On 17th November 2017, I was, like a moth, instantly attracted to the bright lights of the Bruce Nauman exhibition (Tate Modern). His work demanded the viewer to (literally) take a step back and consider the purpose and context of his work. Nauman's extensive and imaginative use of media transmits a multitude of different ideas simultaneously. It is clear that his previous studies in Mathematics and Physics informed his practice and are a domineering influence on his work. One piece which caught my attention was 'Violins, Violence, Silence' (1981).
Violins, Violence, Silence
The artwork itself was made of coloured neon tubing with a clear glass suspension frame. As the letters overlap, it is hard to initially distinguish what the piece is actually conveying, proving rather disorientating. Additionally, the buzzing noise which accompanies the piece (originating from the neon tubing) is somewhat distracting. However, it is ironic that while reading 'violins' evokes a pure and unpolluted noise, in reality you are faced with a low, droning buzz. I enjoy the irony of Nauman's work and the complex ideas which lie behind the lights. There is much more to this piece than is initially apparent and I hope that other visitors to the gallery take the time to consider its complexity.
Another piece in the exhibition which caught my attention was 'Raw Material Washing Hands'(1996). The video, which documents one individual washing their hands constantly for 55 minutes is difficult viewing. It is reminiscent of a person suffering from obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) in which the individual is performing a routine repeatedly, as though it were a ritual. The video becomes painful to watch as we see the individuals skin being overworked by the soap and water and I must admit that although the video runs for just under an hour, I watched it for no longer than 10 minutes.
Raw Material Washing Hands,
After seeing Nauman's work, it is clear that he questions and stretches the boundaries of what it is to make art. He has purposefully left behind traditional notions of 'fine art' and has distanced himself from paint as a medium.
Professional Practice: MRes
On completion of the M.A. in Painting at Wimbledon College (UAL), I am pursuing the full-time Master of Research degree at the Royal College of Art. I believe the M.Res in Fine Art will engage both my interests and strengths – academic research and painting. I established this dual focus whilst reading history at Cambridge, where I continued my passion for painting by founding Trinity College Fine Art Society, and was President for two years. I was then fortunate enough to be awarded a Thriplow Scholarship for the M.A. painting course, where I have followed a line of enquiry that has proved to be both rich and deep. It is this line of research, looking into medieval discrimination, especially its representations, and its relevance in a contemporary art setting, that I intend continuing. I am thus honing a line of academic research and painting enquiry that I would like to explore at Ph.D level. Whether I do this at an art-based establishment or at Cambridge I do not yet know, for it depends entirely on where my interests and painting take me this coming year. The RCA M.Res takes two examinable forms – a dissertation, or a shorter dissertation and a work of art. I hope to opt for the latter, but it is determined on the material I amass, my interpretation of it, and how best to present it. Either way, I will continue to paint!
When one thinks of the medieval period, one is drawn to images of suffering and superstition, where life was so distressing there had to be a god, and where religious dissent was viewed as a gangrenous necrosis. I want to capture the medieval experience in form and colour, or word, or both, whilst adapting and applying it to contemporary issues. I have also become acutely aware of minority group isolation in that period and how such social ostracism was portrayed bluntly in artworks of the time. Non-Christians, for example, were especially vulnerable to being depicted through art as monsters, demons, or freaks of nature. My current arts’ practice is sympathetic to the oppressed, and is intended to expose institutional hypocrisy and cruelty, especially by those supposed to encapsulate goodness and equality.