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Anniversary Edition

Special Issue

Defeat Your Inner Demon, 2016 awork by Anne Cecile Surga


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Mernie Williams-Baker

David Habercom

Paula Ortega

Philippe Halaburda

Eva Rocco Kenell

Anne Cecile Surga

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France

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I explore the relationship between Color, line and form vs. stereotype and emotion. I love what paint does. The most meaningful moments are when I'm working in the studio. I am influenced, changeable and moved by art in the world. I experience new insights everywhere. I am drawn in by the painful nature of our human political/spiritual condition especially in women. My art reflects the ideas of perfection.

I start from the Buddhist view that life is suffering. Our search in life, whether acknowledged or not, is for tranquility — to arrive at a place where nothing hurts, nothing assaults, and all that’s left is the love we believe must surely reside at the core. I aim to chronicle the difficulty of that journey as I see it through the small window of my vision. Art at its best opens onto Mystery, but the camera at its best shows only the banal and superficial.

Paula Ortega is an Anglo-Argentinean artist concerned with what constitutes the objects we use and admire, their origin and the trace they eventually leave, whilst challenging our perception of their value. Paula is relentlessly curious, precise and passionate about materials and processes and is constantly teaching herself new techniques to realise her ideas which invariably fall outside her current realm of knowledge.

As an artist, I paint on many different supports developing my personal abstraction vision using acrylic paints, as well as textures and other mediums.

Eva Rocco Kenell’s artistic practice is based on a documentary ground, even though the intentions are rather to break down classical narratives and normative storytelling.

Through my art practice, I aim at exploring the intrinsic values of being a human being. I am extremely interested in the question of the definition of the self and how much the social context in which we evolve is responsible in shaping our own image. As a woman artist, I am slightly more focus on the definition of identity for women. The current consumption society sends out tones of messages to every human, thus influencing how we see ourselves and how we want to define ourselves.

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My work as an artist is a seductive, beautifully shot study of the relationship between collective and personal crises. My innovative abstraction is looking for an extraordinary refinement and oscillates between binary opposites: imagination and observation, lucidity and frenzy.

Therefore, is not only concepts surrounding fiction and reality central, but also questions around which one of the two is creating the other. Her methodology consists of a form of heightened attention, where details in a story can become the new center and the place which the focus is transferred to.


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lives and works in Boston, USA

Eva Rocco Kenell

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lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden

Paula Ortega

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lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Aaron Morse

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lives and works in Northampton, Massachusetts

Anne Cecilie Surga

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lives and works in Paris, France

Rosemary Meza-DesPlas 118 Rosemary Meza-DesPlas

Aaron Morse

John Barney

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Wispy, curling tendrils, wiry, frizzy ends stitch through a picture plane to create images; I collect and sew my own hair into drawings which accentuate line and texture. Scratchy, nervous lines trail across a wall in my drawing installations. These large, on-site installations are drawn with conte; sometimes they incorporate vinyl appliques, liquid graphite and specialty fabric. Voluptuous layers of watercolor stain canvas and paper to create figurative forms.

Aaron focusing on his abstract painting, using acrylics and gels on large canvases. “The way I’m using acrylics is unique,” he says. “It has taken a couple of years to expand on my technique, but now I’ve gotten the craft figured out. “I’ve learned how to mix with gels and glosses, and I have many different methods for applying paint to a canvas. It really depends on my mood and what a piece requires.”

My goal is to enjoy the process and hope that the finished product makes an emotional or psycho-logical impact with the viewer. I am in-trigued and motivated by mystery, surrealism,psychological dimension and the passion of the artistic experience. I strive to have you share the same experience I do when looking at an interesting work of art - namely that time and space are suspended for a few brief moments, taking us away from our present reality and into that netherworld of alternate universes, so to speak.

lives and works in Manchester, United Kingdom

Philippe Halaburda

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lives and works in South of France & USA

John Barney

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lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA

Mernie Williams-Baker 178 lives and works in New York, USA On the cover Defeat Your Inner Demon, by Anne Cecilie Surga

Special thanks to Haylee Lenkey, Martin Gantman , Krzysztof Kaczmar, Joshua White, Nicolas Vionnet, Genevieve Favre Petroff, Sandra Hunter, MyLoan Dinh, John Moran, Marya Vyrra, Gemma Pepper, Michael Nelson, Hannah Hiaseen, Scarlett Bowman, Yelena York Tonoyan, Haylee Lenkey, Martin Gantman, Krzysztof Kaczmar and Robyn Ellenbogen.

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D avid Habercom Lives and works in Boston, USA

An artist's statement

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start from the Buddhist view that life is suffering. Our search in life, whether acknowledged or not, is for tranquility — to arrive at a place where nothing hurts, nothing assaults, and all that’s left is the love we believe must surely reside at the core. I aim to chronicle the difficulty of that journey as I see it through the small window of my vision.

Art at its best opens onto Mystery, but the camera at its best shows only the banal and superficial. Mystery resides in meanings, not on surfaces, hard, glossy, solidified by the stupid lens. Mystery resides in darkness, and words can take us there, while image cannot. When the world goes dark, the image stops, the camera closes its eye. But words continue to whisper in our ears, call to our unconscious, and stir up dangerous possibilities in the primordial soup of our dreams. That is why I write, too. I follow this path out of desperation, the angst of insufficiency I feel when looking at my own shallow camerawork. It looks back at me with a kind of defiant sneer, daring me to attack. And so I do.

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All my training in the arts has been in literature and poetry. I received my undergraduate education in Antioch and Guilford colleges, and I have an MA in English from the University of Iowa and an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. I was an English professor for ten years. I am largely self-taught in photography. I had my first, rudimentary darkroom at age thirteen, and I photographed avidly through my young adult years. I followed the fashion of 20th Century Modernist photography by searching for the luminous. As Minor White expressed it, I photographed “things for what they are and what else they are.” In my mid-thirties I became disenchanted with such fussy art and stopped shooting for twenty-five years. I returned to photography looking for mystery and power, a robust art that ignores trivial detail and reaches for the muscular dominance of meaning over form. I turned to intuitive photographers like Louis Gonzalez Palma, Sally Mann, and Josephine Sacabo. They and others showed the path I follow today.

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David Habercom An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

David Habercom's work explores the liminal area in which symbolism and experience find unexpected points of convergence. His dramatized photographs reject any conventional classification and cross the elusive boundary that defines the area of perception from the realm of imagination, to create a multilayered involvement with the viewers, who are urged to investigates about the non linear, still ubiquitous narrative that pervades the reality we inhabit. One of the most convincing aspect of Habercom's practice is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of creating a deep and autonomous synergy between our limbic parameters and our rational categories: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his multifaceted artistic production. Hello David and welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training both in literature and poetry and after your studies in Antioch and Guilford colleges, you nurtured your education with a MA in English from the University of Iowa

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and an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to the aesthetic problem in general?

"Evolution" assumes a coherent path I have not followed in my life or art. I have lurched awkwardly from one interest to the next without much regard for congruity or purpose. At different times I have tried with varying success to be a novelist, a poet, freelance writer, sailplane pilot, essayist, and photographer. At each stop I absorbed important recognitions about the world and myself in it, until now, at age 74 (and in deep denial) I seem to be anchored and whole. I can't explain it. However, "cultural substratum" does resonate in me because I am a Southerner. Though I have lived in every region of the US at various times and now reside near Boston, I spent my childhood and most of my adult life in the Deep South. The culture there is intense and embodies extremes of passion and religious fervor that inescapably influence anyone who swims in it. My secular humanism and atheism — which inform all my art —


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emerged in direct reaction to the intense religiosity I experienced from childhood. All of my art is laden with philosophical intent, and that is the reason. It is a Southerner’s compulsion. Your approach coherently encapsulates several viewpoints that reveals an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between fiction and representation, conveying together an unconventional still consistent sense of unity. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.davidhabercom.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between opposite viewpoints as well as different techniques is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

You read my mind! As the fictional Theron Lucas wrote in my series, The Missionary Journals, "True things have no language. They lie in the silence between words, the breath we hold, waiting, they enter the room when we leave, they sleep in shadow across the river." In a very important sense no one — none of us — speaks the truth, ever, not because we lie but because the truth is unspeakable. The most important things we understand and say to each other always lie between the words, in the silences, the gestures, the expressions, the sigh in the voice. Language is a

sledgehammer, which is why poets stretch and distort it, trying to coax from its brutal whacks some sign of love, the whisper of joy, the ache and longing of life. By the same token, the brainless lens on my camera shows only surfaces, only what it can see — but you and I don't live in a world of objects. We live a world of meanings. The man with the gun means nothing; his invisible intentions mean everything. So, when I finally got serious about art I combined the two mediums with which I have some skill: writing and photography. I use them in parallel and, importantly, neither offers an ”explanation" or "illustration" of the other. If the viewer can hold in one hand the idea that nothing is ever as it seems to be — and hold in the other hand the idea that everything is exactly as it seems to be, then the meaning in my art will quietly present itself in the space between the image and the fictional narrative. Everything else is a lie. Each work is a Trojan Horse, but my Greeks don’t rush out on their own brandishing swords and spears. Viewers have to open the hatch themselves and peer inside before they can hear the foreign voices whispering, “Nothing is what you think it is, and we know the way…” Their weapon is clarity in the darkened city. For this special edition of ARTiculAction we have selected your Magus series, a stimulating project that our readers can admire in the

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pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of unveiling the manifold nature of human perceptual categories and to draw the viewers into a multilayered experience. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative

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process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I suppose an artist who makes expressive abstractions or paints from imagination alone can create images that seem to leap spontaneously into view and are disconnected from everything tangible in his life, but I can't do that. (I'm not sure any


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photographer can make such art. After all, we have to point the camera at something concrete which, presumably, we experience.) I am very aware that my feet are made of clay and I cannot escape ordinary life. To imagine otherwise is to deceive myself. Any mystery I hope to unveil in my art I must approach through the mundane, banal elements my own

experience. The crowds of homeless faces in the Magus images are real people whom I directed to stand before my camera. The earthy and authentic countenances they brought to our encounter at that time are more powerful than anything I could have fabricated from thin air. Knowing that changes the photograph, doesn't it? My

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god, we think, those people actually exist! Think of it this way: art takes us on a journey outside ourselves, and we come back changed. For me to take you on a journey, I must go there first. My art is a chronicle of the spirit, the trail I leave behind. For such reasons as this I can't imagine my art being disconnected from my direct experience. I don't just make this art. I live it. I was there. I remember.

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Your work is pervaded with a subtle but effective narrative, and the insightful combination between images and written words captures non-sharpness with an universal kind of language, capable of bringing to a new level of significance the elusive but ubiquitous relationship between experience and imagination, to create direct relations with the spectatorship: how would you describe this synergy in your work? We are particularly interested if you try to achieve a faithful translation of your previous experiences or if you rather


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use memory as starting point to create.

Your question points to my assumption about the nature of art, which may not be widely shared. For me, art is not self-expression but communication. I'm not trying to explain myself to you, or invite you into my world, or persuade you to see experience as I see it. I don't think I possess enough insight to issue such invitations, which would be a form of hubris. I am not the keeper of a magical kingdom. But I am able to

recognize suffering in the world around and outside of me, and I want you to see it, too. So, by a combination of provocative images and a fictional, parallel narrative, I attempt to pull you into a position that allows you to engage in some indirect, faint way the experience I know lies around both of us. I try to grab your lapels, pull you in close, and whisper, "Look, this is important. This matters. Pay attention." My subject is not me but the world of meanings we share.

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The Magus series is based on the premise that our prophets do not call us but we call them: we can recognize a subtle but effective sociopolitical analysis in this aspect of your work. While lots of artists from the contemporary scene, as Ai WeiWei or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to convey open socio-political criticism in their works, you seem more interested to hint the direction, inviting the viewers to a process of self-reflection that may lead to subvert a variety of usual, almost stereotyped cultural categories. Do

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you consider that your works could be considered political in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

Wow. Excellent questions, both. To your question of whether I am political, my first reaction was, "Well, hell yes!" Why would you ask? But when I compare the politics in my work to WeiWei's or Linton's, I clearly am a


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provincial from the Deep South. That culture is hypersensitive to religious symbolism, and I knew from the beginning that the implicit secularism in Magus would create a stir, if not hostility, where I lived at the time. And, indeed, a print shop near my home in Tennessee refused to print Magus because the owner found it offensive. If I had earned my artist chops in New York or London, I probably would have been more blunt than I have been. But I am a Southerner and therefore wary.

However, in my defense I offer a strong case for subtlety and indirection for audiences on guard against ideas which threaten them at a deep level. That describes most of Southern culture, and if we are to believe the current madness exemplified in Republican politics, such fearfulness characterizes a damn sight larger chunk of America than most of us thought. For people with such fraught imaginings, a more gentle approach to the unfamiliar seems appropriate. Many viewers will spend a long time

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wading through The Missionary Journals series before recognizing my critical take on both religious fundamentalism and New Age nonsense.

Unwashed and secretly still identify with them, despite my education. Perhaps I earned the obscurity I have enjoyed for so long.

Which brings me to this point. My populist instinct in art has never let me focus on the artistic elite in our society — your audience, I dare say — those urbane, worldly, sophisticates for whom my plebeian concerns may seem quaint. Though I much enjoy the company of those cosmopolitan intellectuals, I came from the Great

It goes without saying that your photographs are the result of a lot of planning and thought, but at the same time they convey a sense of spontaneity that is a hallmark of your style. What we have mostly appreciated of your approach is that you seem to be wanting to move beyond standard representation, but not too much beyond it. We like the

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direction you are taking, in fact: creating what at first appears to be a typical photographic but subverting its compositional elements, you make the viewer realize that your work has a different message. What has influenced your style in such stimulating direction?

My answer to the previous question spilled over into this one, so I need add only a point or two. In finding my artistic way in the South, I was not surrounded by many artists of any kind

and certainly not artists who broke conventional barriers. Those artists lived far away in shining cities in New York, and Europe, and California, so they did not significantly influence my thinking. They certainly provoked my jealousy, but I could not meet them, or hear them, or see much of their work in person. They were not present in my life. So I followed a conservative path, "subverting" as you rightly say the expectations of my presumed audience. I longed to be bold and daring, but without bold and daring

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comrades for support, I chose a more circumspect path. We definitely love the way you juxtapose symbolic elements in Passion at Broken Hill, creating an effective channel of communication between the conscious sphere you draw from for your references and the subconscious level. This creates a compelling non linear narrative that, playing with the evokative power of reminders to universal imagery, establishes direct relations with the viewers. German multidisciplinary

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artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

Where was Thomas Demand when I was 35? He might have changed my life! Without knowing the context from which you quote, I imagine I would agree with his assessment. A friend


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once described my art like this: "The text chronicles a journey of the spirit, and the images offer landmarks along the way." In hindsight, that was a prescient view which my subsequent work fulfilled. So, count me in with Herr Demand. As you have remarked once, you are looking for mystery and power, a robust art that ignores trivial detail and reaches for the muscular dominance of meaning over form: we have highly appreciated the way it

condenses a symbiosis between intuition and freedom of composition. Your approach reveals unconventional features in the way it deconstructs perceptual images in order to assemble them in a collective imagery, urging the viewers to a process of selfreflection. Artists are always interested in probing to see what is beneath the surface: maybe one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your view about this?

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Artists by their very nature stand apart from the rest of society. Even the most social — a Norman Mailer, for example — stands apart when making art. Even the most conventional and ungifted trifler stands apart when making art. They must do this in order to see. How deeply artists see varies with the individual, but certainly the most capable can probe well beneath surfaces and attempt to bring what they find into view, though they may choose not to. By “capable” I refer not only to intellectual propensity but the particular tools offered by their medium and their vision in exploiting the tools. Over your career you have exhibited around the United States, showcasing your work in several occasions, including seven solos. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

Since I consider my art to be communication more than personal expression, I do think carefully about audience reception. Each series opens with a narrative introduction to set the stage, and each image and panel

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combination follows thoughtfully on the previous ones. I use an uncomplicated vocabulary, though I take liberties with syntax. A related aside: more than one curator, on looking at my portfolio, has offered to show the images but not the text, claiming “no one will read it.” Over time I have learned that viewers, indeed, will read the text — quite closely, in fact — and the curator is simply revealing his own lack of vision. It turns out that reaching viewers, who have no expectations, is a lot easier than reaching curators who think like shopkeepers. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, David. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I thank you for asking challenging and provocative questions and have enjoyed the conversation. For various logistical reasons, two large series are on hold. In the meantime, I am starting an image-only series called Travelers, which focuses on iconic structures filled with the ghostly remnants of people who occupied them. The images should be strong, and the project will keep me challenged for the next few months.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com


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E va Rocco Kenell Lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden

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va Rocco Kenell’s artistic practice is based on a documentary ground,

even though the intentions are rather to break down classical narratives and normative storytelling.

