Artist Statement

My current art practice is exploring the effects of social anxiety that I experience in my daily life.  I have used video to show a direct and immediate documentation of the aspects of social anxiety and how I feel and perceive them. The work on show today investigates my experience of two different aspects of anxiety. When I’m in public I have an increase sense of awareness that moves my mind uncontrollably into the fast lane. In comparison to when I am in my safe zone of my bedroom, a moment of calm amongst the anxiety. This is not a just a time of relaxation from the social stresses but it forces me to relive the passage of time that I am unable to consciously experience.

I have found that during my artistic journey I have learnt more about myself and ways to express and communicate. Art has helped me personally to reach parts of my unconscious and gain a sense of control through understanding. I hope this show of work can give you an understanding of myself and the effects of social anxiety.

 

 

 

5 Key Posts

5 Contextual Posts:

  • Francesca Woodman – Documentational photography exploring herself and the relationship with her body and the space she is in.

 

 

 

 

  • Bruce Nauman– videos about identity and the physical and mental relationship and exhibition set up.

5 Documentational posts:

As an artist, I have continued to learn about myself as a person and express areas that I didn’t realise I was holding on to. I have struggled in my work to pin-point what it is that I am trying to say, however recently I have come to the realisation that my work has always be revolving around one particular subject; my social anxiety. Towards the beginning of this project I was trying to express the idea that I had multiple selves (as a result of anxiety changing the way that I act around people and in certain situations). I produced a series of paintings that reflected different aspects of myself that I felt was important in my life. Towards the end of this project, I started to realise what was more important; it wasn’t the concept of multiple selves, instead it was the idea of living with social anxiety that was paramount. I am including this part of my project as the start of my 5 Key posts because it has played a very important role within my work and how I have got to where I am today.

I received an extension after this point and felt it was crucial that I get back in touch with myself and where I want to take my practice. I experimented with blind drawings as a way to bring my sub-conscious self forward. This idea was informed by my dissertation which was researching how art can be used as therapy; the key point being that art is a tool to access the unconscious. I found it quite difficult at first to draw so loosely but it was quite liberating not to worry about the finished product and to just feel the drawing. I really enjoyed creating the blind drawings and felt as if each drawing was a representation of my unconscious self at that specific time. These blind drawings are a key moment for my practice because it led me into film and photography; the speed at which I was able to produce these drawings and the amount of information that was in them made me realise that I wanted that immediacy in my work. The time taken to produce a painting, or detailed drawing etc meant that the original meaning got altered and almost lost through the process of creating (often due to my lack of self-confidence which is linked to the social anxiety).

I’ve used photography as a way to document myself in my bedroom and as a way to explore the relationship between my mentality and the space I am in, inspired by artists such as Woodman, Calle, and Goldin. My photography mostly consists of self- portraits. After the ‘my bed’ piece that was created in the ‘multiple self portraits’, I became aware of the importance of my bedroom in terms of my social anxiety. I have taken photographs of myself on my bed, shadows in my room, in my bathroom and film stills which ar explained further in the next section. The main photograph that I have taken and has had an effect on my work  is the ‘my bed’ photograph. Following that it is the breakdown in bed/ falling series. I will include both pieces in as part of my Photography section.

I made a film of myself whilst waiting for a bus experiencing anxiety – at the time I was trying to identify what it was I was doing in reaction to the anxiety. I noticed that I felt like I couldn’t control my body and its movements- I felt very fast and jumpy and my attention was caught by every little noise and movement. Alternatively, whilst at home and feeling anxiety about leaving my bedroom and thinking about the effect it has on my life I felt the opposite. I was drained and exhausted from all the overwhelming senses- it manifested itself in a slow, apathetic and distant persona. Having a mental issue like anxiety or depression causes one to be dominated by their own mind and self. I’ve noticed that due to these thoughts and my way of life, I am always conscious of myself and how I feel. I’m tired of being my only thought and problems. It’s quite a narcissistic disability. Within the slow videos of myself, my face becomes distorted, this reflects the way in which I perceive things when in a state of anxiety. Everything starts to feel too close and too overwhelming and too distorted and difficult to separate. The videos emulate a typical ‘bad day’ for me and this is what I’m trying to express. its a difficult subject for me to discuss, my anxiety and state of min, however through this video I feel like. I am communicating what it is like.

