Art, an object and a powerful tool in everyday life.

College Essay – Due Tomorrow. I thought I’d give all you bloggers a view first.

 

Art, an object and a powerful tool in everyday life.

  1. Introduction
  2. Questions

2.1    How does a Western artist working in a vulnerable region keep integrity when representing other people in their work?

2.2    Can/should artists produce politically neutral work?

2.3    What effect does being in a place over time have on the work an artist produces there?

  1. Conclusion

Art, an object and a powerful tool in everyday life.

richard mosse congo - for essay

Figure 1‘Taking Tiger Mountain, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2011­’

Introduction

This essay was influenced by a lecture that Richard Mosse had given in The National college of Art and Design (NCAD). The lecture was about his work that was in the Venice Biennale: The Enclave. He has also published a book called Infra, A collection of photographs taken in 2010/11 by artist, Richard Mosse. He captured the images using Kodak aerochrome, a discontinued recognisance infrared film. The images published in the book “Infra” where taken in The Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo). The Kodak aerochrome registerschlorophyll in live vegetation resulting in a very surreal landscape that appears in lush pinks and reds. Currently in Congo, war between rebel factions and the Congolese national army is ongoing. Sexual violence and child recruitment being two the big issues. In this essay, I will be asking the following questions:

How does a Western artist working in a vulnerable region keep integrity when representing other people in his or her work?

Can/should artists produce politically neutral work?

What effect does being in a place over time have on the work an artist produces there?

In this part of the essay I will pose the questions to myself and try and answer the questions or at least offer opinion and examples on them.

How does a Western artist working in a vulnerable region keep integrity when representing other people in their work?

Infra and The Enclave try to represent a place of huge divide, murder, mass rape and the recruitment of child soldiers with a unique type of film called ‘Kodak Aerochrome’. It is not easy for a western artist to produce such work, especially when he is personally disconnected from the place or problems. The photographs that Mosse has produced, are so unique in colour that they capture the eye of the viewer and inform them, to a degree of The Congo and its problems (See Figure 1 above). The uniqueness of the picture above may also distract and become a self-contained image and rather than see context all you will see is the strong pink and red colours.

During his address to the first year students in NCAD, I noted what Richard Mosse had to say about colour:

“The colour reveals the unseen” (Mosse R, 2014).

When I heard Mosse say this, I started to look at the images and wonder, without the context was the image as powerful and did it hide the atrocities that were occurring in the Congo? Such an image doesn’t show the gruesome that is the Congo. In my opinion, the colour was rather a distraction. When I looked at this image, I didn’t see the Congo as it is but rather as Mosse would like me to see it. What was happening and what has happened in the Congo was beyond new representations and especially those representations that prioritised medium over subject, the medium being the Aerochrome film and the subject being the Congo. This work has received a rather overwhelming approval from the art world and this makes you really think whether the whole project was driven by the feeling to make more people aware of The Congo and its problems or was it driven by pressure to produce something unique for a show? I simply do not know.

Can/should artists produce politically neutral work?

I put this questions to an artist and a friend of mine, Fiona Whelan. Fiona Whelan is an artist with a durational practice based in Rialto, working in collaboration with Rialto Youth Project over ten years. She is also Joint Course Coordinator of the MA Socially Engaged Art at NCAD.

Jonathan Myers:  Can an artist produce neutral work?

Fiona Whelan: I’m not neutral and I don’t claim to be so where I have chosen to position my practice and the work I make as an artist is born of my own beliefs, passions and opinions. I am motivated by a range of things and interests and by my own background, position in society, relationships, views etc. So I must accept that they all have an influence on how I see things and more than that, be willing to stand over them. I think this is the way most artists operate, it becomes personal and your work is your response and a reflection of your thought process and position on something. I’m not sure why anyone would want to make what you describe as ‘politically neutral work’. 9I’m interested in hearing if such people exist and their motivation for being neutral.