Therefore, is not only concepts surrounding fiction and reality central, but also questions around which one of the two is creating the other. Her methodology consists of a form of heightened attention, where details in a story can become the new center and the place which the focus is transferred to.

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Her work brings up notions concerning the role of the documentary, storytelling, concept of truth and imitation. And at the same time it opens up for questions around freedom of movement and counter-strategies.

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Eva Rocco Kenell An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

Stockholm based multidisciplinary artist Eva Rocco Kenell's work explores the elusive boundary between reality and fiction. In Trail, that we'll be discussing in the following pages, she accomplishes the difficult task of drawing the viewers into a multilayered experience, challenging the hierarchy between the center of narration and the details around it. One of the most convincing aspect of Rocco Kenell's approach is the way it challenges the permanent flow of associations in the realm of experience and memory: we are really pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Eva and a warm welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you hold a Master of Fine Art that you received from the KONSTFACK University College of Art: how does this experience impact on the way you relate yourself to artmaking? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum and you background in Painting inform the way you deal with the aesthetic problem in general?

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Great to be here in this number of ARTiculAction. When I was younger I was the kind of teenager who had an urge of being the young rebel. I grew up in a small town in south of Sweden and the only thing I liked with school was the painting studio, other than that I wasn't there much. After school I traveled a lot and this has made a mark on both my life and my art. At one point a friend saw one of my paintings and said; but Eva, you are an artist. That was a changing point for me. To realize that an artist was something you could be, something which counts. At the age of 25 I started my Bachelor studies in Amsterdam at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. I tried to combine my life with my work. Being the rebel, loving that life and finding art. It was hard to find my ground both in a new country and in a new world, the art world. Today I'm thrilled about how much that period of time developed my artistic methods and skills. I spend five years abroad before I moved back to Sweden to study my Master of Fine Art. I am very happy about my art educations, it has helped me find my own way through this jungle. To make art is for me a constant struggle, I adore


Eva Rocco Kenell Photo by Sara Lindquist


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it but the process is often painful and the doubt is lurking around the corners. When I was painting I loved doing it, mostly because that was my way, and understanding of how to be an artist. It was my way into art. But with video I am beyond loving it, I'm obsessed and curious all way through the process. My process in painting and video is completely different. When I was painting I had a clear image in my head of how I wanted the painting to look like in the end, and I strove to achieve that. Now I let myself fall, I find pleasure in not knowing. It is a very rewarding starting point. Your approach coherently encapsulates several disciplines and reveals an incessant search of an organic investigation about a variety of aspects that mark the relationship between fiction and reality and the results convey together a coherent and consistent sense of harmony and unity. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.evakenell.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process and set up, we would like to ask you how did you develop your style and how do you conceive your works.

One thing that has always been present in my artistic development is the journey. I have always loved to travel and to be on new grounds. This opened up something in my artistry. I made a project with a colleague and friend of mine.

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Eva Rocco Kenell


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“I got my name in Venice� and in it this project my friend says that the geographical movement is important to reflect our own inner movement. Once in a while you get keys in your development, this was such a key. And these keys are significant and crucial for ones practice and style. When I move away from safe grounds I get more susceptible. To see the details as well as appreciate occurrences, coincidences and the unplanned. This is very stimulating for me. My works often start with a small idea or a story that has been narrated told to me. Sometimes it can be the story itself that catches my interest and sometimes it can be the person telling the story. In my investigation in the outlines of the story, I collect all sorts of material. Everything from sound recordings, interviews, documents, filmed meetings, happenings, written material and so on. Because I don't know were it will lead me I have to keep all possible doors open. It is a method I have developed during the past years, to be as open as possible within certain frameworks and guidelines. I have worked a lot with trying to have faith in my own intuition, Sometimes it takes years before I actually get confirmation that the first intuition was the right one. For this special edition of ARTiculAction we have selected Trail, an interesting project 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 this work is the way captures the concept of autenticity, inviting to rethink about the notion of truth,

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urging us to rethink and sometimes even subvert the way we relate ourselves to such ubuquitous still elusive concepts: while walking our readers through the genesis of this project, would you shed light on the way your main source of inspirations?

InTrail the origin of inspiration was and is “the storyteller�. It is not said whether the storyteller and the story is real or fictional. This opened up a broader range of interests around narration as concept. I was excited about whether a story could be made interesting if I took away the storyteller. If a not so interesting story could be made interesting with the right means. It all revolves around the roll of the narrator and how to brake down classical narratives. Another factor that was one of the main inspirations for me with Trail, was the fine line between fiction and reality, and which one of the two is creating the other. In this story a girl creates a Travel agency that is purely fictional but shows to actually exist in reality. And in reality the travel agency does not occur in the format of a travel agency but rather functions as a mini market selling drinks and snacks. Meta layers of perspective and narration has always been very inspiring for me. Drawing from accessible and evokative elements from everyday situations, Trail establishes direct relations with the viewers and accomplishes the difficult task of going beyond the surface of communication. We find this aspect particularly interesting since it accomplishes the difficult task of

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bringing to a new level of significance the notions of everyday and mundane, drawing the viewers into a multilayered experience. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an


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absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I'm sure people can have creative

process disconnected from their personal experiences. Or at least that's how I read certain art, Maybe it is just hard for me to understand that uninspiring art comes from real personal

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experiences. But for me it is impossible to be disconnected. I am experiencing the work while it is being created. The work as the audience see it the finished

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product, is partly my experience, especially Trail. The process is taking me on a journey. This is not only metaphorically speaking, It actually lets me travel.


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and mundane, and therefor the experiences and feelings are so real. Your works provide the viewers with an intense, immersive experience: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience and how much importance has improvisation in your process?

That's a really nice comment, Thanks! And right on the mark! Since I started making art I've been of the opinion that art should not make people feel stupid. But people should remember that it is ok to not understand art. So then I can create my work in a sense that it does not have to be understood. Or more clearly, that there is not a correct way to understand it.

I also believe that if I experience my own work while it is being developed and I can mediate that awesome experience to the viewers, it cant be a bad piece of work. It might be everyday

The other day I told a friend, that I just recently understood why I don't like to go to theater. I can't concentrate with so many people around and generally I don' t want to share the experience with a large amount of people at the same time. I wish it was only me in a dark pipe towards the stage. I think good art has that pipe. It provides blinders so that you can fully experience a work. For me, this is important, to create something that let the viewer experience the work in total concentration even though someone is coughing behind you. When it comes to improvisation I would rather use the terms intuition and highly sharpened attention as the most

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present and important methods in my process. Physically I do improvise a lot during my filming process since I rarely work with scripts or planed scenes. In the process of editing I use improvisation when I have an obstacle in front of me which i can't seam to get around. This is an exception for me, so then I want to use it in a way that it gives the impression that it is something well planned and very thought through. In your video I Garret, You Tina you pursued an investigation, concerning both the individuals and thier place in our ever changing societies: while you focused apparently on Switzerland, you seem to question social rules on a general aspect. While lots of artists from the contemporary scene, as Ai WeiWei or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to convey open sociopolitical criticism in their works, you seem more interested to hint the direction, inviting the viewers to a process of self-reflection that may lead to subvert a variety of usual, almost stereotyped cultural categories. Do you consider that your works could be considered political in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

First, everything has a political aspect to it, even the “neutral� position. I think that every change start with a self reflection. It is important and interesting with strong political art, it is very informative and for sure raises questions that need to be raised and discussed.

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I do not seek to maintain a neutral approach in my art. When I was younger I had an aim to make political work, but since I started to understand my process more I do not want to force my work in a specific path, even though


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I do consider my work to be political. I think large questions can be dealt with in small scale and I believe it is easier to touch hearts and open minds with stories that have an emotional and personal aspect. I want my role as an

artist here and now, to open minds to different ways of seeing and perceiving things, things as in information, situations, opinions and so on. We believe that interdisciplinary

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collaboration as the one that you have established with Emelie Rรถndahl and Anders Rundberg is today an ever growing force in Art and that some of the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of

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practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, the artist Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a


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New things arises when people come in your way, sometimes there are collaborations and sometimes it is not. There are collaborations that are hard but with an amazing potential. There are collaborations that just happens which you don't think about, but are totally crucial. Either way they are in some ways always present to me. Even if it's together with another artist or if it's with someone else I am meeting while I am working, the woman in the library, people in an archive, researchers and so on. When I went to Budapest, two great artists Madeleine Kozma and Vilda Kvist joined me. Their presence in itself were very inspiring for me and Madeleine's experience with her family in Budapest whom she hadn't seen for over 10 years impacted me a lot. And thanks to some of her family members we got in contact with the police chef and got permission to film at the police station. This is a very clear example of how other people have impact on my work. But everyone who is involved make their mark in one way or another, they all have significance for the outcome of the works.

synthesis of several practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between several artists?

Over the past 3 years I have worked concurrently with artist Vilda Kvist. We have developed a sort of collaboration where we are present in each others processes and help out with everything from filming, editing, writing and function as a constant sounding board. This is the biggest benefit of being an artist, to have your colleagues close and in an ongoing conversation. My

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individual work would not exist if it would not be for other people. A crucial aspect of your approach is the subversion of classical narrative: in particular, the effective juxtaposition between different ways of representing reality that marks out Access Axis Mundi allows you to explore unexpected aspects of the functionality of language on the aesthetic level: as Gerhard Richter once remarked, "my concern is never art, but always what art can be used for": what is your opinion about the functional aspect of Art in the contemporary age?

Art plays an important role as an alternative way of representing present time and history. I don't think that art has to be created with the purpose to be educating. I think art is something that you always learn from. As I mentioned earlier I think the functional aspect of Art as well as the role of the artist is to pave the way for new ways of seeing, feeling and thinking about our society and history. To provide new keys and to open new doors of perspective and to shine light on questions and topics in inspiring ways. Over these years you have showcased your works in several occasions, including your recent solo K1 KONSTFACK in Stockholm. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a

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question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of


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language is used in a particular context?

During the bigger process I do not think to much about the audience. I am in the process of maintaining for myself that

the notion of my idea is interesting, this is something I have to do all the way. But later, in the finishing process, I think a lot about the audience. I have seen so many un- interesting art shows in my life and

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what I would like to provide to the viewers is an experience which leaves you with encouraging feelings and thoughts. For sure I spend a lot of time re-editing

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and making decisions whether to follow my �own� idea or to adjust it more to a broader audience and so on. Language... That can mean a lot of things. A direct and concrete example of language is how I use subtitles in Trail. I have chosen to


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way. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Eva. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving

I am currently working on a project which departs from a historical event that never occurred and another historical event that disappeared. It is partly located in Reykjavik, Iceland. It circulates around a railroad that was planned but never build. Along with my own work, me and Vilda Kvist, which I mentioned earlier, are developing a new collaboration. It is the first one for us where both of us are co-authors on the same terms. In the end of February we will go to the Western Saharian refugee camps outside Tindouf, Algeria, to make a film project. The purpose is to make a (non fictional of course ) portrait of the everyday struggle for a free Western Sahara, which has now been occupied by Morocco for over 40 years.

subtitle only the things I, myself, could understand during the process of filming. For example the parts in Hungarian are not subtitled. I thought it was interesting to let the viewers see the work from my perspective in that

In the near future I will continue working in the same direction as I did last years, as long as I find pleasure in it. I constantly remind myself that if you want to make an exceptional artwork, it is a good thing to have a long and accurate process! This was fun, thank you so much for the conversation!

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P aula Ortega Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

An artist's statement

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aula Ortega is an AngloArgentinean artist concerned with what constitutes the objects we use and admire, their origin and the trace they eventually leave, whilst challenging our perception of their value. A trained opera singer, she also studied music composition and received a BA in audio-visual communication before training in jewellery making in London. Paula is relentlessly curious, precise and passionate about materials and processes and is constantly teaching herself new techniques to realise her ideas which invariably fall outside her current realm of knowledge. This bridging of concept to finished work is a part she relishes. Paula is inspired by fractals and the unseen structures and patterns in our world – both created by nature and humankind. She is part of a materials

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revolution, where artists and makers are not only making objects, but also creating sustainable materials with which those objects are made. She has been developing her unique casein-based material for the last two years and her Footprints series of wearable and nonwearable sculptures explore the ideas behind the lifespan of an artwork. In 2014 Paula was selected to take part of the Crafts Council UK’s prestigious Hothouse 4 Programme.

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Paula Ortega An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator articulaction@post.com

Exploring unseen structures and patterns, Anglo-Argentinean artist Paula Ortega investigates about the notions of memory, value and of plasticity on an unconventional level. Her inquire into the nature of organic materials allows her to accomplishes the difficult task to urge the viewers to rethink about the nature of artistic experience: one of the most convincing aspects of Ortega's work is the way it creates an area of vivid interplay between memory and perception, inviting the viewers to explore the unstable relationship between human intervention and freedom in the contemporary age. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Paula, and a warm welcome to ARTiculAction. We would start this interview posing you some questions about your background: you have a solid formal training as opera singer and after your studies of music composition you received a BA in audio-visual communication. How have these experiences influenced your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you deal with the aesthetic problem in general?

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Thanks for this opportunity to talk about my work to ARTiculAction's readers. We are the sum of our experiences and even though when I was very young I would have wanted to have a clear vocation, one path to follow, I would constantly find myself hungry to explore other areas, link them together and move on to continue exploring. Both Buenos Aires and London with their rich cultural scenes have influenced me but having lived most of my life in Buenos Aires I think it's the city that has had the greatest impact in me. Living there is a constant struggle for most and so you must work very hard, become creative and practical and find alternative paths to get where you want to get or to stand out. The one person who has influenced me the most is Maestro Oscar Edelstein, an Argentinean contemporary composer known for creativity and inventiveness and frequently described as leading Latin America's avant-garde. It was 1997 and I was attending his composition class at university when he recruited me for the leading role at his new opera El Hecho (The Fact). I had no acting experience whatsoever so I needed daily sessions with a theatre director. Edelstein taught me a way of thinking about creative production, a way of considering materials – and this applies just as well to sound or matter–


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and a way of working that I find still very useful. He taught me to drill down and reduce everything to its most basic components, sometimes he would starve us and allow us to create using, for example, only the sound of a single glass of water. Edelstein was and still is breaking the mould and was teaching us how to do it back then. You are a versatile artist and your approach encapsulates several techniques, revealing an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints. The results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.paulaortega.co.uk in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such multidisciplinary approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

On a conscious level only in the last few years. Before then there was a lot of suffering that came from wanting to be the best at something and only that particular something. I think it is important to say that I didn't set off to be an artist of any sort and that I have always had a problem with labels because I have many interests. People want to classify you, make you fit into their mental models to try to understand you. Ironically, the label of artist is the one I find most fitting these days.

Regarding my process, I always start with something that gets my attention, a certain idea, a certain concern or even a certain material. Something intrigues me so I start a search with self-imposed parameters that are of course, constrained by my values, e.g. I will not use petroleum based plastics. Time is not important - if it takes two years, it takes two years and I am very stubborn and persevering–, but at the same time I have this urge and sense of running out of time, of having to find the answers to my questions as soon as possible. I think and try a million possibilities, I research, I read papers and patents, I wake up in the middle of the night with something I want to try or an alternative solution to a problem. Sometimes it's enjoyable, sometimes is painful. I intend for my final results to have a strange beautiful quality for me – I cannot put the satisfaction of others first. I am obsessive and very hard to please. I have got boxes and boxes of what I consider failed work because I like to remember my journey. This is a private act, I would never show them publicly. For this special issue of ARTiculAction we have selected your Footprints Series, a stimulating project that our readers have already stared to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of this work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of creating an harmonic mix between a figurative, realistic approach to the evokative reminders conveyed by the

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materials you combine together: when walking our readers through the genesis of the Footprints Series, would you shed a light about the role of metaphors in your process?

