I didn't post up a #creativetuesday yesterday as my creativity has been an intense period of research this week.
I love researching, reading, ideas and books as much as making art.
Doing the art collaboration with Evy Jokhova later this year - who's practice is different to mine - is making me look at alternative things. How architecture (3D habitable art?) affects human beings, and how that level of identity-making isn't something I'd thought of in terms of my own practice as I work mainly with images, however both are deeply intertwined.
As a result, I started re-reading some of my trusty books (The Story of Art) and some new books, and got curious about the history of images. It's loaded. From a Western and Eastern point of view it differs of course. Early propaganda? Serving ultimately religious purposes from the Middle Ages in Western culture? Images (and words) are 'important means of preserving cultural memory' I learn. I would also add they are important means of creating culture too.
And then I was reminded of Helene Cixous who proposed that for women to 'enter' language/culture in a system created by men/partriachy they need to develop their own way of writing. This is interesting, as another strand of research precipitated by this book; The Book of the City of Ladies (image at top) - taught me that Nicostrata was meant to be the original creator of letters - why didn't they tell me at school that it was a woman???? I mainly learnt about men! See more here.
I am fascinated by history, the place from which I come, but equally the places we may create and therefore go to.
I'm sure it was no 'coincidence' then that I walked in to my father's studio at this time to see a single book facing out at me: African Nomadic Architecture: Space, Place and Gender. I love 'coincidences' like this. I have only read the introduction, but such fascinating thoughts on transient (and original) architecture built with the land and nature. Nomadic structures are not cast in stone and penetrating the earth, to then be valued, heralded, fought over and staked as a 'possession' - is this type of sedentary architecture a more 'masculine' route? The book discusses this. Invisible, transient labour (associated with the domestic sphere and interior spaces) cannot be commodified in the same way - therefore do we need a different value system?
I felt a bit sad as I think about what we do to this planet, how we could live in harmony with it more. Equally I'm thinking about what ways do women or 'the feminine' have that differs from men, or masculinity? (I know have to be so careful with terms of sexes or genders, but I hope you know where I am coming from.) Could there be, or is there a different way to do things that has been diminished over time, lost even? Is it about trying to re-member or find, or is it about creating as Cixous suggest? Is there a masculine way and is there a feminine way?
The book on Nomadic structures discusses also, the way in which arts and crafts were divided as male and female - and I bet you can guess which goes with which? But if you diminish or subordinate an art/craft associated with a sex then you do the same to the whole sex?
If culture is about writing and recording (and creating) then we know - and also considering nomadic and transient concepts - that there is a whole history that has gone un-recorded and unrecognised and that might be the other language that I find myself sometimes searching for. I find as a woman and mother that something does not sit right with me in regards to the culture I live in. I can't always put my finger on it, but I use art to seek maybe.....
On a more contemporary note, this is definitely something I think about: can we all have it all? Another good TEDs talk.
I am starting a separate blog to chart my research in to this collaborative project with Evy Jokhova. I will share the link once I get it sorted. Maybe it will be interesting (for me as much as anyone else!), to see how the process of an art project and resulting work unfolds and goes hand in hand with research. Maybe today is #researchwednesday instead of #creativetuesday this week :)
I hope you are having a creative time wherever you are in the world.