I have realized that in my practice I enjoy the slowness of working, allowing time and room for thinking, reconsideration, changes and sometimes, abandonment. I tend to take my time with developing new works, finishing a handful of pieces in a year whereas someone else might be making a new work every week. I enjoy experimenting and testing new ideas in small scale; creating tiny table-top installations in boxes, water jars and salt containers is like building miniature landscapes and contained, architectural spaces where I can test ideas in small-scale. Sometimes, these small-scale environments remain the only possible outcomes for my ideas, as the financial, spatial and material aspects of the original ideas make them impossible to realize in real life, at least for now.
The film above is a recent experiment to test the idea of playing with scale. A contained, underwater landscape exists in a small glass jar, the tiny, skeletal wire boat lying half-sunken on a bed of Dead Sea salt. The audio is partially the studio sounds at the time of filming as well as recorded underwater sounds. Flashes of shaking, air bubbles, floating hairs and reflections on the glass hint that the space is contained and miniaturistic. I want to show the film as a large-scale projection, the jar sitting on top of a plinth next or in front of it, revealing the reality from fiction.
Below the Surface was inspired by not only the South-West Kazakh scenery and my project research but also the new Damien Hirst film Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable (2017), ‘documenting’ Hirst’s Venice Biennial exhibition. The show consisted of two venues filled with gold objects, treasures found from an antiquity slave ship Amotan thought to be only an ancient Roman legend. The film, of course, is fake – there was no sunken ship nor treasure as the story is fictional and the gold, bronze and jade objects were partially Hirst’s old works he recycled as well as some new ones made for the show (including Hirst’s “Roman” self-portrait made in bronze, camouflaged in coral and seashells, hilarious!)
“ — the film suggests the show was the debut presentation of long-lost treasure discovered by a team of archaeologists and divers off the coast of east Africa. The trove—so the story goes—had been assembled during the 1st or 2nd centuries by a former slave turned voracious collector, Cif Amotan II (an anagram, it turns out, for “I am fiction”)”
The Wreck of the Unbelievable is fiction, a lie, but I do enjoy this aspect of the work as the film has been made to make the viewer to believe it.
Even though my project is about real events and real places, there is an element of fiction, even fakery as the installations I make are sets – inspired and heavily influenced by the places I’ve been and seen but definitely, not real. I don’t see this as a conflict with being authentic however, as making art is about interpretation, recreation, imaginary and narrative. I attempt to recreate these sceneries and stories without trying to clone them, but seeking to capture the emotional experience of witnessing something, that is sad, frightening but oddly magnetic at the same time. Ruins that sill possess the fragments of glory and power, like destroyed monuments and abandoned buildings, now overgrown, forgotten and silent have something captivating about their rottenness, ugliness and deadness. This is what I attempt to capture in my sculpture, film and installation works, the allurement and magnetism of silent, ghostly spaces and objects.
The work I’m going to show at the next interim show is my barbed wire boat sculpture, the same one I almost gave up with. In one of my previous blog entries (as well as during my last group crit), I was talking about doubt and how doubt often stops me either realizing my ideas or finishing already started projects, and that doubt is the reason, I think it is important for me to take this project onwards, finishing it as I have visioned and then see if it was successful or not. By finishing and showing it as I have intended, it also allows me to identify the possible problematic elements of the work, helping me to develop and improve. As I’m interested in creating atmospheric, contained spaces, I intend to show the installation in dark or dim space, allowing the reflections of water to show. I am also going to use either a spot light or an upside-down, hanging projector, projecting film on the surface of the water as well as a sound piece surrounding the work, played using wireless Bluetooth speakers.
Sketch for the interim show installation