It was the year 2012 and for a while, I had been paying attention to unintended patterns that human beings leave without knowing, without having that intention or realising it. From craters left by bombs that modify the landscape to the harmless patterns left outside stations by the hundreds of pieces of chewing gum that people throw and stick to the floor. I had been thinking about the life of objects we create and the idea that most expect art to withstand the test of time and be passed on to future generations. At the time I was also making body ornaments so the questions were even more relevant. How is this connected with humans' obsession with leaving a mark, a footprint that will transcend us? How important is the longevity of these objects and what is the link between their longevity and their value? How does this change over time? With the population out of control and waste and contamination crises, should we reconsider the value of longevity of objects? We went from making things that last decades to the disposable world we now see, and designers are now focusing on recycling, reusing and creating manufacturing models that work in a closed loop where waste becomes the raw material for the next batch of products and so on.

Could my pieces leave no physical trace? Could their trace just take the form of memories? Would knowing that a piece will not last forever make us value, enjoy or wear it more often? Does the confirmation of the longevity of an object degrade our perception of its value? In contrast to people? And from there the jump to think how all this translates to human relationships was inevitable. Would we value our relationships more if we knew their 'expiry date'? Where do my materials come from? Where do they end up? Could I make my own material? If so, it would be a maker's dream and so I welcomed the self-imposed challenge. Why be a slave of someone else's perception of the value of the materials I use? This is more or less how I conceived the Footprints Series. My desire to have complete control over processes is a metaphor for how we can better lead our lives, should we so choose to. We are able to shape the direction of our lives and environment if we have a clear enough awareness and understanding of the consequences of our daily actions yet also, more importantly, a desire to effect these changes. My bioplastic material is a self-evident metaphor that relates to climate change. Coating over the plastic before electroforming works as a literal and metaphoric shell to guard against the corrosive methods of bringing value to a piece. This is literal, but reflects the harsh extractive conditions that for example mining requires to bring

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'valuable' metals out of the ground for our pleasure. It's important to remark that the use of casein-based bioplastic is a crucial aspect of your practice: the reminder to its organic nature triggers the viewers' primordial parameters concerning our relation with physicality: as Gerhard Richter once remarked, "my concern is never art, but always what art can be used for": what is your opinion about the functional aspect of Art in the contemporary age?

Nowadays art seems to be very much about involvement with the public. Art is in itself a function. If it triggers emotions it works. If by functional you want it to whirr or to wear then perhaps that speaks of society's desire to own and display more than to enjoy. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you draw inspiration from fractals and the unseen structures and patterns in our world – both created by nature and humankind. Your work seems to pursue an unconventional kind of harmony between an external and internal world: although your inspiration comes from abstract imagery, the result of you exploration your works could be considered as tactile biographies of the conflictual symbiosis between perception and imagination. As the late Franz West did in his installations, your Footprints Series shows unconventional aesthetics in the way it deconstructs perceptual images in order to assemble them in a collective imagery, urging the viewers to a process of self-reflection. Artists are always interested in probing to see what is beneath the surface: maybe one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal

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unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your view about this?

Nature is always present in whatever we make, even if solely by computer or with concrete. Form in its purest essence pre-dates humans and we respect that, even those who choose to obfuscate it. Fixedly starting with nature and in my case a loofah, speaks of my linear timeline and what I remember about growing up – fond, safe childhood memories. We find beauty in the personal to make public. I used the loofah as a conduit of emotion from a time during which I was aware of form, but lacked the language to express it. Form is the greatest language. It supposes nothing from you and communicates directly to each of us on an individual level. On the other hand, what is our inner nature? What makes us human? Language, self-awareness, abstract thought, our ability to conceptualise and run mental models, culture and tradition, artistic expression, cumulative knowledge, the capacity to create complex tools and materials... the list is long and inconclusive: we can now manipulate our own DNA and change the building blocks of what makes us human. All these are wonderful characteristics, yet they perpetually seem to come into conflict with all that is non-human around us. But humans by their nature are also astoundingly resistant and adaptable to change. Our choices and the ones of previous generations have taken us to a

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point where urgent and radical changes must be made to the way we live, to the way we consume and to the way we connect (or not) to our environment if we are to survive and thrive. From the food we eat to the places we go, a paradigm shift is required in the control of our own nature. Your investigation about the expressive potential of sustainable materials, highlights the need of dominating the creative process on an intimate level: while Michelangelo spent months to select the perfect piece of Carrara's marble, you create your material by your own. What lead you to this? And in particular, do you think that this is the only way to achieve the results you pursue in such effective way?

Of course not. In my case it required this level of involvement, this long process, these months and months of trial and error. I needed the time to find out what I could achieve, to reflect on my results even to reflect on failure. My work starts with my personal journey. It aims to connect but it starts with me and only when I'm ready I can then share and connect. It was very challenging because I had to learn to deal with huge amounts of frustration. Imagine walking into the studio and finding broken sculptures or torn paintings every single day for two years. It gives you some strength. Your work convey both metaphoric and descriptive research and the compelling narrative that pervades it invites the viewers to a multilayered experience. In particular, the Footprints Series conveys emotions

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into your works is the construction of a concrete aesthetic from experience and memories and symbols, working on both subconscious and conscious level. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Direct experience (as little or as broad as it might be), intense feelings, a certain level of discomfort and disconformity are all indispensable for me as an artist. They drive, inform and shape my work. Another interesting project of yours that we have found particularly stimulating and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled Liminal and it explores the notion of the value and the meaning we assign to objects. When inquiring into the process that leads us to perceive the value of a material you seem to stimulate the viewers to personal associations: maybe it sounds as stretching a bit the point, but we can recognize a subtle sociopolitic criticism about the elusive notion of value. Do you consider that your works could be considered political in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

With Liminal series I wanted to challenge the perception of value of this particular natural fibre – the loofah - and so I decided to combine it with a


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precious metal to test my idea of material mobility, as in the possibility to raise a certain material's status by association with a more appreciated or respected one. I find the concept of value intriguing. It's a social construct of course and as such, constantly changing. I like to challenge it and play with what my audience think about, for example, the value of materials. I called my collection Liminal as I thought of the whole process as a transformation ritual where the material is revalued and its status changes. My personal life was in a transitional stage at that time. I find it impossible to separate my work from what's going on inside me. That's the starting point. I then of course develop and enrich that connection and the end result is not just meaningful to me but hopefully to others, or at least that's the intention. The role of artists in raising awareness and provoking social change is crucial, can be incredible powerful and must be present in any self-respecting society. Over these years you works have been internationally exhibited, including your participation at Smaller Footprints, Women Response to Climate Change at the Museum of Art & History, Lancaster, California: one of the hallmarks of your projects is strictly connected to the chance of establishing a direct involvement with the viewers, who are called to evolve from a mere spectatorship to conscious participants on an intellectual level, so before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider

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the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

I do expect my public to connect with my work on an intellectual level but I don't choose a specific language because it will make it easier for them. I'm not primarily led by a desire to please. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Paula. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

Thanks to you for taking interest in my work. The Footprints series is not complete yet. I am currently embarked in working on a larger scale and this is proving most complicated because of many technical reasons and I am already researching other biodegradable materials because animal agriculture is a growing concern of mine which contradicts my use of milk. So moving onto the next stage, ready to dive again deep into the waters of the creative process to find and share my own answers, make sense of myself, this world and everything in it. An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator articulaction@post.com

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A aron Morse Lives and works in Northampton, Massachusetts

An artist's statement

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aron Morse’s eclectic background has been, and continues to be, a major factor in his success as an artist. In addition to his painting, he has worked in a psychiatric hospital and an emergency room in addition to being a singer, songwriter, guitarist and world traveler. A University of Vermont graduate, Morse has driven cross-country four times and visited nineteen countries including: Australia, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, Israel, and many islands in the Caribbean. He’s lived in Australia, Hawaii, Portland, Ore., and Brooklyn. He has released two CDs and had his art displayed in Western Massachusetts galleries. “Traveling has been a part of my artistic and spiritual development,” says Morse.

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“When you see different countries and cultures, these experiences are bound to get inside you and influence you artistically.”

Now he’s focusing on his abstract painting, using acrylics and gels on large canvases. His work combines dazzling color combinations with engaging textures. “The way I’m using acrylics is unique,” he says. “It has taken a couple of years to expand on my technique, but now I’ve gotten the craft figured out. “I’ve learned how to mix with gels and glosses, and I have many different methods for applying paint to a canvas. It really depends on my mood and what a piece requires.”

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Aaron Morse An interview by Barbara Scott, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

Aaron Morse's paintings explore the expressive potential of abstract texture to inquire into the relationship between our perceptual categories and the imaginary sphere. His works provide the viewers with a multilayered experience capable of walking them into the liminal area in which subconscious level establishes a symbiosis between the conscious sphere. Drawing from universal imagery, Morse triggers both memory and imagination, to speak of emotions and a variety of feelings, creating a compelling narrative: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating artistic production. Hello Aaron and welcome to ARTiculAction: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your rich and multifaceted background. Besides your studies at the University of Vermont, you are a singer, songwriter, guitarist and world traveler. How do these experiences influence the way you conceive and produce your works? And in particular, how does your multicultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

First of all, thanks to ARTiculAction for the interest in my work and me as an artist. I hope that my answers to your

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questions will be as well thought out as the questions themselves. Music was my first inlet to creativity and selfexpression, and was my first dedicated art form. Playing music taught me so much not only about the freedom and the focus of making something my own way, but also about passion, performance, confidence and collaboration with other people. Songwriting for me is about choosing melody and poetry to express stories and emotions. These stories and emotions are revisited through performing songs or through listening to them. This process is certainly different than painting and visual art, which requires a focus on emotion though more diffusely, using color and space, and the relationship between them. I like that in visual art, one only need look at a piece to feel something from it, and having a physical piece of art taking up space in a room is distinct from the transient nature of music, coming and going during performance or on a stereo. However, the joy of playing music in a group certainly contrasts with the solitary pursuit of painting and songwriting. I guess I find that I need both creative mediums, music and visual art to fully express myself artistically. Traveling has been another source of education for me. Experiencing the art, culture, and natural wonders of different places changes a person. It works its way inside of you and influences you personally and spiritually and is bound to effect artistic expression. Speaking more specifically, I recently returned from a trip to Guatemala, and seeing the vibrancy, the loud color choices, and the spectacular intricacy of the handmade

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fabrics, certainly made an impression that I’ll remember as I work in the studio. This is part of what I love about traveling—being amazed and inspired by new perception. Your approach to acrylic is very personal and as you have remarked once it has taken you a couple of years to expand on own technique, that condenses a variety of viewpoints, you combine together into a coherent balance. We would suggest to our readers to visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/AaronMorse Art in order to get a synoptic view of your work: in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up? In particular, would you tell our readers something about the evolution of your style?

Finding a process that works for me was and continues to be an evolution. I’m not a classically trained artist, so my approach has been through trial and error, and the influence of artists I respect and admire. I’ve always been interested in various forms of visual art, photography, and abstract painting, but it wasn’t until five or six years ago that I got the bug to try out painting for myself. My grandmother had given me a large set of paints, brushes, and other equipment that she had used for years before her eyesight prevented her from continuing to paint, and I let it sit around and gather dust for a couple years. Finally, after meeting some other local artists, I made a conscious effort to try painting and I collected some used canvases and wood boards for my first efforts. I started here in Northampton, Massachusetts in my kitchen and quickly realized that I would need a larger space

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Chromosphere

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to work without having to worry about covering the walls in paint. I also realized that I wanted the freedom to spray, throw, and splatter paint and work on large canvases, so I cleaned out the basement and set up the space that I still use as a studio today. I learned to mix paint with water, gel and gloss mediums, as well as with different sands and plastics to allow for texture and fluidity. The actual application of paint to canvas shifts with my mood. I use brushes, rollers, squeeze bottles, plastic cups, spray cans, and my own hands. I typically use acrylic paint, but I have plans to explore oils as well as the use of silk-screening techniques. In the future, when I can convert to a larger studio space, I would also like to work even larger than I currently do. We would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from Chromosphere, and a couple of other interesting works that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of this piece is the way the juxtaposition between intense tones provide the canvass with a dynamic and autonomous aesthetic: in particular, it seems to communicate a successful attempt to transform tension to harmony, and it's really captivating. While walking our readers through the genesis of these pieces, would you shed light to your main source of inspirations?

Chromosphere was on some level motivated by photographs I saw of the surface of our sun, photographs of swirling gas on a mind-blowingly large scale. But I think I took that image and added some human carnival to it, some

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internal energy that I’m not going to be able to describe well with words. That, however, is why I love painting: it can communicate beyond the restrictions of language. I have always been intrigued with astronomy, cosmology, and quantum physics and this interest has made its way into my work. Nature is certainly my first and foremost inspiration in my painting. Trying to match the colors and the complexity of things happening in nature is a futile task, but as artists we can learn from and interpret what we see in nature in our own way and make it human. I believe that this is evident in some of my other work as well. I have often come back to water, rain, and the ocean in many of my color schemes and representations. I should also mention that I spent the last many years studying science and medicine and I am now a practicing Physician Assistant. This line of study has certainly found its way into my work with representations of the anatomic, as well as atomic and cellular structures and functions. The dialogue established by colors and texture is a crucial part of your style: in particular, the effective combination between intense nuances of tones sums up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

As I mentioned earlier, the particular style of paint application to the canvas that I use varies with my mood and

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energy level, and I think this applies to my choice of colors and tones, as well as the particular movement within a piece. I can also say that artistic frustration also plays a role in my choices. Sometimes if I have been working on something that isn’t playing the way I’d like or if I made mistakes with choices, my frustration will dictate my next choices which may


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completely change the direction of a piece for better or worse. With this in mind, I have tried to become more patient over time with allowing a piece to dry and set or working on another piece rather than making drastic changes to a piece because I am frustrated with it. Showing up to the studio with a lot of energy can help break through a wall of

frustration sometimes into new territory using new color combinations or new texture mediums. However, when I am more relaxed, tired, or subdued this can positively influence the simplicity of a piece, allowing me to walk away sooner than I may have otherwise. Another factor that influences my work on some level is the music I’m listening to. I

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always listen to music while I paint, and the different genres directly affect my mood and the physical movements of my body as I’m working. We definitely love the way you question the abstract feature of images, unveiling the visual feature of information you developed through an effective non-linear narrative. In

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particular, playing with the evocative power of reminders to universal imagery, you accomplish the difficult task of establishing direct relations with the viewers: German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements


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within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it?

I think that abstract painting brings together the conscious and the subconscious. It ties together aspects of our day-to-day life, things we experience with our five senses as well as things we can’t see or even describe, things too

large or too small to see directly, or things inside our minds or in our memories, our imaginations, and our dreams. My approach to painting is to show up and try to make something that I like and that I hope will affect others in some way. As far as Mr. Demand’s quotation, I certainly feel that when I

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show up to the studio and start a blank canvas, or stare into an ongoing piece, looking for direction, that I am indeed probing, seeking, and relying upon personal and psychological elements that I hope others can relate to. Your pieces combine dazzling color combinations with engaging textures: while exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, you seem to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to invite the viewer to find personal interpretations to the feelings that you convey into your paintings... this quality marks out a considerable part of your production, that are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

Memories and emotion are a large part of our subconscious undercurrents, and as I previously mentioned I believe that abstract painting draws upon the conscious and the subconscious. So with that in mind, I think that memory definitely plays a role in my work whether I am thinking about it consciously or not. When I painted Chromosphere, was I consciously thinking about the photos that I had seen of the surface of sun? Not necessarily. However, these images and many others were there somewhere in the mysterious web of my memory. When one opens up creatively many things can come to the surface and interact. Creativity is such a powerful and enigmatic aspect of humanity, such that sometimes when we sit down to write or paint or play music, we are not entirely sure where our ideas come from, that is why it is important to make the time and create the space for creativity to happen. I think that the translation of feelings in

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abstract painting can be achieved through choice of colors, space, and movement, however, unlike with songwriting, this must be done implicitly. It is rare that I am fully aware of particular feeling being translated or that I am trying to explicate a particular cohesive emotion outright. However, I can say that I have definitely

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experienced emotions when viewing abstract art, and I hope that my work can do the same for my audience. We have appreciated the way your paintings shows a coherent equilibrium concerning the composition: the multilayered experience to whom you invite the viewers gives a permanence to the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the


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notion of sight. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I commented earlier on the mysterious nature of creative ideas. Creativity, as a process is something that we can control.

