The Mythic Being by Adrian Piper

The Mythic Being was a project aimed to warp audience perception. Piper created an alter ego, a man, with an afro, mustache and sunglasses. She was filmed walking the streets reciting selections from her personal journal, such as an entry about her mother buying cookies and crackers. In the film you can see how the audience respond to this and they seem rather bewildered and confused. She wanted to disguise herself as someone with her history but with a different visual appearance as she adopts male behaviour. She does this by ‘checking out’ women in the streets and acting with male tendencies.

I enjoy this piece as it questions race, gender and identity. Mythic refers to the concept of race, herself and alter ego referred to as ‘I/You/Us’ is the being.

Ewan McColl – Ballad of Accounting

To me, The Ballad of Accounting addresses the idea of allowing a higher authority to control almost everything that you do. Be that how you are taught at school “did they teach you to question when you were at school?”, or follow rules and expectations of everyday life “Did you read the trespass notices, did you keep off the grass?”. The words in this song I find are very powerful and almost intimidating as I find myself feeling guilty being accused of such things which are now considered a social norm or obligations that everyone will happily follow. Many are afraid to step outside of the considered ‘norms’ and make a stand for something which I think McColl encourages through his lyrics.

Jenny Holzer

“I used language because I wanted to offer content to people – not necessarily art people – could understand.”

Jenny Holzer uses text as a medium in her artwork as a rhetoric method to address political issues and happenings within society. I enjoy the way Holzer shows her work, majority through light from the 90’s. A lot of signs and projections have been shown in busy cities across the world including Times Square in New York. I was originally inspired by the medium Holzer uses in her work as text has always interested me but I was never sure of how to go around it. Through more research, I also discovered Holzer’s older pieces from 1979-82.

These are lithographs, something I hadn’t heard of before discovering Holzer’s prints from early exhibitions in her career. By researching Holzer’s work I feel more confident in how I may communicate text within my artwork, most likely through print – which I have a workshop for and feel comfortable to be able to experiment with. On the contrary, I may attempt to communicate text through film with sound. In conclusion, Holzer has definitely encouraged me to open up many opportunities to use text within my work which I will definitely incorporate within my work either through print or crochet.

Ai WeiWei at The Royal Academy of Arts

I saw Ai WeiWei’s exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts and took great inspiration from it. Given a media headset as you walked in, you were informed about the artwork as you were walking around viewing the pieces. His work addresses issues regarding the Chinese government and his personal experiences with them.

Some of his sculptures used traditional Chinese joinery techniques, connecting woods and materials together to create structures relevant to his childhood and upbringing. One piece that stood out to me greatly was his work based on the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. The structure is made from metal rods and poles found in the devastation the earthquake left behind. The shape and height of the structure represents that of China, paying close attention to the contours of the country. On the walls either side hung endless lists of names of teenagers and children who disappeared in the duration of the earthquake and were never to be seen again. WeiWei had to research thoroughly in to this, talking to victim’s families who were affected by this as the Chinese government did not release any names of the deceased. This work was particularly interesting to me having studied the earthquake in school for Geography a-level which continues to be an interest of mine, and I hope to reflect through my work this year by incorporating current affairs or raising issues of my concern in to my practise.

Something that caught my attention reflecting on the exhibition was the mix of traditional and new, digital mediums. In one room of the exhibition Weiwei covered the wall in his own wallpaper which was a repeated pattern of CCTV cameras, handcuffs chained together and a bird which to me represent the Twitter logo, relating to people talking and information passed from one to another. In the same room stood numerous plinths with objects inside a glass box, ranging from obscure sex toys to faux bones. The works refer to the abuse of human-rights, lack of freedom of speech and state censorship. The wallpaper really stood out to me as I felt that it was visually glamourising the awful acts of governments and associations the Weiwei exploits in his exhibition.

This exhibition has definitely evoked practical ideas for my art this year and has given me great interest to look in to how gestures and objects can resemble and communicate issues or affairs I wish to highlight.

Craftivism

Craftivism is a term coined by Betsy Greer who says “craftivism is a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite”. It is a form of activism through the creation of old traditional ‘domestic arts’ such as knitting, crochet and various needlework. These skills were not considered profitable, therefore undervalued and marginalized.

However, in modern day these skills have become a process to protest anf fight for feminism, anti-capitalism and environmentalism. “It is the social process of collective empowerment, action, expression, negotiation”.

craftivism

It has affected these 3 main domains in the following ways:

2nd/3rd wave feminism:

  • Women used to meet and have group knitting sessions where they would discuss their struggles of being a woman – a beginning for craftivism
  • Some feminists choose to embrace the craft, and legitimise the importance of it
  • 21st century women have the privilege to express with ‘fewer constraints exercised by Patriarchy’

Anti-Capitalism:

  • When mass production became empowering it lowered the vale of craft
  • Less emphasis on time and skill, more focus on how available and cheap one can make a product
  • DIY movement, become self-sufficient and rely less on the market for basic necessities. Also to resist the growing capitalist nature of the fashion industry
  • Cat Mazza campaign against Nike sweatshop – unfair wages and working conditions to labor workers

cat mazza nike blanket

Environmentalism:

  • Using organic yarn or wool
  • Recycling previously used material to create their craft

I am highly interested in craftivism within my work, as I feel the history of the movement compliments what I am communicating in my project. It addresses identity whilst being held under authority. The movement is what helped to overcome or fight against something that you stood for, to make your voice heard and make a stand. I think craftivism retraces identity of the skill that was so easily undervalued and disrespected. I agree with what is being fought for through craftivism, for these are all issues caused by authority. Needlework is also something close to heart and personal for myself, and my mother and I used to spend time creating such works together when I was younger as she continues to do so to the day.