For a stand point without any subjectivity, is a standpoint with no point of view – which is to say, no standpoint at all (Levinson, JL, 1998)

I do think, as an artist, there can be times where we question what we are doing, especially when doing things like, ‘socially conscious art’ ‘political art’ and ‘personal representations’. In the case of the above image (Taking Tiger Mountain, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2011, figure 1­) it seems that this image is just an image and it doesn’t say much but rather express the qualities of Aerochrome film. You could consider it to be politically neutral, if such a term does exist. During our lecture, Mosse had spoken, he mentioned the fact that he had left the subtitles of a lullaby out of a video piece in his installation work as part of ‘The Enclave’. If I remember correctly the lullaby mentions a sentence like this “look in the bushes and you’ll find bones”. I believe including subtitles will inform the viewer of the horrors that exist in The Congo and thus allows the Artist to inform the viewer more without the work becoming depoliticised. This was a choice and I believe a risk lost.

This also comes back to what Mosse had said during his interview with Anthony Hobbs in St. Catherine’s Church on the 27th of January 2014, the quote is as follows,

“A political view in art becomes propaganda” (Mosse R, 2014).

This quote then made me question whether his images had any true integrity or risk in them.

In my opinion, it should have taken a political view. As quoted by Mosse and stated by the International Rescue Committee in a report (Rescue, 2007), that over 5million people have died from 1998 – 2007 from war related causes. Not taking a side can be considered a said in itself.

The trouble with a lot of politically motivated art is a failure of nerve. Artists who produce work that they know is not favoured by our established regime are not necessarily taking risks, since they can forecast the results. Truly taking a risk means not knowing what’s going to happen in the end by Joe Lewis. (Kester 1995)

I do agree however, as an artist one must find an alternative way to document and produce work as compared to a photojournalist who just documents things the way they are. That being said, it does not mean we cannot take a stance or a view point in our work. If one was to represent the Congo, you could not easily do so. With the death toll said to be around 5.4million (rescue, 2007), mass rape, child soldiers and so on, it seems you are either for it, against it or simply doing what a photojournalist does and documents it. I always thought an artist is supposed to bring the viewer on a deeper, more meaningful journey with their work. Is it not too easy to take a photo and display it with video and lights? When an artist starts to become selective about their audience and their interests, they will, in my opinion, begin to lose a certain quality. The quality that allows us to takes risks, produce work based on our interest, based on the things we care about and that mean a lot to us. When we become too selective, our work becomes narrow. This is because of the ‘Reputation Economy’ that is the art world. I still acknowledge that there are artists out there that operate on their terms and not the terms of the economy.

 

One could take the view that by taking photographs, Mosse, through his art, brought a particular attention to the Congo. He focused the outside world upon its brutalities through the medium of his distinctive photography. In this way Mosse sets himself apart from the journalist who want to tell a story, even though it is questionable whether journalist can work without taking a position on the subjects of their stories.

What effect does being in a place over time have on the work that an artist produces there?

This question can only be answered by artists who have spent time in a place different to the one they grew up in or have come accustomed to. In that case, I put the question again to Fiona Whelan.

Jonathan Myers (Me):  What effect does being in a place over time have on the work that you as an artist produce there?

Fiona Whelan: Most artist funding for project based work is limited to periods of less than a year. For collaborative practice, developing relationships becomes a core part of the work which takes time, particularly when working across sector, discipline and knowledge, time is needed to generate understandings of where others are coming from, their motivations, intentions etc. I have been fortunate that I have been in a position to develop an ideas led practice in Rialto that has not been funding driven and can respond to the context, to the relationships and to my own ideas having listened and learned over time. So often artists are brought in to work on a project but there is limited funding afterwards to collectively explore learning and to critique and evaluate and built upon a common experience. For me, I have sustained a decade in one context which means work has developed over many years and can have many layers to it that have meaning for all those involved. I have been able to be present for the aftermath of a project which is not often afforded to the artist which has offered potential to keep building on previous work and to influence new directions. My presence has also had an impact on creating sustainable structures in the context to allow practices to continue beyond a specific artist led project. 

Conclusion

To question whether work holds integrity, how we as westerners produce work influenced by conflict in Africa or anywhere else in the wold is something we must. Just like this essay, we need to questions things. Even the things that are favoured by the large majority. Art shouldn’t be something that just sits on a pedestal. It needs to take a side because it always has something powerful to say and it can evoke great change around the world. Being neutral is a political position. The Enclave and Infra tried something different. It was very unique in look but conflict art itself is not. The use of an old medium was a really good idea and it paid off in terms of uniqueness in the Photographs published in Infra but I don’t believe it was risky enough to challenge the situation in the Congo and how we as westerners view it. Of course I understand it is hard to assess if art challenges or changes perspectives is this will always remain an issue. We cannot fear marginalisation from main stream art when producing work. Integrity holds merit and art hold power.

