Today is my last day as Occursus artist-in-residence.
Mainly, it has been a month of re-visiting. Re-visiting ideas, photos, texts, videos. And it has flown by. I haven’t revisit all I wanted to. But the end of this residency is not the end of the process. Simply a change of location, a pause for recollection and gathering before moving forward. Re-visiting is my continuous and endless way of working, sometimes is unconscious and others it is the very core of the work. But it never ends and it is never complete.
Looking back at my posts during these weeks, I realize that there is some form of surfacing going on in my images. There is a dialogue (or it could be an argument) between two images that are forced to share a sole surface, and therefore have to fight for prominence. Or two images that contradict, negate or hide each other. When I look at found postcards I can’t decide if it is the front or the back what holds the message, I am not even sure there is a message. So I try to merge both sides. Or even if I promote one side over the other, it will refuse to be separated and will find a way to implicate and reference the other.
There are perhaps multi surfaces, the surface of the screen, the surface of the found photograph, the surface of the landscape. And to me they all seem to be both remote and found at the same time, distant but inseparable from each other. The model and the reality fused and confused. At times, one surface is removed and the rest have to be rearrange, redefine or re-imagined. On other occasions, a new surface is incorporated, invited to bridge two non-communicating surfaces.
I have been tracing maps, doilies and fragmented wallpaper patterns. The doilies are broken and the blank areas designate a polar vision of the northern hemisphere. I have re-visited my work Mappa. The land is in negative, missing. The drawn areas cover what has to be identified as the ocean. It is a doily for a map, or a map for a doily. I have enlarge their scale. No they are wall maps. More image than instrument. The lines suggest a certain topography but the repetition exposes the doily, and both subjects are yielded to the off-white surface of the paper. From a distance the paper seems to be all there is, it is only on close inspection that the drawing can be discerned.
I mentioned at the beginning of my residency that one of my main objectives was to complete a new video work, for which I was writing a dialogue in collaboration with artist Markus Lantto. This work is still in progress. We wanted to write a fictional dialogue for two characters. In the process I realized I was feeling detached from these fictional characters and their dialogue, and I needed to incorporate ourselves in the work in a more direct way. So the piece will fluctuate between the fictional dialogue and our own correspondence about the work. And I realized also that this work could not be rushed and it would have to flow freely and take its time, so its development will continue beyond my stay at Site Gallery.
It has been a strange and enriching experience. I am already based in Sheffield, and I have my studio in this city, so it was not about making work of the place itself but to look back and revisit my work. Being in a temporary blank space always prompts the need to fill up the walls with work quickly with new images. But in this case, after the first days’ awkwardness of adaptation and expectation, the blankness of the walls has provided some relief from my cramped studio. Spending time just looking at one’s drawing or starting at a blank paper allows for new lines of thought to push through. It has given me the time and mind-space. And sometimes priorities get confused and experimentation and play take a secondary role, for which I am convinced the work always suffers. So this residency has provided both, time to play and think, and space to experiment.