We show up to the studio, we sit down to write, we learn to play a particular instrument, but the ideas that come out of our process rely on personal experience. The places I’ve traveled, my work experiences, books I’ve read, music I’ve listened to, movies I’ve watched, people I’ve met—all of this has continually influenced my creative

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choices. That being said, some of the ideas that I am drawing on are things that I have not directly experienced, at least visually, i.e. the transmission of thoughts through synapses, the movement of quantum particles, the movement of cellular proteins in a cellular nucleus. As I mentioned earlier, abstract painting among other art forms, delves into the world of the unknown and the unknowable.

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Your captivating exploration of the expressive potential of abstract compositions seems to address the viewers to relate themselves with your work in personal way, your work shows an effective combination between experience and imagination and triggers our limbic parameters concerning our relation with physicality: as Gerhard Richter once remarked, "my concern is never art, but always what art can be used for": what is your opinion about the functional aspect


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of Art in the contemporary age?

This is a huge question that I will not be able to do it justice in a short response, but I can try. Art in its many forms is powerful and dynamic. It continues to push the threshold of knowledge about ourselves as human beings and our place in the universe. My hope for art in the contemporary age is that it continues to shine a light on the darkest aspects of

ourselves in the name of change, while also existing to celebrate our many achievements and the miracle of our consciousness. Functionally, I find that the pursuit of art and creativity gives many people hope and purpose in an uncertain world, and I’m optimistic that this will continue into the future. This is where I quote Mr. John Steinbeck ‘Sometimes a kind€of€glory lights up the mind€of€a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can

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feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight€of€the nerves,€of€the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure€of€a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes.’

to continue seeking opportunities in galleries nationally and internationally. I would like to incorporate music and multimedia into these shows as I have experimented with on a small scale. I have plans to make another studio album of music something that I have had to delay with school being my main focus in the last few years.

One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

In the future when I have a larger studio, I would like to work even larger than I currently do. While I enjoy painting canvases for smaller rooms, the challenge of working at a larger scale is something I have begun to appreciate and would like to explore more fully. I would also like to experiment with silkscreen, oil paint, and artistic collaboration with artist friends of mine including Max Benjamin, Richard Bravman, Claire Deliso, and Russ Gerstacker. I encourage anyone reading this with interest in my work to visit my etsy page (www.etsy.com/shop/AaronMorseArt) or to reach out to me directly thorough my email (morse.aaron@gmail.com) or social media (www.facebook.com/Aaron.Morse.Art/). Thank you for the opportunity to share my work and my thoughts with a larger audience.

When I am in the studio I hope that I am creating something that an audience will be able to relate to. However, this is not what I am thinking about when I am working. I try to leave all that behind and focus on moment-to-moment decisions. Ideally, I enter a space where I’m not thinking at all. This is the meditational, flowing quality of creative work that many people have written about. I do enjoy putting together a show of many pieces of my work and becoming a member of the audience, however temporarily. It is interesting to see the themes and connections across work completed months and years apart, and often without my conscious planning. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Aaron. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

As I move forward as an artist, I would like

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An interview by Barbara Scott, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

Photography by Mad Capture Media https://www.facebook.com/madcapturemedia


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A nne Cecile Surga Lives and works in Paris, France

An artist's statement

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hrough my art practice, I aim at exploring the values inherent to human nature. I am extremely interested in the question of the definition of the self and how much the social context in which we evolve is responsible in shaping our own image. As a woman artist, I am slightly more focused on defining women’s identity. The current consumption society sends out tones of messages to every human, thus influencing how we see ourselves and how we want to define ourselves. I believe there is a psychological triangle between who we really are, what society tells us to be, and the image of ourselves we decide to project onto society. The realization of the self is often placed as the

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ultimate goal or success in life, and I am exploring whether or not this can be perceptible knowing that we are not 100% in control of who we are. I like to create different levels of interpretation in my works, thus giving keys to the viewer to understand the subject I address without offering one single interpretation of the artwork. Each artwork becomes public as soon as it is offered to the viewer eyes, and I leave it to the viewer to construct his or her own understanding of what is in front of him.

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Recontextualizing the imagery of human body, artist Anne Cecile Surga's work accomplishes an insightful investigation about the notion of identity in the contemporary age. When walking the viewer through an unconventional journey on the thin line that delimits the realm of perception, her works accomplish the difficult task of materializing the disconnect between the perception of the Self and our primordial parameters, to urge the viewers to elaborate personal associations and interpretations. One of the most convincing aspects of Surga's practice is the way its subtle sociopolitical criticism offers us a key to understand the intrinsic values of being a human being in our unstable and everchanging societies. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Anne Cecile and welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview we would like to pose you a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid training and you have studied both in France and in the United States: how have these experiences influenced your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

Hello, thank you very much for the

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opportunity to speak about my work in your magazine. I do have an interesting background for an artist as I did not follow a formal training in visual arts such as BFA or MFA. I went to a business school in France which led me to graduate with an MBA in Management from the Florida Gulf Coast University, and I later enrolled at Christie’s Education New York where I graduated with a Master in Art History. During these times I was focused on entering the artworld from the institutional side. I have always been creating on my own for as long as I can remember but I did not consider myself good enough to declare myself an artist publicly. I followed night classes of clay sculpture in France, oil painting in Istanbul and welding and anatomy in New York which helped me a lot in terms of apprehension of the forms and also from a technical point of view. Two years ago I was supported by my close relations to embrace fully my creativity and to take my artistic practice to a professional level. Over the last eight years I lived in Istanbul, Florida, Singapore, New York and last year I came back in France. Obviously these experiences in countries so different from each other, have shaped my perceptions in terms of aesthetic expression, as well as intellectual and philosophical understanding of the world. From a formal point of view, the exposure to several art worlds and sensibilities both shaped and expanded my mind. I believe the New York City scene had the most influence in terms


Anne Cecile Surga photo by Evgenia Sizanyuk.


Defeat Your Inner Demon


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of freedom of creation in the conception of the work as well as in choice of materials. For my sculptures, I keep in mind what most struck me from these travels: the fact that human beings are pretty much the same in any country of the world regardless of their economy, religion, or cultural heritage. I found that we all long for love, a sense of belonging, a sense of validation, to feel that we are enough. There are multiple outlets to seek this beloved happiness and they are the same worldwide: friendship, love, music, dance, sports, etc. However I also found that this desire to fit in is exacerbated and can make people step into a dark realm when influenced by the media. The feelings of greed, insatisfaction, jealousy, selfdeprecation are rather inflated thus leading to a lack of happiness (or a belief in this lack) and a misunderstanding of who we are and where we stand as human beings. Thus, this assumption became the groundwork for my aesthetic research. It influences intrinsically the choice of the subject, and the way I deal with the subject formally. Your approach reveals an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints and techniques. The result conveys a coherent and consistent sense of harmony and unity and we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.annececilesurga.com in order to get a wider idea of your work: before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for producing your works? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating your works?

For each work, the idea or concept is what always comes first and this will dictate the

choice of material to make it. For instance if I want to represent a person on one feet and on a small scale I will not be able to use marble as there will be too much pressure on the small ankle area and therefore the sculpture might break. For such a project I will have to use papier machĂŠ, plaster or metal in order to ensure that the sculpture will be strong enough to bear its own weight. It is quite an instinctive process for me to go from the conceptual idea to the choice of material. I attach importance to the sensation a work can trigger in the viewers or what can emanate from it, which guides the choice of final textures between glossy or matte, rough or smooth for example, and this also determines the choice of a particular material over another. I do not have self-imposed constraints when making an artwork, as each material already places its own: working with marble is a subtractive process while working with papier machĂŠ and plaster is an accumulative one. That is why the material needs to dry after applying each new layer of matter in order to fuse with the material below and to be able to receive additional material or to be workable or polished. Marble on the other hand is heavy, fragile and difficult to find. Also there are internal veins in marble that might not be visible when choosing the block, and which might interfere with the final work. I need to go to quarries (in Carrara or in the Pyrenees) to find the blocks and then to bring them back to the studio myself. As I mentioned, the idea always comes first so I choose blocks according to the projects I already have in mind. Because of the limited amount of marble I can carry every time I go to the quarry, some projects have to wait for several months or years before being physically created.

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I believe my general rule is to listen to the material and to allow it to be itself. Of course I convey my intentions unto the material, but the way it reacts influences the final piece just as much as I do. For this special issue of ARTiculAction we have selected The Fall in Love and Defeat Your Inner Demon, a couple of stimulating works 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 these pieces is the way they accomplish the difficult task of creating an harmonic mix between a figurative, realistic approach to the evokative reminders conveyed by the symbols you combine together: when walking our readers through the genesis of these captivating pieces, would you shed light about the role of metaphors in your process?

The idea behind The Fall in Love was to be able to catch the insubstantial aspect of falling in love with someone, which in essence cannot be captured. I was not attracted by the idea of making yet another sculpture of a couple cuddling as we can find already many of those throughout the History of Art. Also in most representations of love in Art, I found that women were often given a bad role, either as temptresses or as submissive victims. I knew my work should not reflect this kind of imagery, but rather show a story where each partner has the same will and power. Finally I wanted people from around the world to be able to project themselves onto the work and to take it over. I established these concepts on the subject and the genesis of the formal idea worked its way alone into my mind. The minimalist form of the final sculpture allows the viewer to understand the theme of the work, while delivering a sense of playfullness and adventure which corresponds to my view of Love. Despite the fact of being faced with a couple falling, the viewer can still interpret

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Love Me I'm Happy


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the scuplture in his own terms: is she pushing him? Is she keeping him from falling? Is he leading her? Are they falling together? All interpretations and all personal projections upon the work can be correct. As a child I was pretty impressed by a small devotion sculpture of Archangel

Saint Michael Defeating the Demon that my grand-mother had (and still has) on her nightstand. The sculpture is quite graphic and is probably the cause of many childhood nightmares. However I did not develop a feeling of repudiation toward the theme of Saint Michael and the Demon, which is an image quite present in Christian countries. On the contrary, I have a feeling of attachment toward this familiar imagery. The idea behind Defeat your Inner Demon is for the viewer to understand that we as human are only limited by the constraints we impose on ourselves, not that much by the ones set by others. In other words, we are our own limits: believing we are not enough and thus not pursuing our destiny makes us our own ennemy. Very often people will tend to blame on external causes the reasons for their failures, or their life frustration. I personally tried to fit in a role that did not suit me out of fear (of not being good enough, of the struggles ahead, etc) before embracing my artistic undertaking. I did not force myself to reappropriate the theme of Saint Michael and the Demon to express this specific idea, the imagery somewhat imposed itself. Speaking of metaphors, I like to interpret the founding myths of society on different levels: here the angel Lucifer rebelled against God and lost his place in Heaven after being defeated by Saint Michael. I understand that at one point the personification of evil was part of the “good side,� but he was cast away because of his disobedience. As a metaphor I can understand that Evil is a part of Good, and vice versa. Which leads me to the internal battle everyone is fighting on a daily basis against their own selves: what we perceive as qualities in ourselves can be our major shortcomings, and what we consider as flaws can be our

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main assets. This is a never-ending battle where we cannot know which side has the upper hand. We have appreciate the investigative feature of your exploration about emerging visual contexts: the way you draw inspiration from the human body deforming its proportion, as in When You're Not Here and When You're Not Here, challenges our perceptual categories urging the viewers to rethink about their inner identities, forcing them to a process of recontextualization of the Self. What is the role of your inquiry into the notion of identity in the way you relate yourself to the aesthetic problem?

There is this quote I recently came across by Walter M. Miller “You don’t have a soul, Doctor. You are a soul. You have a body, temporarily” which I think can be a starting point for my answer. One of the questions that is part of my investigation on the notion of identity is whether or not our own formal expression (that is to say, the body we live in) influences the way we define ourself or our identity. I do not have the answer to this question, but it is often in the back of my mind when I am creating a new work. The tension between physicality (in the sense of corporeality) and the psyche and how this relationship shapes our own image is really something that has kept me enthralled for a long time. Therefore when I am working on a specific idea, I try to reach and explore its deepest meanings, and all of the feelings associated with it in order to find the best formal way to express it. In When You’re Not Here the human figure has been deformed into its simplest form, and it is standing alone, flabbergasted, with the impossibility to avoid the viewer’s gaze, offering its vulnerability. The figure is not quite straight, its torso is slightly hunched to mark the pain it is feeling. It is shapeless and faceless so the viewer can identify to the figure as well as to the feeling of missing or loosing

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When Youre Not Here


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someone expressed here. The open heart carved out of the stone symbolizes the open wound and the feeling of losing one’s heart when losing a loved one. The simplicity of the work here was chosen purposedly to allow the viewer to create a connexion to the work and to the feelings by getting rid of any visual impurity that could distract him from the subject. A recurrent idea of yours is how much the social context in which we evolve is responsible in shaping our own image. There's a subtle but effective sociopolitical criticism in your work: many artists from the contemporary scene, as Ai WeiWei or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to include open socio-political criticism in their works. It is not unusual that artists, rather than urging the viewer to take a personal position on a subject, try to convey their personal takes about the major issues that affect contemporary age. Do you consider that your works could be political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

Well, I believe in general that artists do not have to be politically engaged in their works, in the sense that it is not a prerequisite to create an interesting body of works: for example some artists dedicate their entire research to formal or aesthetical causes. But if you think about it, the developement of new movements such as geometric abstraction or expressionist abstraction coincided with major developments in society as well and artists wanted to create a new artistic expression that stood by the “new” society. I personally never defined myself as a politically engaged artist in the sense that I never made a work thinking it would serve such or such cause on purpose. But if I

stand back and take a look at my body of works, I realize that there is indeed a subtle sociopolitical criticism. I make works to express my ideas, but I have to admit I have a strong feminist voice that can be perceived in my sculptures. For example, the work Good Girl Bad Girl which seems like a catchy and funny piece at first, really just uses the codes of marketing present in our society to denounce the dichotomy imposed on women. The words “good girl” or “bad girl” could be seen on trendy shirts these days and they convey a flirty or sexy image of their wearer. But in reality, on top of reducing women to basic sex objects, these are the only two (reductive) categories women can fit in depending on whether or not they follow the rules of society imposed by men. Even now in the 21st century it feels as if women’s life choices were dictated by the way they could be perceived by the rest of society. One is a “good” girl if she chooses to stay home and take care of her family, but she is also a “bad” girl because she did not choose to have a professional career. The same goes for the one who has a career. The one who dresses well is seen as a “good” girl, but she will probably be a “bad” girl if she ends up being harrassed because she “asked for it.” It feels as if any stand a woman could take she would always be blamed for it, even if it is something that society drives them to do. In this work I am clearly denouncing the kind of pervasive unspoken rules that are still imposed on women nowadays. On an other level, I have been very deeply affected by the recent surge of terrorism and destruction and this has already shown in my work. I was appalled to learn about the destruction of archeological sites in Syria, which led to the creation of La Source – Palmyre. I am astounded to see that people can destroy the cultural