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Mosse, RM, 2012. Infra: Photographs by Richard Mosse. 1st ed. USA: Aperture/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Mosse, RM, (2014). Richard Mosse ‘Enclave’. In Interview with Richard Mosse. St. Catherine’s Church, 27/01/2014. NCAD: Jonathan Myers. 106/7.

Mosse, RM, (2014). Richard Mosse ‘Enclave’. In Interview with Richard Mosse. St. Catherine’s Church, 27/01/2014. NCAD: Jonathan Myers. 106/7.

Rescue. 2007. IRC Study Shows Congo’s Neglected Crisis Leaves 5.4 Million Dead; Peace Deal in N. Kivu, Increased Aid Critical to Reducing Death Toll. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.rescue.org/news/irc-study-shows-congos-neglected-crisis-leaves-54-million-dead-peace-deal-n-kivu-increased-aid–4331. [Accessed 19 March 14].

Kester, GH, 1995. Aesthetic Evangelists: Conversion and Empowerment in Contemporary Community Art. 1st ed. United States: Grant Kester.

Levinson, JL, 1998. Aesthetics and Ethics. 1st ed. United States of America: Cambridge University Press.

Richard Mosse Interview and My Thoughts.

On Monday the 27th, Richard Mosse was interviewed at an NCAD lecture. The interview was centered on his recent work from the Venice Biennial ‘The Enclave’. The project was done in The Congo (DRC) with the use of aerochrome film  (infrared film used in WWII).

Richard Mosse website – http://www.richardmosse.com/works/the-enclave/

 

During the interview Mosse said a few things which I wasn’t too happy with. A student asked ‘what came first, the medium (aerochrome film) or the issue (The Congo) ? He said the aerochrome came first.

I don’t usually have an issue with that but this time I did. I think, as an artist, actually, as a person, when dealing with or trying to represent The Congo or similar places and issues in an art piece I believe we have a certain responsibility to approach it with a certain level of sensitivity and responsibility to represent the issues that are present. Based on the interview and based on his answer I felt the care was not there for The Congo or for the Issues.

Another thing he said was; The use of aerochrome reveals the unseen.

In my opinion, I believe it does everything else but that. I think it depoliticizes and desensitizes the issues in The Congo. With the use of the film, the landscape is turned into a very vibrant pink and for me, becomes a distraction from everything else.

A report by the IRC said that over 5 million people had died from conflict or issues associated to conflict between 1998 and 2007. Although this is said to be a questionable death toll by some and the actual number is hard to calculate. These are the issues that should be addressed.

Another quote was; Political view in art becomes propaganda.

When i heard this, I was infuriated. To think, if an artist is to represent an opposition to an enormous death toll, rape, crime, corruption and so on is propaganda is just an outrageous statement. That is not propaganda, it is a view and a representation of what is actually happening, just like a photo journalist will photograph and publish what is there (or so we like to hope).

If Richard Mosse was stronger on the side of the Issues and not on the side of showcasing aerochrome, would it have been in the Venice Biennial? would he have given an interview at NCAD?

It comes back to the notion of valuable art or ‘useful art’ which is a live issue in the international field of socially engaged art practice. ‘Usedul art’ a term coined by artist Tanja Brugera.

Art that asks questions, that reveals whats going on, be it a personal representation or just as is. Art that can evoke emotion is so important to me, if it doesn’t hit a human chord then either I’ve failed somewhere or the viewer has already become desensitized.

I can appreciate art that sits on a pedestal but I value art that does a lot more and not as a monetary value.

I think all artist should be questioned and I believe they should question their own work even more.

An after Thought

Below are my thoughts after watching the film ‘Elysium’.

I just finished watching the film ‘Elysium’. As a movie I enjoyed it but what I enjoyed most is that it picked up on issues that face us today. Immigration, health, class, Ecology, earths resources, developed and underdeveloped regions. I thought the movie portrayed the issue of immigration very well. How, many people are not allowed to cross a border even if it is for medical reasons. How many are not allowed to cross because they cannot afford it. We live in a world today, were borders are more than just lines on a map or a wall in the desert. They are physical and they are political and they hurt many. I understand that borders are old and they separate or rather help distinguish one nation-state from another but in today’s society, it is only a matter of time before we must choose to allow borders to separate our Peoples or help bring them together in a larger, more accepted and more equal society.

