gate’.

We sometimes tend to ignore the fact that a work of art is a threedimensional, physical, artefact: how do you how do you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the concepts that you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your daily practice as an artist?

You usually create large artworks, that provide the viewers with such an immersive visual experience: how do the dimensions of your installations

21 4 12

Special Issue


fragility is vibration of sensations installation with a better thing from the past, a hope for the future, a tool for observing and the sounds of this moment (awareness) / 2017


ART Habens

Mariko Hori

Sometimes it is difficult to find the right relation between the abstract concept which is floating in my head and the output image, material result from experiments. For example, when I made two studies of new work and I know which I like more visually, but if the concept is fitting more with the other one, do I need to choose the one I like less or is it acceptable to change the concept a bit? I believe there are many artists working between researching and production. And in my case, contradiction occurs very often. I try my best to adjust it to my satisfaction. But at the same time, I feel like to leave this contradiction as a mystery and entrust the viewers with imaginations. Over the years your artworks have been showcased in a number of occasions and you currently exhibit widely in museums and galleries in solo and group shows, including your recent participation to Japanese Serbian Film Festival / Jugoslovenska Kinoteka / Belgrade, Serbia: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? And what do you hope your audience take away from your artworks? ‘In your coat’, the work for Japanese Serbian Film Festival was also my

Special Issue

23 4 13


Mariko Hori

ART Habens

route seventh hill performance with a pendulum and 2 snails named after an asteroid and a star cluster / 2018 21 4 14

Special Issue


ART Habens

Mariko Hori

route seventh hill installation with found objects, acrylic on map, a pendulum and snails / 2018 Special Issue

23 4 15


Mariko Hori

ART Habens

personal question about the image of Japan from outside the country. This year, the theme of the festival was ‘ Vision’ and I have collaborated with a Serbian artist Bojana S. Knezevic for the opening performance. The performance was based on a traditional Japanese act ' Ninin - Baori ' ( two persons in one coat) which is a type of comedic skit where two people wear one large coat and pretend to be one person, with one person being the ‘face’ while the other acts as the ‘arms’. Humor arises from the arms being out of coordination with the face. I had written the reason why I did not want to live in Japan any longer and Bojana tried to read the text in Japanese, instead of me. From this performance I expected that almost nobody understood my words. Even Serbian audience would think something positive from the soft pronunciation of unknown language from their vision. While Japanese audience would find it very sweet and cute from the way Bojana pronounced Japanese and maybe they were not careful of what she read. I hope my audience take something away from my artworks but it doesn’t have to be unambiguous. Anyway I can see their reaction and it will help me to

21 4 16

Special Issue


in your coat performance with Bojana S. Knezevic / 2018 / ŠNikola Jović


Conversation installation with a fishing rod made of branch and part of nomadic ger tent / 2018


Mariko Hori

broaden my perspective and mind to develop my practice further.

ART Habens

can’t be sure if others feel exactly the same way you do. The feeling of a place might also depend on your personal background. I believe it will help me to understand atmospheric feelings in common as well as difference. Simultaneously, I will carry out various creative experiments with found elements from the sites, including the air, smells, sounds or lights and experimental use of materials. As well as dust, I also think the main part of atmospheric feeling could be characterized by the particles made from everything which has existed at the place and has already decomposed. Since long time I have been interested in elementary particles in the air, and I hope to have research opportunities from the scientific point of view In the future.

We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Mariko. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? I appreciate all of your well-considered questions and I would like to thank you, too, for the meaningful conversation. My research for the atmosphere, especially in the old buildings is on going and this year I am blessed with wonderful opportunities to develop it further with artist in residency programs at Artegiro contemporary art in Conzano, Italy, and at SULUV in Novi Sad, Serbia, as well as Nakanojo Biennale in Japan and Contemporary Art Week of Plovdiv in Bulgaria.

For the output, I am interested in performative installations more and more. It doesn’t have to be only with human performers but also with any kind of creatures and plants.

My main goal is to reproduce a certain atmosphere and find the way to share the feelings, qualia. It will be life time practice.

I liked to work with snails so far and hope to explore many other possibilities. An interview by

In the first stage, I am thinking about to involve various type of people to share their impressions from some sites. We

and

21 4 20

, curator curator

Special Issue

Profile for ART Habens

ART Habens Art Review, Special Edition  

ART Habens Art Review, Special Edition  

Profile for arthabens
Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded