Conceptual Practice

Over the last few years the focus of my conceptual practice has shifted and as such my artist’s statement is under review:

In my artistic practice I am attempting to explore the capacity art has to provide catharsis. Does making art make my life more bearable? Does studying art and entering into a dialogue with artists provide me with any kind of emotional or psychological healing? Any spiritual redemption? I also aim to challenge audiences and provoke dialogue by articulating my understanding of ideas about art, catharsis and their interrelation.

My practice involves researching artworks and literature about the key themes of art and catharsis. I also place a large emphasis on meditation on ideas through physical activity, such as writing, drawing and painting. The end result of this research and reflection is generally performance and video work but also the occasional sculpture or installation. The key areas of research for my work are art history, Judaeo-Christian theology and psychoanalytical theory.

There are several reasons that references to other artists and artworks play such a large role in my work. The first is that I’m exploring fundamental ideas about the nature of art. By referencing formative works from my artistic development, I’m retracing the steps that led me to my understanding of and relationship with art. A large number of the artists I have referenced in my work make performance art. This is because as a performance artist myself, I relate most strongly to the traditions, themes and history of performance. My relationship to art is inextricably linked to my relationship to performance and my exploration of catharsis is inevitably caught up in both. I also reference artists who I feel have at some level dealt with similar issues of catharsis, particularly those artists whose visual language and techniques I find particularly effective at expressing our shared concerns.

Judaeo-Christian theology is abundant with metaphors and imagery for salvation, healing, cleansing and transcendence. Particular ideas like baptism, sacrifice, redemption and ascension strike me as incredibly powerful. Perhaps more important than the poetic nature of biblical ideas is my personal involvement with many of the concepts that I borrow from the Christian bible. I draw on two main themes from the bible, those of sin and salvation. Theologically sin is at the root of all our suffering and forgiveness that comes from God is our only hope of salvation.

Early psychoanalytical theory is a particularly good muse for making work. When using imagery that points to theoretical concepts, the accuracy of the theory is in many ways irrelevant. Those theories which formed the basis of our current understanding have now passed into a kind of mythological status that is no longer burdened by the rationality of science. The underlying intention with their use is to provoke a dialogue about the nature of the human condition using a specific language of ideas. But as with both art and theology I have a very personal level of involvement with psychoanalysis as well. I come from a family with strong connections to psychoanalysis and psychiatric illness.