I believe people should have the right to seek out a better life, even if that life is across the border or on a different continent. That right should be for all citizens of the world and not just for a few. I’m sure that one day, just like in Europe and other parts of the world, people can travel freely and choose where is best suited for their needs, their wants and their desires.

I shed a tear watching this movie because when I watch movies or TV programs like this, I know too well that it’s not all imaginary but rather it’s all too real, too well known and not enough is done. I’m talking about combating poverty, being able to access free health care and free education. Things that are easily accessible to millions and yet so rare and hugely expensive to millions more. You’d think everyone would want each other to live life as fair and as equal as one another, you’d think that but there are people out there that think of ideas and reasons to counter that thought, to corrupt thinking and alter our education.

What is ‘right’ and what is ‘morally right’ are too different things. While we think in many different ways ‘politically’, ‘financially’, ‘militarily’, ‘in the interest of’ people will always suffer until we find a way to think with our hearths.

By J Myers

Work Placement Trip to Inis Oirr

Travelling to Galway

After getting all of my things together, I then went to get the number 40 bus. This bus brought me to O’Connell Bridge. I then walked to customhouse to meet up with the class. Standing around for a few minutes gave me the idea to go and buy some food for the journey to Galway. Brendan and I then walked to the shop that was located in the bus station (Busaras). After returning to customhouse, it was then time to get on the bus and start our journey to Galway.

At the beginning of the journey, we took the Galway road, which passes by Ballyfermot, the place in which I traveled from to get to customhouse (I could have gotten collected from there). After what felt like an eternity, we arrived at the half-way-point. We stopped off to get some food and use the bathroom. A few of us from the class went to a coffee shop. I bought a cappuccino and a scone with some jam. It was so worth the €5 I was charged.

The journey continued the best way to pass time is music; I listened to music for the entire journey. We arrived at Eyre Square in Galway City. Once again, we stopped for food and a bathroom break. This time we went to Eddie rockets and I had some Bacon and cheese fries with a chocolate milkshake. I have to say this was the finest food I have had all day. Anyhow, back to the final leg of our bus journey.

We finally arrived at the ferry, which would take us to Inis Oirr. We got off the bus and onto the ferry with our bags. The waters between Galway and Inis Oirr (Inisheer) seemed rough but happily enough for me they were not. We had a nice surprise on the ferry journey; the Irish coast guard was doing a live training day. This involved a winch man been lowered down onto our ferry. I made several recordings of this on my phone. It lasted some time.

Finally, we arrived on Inis Oirr on what was a cold and dark night. All wrapped up in my new winter jacket, we all walked up to the B&B. This is the place we were going to be staying for the next five days. The B&B was and ok place, I did not think I would have much to complain. Therefore, I walked into a room and decided to stay there. Then a person from my class came into the room and chose his bed. Suddenly the room was full with five people in total. Then the person from the beginning came back in and took his bag and a mattress to move into a different room. It was as if we were all 12 again, leaving one room for a cooler room. To me that set the seriousness of the week for the ADT class.

Work Placement Diary

Day 1 – This was day one of the trip. I was awake early. We went into a main sitting area to talk about what we were going to do for the forthcoming days. The theme of the week was skin. The Day outside began with a trip to the graveyard where we sat and drew for a long time.

 

Graveyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All drawings relating back to the theme skin. I thought the theme skin was boring and started to think about things that could happen to our skin for example; cuts and healing. This led me to the idea of cutting open the earth and recording it through photography. Then slowly closing the wound and recording the healing process. This was my main idea of the day.

Wounded Earth

 

 

Day 2 – Zack and I (A person from my class) went up to the graveyard once again. We spent a short time here and then traveled up to the old castle on the hill. The second highest point on the Island. Across from the old castle, or rather old large house which looked like the seat of wealth and power on the island. We sat there for a long time and enjoyed the views that were on offer.

We drew some things but I mainly took photos while sitting up there. From this point, I could see the cliffs of Moher. That view was amazing. It was not the clearest day but I think that made it all the better. It was as if Ireland was trying to hide a beautiful secret. The day was ending.