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heritage of humanity simply to impose their power and their view on the world. I actually cannot think of any good reason to explain such an act, and it shows how dangerous, from an intellectual point of view, extremism can be – and I am not even mentioning the human aspect. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have really affected me and it drove me to rethink about the world we are living in, the questions of access to education, the sharing of resources, the importance of culture, how one creates a sense of community, etc. This is going to lead to new works and it will probably have a lasting impact on my reflection. I like to think of my work as the starting point for a new conversation with the viewer. I am deliberately pointing at different themes and I am guiding the viewer’s reflection without giving one specific answer or point of view on the subject. This way I hope my works shake the viewer’s ground and spark discussions. That is obviously my own point of view and it might not be shared by all other artists. However I believe artists can bring a lot to society either by soothing or by shaking it without having to directly tackle sociopolitical problems. The public reception in itself can already become political: one piece can be celebrated by some and despised by others. For example some of Anish Kapoor’s pieces displayed in Versailles this summer have been profaned by ultraconservatives whom I believe did not fully understand the extent of his artistic project or discourse. Another interesting project from your recent production that has particularly impacted on us and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled Fifty Shades of Anne Cecile. It seems to reflect a metaphor of the conflictual

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replationship between our identity and the way we relate to oursleves. This brings to a new level of significance the notion of physicality in everyday life experience. So while asking you to walk our readers in the genesis of this interesting work, we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

That is a very good and interesting question, but I am not sure I can answer it! To me, my personal experiences have a direct impact on my work and they can also be a direct source of inspiration. Sometimes I feel like anybody could read me and know my whole life by taking a look at my oeuvre, but the public’s feedback tells otherwise. If I think about it, I guess it is not entirely possible to disconnect the creative process from direct experience. According to science, our personallity - which has a direct influence on the career we opt for and other main life choices - is genetically inherited by 50%. Let’s say that an artist would want to create “pure art” that is not tainted by exterior influences, something that would be pure creation, this is already contradicted by the fact that his very own personallity is already influenced by his personal genetics. So the way he sees the world, how he perceives it, how he expresses himself is already the outcome of his own experience. The work Fifty Shades of Anne Cecile is about personal experience but also about the way we present it to create a super personality for the social media. In this work I was trying to denounce how much social media can distort the perception of


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the self for oneself and for the others. Selfies, perfect sunsets, filters, all of these play a part in a mise en scene to make us appear better than we actually are on social media. It made me think about the reasons behind why people do these things, the pros and cons of such behaviours. It was very interesting that during the process of creating the 50 selfportraits my reflexion toward the work changed as well. What first begun pretty much as a critique of the selfie matured into a reflection about who I am and which aspects of myself I can or want to display in 50 different ways. It was also quite interesting for me to reappropriate my own physical image, which is something I never really did in the past. The obvious disclaimer behind that work was to state that I am not my physical attributes, which is why the same portrait is printed over and over. I came to realize it was impossible to capture a person by making 50 different representations of her, and I am sure the same would hold true no matter if it were for up to 100 or even 1000 representations. While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, your works often reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to hint the direction to the viewers, offering them to elaborate personal interpretations to the ideas that you convey into your pieces... this quality marks out a considerable part of your production, that is in a certain sense representative of the conflictual relationship between human identity and our unstable contemporary societies: how much does your own psychological make-up (structure psychologique) determine the materials you decide to use in a piece? In particular, any comments on your choice of materials and how it has changed over time?

Thanks a lot for noticing the different levels of interpretation present in my work, and for understanding the way I lead the viewers’ approach to my pieces. As I did not follow a

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Good Girl Bad Girl

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classic training in visual arts, I learnt to use materials through a lot of trials and errors. I keep on experimenting even today with new materials such as plexiglass, wax, or the use of pigments on marble, and that is how I discover new techniques or discard some others. I first began to work with clay as it is a material easily available which did not required a lot of investment for a novice artist. But this material has some requirements that do not suit my approach: it is heavy so it needs a structure to support the material from within, it needs to be stored in a specific environment, there should be no air bubble emprisoned in the material otherwise the sculpture will explode when baked and it is not sturdy enough when raw, etc. These technical demands plus the physical limitations of the material made me looking for more. Now I use plastiline to create models as it has the same texture of clay but it does not dry, so I can hop on and off a project regardless of time constraint. Soon after discovering clay, I started to work with papier machĂŠ which is significantly lighter and it can easily be repaired if a sculpture breaks mid-way through the creative process. It allows me to make them more aerial but the drying time between each work session is something that almost drives me crazy. One has to be extremely patient to create a big sculpture with this material as it is a process that takes months. I introduced plaster in my work practice as a pouring material when I molded some of my sculptures. I was travelling often and the clay sculptures would often be damaged, so I decided to mold them in stronger material. With time I began to appreciate plaster for its materiality: it is something between water and matter that can take any shape, it is aerial yet strong, and there is an infinity of

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textures to be explored. However, just like papier machĂŠ, it requires drying time in between applications, which prevents it from being my favourite material. Two years ago I had the amazing opportunity to be introduced to marble carving by Pablo Atchugarry in his foundation in Punta del Este, Uruguay, which has been a turning point for my work. I finally found a material that was strong enough to hold pretty much any form, and difficult enough to work to keep me captivated. I can work marble for several hours straight without stopping, and I know the machines or my strength will give up before the material ever will. As much as I love to battle with a material that is stronger than me, the ultimate goal is not only about my self-satisfaction in making a particular work. I have to take into account that - in order to be a significant piece - the general feeling emanating from the piece is as important as the form itself. The kind of material I select for a specific piece will play an important part on that sensation. For example, the materiality of marble is very down to earth because marble is in itself a very heavy material. If I want a sculpture to give an aerial sensation, I will have to use another material. I can use the same material entirely raw and let it expresses its essence in one work while taming it in another work. For example I threw plaster on the surface of Defeat Your Inner Demon but I tamed the same material and covered it with a resin varnish in Untitled (Snake Woman). Thanks to all my trials and errors I now have a larger catalogue of techniques and materials to choose out from in order to select the most appropriate for a new work. Over your career you have exhibited in several occasions, both in Europe and in the United States, including your recent group show ÂŤ Gaia Âť at the Galerie Amarrage, Paris. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of

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the relationship of your art with your audience. Your work is strictly connected to the chance of establishing a direct involvement with the viewers, who are called to evolve from a mere spectatorship to conscious participants on an intellectual level. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

Yes, now that I have to think about it, I realize I do care about the effects of the piece onto the viewers while creating it in my head. I keep in mind that my job is not to create pieces only for me, or only to express my views. As an artist I aim at reaching toward the audience, I am looking for a dialogue between the piece and the viewer. I feel like there is a clear distinction between the works I was doing before being a professional artist and the works I am doing now. Before my works were a lot more self-centered as I was not really thinking they would find a viewership, so I did not take this dimension into account. Now the reception of the work does influence the formal creation of the work. A simple example is the effect of size: whether the exact same work is the size of your hand or three-meter high, you will perceive it differently. Therefore the message might be understood differently and the whole conversation about the work would consequently be changed. In terms of the symbols I use in my work, these are part of my own personal language as an artist, I do not try to fit in or to include symbols which are not part of my imagery, which I do not own. As I explained earlier, I am trying to make my work understandable to the largest amount of people but I still stay true to myself while doing so. Also what I think is interesting in this dialogue between the piece and the public, is that as much as I am trying to point at directions for the reflection and understanding, the piece ceases to belong to

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me as soon as it is viewed by an external eye. The audience is free to interpret it its own way which is also something I take into account, and I have to admit this is quite fascinating for me to know how people interpret my works. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Anne Cecile. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I believe marble will remain my core material, but I will keep on experimenting with other materials on the side. I think the main expansion of my work will be in terms of size: I have projects for bigger scale sculptures as well as installations. I will also expand the series of square works like Good Girl Bad Girl as I would like to display these works by the dozen on walls. It will be like a marble panel, almost like a marble canvas! I have two major projects for 2016: I am very excited that my first solo show “Il ne Fallait pas Me Créer Libre” will be taking place in September 2016 in the South of France. This will be a display of my most recent works in marble and in mixed-media. I am very proud to announce I have been selected by curator Julia Rajacic to be part of the International Expanded Media Art Triennial of Belgrade that will take place in December 2016. The triennial will explore the three-way relationship between Freedom, Men, and Women: the achievements, developments, as well as the areas to keep on improving. Thank you very much for allowing me to express my artistic outlook in your magazine.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Catherine Miller, curator articulaction@post.com

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R osemary Meza-DesPlas

Lives and works in the Southwest United States

An artist's statement

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ispy, curling tendrils, wiry, frizzy ends stitch through a picture plane to create

images; I collect and sew my own hair into drawings which accentuate line and texture. Scratchy, nervous lines trail across a wall in my drawing installations. These large, on-site installations are drawn with conte; sometimes they incorporate vinyl appliques, liquid graphite and specialty fabric. Voluptuous layers of watercolor stain canvas and paper to create figurative forms. Washes of color depict the imperfections of flesh. The depiction of flesh is not merely about accuracy for color and form, but it is about having an eye for the bump -- and the lump-- and the chunk of blemished flesh. “The body – what we eat, how we dress, the daily rituals through which we

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attend the body- is a medium of culture. The body, as anthropologist Mary Douglas has argued, is a powerful symbolic form, a surface on which the central rules, hierarchies, and even metaphysical commitments of a culture are inscribed and thus reinforced through the concrete language of the body.” (Susan Bordo, Unbearable Weight Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body, 1993) I examine gender role expectations and prevailing stereotypes in mass media through the lens of sociocultural structures. Major themes in my work include body image, violence & sexuality, and the nature of intimacy.

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Rosemary Meza-DesPlas An interview by Melissa C. Hilborn, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

Recontextualizing the imagery art historical depictions of women, artist Rosemary MezaDesPlas's work accomplishes an insightful investigation about the contemporary notions of gender issues and feminism. When unveiling the relationship between the physical dimension and the realm of perception, her Women and Guns series that we'll be discussing in the following pages, shows a successful attempt to capture the ephemeral of human experience, materializing the communication disconnect that affects our contemporary societies. One of the most convincing aspect of MezaDesPlas's practice is the way its sociopolitical criticism offer a key to understand the impact of popular culture on the female psyche, urging the viewers to explore transformation and unstability in the contemporary age. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to her refined artistic production. Hello Rosemary and welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview we would like to pose a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BFA of Painting and Drawing from University of North Texas, you nurtured your education with a MFA that you received from the Hoffberger School of Painting, at the Maryland Institute: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you currently relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

Part of my formal education in drawing and painting was a solid foundation in figure drawing. At both institutions, UNT and MICA, I

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enrolled in classes which fostered my emerging interest in gender studies and the role of women in conjunction to increasingly complex societal structures. I configure the human form as a vehicle to discuss gender issues. I have a strong interest in the rendering of flesh. The depiction of flesh is not merely about accuracy for color and form, but it is about having an eye for the bump -- and the lump-- and the chunk of blemished flesh. The depiction of flesh is beautiful when it captures the multi-layered web of an irregular surface; the human figure is not a homogeny of pink or brown. I approach the creation of shapes in my artwork with an honest eye. The works I produce display shapes which droop uncompromisingly, spread with the advancement of age and twist into folds of melancholy skin. The flawed physical body of woman is bombarded with issues surrounding the sociocultural practice of promoting the unblemished body type -- as beautiful. Your approach reveals an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints and techniques. The result conveys a coherent and consistent sense of harmony and unity. We would like to invite our readers to visit http://rosemarymeza.com in order to get a wider idea of your work: before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell our readers something about your process and set up for producing your works? In particular, have you ever happened to realize that such synergy is the only way to achieve the results you pursue and to express the ideas you investigate about?

I create artwork within the framework of a series; this multinomial approach produces variations on a theme in different media. The inception of any given theme is rooted in my investigation of socio-cultural issues. Part of my studio process involves researching and


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extensive writing on a potential issue and examining it from a multiplicity of viewpoints. On-site wall drawing installations, watercolors and hand-sewn human hair are some of the different media I use for my artwork. These different approaches to the art process may seem disparate, however they all focus on the visual element of line. Mark-making is a visual anchor in my artwork. In 2000, I was creating large wall drawings using a wax-based crayon called conte. A friend mentioned the correlation of the line work in my drawing istallations to the delicate lines of human hair. The idea intrigued me, therefore I spent time experimenting with hair. Gluing it to paper produced messy and unruly results while sewing hair gave rise to textured and energetic lines. Sewing is a meditative activity; I use small embroidery needles to capture the hairs into pockets of stippling, hatching, or cross-hatching. I have been collecting my hair on a daily basis since 2000: the collection of my hair is a ritualistic morning activity. The compendium of hair is stowed in plastic containers after the hair has been harvested in the shower or by finger-combing. Over the years, I have dyed my hair different shades of brown and red to garner a broad range of values. I use my own hair in art because it is loaded with contradictions. Hair elicits a dichotomy of responses in people from attraction to repulsion. Long, luxurious hair on a woman is attractive and sexy, yet if one finds a single strand of hair in soup or on a hotel pillow then the hair is repulsive. Sociologist Rose Weitz published a work called Rapunzel's Daughters: What Women's Hair Tells Us about Women's Lives. She examined the hair's

relationship to sexuality, age, race, social class, health, power, and religion. According to Weitz, hair plays a role in our identity because "It is personal, growing directly out of our bodies and on public view for all to see. And it is malleable, allowing us to change it more or less at a whim. As a result, it's not surprising that we use our hair to project our identity and that others may see hair as a reflection of our identity." Symbolism associated with hair can be found in such literary works as The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope and Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm and The Bible.

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I personally like the idea that my discarded strands of hair have a "second life" in art. When I sell an artwork, each art patron is literally receiving pieces of me because they have strands of my hair. I value this personal connection. Despite my ability to work in various painting media, I deliberately choose to work in watercolor. The rapid layering of watercolor marks creates a translucent stack of depth upon a 2D surface. Manipulating the medium of watercolor leads to pellucid flesh; volume and weight are suggested in heavy thighs and gently swelling bellies. Like hair, watercolor is a difficult and challenging medium which mocks me with its uncompromising nature. For this special issue of ARTiculAction we have selected You Took My Joy I Want It Back and Death of the Sweetheart, a couple of stimulating works from your Women and Guns 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 these works is the way they accomplish the difficult task of creating an harmonic mix between a figurative, realistic approach to the evokative reminders conveyed by the symbols you combine together: when walking our readers through the genesis of the Women and Guns series, would you shed a light about the role of metaphors in your process?

In the 70s television shows like Charlie’s Angels, Policewoman and Get Christie Love presented to the TV-viewing public a stereotypical sexy female crime fighter. Over thirty years later “jiggle TV” (and film) still exists. There is a discrepancy between the sexy myth of female crime fighters and the multifaceted reality. As a pubescent child in 1976, I did not comprehend the sexist moniker of “jiggle tv” and the campy depiction of violence seemed genuine to me. These retro television series juxtaposed with contemporary film images of fetishized-hyper-violent women served as the catalyst for a body of artworks I created in 201213. Groundwork for this body of artworks included research of television and film images of women with weapons. This series is a thoughtful examination of the relationship between violence, sexuality and femininity. The iconic stances in the Charlie’s Angels logo and additional images from

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the media packets serve as a source of inspiration along with poses from contemporary cinema. Snippets of these images are recontextualized, utilized as a recurring motif and incorporated into my artworks.

suggest that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature: do you agree with this analysis?

Articles in the New York Times, “Drug War Feminized” by Damien Cave and “Gosh, Sweetie, That’s a Big Gun” by A.C. Scott and Manohla Dargis, provided food for thought on the correlation between violence, the sexy and femininity. I took the image of the sexy female crime fighter/ criminal prevalent in mainstream media and created artworks which mock the prevailing concept of “sexy chicks with guns”. There is a plethora of images in film which depict women as sexual creatures in hyperfeminine attire toting weapons. Commercial potential is maximized by the trifecta: phallic weapon, sexy woman, and promise of gratuitous violence. The visual perception of female empowerment in the 21st century has been packaged for public consumption with an eye for stylized clothes and hard, shiny steel.

series called “I Love You, Man: I Think This is the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship”. This series of works was my response to the numerous bromance movies which proliferated movie theaters over the last few years. The nature of the bromance movie is to talk about male friendship in a comedic manner; the term is a preemptive strike against the suggestion of homosexuality. Rosie Franklin in her post on Disrupting Dinner Parties, Feminism for Everyone, says “...there are no neologisms for female platonic friendship the way there are for male friendship because there is no urgent need to specify ‘no homo’ for female friendships.” The artworks in this series depict the artist and her women friends engaged in the human activity of intimacy. Some images are seemingly mundane, innocuous acts like two women, two straws and one drink while others are larger-than-life intersections of affection like the hug of two nude women. These are quiet interludes of intimacy. In a society consumed by social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, we have numerous connectivity modalities available to us. Connections on the internet are devoid of the one basic need every human craves - - real intimacy. What does real intimacy entail and how do I know it when I see it? Yes, I agree with your analysis of Two Women Walk Into A Bar. This artwork reveals the nature of intimacy within female friendships.