My practice has enlightened me to what I have been wanting to say with my art and it helped me to express in words – I believe I experienced what Natalie Rogers calls ‘The Creative Connection’. By being able to create something that I had known all along but hadn’t been able to access until now, it gave me a powerful rush of emotion that I wanted to write and speak. I created some poems in relation to some work I had done and felt better for it – if there was any confusion of misunderstanding with the art I made, my words paired with it perfectly. I originally had the idea of using my words as part of the film, to appear word by word as if spoken.

Pipilotti Rist

Elisabeth Charlotte “Pipilotti” Rist

Fuses nature with technology. Makes work of life. Loves colour. Individual and idiosyncratic. fight conventionality.

Im interested in Pipilottis video installations

enlight my space- I thought this piece was very interesting for its set up and the way the video was incorporated into such a small space.

A 25553

Im not the girl who misses much – Rist made this video in response to John Lennons song about Yolo Oko. It is my understanding that this piece is a recognition and appreciation to the popular culture because it directed Rist into contemporary art. Rist uses her voice and editing to create louder and different pitched noises to go along with her dancing. What I notice and take from this piece is Rist’s exploration of time and speeds and pitch. 

 

 

 

 

Bruce Nauman

Nauman investigates concepts of the body, who we are, space, and communication. Nauman uses a range of mediums within his work including sculpture, neon and video. The work Nauman creates is similar to that of Post-Minimalism because of the integration of styles; his work is conceptual, minimalist and performance. In his performance pieces/ video art, Nauman used repetition to emphasise the mundane movements we make without conscious thought and to increase its powerful message.

Violent Incident – 12 monitors stacked each with videos of a man and woman going through a series of attacks. This piece exposes the harsh reality of how some people treat others and how misunderstandings or little moments can spiral rapidly.  (1980s).

 

Good boy Bad boy (1985) – This consists of two monitors side by side with a different actor/actress in each video. They were both given a 100 line script to recite to the camera of which they slip in and out of synchronicity. The videos last up to 1 hour with regular progressions of intensity and emotion. The lines start with “I am a good boy, you are a good boy, we are good boys“, and progress to other human conditions such as “I like to eat, you like to eat, we like to eat, this is eating.” and then ends with a very intense “I don’t want to die, you don’t want to die, we don’t want to die, this is fear of death.” I found the length and increased emotive responses that is visible on the actor and actress to be very powerful. I found myself listening to every word quite intently waiting for the next human condition that they will mention.

 

Raw material washing hands, Normal (A of A/B) Raw material washing hands, Normal (B of A/B) (1996) – This piece shows the mundane and routine activity of washing hands, but through double exposure and the length on an hour it becomes a vigorous and uncontrolled activity. This piece made me feel anxious, worried and a sense of fear. I thought it was incredible powerful that having a double exposure and ongoing video of the same action with also the sound of water trickling could have this effect.

This piece in particular has enforced my own face-paced video of myself walking and in response I am going to explore the effects ​of having both videos in conjunction with each other. 

John Berger

In John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, he mentions the effect of having text with or next to a painting. Berger used Van Goths Wheatfield With Crows (1853-1890) to illustrate his point- we are shown the painting on its own with just a description of what it is, and then on the next page we are shown the painting with text underneath: “This is the last picture that Van Goth painted before he killed himself”. Immediately the painting felt more significant, and I found myself looking at it for longer. The text had changed the way I looked and felt about the painting. Berger states; “the image now illustrates the sentence” (page 29).

The reason I bring this up is because I’d like to use text with a painting/photograph/video so that I can lead the viewer into interpreting it.