Cliffs

We made our way back to the B&B for some dinner. As always, the night would usually end with a few pints in the pub that was located right beside our B&B. The pub was nice and welcoming. Many sat outside with drink that had been bought in Galway City.

Day 3 –This was the day that I spent the whole time on my own. This time I was on the beach. I started to make some three-dimensional work because let us be honest, everything else was boring, Charcoal, chalk, pencil and paint! So continuing with the theme skin and my idea hurt and healing I started to outline a hand on the sand with orange clothesline that I had brought to the island with me. After outlining the hand, I picked up some seaweed to represent a scare.

Wounded earth beach

 

 

As I always do, I recorded this through photography. We had a critique that night which I was not too happy to do. Especially when you are with a group of 40 or so students whose primary talents were in drawing or something similar. I am not that talented at drawing, painting etc. but I I am good at conceptual art.

Day 4 – On day four, we visited the father ted ship or at least that is how it is known in Dublin. This was a very enjoyable day. I climbed up on top of the ship and took so many photographs. I also drew for a time using chalk. I like using the chalk. The pictures I drew ended up somewhat abstract. For me, I like things that aren’t exactly how they look; otherwise I would have just taken a photograph.  After leaving the ship I Decided to go back to the beach and make more work form the rocks and seaweed. The image I settled on was of the castle (Large house) on the hill. I used small rocks to create the castle and walls, which surrounded it. I used the seaweed to create the grass fields and sticks to create the wooden pylons. I again documented this piece with photography. That was how I spent my day.

beach drawing using some items from nature

 

Day 5 – At this point, I was starting to lose interest. I was feeling ill and was not enjoying going out in the cold weather to draw something I was not interested in just for another critique that night in the Aras. Therefore, I decided to make a mobile version of the piece from the beach 2 days ago. I got a white page and covered it in pva glue, then I poured sand over it and enough of it stuck to the page. I then got a medical glove, filled that with sand, and glued it down. I then drew on a scare to represent the wound that I had put on the beach. This is what occupied me for the day. Even though it only took about one hour in total to do this but it did take a day to get the glue!

 

Work Experience – Class based project

            This week was about making a piece of work. This work was was influenced from my trip to Inis Oirr. As soon as we were given the green light to go and create, it took me roughly one hour to settle on an idea. The idea came from thinking about the ship. The ship was left to rot on the rocks for the last 60 years, abandoned and left to fight for itself against nature.

I was curious to why no one made efforts to rescue it. Therefore, I started relating the ship to things in society that had been abandoned. Equality has been abandoned and it was getting worst during this recession. People say they are fighting for an equal society but in reality they were just given it lip service. So on the first day, I got to work. Testing which materials and structures that best represented such an important issue.

I decided a top down structure would work. A pyramid if you like. I started with mesh to create the structure as it had gaps, which would allow me to put the rods through it. After holding a discussion with Dave, we agreed he would seek out a large tube. This was ideal. For the remainder of the day I done rough sketches to help me plan, design and create this work.

U plunk the beginning

 

Day 2 – Dave brought in the large tube that was originally used to hold a roll of drawing paper. I took the tube and started to dot out the holes that I was going to drill in it. The holes would be used to put the rods through. The rods made from dowel wood, would represent structures which stop people from falling to the bottom, family, friends, social assistance and so on.

Day 3 – The next step was to find a drill bit that was the same size of the dowel so I could drill the holes. This took a day. The drill pieces that were in the class were too small although I only realised this after spending the previous day drilling 27 holes with a drill bit that was too small. After seeking out a drill bit that was close to the size, I continued to make the holes bigger by drilling away the remainder.

I decided a top down structure would work. A pyramid if you like. I started with mesh to create the structure as it had gaps, which would allow me to put the rods through it. After holding a discussion with Dave, we agreed he would seek out a large tube. This was ideal. For the remainder of the day I done rough sketches to help me plan, design and create this work.

U plunk

 

After I completed the drilling part, I then began to make the triangle structure that would hold up the tower structure. I cut up three equally sized pieces of wood and connected them together to create a triangle. I used duct tape to hold it together and then masking tape. The masking tape allowed me to paint over the grey color of the duct tape.