I chose to focus on the visceral connection of human flesh and cold metal. There is something disfiguring about a woman holding a weapon. The sight runs counterintuitive to “mom & apple pie”. The veracity of the pose refutes the notion of “sexiness” and the form of the female figure becomes contorted with a quiet sense of impending violence. The women are vulnerable in their nudity yet at the same time empowered. Metaphors in my artworks lead the viewer past superficial appearance towards a daedal reading of imagery. While a recurrent idea of your pieces is communication which virtually elimination of the need for human contact dued to pervasing modern methods of communication, Two Women Walk Into A Bar highlights the communication disconnect between individuals and the society they inhabit, that affects the contemporary age. When inviting the viewers to personal associations, this work seems to suggest that informations & ideas could be considered "encrypted" in the environment we inhabit, so we need to decipher those patterns. When addressing us to process the things we are sometimes able to catch you seem to

Two Women Walk Into A Bar is part of my

The way you inquire into the sphere of sexuality reminds us of early Jenny Saville's production: but while Saville's works often focuses on subjects on the margins of society, your characters have an universal feature that seem to reflect a metaphor for human condition. In particular, we have highly appreciated the way Shake Your Hips Like Battleships and But….Fischl bring to a new level of significance the notion of physicality in everyday life experience. So while asking

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Hit'em Up Style

Shake Your Hips Like Battleships

you to walk our readers in the genesis of this interesting work, we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

shaped forms. Round is synonymous with voluptuous or fat; therefore, round can be beautiful or ugly. An analysis of these body parts would raise questions about arbitrary notions of beauty and contradictory norms for the female image across time. François Boucher is known for paintings in which his model is positioned flat on her abdomen revealing her ample backside: Mademoiselle O’Murphy and Brown Odalisque. The posterior is the focal point; it is centrally placed with the entire figure at a sharp diagonal cutting across the picture plane. I would emulate Boucher’s compositions. In Shake Your Hips Like Battleships, the bottoms are placed at angles creating diagonal directional forces. Eric Fischl’s subjects are the toned, athletic women of suburbia. In The Beginning of the End, Fischl paints a picture of an angular, flat,

The Woman of Willendorf served as the impetus for a series of works I created from 2010-2011. In this series, I focused on analyzing the fetishized areas of the female figure in art history: breasts and buttocks. I selected these body parts due to the proclivity of ample flesh on these regions; the rendering of flesh would be a major facet of these artworks. A secondary reason to make these anatomical areas the focus of this series is their propensity to be more than just round; they were curled, globose, oval and pear-

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dismissive backside. Instead of conveying sensuality, the buttocks in Fischl’s paintings are standoffish and untouchable. At first glance they appear to be our contemporary notion of the ideal, yet the angular brushwork which delineates between sun-kissed skin and pearly white flesh creates awkward divisions across the skin that skews away from standard beauty. In But….Fischl I appropriate buttocks from Eric Fischl’s paintings and place them in a grid arrangement. Cropping leads to the negation of previous associations; the buttocks take on new personas. Research of the female image in Western art history served as a catalyst for my own self-reflection. In the case of this specific series, personal experience was a part of the creative process. I began to retrospectively look at my approach to depicting the human figure; how did it evolve and transform over the last two decades? The thematic focus on feminism, gender issues and body image remains constant regardless of the variable modes I utilize to address the human form. My referential sources for the human figure are multifarious; I have employed images from books/magazines, hired models, and even used my own body. Sometimes the only available model is oneself. Modeling for myself eventually led to working as a model for art classes and individual artists; I would continue to model, out of circumstantial need and convenience, for ten years. I am not the only artist who has incorporated her own form into artistic production; Jenny Saville used her own body in paintings. In an interview with David Sylvester about the painting Plan, she said the following: “The head is mine. In fact, this painting is really based on me. I use me all the time because it's really reliable, you're there all the time. I like the idea of using yourself because it takes you into the work. I don't like the idea of just being the person looking. I want to be the person. Because women have been so involved in being the subject-object, it's quite important to take that on board and not be just the person looking and examining. You're the artist but you're also the model. I want it to be a consistent exchange all the time.” The consequence of working as an artist’s model, I developed an acute sensitivity about my body image and its resultant reflection on canvas, paper, or in a

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Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle

camera’s lens. Two works I produced in 2010

picture plane within a grid. The breasts from

are 24 and 44. They present images of my

age 24 are round and firm, yet cropped in

breasts at ages twenty-four and forty-four,

unusual ways. In some, the manner in which

respectively. The breasts are placed in the

they are trimmed gives the breasts a silicone-

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Cry Die Or Just Make Pies


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I'm Your Green Honeycreeper Baby

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Rosemary Meza-DesPlas


Rosemary Meza-DesPlas

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appearance, yet in others the forms appear misshapen as if the result of partial mastectomies. Despite being shown in pairs, the breasts are disconnected. The painting titled 44 presents to the viewer crowded, dangling and bulbous breasts. They are not shown in pairs, yet they communicate a sense of familiarity due to overlapping and proximity. The breasts bustle, hustle and jostle each other for space. The breasts are shown out of context; the appendages are isolated on a white ground. I was presenting the following questions for the viewer. Does this visual arrangement impact any fetish relationships and sexual thoughts associated with breasts? Does the composition accentuate their sexuality or provide for an open-ended interpretation of form? As it is clear in I'm Your Green Honeycreeper Baby, a relevant part of your work is focussed on a multilayered exploration of the contemporary notions of feminism and gender issues and feminism. There's a subtle but effective sociopolitical criticism in your work: many artists from the contemporary scene, as Ai WeiWei or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to include open socio-political criticism in their works. It is not unusual that artists, rather than urging the viewer to take a personal position on a subject, tries to convey their personal takes about the major issues that affect contemporary age. Do you consider that your works could be political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

Social statement and satire are two aspects of my artwork, however I do not engage in sociopolitical criticism. Major themes in my art include body image, violence & sexuality and the nature of intimacy. The intentional neutral approach of my artwork lures the viewer inward with pretty, pastel watercolors and seemingly innocuous imagery. Upon close inspection, the spectator receives a playful jab –pow! For instance, the artworks 24 and 44 may initially grab the viewer’s attention because of the colorful, flirty breasts moving across the picture plane. Looking carefully one becomes uneasy by the isolated body parts and self-conscious of their own voyeuristic role in society. They are dangling pieces of meat lined up for our examination. I’m

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You Green Honeycreeper, Baby depicts two

women; one woman lecherously grabs the other’s breast and both women grin sheepishly at the witness to the scene. The portrayal of embroidered florals, pink collage fabric and gold trinket necklace are like femininity squeezing out and squirting up. The spontaneity of real intimacy is unencumbered by gender-specific societal codes. It exists as a connection between two people notwithstanding their sexual orientation. In contemporary society, my role as an artist is like a child with a stick poking a caterpillar on a sidewalk: I am a temporary roadblock, introducing new routes or simply pestering and annoying. The influence and necessity of arts and artists in our culture ebb and flow. Critical times, such as ours now, demand the gifts of artists, and in particular the capability to express what needs to be said and to hold fast to values often absent in the contemporary reality. We have appreciate the investigative feature of your exploration about emerging visual contexts: in your opinion are there limits to what can or should be used to create? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when conceiving and creating your works?

Honest and sometimes difficult discourse surrounding contemporary issues can be found in the visual contex of 21st century art. Contentious topics like gun violence, bullying, racisim and sexism are expressed in various aristic modalities. Often times, artists struggle to strike a balance between visual aesthetics and socio-political messages. There are no limits to what an artist may use to create their artwork, however I particularly value art which is skillfully crafted and thoughtfully presented. The impact and influence an artist might have on an audience is diluted by poor craftsmanship: thematic messages are lost in the crumbles of shoddy artwork. I do not selfimpose constraints or rules in my studio practice. Importance is placed on the investigation of feminist themes; imagery and media evolve during reflective thinking and writing. While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, your paintings sometimes seem to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to urg the viewer to question the images you choose, inviting them to elaborate personal interpretations to the ideas that you convey into

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Rosemary Meza-DesPlas

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Peck Not Prick

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your pieces... this quality marks out a considerable part of your production, that is in a certain sense representative of the conflictual relationship between content and form: how much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

I would like the viewer to look beyond the superficiality of appealing colors and ponder the multilayered contextualization of imagery. In Jumble, Jumble: The Funbags, one is presented with abstract breasts painted in relucent colors and embellished with hand-sewn human hair. The palette made up of lollipop pinks, purples and oranges is enticing, at the same time the hand-sewn human hair is wild and strident. There exists a polarity between the mood established by colors and the disturbing texture of tangled lines of hair. This paradoxical arrangement of color and texture is deliberate. In the artwork ShakeYour Hips Like Battleships, the heightened intensity of the oranges and yellows beckon the viewer to squeeze lush, volumptuous forms. My palette has become more effulgent over time. At times I manipuate the watercolor medium in order to subvert its traditional nature; the watercolor medium appears to look like oil paint in the artwork Two Women Walk Into A Bar. Over your career you have exhibited in several occasions, including over fifteen solos and a recent participation at the group show "Beauty" at the Meridian Street Gallery, Indianapolis. So before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Your work is strictly connected to the chance of establishing a direct involvement with the viewers, who are called to evolve from a mere spectatorship to conscious participants on an intellectual level. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

The direct involvement with my viewers happens initally by drawing them in with the utilization of media. The audience for my art is visually

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intrigued by hand-sewn human hair drawings. The obsessive-compulsive nature of the work and the tangible texture of human hair spiraling out from paper, canvas or mylar is unexpected. The medium, itself, captivates the audience. Comparatively, watercolor has been a successful medium for me because of my unusual color choices and non-traditional manipulation of media. Typically, watercolors are associated with charming landscapes and demure pastel stilllifes, in contrast my figurative imagery is uncommon. The decision-making process in terms of media is a crucial part of how I capture the attention of the viewer. Once past the visual appearance of media, the spectators’ subconscious is poked and prodded into considering the meaning behind my imagery. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Rosemary. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

My most recent project incorporated my hair drawings and an one-site wall drawing installation. It utilized the physicality of the door as a metaphor for identity. As people, we spend a lifetime being processed through doors; the doors can be political, societal or personal. In cases where one makes a conscious selection of the door, that choice can solidify your identity or challenge preconceived notions of the self. Contemporary feminists experience an anxiety of the threshold. Women falter in this paradigm of feminism: they turn a complacent eye to the feminists’ triumphs of the past and hesitate to act or engage in coextensive socio-cultural challenges of the 21st century. I see my new work evolving into larger installations incorporating the various media I work in and provoking commentary on fourth wave feminism.

An interview by Melissa C. Hilborn, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com


The Rose With The Broken Neck


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P hilippe Halaburda lives & works in South of France & New York, USA

An artist's statement

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s an artist, I paint on many different supports developing my personal abstraction vision using acrylic paints, as well as textures and other mediums.

My work as an artist is a seductive, beautifully shot study of the relationship between collective and personal crises. My innovative abstraction is looking for an extraordinary refinement and oscillates between binary opposites: imagination and observation, lucidity and frenzy. She blurs the boundaries between painting, drawing, and writing while preserving a high degree of love of the colors. My paintings are also in a constant state of flux and suggest different things to each of us. My work revolves around the great universal themes of love, art, beauty, and death.I see them as a springboard for the imagination. Lines, shapes and paint stains can suggest me some things I would never consciously designed.

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I find my singular way into a landscape of social and human tensions. Initially, my desire to paint is the simple desire to reflect on the existential question: ÂŤWho am I?Âť. My painting style is the sum of my personality, my experiences and my meetings, all that I dared to do and be in my life so far. I try to apply it as much in painting figurative as an abstract way. This perception of myself and the world open almost unlimited possibilities of creation. This is why I always seeks novelty, surprise and risk-taking and I touch a certain universality that ties us all.This is what I paint that defines the contours of my painting since I started: she is unique, personal, identifiable, accessible, lively and full of freedom. My new purpose: a continuous conversation between me and the unknown.

Philippe Halaburda


Philippe Halaburda

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The acce Proceddur acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

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meets

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Philippe Halaburda An interview by Josh Rider, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

Philippe Halaburda's paintings explore the expressive potential of abstract texture to inquire into the great universal themes of love, art, beauty, and death. His pesonal approach condenses refined and rigorous research to freedom of expression and accomplishes the difficult task of walking the viewers into the liminal area in which imagination and observation, lucidity and frenzy find an unexpected point of convergence. Drawing from universal imagery, Halaburda triggers both memory and imagination, to speak of emotions and a variety of feelings, creating a compelling narrative: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating artistic production. Hello Philippe and welcome to ARTiculAction: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your rich and multifaceted background. You have a solid training anda after having earned your Bachelor Degree of Literature, you nurtured your education graduating the prestigious Academy of Graphic design and visual Arts, EDTA SORNAS, Paris: how do these

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experiences influence the way you conceive and produce your works? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general? I think that these 2 backgrounds have given me the chance to develop an unique style. For me, it’s very important to have a strong and clear identity as artist. I like the idea to be recognized through my paintings. I have my own aesthethic universe which I discover with every new creation. It’s like a world of images that I develop since so many years. One of my dream is to write a novel. Today, I don’t feel ready for that. I like reading, writing poetry for example. In 2010, I did a diary with a drawing and a short text written every day of the year. I t was for me the opportunity to associate image and text. For me, titles of my artworks are very important and significative. They show the pictural evolution in my artistic process. I create a new language which is comparable to the abstract works I produce. For example, I often add the same letter in a word just to be coherent regarding the repetition of shapes or lines in the painting itself. Being a graphic designer helps me to tend to work with a very geometric and precise technic in my art. I have always


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Quelle Onraa Bouunce acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

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thought that I had to dissociate these 2 activities as Painter and designer but now, I realize that they are both additional. This duality make a specific combination. I use acrylic paints but I will be able to create similar images with graphic softwares too. For me, aesthetic is based on a coherent architecture in each creation. I develop a kind of writing with colors, lines and symbols which is the result of my educational background. it’s like my personal diary that I write day after day. You can find conections with real facts in my life. All my creations relate an attempt of accomplishment as a human in earth. I know that I have a great inspirational matter that is my own human condition. Your pictural and textual language is costantly evolving and your research of a kind of universality that ties us all condenses a variety of viewpoints, combining together figurative as an abstract into a coherent balance. We we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.halaburda.com/ in order to get a synoptic view of your work: in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up? In particular, would you tell our readers something about the evolution of your style?

When I started to paint 20 years ago, I didn’t know what would be my evolution as artist. I was not thinking to work in an abstract style as now for example. I knew that human kind was the edge of my creations. It was obvious that represent people will be a good way to touch each of us. I was not looking for universality. There is no calculation or interest in my art, just the main idea to preserv a balance in my artistic implication. Since

the beginning of my career, I have noticed that to be focused on myself was naturally a good opportunity to be opened to the audience. I think through years of art practice, I tend to explore deeper and deeper the human representation. I mean, perhaps at the beginning I was just represented people stand in a room, alone or together but always from the outside and now, I am inside our bodies. I am looking to relate the way of our feelings and emotions. There is no more interest to only represent them, it’s more creative and source of inspiration to show how they born inside each of us. It can explain why my art has became abstract since five, six years. I felt the desire to discover the explaination of our emotions. I talk about mental topography for identifying this creative process: a artistic work about every cerebral, intellectual and deep connexions we all have. It explains also why I cross colored lines in a delimited space as paper, cardboard or canvas. I want to suggest the idea of choice at anytime during life. Nothing is planified. Everybody has to be active and stay opened to any kind or opportunities. My painting translate that constant state of our free will. What has at once captured our attention of your work is the way the effective combination between tones provide the canvas with a dynamic and autonomous aesthetics: in particular, it seems to communicate a successful attempt to transform tension to harmony, and it's really captivating. While walking our readers through the usual genesis of your pieces, would you shed light to your main source of inspirations?