 

Bas Jan Ader

I’m too sad to tell you 1971

Conceptual artists Ader is known for his films, performance, text and experimentation. The monochrome and silent film that is shown above, ‘I’m too sad to tell you’ is one of Ader’s most well known pieces. I’ve chosen to include this piece first because this film has resonated with me the most and in fact is reminding me a little of my own film I have made:

https://torifineart.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/3639/ 

“I’m too sad to tell you” is a film that is close to Ader’s face and includes a plain background. Starting with the title, the film goes straight onto the face; at first it seems like just a video of a man’s face but you quickly learn and become part of watching a man break down in emotions and tears. Throughout the film you do not hear anything, other than the sound of it rolling, which is a little frustrating because I can see his strong expressions and I can almost hear the sounds his crying is making but I, as the viewer, am not given that bit of information. It makes me want more. Also there is a lack of eye-contact which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable- I think this is due to the fact that I’m witnessing a man I don’t know expressing a vulnerable emotion of sadness and despair very close to his face paired with the fact he is not looking at the camera suggests he is unaware of an audience. It’s almost like I am intruding by watching his emotive expression because he is not giving me that recognition that I am here (by acknowledging the camera). However, the way that he is not looking at me directly gives the sense that this emotion is not just about him… I am not seeing into him as a person (the eyes being that portal of communication) and I, the viewer, don’t know anything about what is causing this upset. This leads me to think and feel like I am witnessing the emotion that people in general have, and causes me to analyse myself as to what has made me feel the way the Ader is expressing. I am now realising the importance of the lack of sound- hearing Ader’s voice would make me associate this emotion to him more than how I receive this piece without sound.

His; “I’m too sad to tell you”

Mine; “I’m too lonely to speak”. Playing on the cycle of social anxiety- I cannot speak to people which causes loneliness which then causes isolation and makes it harder to then speak.

Other films that Ader has done include falling from his roof, into a canal, and off his bike. I find the falling videos quite intriguing. I know, while I watch, that all of the falls have been staged and therefore his will and his control to do so, however once the fall has been initiated his body is not in his control anymore.

When I fell off the roof of my house, or into the canal, it was because gravity made itself master over me

His concept of letting gravity master his control of his own body is something that I can relate to in terms of moments of our life where we feel that we are not mentally in control. There are times where we let something take over our self-control and I think it’s an interesting way to put it into physical terms of falling off a roof for example. These videos made me think about when I feel over-powered by my anxiety, because in a way it is in my control and I am aware of this and yet I still seem to allow the anxiety to master over me”.

Sophie Calle

I’m intrigued about Calle’s life and her work. I stumbled across her book in the library and decided to pick it up because of its name M’as- tu vu? which translates as Did you see me? This title was important to me because I have a fondness for the french language (I used to use French to say things that I felt unable or embarrassed to admit, I’d write my secrets in French. It was almost like a coding, and a more romantic way to say what I felt.); but it was also important because it made me think about philosophical meanings to seeing a person.

The book did not disappoint. Sophie’s work is not art work that has been created as such, it is a documentation of her life but also it’s living her life for her art. She uses photography, writing and installations to display her work. Calle’s work is very autobiographical which is what I am attracted to in art, and what I like to present also.

  • Calle’s photography paired with a paragraph of her account on the work

sophie calle inspired me into writing and documenting parts of my life that I hadn’t thought meant something before but it does, every day and every time I’m sat thinking in my room is a moment of art.

Particularly like the letters and emails and stuff that she kept between people. I liked viewing these parts of her life and finding these things out. It lead me to want to document mine. I have a diary and kept receipts and do an art journal. Each part of my life I see as a piece that could be something now. I’ve kept letters, messages of family and friends and one day I’d like to create a piece of work from that but right now I want to focus on how I perceive and live with my anxiety because that is what is prominent to me at the moment. The social anxiety has started to stop my life and effect what I do on a daily basis.. recording how it effects me and how I am attached to my bed is my documentation at the moment.

When looking through the book called m’as tu vu(e), and looking at Calles work she often had a title and piece of text paired with her piece of work -this text showed me what to look at and gave me background information on how the photo came to be- I liked this because it gave me the history. For me, sometimes, the writing and the turning my thoughts into words is where I learn my own understanding.

Calle was interested in following peoples lives- picking a subject and following them and turning their day and paths into art.

After this she hired her own detective- as a way to prove her existence. it was really interesting to see and understand her thought process and her planning and the way she lives for her art.

i really like the way she writes about her work, and chooses an image that has a much deeper meaning to her life but it’s not obvious to the viewer until you read her text.