The Base

 

I had considered putting pictures of rocks on the base to represent the rocks at the bottom of a lighthouse. These would have been the rocks some ships would crash against but I decided to paint it black to represent the abyss. The best thing about this week was the attitude of the class. Everyone put their heads down and got on with the work. It was a productive environment.

Day 4

I decided I would print off images that I had taken while on the ship. These images were of the rust from the ship. They represented abandonment. This project was coming together very well and very fast.

Rust Image

 

The structure was like a tall tower with a triangle base. In the tower were 27 rods, each one representing sub-supports in life. The skin of the tower was images of of rust and the base was black. The top of the tower was white, which symbolised hope and the bright light. All can be seeing in the image below

The finished piece

 

The piece was complete and I was so happy. The final step was to make six balls from clay, which would represent the different classes and wealth in society. The small ball of course would represent the small person while the large one would represent the fat cats of the country.

I then conducted a test; I dropped the balls into the tower and removed the structures to see which ones would come out at the bottom first. As one could predict the small one fell first. I then started to think of a way to stop the small people from falling and it hit me. Solidarity was the answer. By all of the small people sticking together, they would be of equal or larger size than the gaps thus stopping them from falling.

The morale of all of this is, inequality exists, social protection structures are been depleted and it’s all only going to get worst. If you are struggling in today’s society, show solidarity to those in a similar situation to yours and fight for the right of equality.

 

Evaluation of Work Experience Trip

The trip to Inis Oirr, Galway was one of great challenges. Living with people who at times acted quite childish was frustrating and disturbing. Interruption of meetings, late night noise and lack of overall interest, for me affected the atmosphere.

Another challenge for me was the creation of work that I could be confident about in showing at the critique. My strengths are not in drawing or painting but rather sculpture and conceptual ideas. This affected the amount of work I had, come the critique evening. I explained I had taken about 100 photos to date and my work was not mobile so I documented it through photography. It was suggested I document it through drawing and painting but I insisted it would not be to a good standard and I would feel less an artist than everyone else who had great talents. I overcame this, produced miniature replicates of my outdoor 3-D work and I once again regained confidence in my own art style.

Working outdoors in our Irish weather can be a challenge, especially in the west were things seem to be a bit got extreme than anywhere else. The strong winds meant I had held my pages down with pegs and masking tape so they would not fly away.

I do have regrets; I regret the lack of paintings and pencil drawings. I regret not socialising more with everyone rather than just a few. If I could go back and tell myself all of this, I do not think I would. It seems we can learn more from losing/failing than wining. The learning would not have been as strong, So I am thankful for the trip as it set me on a route that lead me to create a great sculpture.

If I could change anything with hindsight, I would. I would change people’s attitude before the trip. It needed to be taken seriously, so everyone could benefit from the trip. I do not think it was clear beforehand to how seriously it needed to be taken, so that set a precedent for the trip and it lead to some conflict and frustrated minds.

The trip was a great experience overall, one I will never forget. I took new skills and aims from it. One being the use of nature in my work can be exciting and strong. I learned new processes that I will take with me in to the future, to plan, sketch and then create my work rather than working backwards.

Future Planning

After I complete my course at BCFE (Ballyfermot College of Further Education), I will apply to NCAD (National College of Art and Design). While at NCAD, I wish to study Sculpture in the fine art department in year two, after year one (core year) is complete.

To do this I will need to register on the CAO website to be able to choose what courses I want to apply for in third level institutions. I will also need a minimum of five distinctions from my FETAC course to be eligible for application to NCAD, as I do not have the required leaving certificate. I have decided this route because I like to use sculpture to address social and political issues. This means I must work hard in BCFE to achieve the necessary credentials to be able to apply to NCAD.

To give an example of someone who is or has done work that I like and find very effective is Alfredo Jaar. Works of his that has captured my attention are Lights in the city 1999. The description reads:

Approximately a hundred thousand watts of red lights were installed in the Cupola of the Marché Bonsecours, a landmark monument in the old Montreal.

Button devices were placed in the Accueil Bonneau, la Maison Eugénie Bernier and la Maison Paul Grégoire, homeless shelters located within 500 yards of the Cupola. Every time a homeless person enters any of these shelters, they are free to push the buttons and the red light will flash in the Cupola.