I am in the center of every creations. I

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A Ronaa Stenn, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

mean that I try to paint every day. Some times, it’s very easy, fluid and other times, it’s like an intern struggle. In fact, I

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try to reach an intellectual energy for staying the most sincere as possible in front of my art. I want to be naked as


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Among Faarbwecsee Etiquett, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

person during the creative act. I am very modest but when i am painting, I let the deep emotive flow coming. The result of

this process is energic and intense. For me, it’s the only way to create, to be surprised by my creations and to connect

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Arralucen, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

to the others. I am not always able to explain what I have done because of the unconscious part, but with time, I know some keywords about my art. Through

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my spontaneity and honesty as artist, I try to focus on my own truth. It’s for me an opportunity to express my intime desirs, my problems, my thoughts, my


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Boo Schann, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

feelings, etc‌ The dialogue established by colors and texture is a crucial part of your style: in

particular, the effective combination between both intense and thoughtful nuances of tones sums up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does

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Houuran, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a

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painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?


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Lepiisto Bofoll, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

I know that I am very sensitive to the environment where I am painting. I think I have had different periods in my career with different living places in my life. In

Paris first, with more grey and dark colors, in Switzerland then with blue colors and now in South of France with a light and shiny palette. When I have done

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Light Taahune, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

my first painting in Aix-en-Provence, I use pink as main color for example. In fact, I am reacting face tot he light on my surrounding. The light is South of France is

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incredible, I can understand why so many painters came here. I spent 3 times in New York in spring 2015 and I did not use the same palette as here.


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MµM Allenbyy, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

I like to give particular tones for a painting. It’s a question of harmony even if I always try to break this harmony. I work with different nuances to give a notion of

perspective and deepnes in my art. It’s a way to entert he painting. I don’t have prefered colors. I can imagine once use only gray colors. I think about that in my

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Paatern Interuptt Portrial, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

mind but I did not feel ready to cross this step for the moment. We definitely appreciate the way you challenge the abstract feature of

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images, creating an effective non linear narrative. In particular, playing with the evokative power of shapes you freely manipulate, you accomplish the difficult task of establishing direct relations with


Philippe Halaburda

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the viewers: German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it?

My abstract art is expressionist. It means that there is always a narrative side and a desire of message and opening. The psychological aspect is important to me. It’s fundamental to use this kind of matter. I agree that only symbolic strategic on art is not enough nowaday. I think it’s important to think about the medium. What will be the best medium to express what I want to express and share. For me, a flat support as paper or canvas is always interesting even if I feel that my art has to be sometimes used on other mediums. I understand that very recently. Since last year, I have started to develop my style by volume as large tubes for example. I am currently working on a new series with only colored strings. The creative process is the same but I don’t use paints. The main theme stays the possibilities of connections between humans. Your pieces combine stimulating color combinations with engaging textures: while exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, you seem to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to invite the viewer to find personal interpretations to the feelings that you convey into your paintings... this quality marks out a considerable part of your production, that are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your

feelings?

I show my freedom and the limits of my freedom as artist and I want to invite the audience to look at it. It has to be a kind of miror for the audience. I create images which are like windows of peace, share and fraternity. I like the idea to stimulate reactions and to discover other interpretations about them. Children are very clever ans surprising for that. The viewer has to feel his own freedom and fragility with his own background. I have my private history as human. Make art helps me to live in this world and to make it more bearable too. I can easily imagine that the audience needs to do the same. A feeling doesn’t stay, that can explain why i try to fix it through art. I can say it is like a work about memory that I share with other people. Maybe, this is why my art got this universal and common aspect that I do not control. The way you accomplish a continuous conversation between yourself and the unknown shows a coherent equilibrium concerning the composition: the multilayered experience to whom you invite the viewers gives a permanence to the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the notion of sight. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I don’t think so. For me, the creative process has to be completely connected from direct experience. My quest is to be the most honest and intense as possible. This is the reason why my art touchs and concerns the audience. It’s because of that I am artist. Whitout this opened door

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to the other people and to myself, I think I would not have become a painter. To be connected like this is a chance. There is no temptation of aggressivity or being brutal, just discover and show my own personnality. In real life, I am not very expressive person. I am introverted. With art, I can express the most private things with colors and nobody will know that at the same level as me. There is a modest side I want to hide with each new creation. I can say there is also a kind of therapy to do that. I found my way to show who I am. My personal experience is my mean creative matter, and I feel that is looks inexhaustible to me. Your captivating exploration of the expressive potential of abstract compositions seems to address the viewers to relate themselves with your work in personal way, your work shows an effective combination between experience and imagination and triggers our limbic parameters concerning our relation with physicality: as Gerhard Richter once remarked, "my concern is never art, but always what art can be used for": what is your opinion about the functional aspect of Art in the contemporary age?

Being artist in the contemporary age is a a way to reflect our world. I invite the audience to take a moment, to make a break and to think about themselves in a positive and reassuring objective. I belong to this world. Being artist is to be in a state of observation too. When I show my artworks, it’s for me like a message sent to the others. I show all the the types of connections between each of us and with our world. My art is organic. He is living and in movement too, as we

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are all. I change as you change. We have common history and I am curious about this deep and internal part of each of us. My personal activity as artist is a tool that you, the audience, have to use for their own equilibrium. Each image has for me this functional capacity. Over these years you have internationally exhibited your works in several occasions including four solos. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

I am my first audience. I always want to provoke new things in my art that ‘s why I don’t really look other artists works. As artist, I don’t want to repeat what I have already done. I am opened to critics, from professional of art or not. I propose images and try to follow my own artistic path. I do not want to be disturbed by fashions effects like graffiti or pop art for example. I could paint large wallpaintings but I have not yet got the opportunity to do some for the moment. The professional audience did not see this potential. I do live paintings and I really like the idea to create a particular art in a specific place during a short moment in front of people. I have my own style as painter but I need to confront it directly to the viewers. This is the basis of the interactions I need to progress.


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Roacch Emotion, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Philippe. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects?

How do you see your work evolving?

Since 2013, my art is exhibited in the United States. In Santa Fe, NM, first and

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Tiichy Igael, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

now on the east coast. I am now represented by 3 galleries in this country and I think I will try to look for more art

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project in this country than in France. I think my work is more appreciated there and one of my goal is to live there as


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Wruuhme Remm, acrylic and felt tip colored on canvas 80 x 80 cm, 49 inches by 49 inches, 2016

soon as possible. About my work, I think I will do more conceptual creations on different medias, not only paper or

canvas. I also want to be more minimalist, express a lot of thing with few colors, lines or shapes.

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J ohn Barney Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA

An artist's statement

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s a lifelong musician, I create art the same way I do music, somewhat haphazardly, taking a wisp of an idea and making

it whole. My goal is to enjoy the process and hope that the finished product makes an emotional or psychological impact with the viewer. I am intrigued and motivated by mystery, surrealism,psychological dimension and the passion of the artistic experience - regardless of form. I strive to have you share the same experience I do when looking at an interesting work of art - namely that time and space are suspended for a few brief moments, taking us away from our present reality and into that netherworld of alternate universes, so to speak. I feel strongly that the viewer create his/her own experience or meaning with the painting, consequently, I am often hesitant to explain the work. My education and career has been in psychology - and emphasizing that dimension in my work may help you discover something about yourself.

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John Barney is an artist in the Los Angeles area. A fan of art his whole life, John's visited galleries across the country. A self-taught artist, not bound by convention or formal training, John has been free to follow his own path. He has incorporated many of the characteristics he has admired from the many paintings he's observed - namely color, texture, and psychological dimension.. Many of his paintings are created using a palette knife - he feels that texture adds to the emotional impact of a painting and finds the controlled random elements of the knife stroke fascinating. During the past couple years he has won several awards for his paintings including numerous 1st place winners in the Long Beach Art Walk Masterpiece Contest. In addition, he's been featured in "The Level 25 Art Journal" and well as in Renee Longen's book "Fundamentally Female." John work can be found throughout the United States. He's had several gallery shows but prefers to deal directly with the public through his appearances and website. John is also a musician and songwriter, currently playing with his band,The Eleventh Floor (11thfloorband.com). He lives in southern California with his wife and son.


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John Barney's work provides an insightful investigation into the psychological dimension of art, providing the viewers with a multilayered experience capable of walking them into the liminal area in which the subconscious establishes a symbiosis with the conscious - urging viewers to create elaborate personal associations. Drawing from universal imagery and from his experience as a musician and as a psychologist/counselor, Barney incorporates both evocative elements and and rigorous abstract patterns to trigger memory and imagination. His work speaks to emotions, creating a compelling narrative: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating artistic vision. Hello John and welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview would you tell us something about your background? As an artist, you’ve stated that you’re basically self-taught, not bound by the conventions they teach in art school. You have been free to follow your personal approach to artmaking: are there any experiences that have particularly influenced the way you conceive and produce your artworks?

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I’ve been a fan of art my whole life. I’m the guy who would go to local art shows and purchase paintings. I’d visit bookstores and peruse the art section, especially the surrealist and visionary art books. I’ve been to galleries all across the United States. As a self-taught artist, this was my education. These experiences allowed me to discover the aspects of art that appealed to me namely color, texture, and psychological dimension. Later, I incorporated these traits into my own work. I found that I most strongly bonded with paintings that affected me emotionally – and made me think. My university education and graduate degrees were in psychology – I’ve always been fascinated by the way the mind works. Several artists were a big influence on me: Bob Martin, for his great imagination and “visionary” themes; Christian Jequel, a master palette knife painter from France, showed me how color and texture could set me free; and Leroy Neiman, for his fast and free approach to painting, including his creative use of color. Of course the “big” names like Bosch, Picasso, and Dali were important as well. The final word on my art education was that I learned “by doing.” I didn’t begin painting until much later in life. I first picked up a brush when my wife and son decided to create some art for our family room. So I went to the local art store, bought some canvases and


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acrylic paint, and we created our own paintings. I fell in love with the process – and here we are! Fortunately, my wife encouraged and supported my new adventure. Your approach combines a variety of viewpoints together into a coherent balance: the results bring a sense of unity that rejects any conventional classification. We suggest that our readers visit http://johnbarneyart.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work. In the meanwhile, would you like to tell our readers something about your process and set up? And in particular, how does your studies in the field of psychology influence the way you create art and address the aesthetic problem in general?

“Psychological Dimension” is a phrase I use to describe to describe how a work of art communicates or evokes feelings and thoughts in the viewer. This often occurs at the subconscious level. I think my particular style of abstract expressionism embraces this concept – whether it’s the indecipherable expression on a face, a complex background that is open for interpretation, an unususal color scheme, or a storyline that is not readily apparent. Each observer’s personality and set of experiences are different – and it’s absolutely fascinating how five people looking at the same painting will see or feel something different. While some of my paintings have a story behind them, many others encourage the viewer to “fill in the blanks.” This really drives some people crazy – they want to be “told” what it means or have it “explained.” The truth is, sometimes I don’t know even what it means! I love it when someone tells me what they see in one of my

paintings – and it’s something I’ve never even thought about. My process usually involves a simple drawing on canvas (sometimes a little more complex for abstract work) and then it becomes an organic process with color and texture. I do about 60 percent of my paintings with a palette knife – I really like the emotional impact of texture. You get a lot of surprises when you paint with the knife, especially when you put two or three colors on at the same time. The randomness of the knife stroke creates an excitement - the way the colors come off the knife onto the canvas can’t always be precisely controlled. Also, the scratching and scraping of the knife lends a lot of character to the painting. I tend to paint quickly – and I often get lost in time and emotion – some artists call it “the zone.” After the initial application has dried somewhat, I’ll go back and bring out the details that bring the painting to life. When I do faces – I always must begin with the eyes – it’s almost as if I need the painting to “see” and “participate” in the journey of becoming. Weird, I know. We would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from the Awakening and Awakening Two, a stimulating couple of works that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of these pieces is the way the insightful juxtaposition between intense tones provide the canvasses with a dynamic and autonomous aesthetic, to communicate an attempt to transform tension to harmony, and it's really captivating. While walking our readers through the genesis of these pieces,

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would you shed light to your main source of inspiration?

These paintings were inspired by the concept of new beginnings – an “awakening” if you will. In particular, I was thinking of how people, women in this case, may have an experience of self-discovery, often the result of a traumatic event. Sometimes they end up having a more fulfilling life going forward. It’s really a spirtual awakening, but not necessarily in the religious sense. Their nakedness emphasizes this new freedom. “Awakening” has elements of surrealism and symbolism to it and was created with a brush – while “Awakening Two” has a more intense color structure with the thicker texture of the painting knife. We have appreciated the way you investigate man’s interaction with his environment, as in the interesting Dancer and Cityscape. In your paintings the concept of landscape does not play the role of a mere background and it seems to suggest that, in a certain sense, informations & ideas could be considered "encrypted" in the environment we inhabit, so we need to decipher those patterns. When directing us to process these things, we are sometimes able to catch you perhaps suggesting that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature: what's your point about this?

Thank you for your insightful comments. I think you are right on about revealing the unexpected sides of nature. I often use unusual color palettes or background patterns for this. Both Jequel and Neiman are masters of the use of color to challenge our conventional sense of nature and encourage us to look at, and

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enjoy, in a different way. How we react to these colors and patterns is a reflection of our collective experience and the characteristics of our individual personality. Some viewers may be fascinated – while others are appalled. There certainly is no right or wrong way to feel. I appreciate your suggestion about how ideas and information can be “encrypted” in our environment. Often there’s a sense of chaos around us – and it’s up to us to find peace or meaning within. In both paintings you mention, this chaos is apparent – but in “Dancer” the ballerina is lost within her own world, a calmness within the passion of the moment. This is one of my favorite themes, by the way. My first love has always been music – and as a musician there’s nothing like the high of playing well in front of an audience – the pure joy and ecstasy in the sharing of your art as it happens. Painting is a solitary experience for me - and I don’t really want to share it with anyone. At least not until the work is finished. When playing with the evocative powers of universal imagery, your abstract approach establishes direct relations with the viewer beyond any conventional symbolism. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that “nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolism but has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead.” What is your opinion about it. And, in particular, how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

Symbolism seems to be popular these days – just look at the novels of Dan Brown (“The Davinci Code”). To me, however, symbolism has, at it’s core, a tangible element in that it “exists” – in other words, someone designed or arranged something to mean a particular thing. What’s facinating to me is the

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possibility that we can “decode” a painting by understanding our psyche rather than searching for clues that the artist planted. The meaning, therefore, is not static because it’s changes for each viewer of the artwork, based upon their own unique psychology. If you look at “Trepidation” it would be easy to fall into the trap of deciphering it by way of the obvious - equating the bold red paint with blood or anger – but if we take into consideration the “gestalt” of the painting through the knife strokes, the expression of the woman, the energy of movement, the nudity (OK – maybe the open shirt could be some symbolism – but hey, I didn’t say I was against it!) – it becomes darker, perhaps more psychosexual. I had a enlightening discussion with the woman who bought it – she was trying to find a positive or optimistic narrative for herself – choosing to think of the woman as empowered, perhaps seductive, as opposed to being caught in a nightmare. Again, the viewer’s psychology directs the narrative. While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, your pieces often reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to invite the viewer to find personal interpretations to the feelings that you convey into your paintings... this quality marks out a considerable part of your production. They are, in a certain sense, representative of the relationship between emotion and memory. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

Memory usually serves as a catalyst for emotion rather than the re-creation of any specific incident or event. It’s similar