This project can be read in many ways: First, a “photograph” is taken every time a human being asks for help (a light flashes as if a photograph is being taken). This “photograph” respects the privacy and dignity of the “homeless” person (there is no “material image”) while at the same time sends a sign (a red light).

Once I finish full time education and in the real world, I would like to work solo to establish myself as a conceptual artist. I believe establishing myself will take time. I would need a workshop/studio space, funding and experience. For funding, I could apply to such organizations as The Arts Council, Firestation, and so on.

I would like to travel and work in such places like New York and Paris but I plan to stay in Ireland for my near future.

 

Alfredo Jaar and Socially Engaged Arts

Alfredo Jaar and Socially Engaged Arts

Alfredo Jaar to me is an artist that I would aim to be like. His work is politically motivated. As it always has been, the world has become so political but yet less engaging. Why is this? Well it is because usually middle Aged men in suits have dragged down politics and policies to slow boring speeches. They do not want you to be interested in what they are legislating or whatever it may be they are doing. If you and your family, friends and neighbours take notice of what politicians and policy makers are doing you, could influence them due to mass movements and therefore stop them in their footsteps.

To me art is a way to make things like ‘politics’ more attractive for people who are not engaged. With the use of exhibitions, installations and even just colour things can be represented differently and therefore be seeing in a new way.

It can also represent things like genocide. Alfredo Jaar’s ‘Rwanda’ project done exactly this. I was very lucky to see his work in Berlin in 2012. It was the first time I had come across an Alfredo Jaar exhibition. What I saw was strong. This project has stuck with me since. This project was ‘Untitled (Newsweek)’. Jaar compared every edition of Newsweek to the genocide in Rwanda.

As you can read above, the image shows what Newsweek was publishing. Below that image is the death toll in Rwanda up as far as June 10th.

The reason this project has stayed with me because during the Rwanda genocide journalism (news) failed to do its job by reporting what has been happening in Rwanda and how the international community failed to act because of many reasons and one of those reason been the costs of intervention. The project was quite simple looking, just like the image below, a display of 17 copies of the front cover of Newsweek and below that image was a death toll or description of what happened in Rwanda on that date.

Lights in the City, Montreal, 1999.

The front page on the first of august 1994 read ‘Hell on Earth’. This was after 800,000 people had been murdered. To me, this display was very respectful to those who had been murdered. It offers a great comparison to what some consider news and what should be news. This is what creativity can do and the use of a museum space.

This is another project I find to be a visual masterpiece. It is referred to as ‘lights in the city’, 1999. This project was based in the rich North American city of Montreal, Canada. Approximately a hundred thousand watts of red lights were installed in a building. The building was called ‘The Cupola of the Marche’. Every time a homeless person entered a shelter located within 500 yards of the cupola, they are free to press a button, which would turn on the red lights on top of the cupola. These lights are so bright that it they can be seen all around the city of Montreal.

This project is read a few ways. I read it as a stop light. A stop light glows red telling people who are looking at it to stop and wait. I believe the red lights mean stop and take a moment to realise that there are homeless people in this city and be aware and help if you can. If everyone can see these lights and the lights go on (flashing) many times a day then one would be worried about the number of homeless people in the city who cannot afford the necessities.

To people in Dublin today, homelessness is not seen even by those in government who fail to act effectively to help. If we were to make the spire (Dublin’s ugliest sculpture) flash, a bright red every time an individual were to enter a shelter we would take a lot more notice of homelessness. This could lead to government acting effectively to help solve this issue because they would receive a lot more pressure due to larger public awareness thanks to the flashing bright red light.

Art has that affect, to mobilize the masses and to inspire individuals. These two things can make a difference just like art. Any work I produce, I do not just want it to sit on a pedestal to be admired and/or criticised. I want it to shake up emotions in people who see it, to allow people to question it and themselves and for the art to say something. The piece(s) also needs to speak for itself and or the issue it is representing. It would have a voice low enough to sit in a museum space but loud enough for people to hear it scream.

Alfredo Jaar’s work does this for me. It stirs up emotions inside of me, frustrating me enough to ask why? To a lot of things I othewise wouldnt ask. This is all I ask art to do and this is what I hope my work will do. Giving the circumstances that Ireland and the world are in I don’t thik there has been a better time for art to really stand above all and say something.

Time In-Memoreial

Photos taken in Dublin’s National War memorial Gardens.

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By Jonathan Myers