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to the way an actor recalls something in their history when they’re required to cry or be angry. I may try to transfer a particular emotion or energy to the canvas in a general sense. I don’t worry about about whether or not it’s perfect, but I do get disappointed if someone else doesn’t get my intention. Sometimes one slash of the palette knife can change the entire emotional timbre of a painting – for better or worse. I’ve had times where I’ve gone a bit crazy trying to get the magic to appear – slashing this way, scraping that way. But I’m not like those painters who work themselves into a frenzy, throwing paint on the canvas in anger, rolling around in it – that’s a bit wild for me. Sometimes when I can’t find a particular color of paint in a tube I go insane – because my emotion is screaming that I need it on the canvas right now! We have appreciated the way your paintings convey an emotional vision of life, which is wisely balanced with a careful attention to the equilibrium concerning the composition. The multilayered experience to whom you invite the viewers gives a sense of permanence to the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the feeling you convey on your canvas. Moreover, you also draw a lot from your experience as a musician, so we would take this occasion to ask you if, in your opinion, personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

That’s a very interesting question. I would say the short answer is that experience is pretty indispensable, but imagination is almost as important. Experience guides the creative process -

for instance, most of us have been outside and have interacted with nature, to some degree. That might influence the way we interpret a landscape painting. However, could we imagine a fantastic landscape on another planet without ever being there? Of course! For me personally, there is no greater high than being lost in the music when playing with my band. It’s something that would be very difficult to imagine if I hadn’t experienced it myself – and that certainly helps when I create a painting focusing on a musician. However, I’ve seen some amazing artists create surrealistic or visionary worlds with intense detail and I’m blown away by their imagination and talent. Imagine if you were blind, then woke up in a room with your vision restored. On a table was a pencil and paper and you are instructed to draw something – what would it be? (here we have reserved space for Piano Fantasy, Violin Fantasy and Bluesman) Another interesting work from your recent production is entitled Party in My Head and we definitely love the dialogue established by colors and texture, which is a crucial part of your style: in particular, the effective combination between intense nuances of tones and hinted but rigorous geometrical patterns sums up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

Probably the first comments that people make about my paintings is my use of color. While I personally enjoy the

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calmness of a living space that is made up of neutral tones, sometimes the room just shouts the need for some intense color to bring it to life. That’s how I see my paintings – as the element in your room that will make it come alive. It’s almost an emotional yearning, a thirst that must be quenched – your eyes travel across the beige or taupe-colored walls in search of a splash of color. You find it – and all is right with the world. As previously mentioned, I’m from the Jequel or Neiman school of color – whatever works together is fine, but a tree doesn’t have to be brown and green, and nature or the “real world“ doesn’t have to limit our palette. Interestingly, I’ve recently done some black and white paintings where I’ll strategically add just a small bit of color. Sometimes color can overwhelm you, like too much loud music. Even though I’m a rock musician, when I’m not playing with my band I prefer quiet. Party in my Head was meant to have a dream-like quality. It’s a strange experience when you wake up from a dream that has all these fantastical elements to it. I know there’s been times where I try to go back to sleep so I can immerse myself in that world again. The 3-Dimensional quality of texture lends a realism to what is a world of makebelieve – almost like you can reach out and touch the dream. I’ve always been drawn to palette-knife paintings. You can see in my work that I’m not super detail-oriented. I don’t have the patience for a lot of precision work. The imperfection built into the knife style is what gives the painting its character and life. Colors blend in marvelous ways – and if I don’t like it, I just scrape it off.

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The opacity and thickness really makes the painting POP at a distance. I‘ve never understood the attraction of the hyperreal type of paintings – the ones that are almost indistinguishable from a photograph. They do absolutely nothing for me emotionally. I might marvel at the technique – but why not just own the photo? Over your career your works have been showcased in several occasions around the United States, including your recent participation at the group show at the Eclectique Gallery in Long Beach, CA. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create an emotional and psychological involvement with the viewers, who are then urged to evolve from the condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

It’s not a secret that most professional artists need to please their audience, whether it’s a collector, museum curator, or gallery. Frankly, for the artist who makes his living at art – it’s crucial to “play to the audience” so to speak. Virtually every professional artist who makes his living selling paintings is known for ONE particular style – deviate from that style at your own risk! The art market demands it – it’s like the band that continues to play their “hits” even though they are desperate to create new music. For myself, that means I’m slowly becoming known as the”colorful abstract expressionist” or the “guy who does

psychology stuff.” I’m new enough in my career that I must continue to experiment or I won’t grow. Fortunately for me, I’m also interested in the marketing aspect of art. My art is now found on Amazon.com and others places besides my website. I’ll continue to try and find new outlets.Even though I may be somewhat introverted by nature, I still enjoy talking to people, especially about all things artistic. In a perfect world, we could paint whatever we want, whenever we want and it would sell. I meet semi-regularly with a small group of relatively new artists – and we all struggle with finding “it.” “IT” is the thing that will allow us to pay the rent by doing something we love. It’s not alway possible. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, John. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

First of all, let me thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my art. I would like to do a series of larger abstracts – but I have to see if there is a market for them. I’m going to try bringing my style to more cityscapes and landscapes. People seem to like things that are familiar. I would love to have a year where I don’t do anything but experiment. I’ve got a couple music projects that I need to finish – then I’ll be primarily focusing on art for the rest of my time on this planet. I’ve lost some hearing and have tinnitus from playing too much rock and roll – at least I don’t have to worry about that in the art world! Finally, I’ll be looking for more opportunities to share my art – and hope that some new collectors join my journey.

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Mernie Williams-Baker Lives and works in Neew York, DC, USA

An artist's statement

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explore the relationship between Color, line and form vs. stereotype and emotion. I love what paint does. The most meaningful moments are when I'm working in the studio.

I am influenced, changeable and moved by art in the world. From Fragonard to Judith Bernstein I experience new insights everywhere. My work encompasses text art, abstraction or representative.

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I am drawn in by the painful nature of our human political/spiritual condition especially in women. My art reflects the ideas of perfection which eventually disintegrate into disillusion of equality power oppression and

Mernie Williams-Baker


green eye 2015 45"x 55" enamel, pastel, synthetic polymer, ink on canvas


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Mernie Williams-Baker An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

Mernie Williams-Baker's work explores the ideas of perfection which eventually disintegrate into disillusion of equality power oppression and freedom and brings to a new level of significance the relationship between our perceptual categories and the environment to provide the viewers with a multilayered experience capable of walking them into the liminal area in which subconscious level establishes a symbiosis between the conscious sphere. Drawing from universal imagery as well as from the intimate dimension, Williams-Baker's incorporates both evokative elements and rigorous abstract patterns to trigger memory and imagination, to speak of emotions, creating a compelling narrative: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Mernie and welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview would you tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you hold a BA of Fine and Studio Arts that you received from the Pratt Institute: how did this experience influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

First off, thank you for your excellent articulation of my work. I have always been a painter, as a kid I trained in acting, voiceover

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and dance because I was modeling with Marge McDermott Agency in NYC. We thought I would be an actor, but I had something more to say and could not find a way until I discovered painting as a way to reach other people on an emotional level. Before I was accepted into the Industrial Design program at Pratt, I won a scholarship to paint in Greece for 14 days and I think that really changed my life. Technical training of the Industrial Design program helped me evolve. Painting was a way to bring people together in discussion, a way to create a certain emotion, happiness. I love that people are drawn in. There have been decades in between these experiences that has brought me to a place where I can include culture, my community in the work. It takes intense concentration to keep the ideas current and relevant; Including my community's influence. street culture, people and their own history background, how they look and appear all inform the work. Then take it back to pure aesthetics back to basic forms and color. Your approach encapsulates text art, abstraction and representative that you combine together into a coherent balance: the results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. Before starting to elaborate about your artisti production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up? In particular, have you ever happened to realize that such synergy of viewpoints is the only way to snatch the spirit of the ideas you explore?

Look at all kinds of artists from the old to the cutting edge artists those writing on walls all


Mernie Williams-Baker a photo by James Metz 2015


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kiss 2015 55" x 56" oil, oil stick, enamel, synthetic polymer, latex, glitter, metallic foil on canvas

over the world, to cats getting new artist grants. I learn and take from everything, drawing, painting, 3-d sculpture, graphic design fashion and just all kinds of

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photography and film. I love new trendy things I am fickle this drives the painting, I appreciate what you said and I am really honored you see the unity. Yes, I was


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woman sold 2015 50"x 52" acetate, felt, oil, synthetic polymer, textile ribbon, giclee, tape on canvas

working to perfect many different aspects of art the abstraction, the representation the text art is wonderful. People that can take one word and make that work I love it. Love

to experiment. When I realized that adding text was giving my work another dimension I found a kind of coherence; my goal is unification not only for art but for life also. I

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no boys marfa prada 2015 142" x106" latex, synthetic polymer, oil stick, glitter, enamel, metallic foil on canvas

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use physics theories such as multidimensional realities. This is an effort to merge that idea visually, the multidimensional world, is real. So many things are happening around us, emotions, memory, past experiences, simultaneously and what we imagine to be our future. We would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from roxanne, a stimulating workthat our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of this body of works is the way the juxtaposition between intense tones provide the canvasses with a dynamic and autonomous aesthetic, to communicate an attempt to transform tension to harmony, and it's really captivating. While walking our readers through the genesis of this project, would you shed light to your main source of inspiration?

Sure. The main source of this piece the basis for this body of work was the woman I painted. She has a very interesting background reminds me of the Police song Roxanne. I cared for the portrait; developed an intense situation of reality around her. Creating dimensions that she had passed though. To visually communicate desolate places energized feelings that had supported a real struggle. Intense colors punctuated colorful reality of what life is. a vicarious exploration if I lived this person's life. with my art, hey Roxanne, you really don't have to put that red light on I get you, I accept you. To do this I chose a feminine, street kind of pattern. Using reds, gold and pink I tapped into the vulnerability of my character. Here are merging dimensions, the past and future with the present. Overtones of the emotions, which linger, the travel of thought and what is left of her particular journey-what I read as a visual story. It was ambitious because the technicalities took time, this was not as fast of a process as i

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the rules 2015 104"x 60"oil, synthetic polymer, enamel, oil stick, on canvas

would like, although when I paint, time does stop.

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While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, your pieces often to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to


Mernie Williams-Baker

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invite the viewer to find personal interpretations to the feelings that you convey into your paintings... this quality

marks out a considerable part of your production, that are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between

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emotion and memory. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular,

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do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?


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interpretations are unconscious but it is fused into the thought process before the piece is made. When a viewer can create their own personal interpretations, thats a success. Memory is a huge role as thats how most of the present moment is captured. I practice the aspects of a piece, the stenciling, the portraits, the background. Even a spontaneous present is often a memory. I work in deep solitude with music to achieve a state where I can tap into these vibrations that I hope translate and speak on other levels. I love painting, It is my goal to have the work explain itself, I mean it can speak without explanation. I can take 300 yards and 2K worth of paint into the studio, I don't have a problem locking myself in there for a year. Thats how it is done. I try to achieve a faithful visual translation of my feelings, yes! We have appreciated the way your paintings create a wisely balance concerning the composition: the multilayered experience to whom you invite the viewers gives a permanence to the intrinsic ephemeral nature of feelings you capture. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Much of the intention of creating the audience captivation and personal

If I understand the question correctly, or maybe I don't, but if your talking about being disconnected at the time of creation, well yes I do think that the creative process is a total disconnection from directly working on the canvas. Its pure bliss. Sometimes a journey or a slight black out of activity. These particular paintings are composition oriented, that was a choice. Using many techniques that unify the whole. I did mix the spirit with the physical. The person who is a living breathing thing with the structure of the line, perspective and form. I do think that I used a lot of personal experience in the creation process. As I study other artists,

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I began to understand my own story and use that as my experience in the visual language. Only I can really write or paint my story, but it also comes out as imagination and hopes or dreams. There are no rules. At the same time I create my own rules for each body of work or series, for example, I will keep the depth perception and loose 3-d sketches prevalent whatever it may be at the time. Creative practice comes from and fueled by the direct experience of living I could even state that a direct experience is derived from your own creative process. Then I change it back to a 2 or 3D experience by creating a visual visceral language called art. It is speaking in a sight rather than a speaking language. By the way, what would you say are the artistic styles that have influenced you the most?

What has influenced me the most, the popular 80's artists, maybe current contemporary abstraction. The minimalists, the contemporary minimalists techniques, the over produced contemporary portraits. More is more and less is more. Perhaps street art, textile art, sculpture. I am influenced right now by Frank Stella abstraction. I just try to make my own work better, also construction and deconstruction. Another interesting work from your recent production is entitled olympia and we definetely love the dialogue established by colors and texture, which is a crucial part of your style: in particular, the effective combination between intense nuances of tones and rigorous geometrical patters sums up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, any

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comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

Pratt graduate Mickelene Thomas, her use of glitter, I was influenced by texture and glitter at that moment. I wanted this image to really pop. I did this originally in black pigment, put it in my studio window for a few weeks, brought it out and showed a few people. But I didnt get the reaction that I wanted. Thats when I decided to let color transform this piece. This is a portrait of an olympic ice skater. There was some viewer commentary on if the subject was happy or stressed out, so I think the texture and color spoke to that tension. I added dimension, depth using the lines to create more interest more confusion. She's not in the ice rink, perhaps she's in her head or in many dimensions all at once as she is skating. I popped the piece visually with the real glitter of her skating suit. This body of work is very colorful and the first work with intense acrylic color and texture. I love contemporary cartoon color in art, so thats what I was looking at. For me, art is a moment, a feature film that gets created and filmed. Then I really move on to other things. My painting will always surprise me, as I take it from my personal moment by moment existence. As you have remarked once, your are drawn in by the painful nature of our human political/spiritual condition especially in women. While lots of artists from the contemporary scene, ranging from Ai WeiWei to more recently Jennifer Linton, use to convey open socio-political criticism in their works, you seem more interested to hint the direction, inviting the viewers to a process of self-reflection that may lead to subvert a variety of usual, almost stereotyped cultural categories. Do you consider that your works could be considered political in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach? And in particular, what could be


Jessica 2015 48" x 59" canvas, synthetic polymer, metallic foil, watercolor, oil, felt, on canvas


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

A r t

Mernie Williams-Baker

R e v i e w

Winter 2016

in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

You have hit the mark I have hinted in the direction of socio-political criticism. My work is gaining momentum in the feminist area. It is good to know where you stand before actually taking a stand. My new work is more of a statement in this arena. I used photography as a visual language to create an installation of womanhood surrounded by all different artwork. An exhausted women who really has worked hard. These photos are being shown in the Blue Door Quarterly Journal. They speak to Inside/ Outside selfexploration. A statement on our political state, our constant thriving without adequate support."The unadvertised exhaustion" of women in particular. It is definitely a little more than a hint! Like you, I have been watching what feminist artists are doing, examining how they communicate. My vision is developing as from a street culture view, encompassing how the average person or woman's point of view. As an artist, I know art was historically seen as a masculine sport, I have a vision as expressed in the new photographs. Its easy to forget, but women struggle every day. I am creating and formulating ideas around these issues. Over these years your works have been showcased in several occasions and you had a showing of new work at Public Arts Initiative Chenango Arts Council NY. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

When I am in the creation process, I’m primarily focused on synergetic components.

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Mernie Williams-Baker

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

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what doesn't kill you rhum 2015 synthetic polymer, enamel, oil, pastel, oil stick, glitter, felt on canvas

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exhausted 2015 9" x 13"Photograph, synthetic polymer on canvas painting in background


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

A r t

Mernie Williams-Baker

R e v i e w

Winter 2016

kings county 2015 72" x 68" synthetic polymer, enamel on canvas

Maybe the absence of expectation assists in a smoother audience reception. Regarding the language of a piece in a particular context, its important to match them as synchronistically as possible, but this kind of thing may happen by collective unconscious influences.

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Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Mernie. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Currently, I am being published in The Blue Door Quarterly Journal for three photography pieces. This year I have shown in two


Mernie Williams-Baker

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

A r t

R e v i e w

Winter 2016

Roxanne 2015 72x 68 synthetic polymer, enamel, oil stick, pastel, on canvas

museums The Albin Polasek Museum and Spartaanburg Art Museum. Future projects include Mernie Baker installation photography. Thankfully, I have many projects in mind that will come to fruition, I am having a huge community art soiree at

my Hudson Valley, NY studio. I would like to see my work evolve as a multi-dimensional experience for the viewer that encompasses all mediums including video in 3d installation projects.

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ARTiculAction Art Review // Special Issue // Winter 2016  
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