Constellation; Identity – Part 1

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‘Prototype for New Understanding #16 & #3’, Brian Jungen, 2003-4

(Images taken from; http://thetyee.cachefly.net/gallery/2006/01/25/BrianJungen10-Prot16.png & http://www.ankhou.com/images/posts/5810/jungen_3.jpg)

Another fascinating constellation essay, this one instead focussing on the idea of ‘identity’, something that many artists struggle with in their practice in our new, globalist world. Jungen creates aboriginal masks out of nike air trainers. Simple, yet effective; it evokes a feeling of multiculturalism, of historic, traditional culture merged with the heavily consumerist culture we revel in as of today. There is a sense of understanding ones identity inherent within most artwork crafted in this contemporary world, even if it is not obvious; a person is crafted through their experiences, through their nature and the way they are nurtured, and therefore every work they craft is influenced by these two incredibly important factors. This concept is also seen through the work of Jimmie Durham, who’s work ‘my blood’ is an incredibly powerful take on this idea of identity. It consists of a handprint of hi sown blood; simultaneously creating an example of his hands, fingerprints, and also of his DNA; held within the blood. These three things are so unique to him, that no-one else holds upon their body.

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‘Carbon Milk 9’, Jitish Kallat, 2007

(Image taken from; http://p2.la-img.com/404/28336/10856470_1_l.jpg)

Another artist we looked at who hopes to carve out his own understanding of his own identity; Kallat lives in the heart of Bangladesh, and his work reflects the hustle and bustle of this continually growing settlement. Although we may see some similarities to Munillo’s work in this piece, as the lower class boy is happy and therefore we could see that it is a retelling of the classic story of Munillo’s paintings, that pushed the wealthy to believe that the lower classes were happy with their situation. However, the title ‘Carbon Milk’ suggests that the boy’s mother is not human, but is in fact the city. He is happy with his position not only because he is a child and finds joy in all walks of life, but because the city provides for him. I can imagine he has made friends and allies for life on those streets, although the life is nothing great. The imagery of this piece; I am not one for graphical work, but I appreciate the use of colours and printing in this piece; it’s very interesting. We also looked at the work of the Singh twins, but I felt no actually warrant for me to talk about their work here; I felt like it was nice to look at, but not much more than that. It doe snot prompt me to discuss their work.

Chris Ofili

‘Afrodizzia’, Chris Ofili, 1996

(Image taken from; http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_ZYFOfcO01m8/TPY2FnXgZjI/AAAAAAAAAIo/ujNfY9WV3ag/s1600/Chris+Ofili.jpg)

Chris Ofili was another artist brought up in the lecture on Identity, as he focuses on three forms of identity; from the Caribbean, from Africa, and from his life in Britain. His ability to take from these three cultures is very interesting to his work, and prompts him to create works of art that transcend the differing societies in the Black communities around the world. His piece Afrodizzia is a multi-layered, multi-cultural explosion on a canvas. It is at once eye-catching, reminiscent of the traditional garments of west Africa; but incorporates collaged elements of hundreds of images of black people with Afro hairstyles. Incorporating the psychedelic colours of the 60’s, it also reminds me of one of the more famous black musical artists in Jimi Hendrix, and this also pushes the work to be somewhat beautiful and self exploratory, something not often explored through black culture before during the 20th century.

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Blue paintings’, Chris Ofili, 2007

(Image taken from; http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_uJJdnGb1lcU/TA52kB2f6CI/AAAAAAAAAGw/1yRgBmERi7c/s1600/OFILI_2.jpg)

Another series of pieces that fascinated me was this series; blue paintings depicting horrific slaughtrs and nightmarish beings. The works are incredibly dark in real life, and the images held within them only seem to appear when one sits and view the pieces for an incredibly long time. This idea of an image ‘revealing’ itself to the viewer as the viewer becomes more intimate with the piece is fascinating. The works are also so dark in context, as well as colour scheme, that they evoke a very certain fear and negativity within the viewer. These concepts of identity, why must one be so focused in their place in the world? is it because of their fear of being forgotten? or is it to do with their need to be validated?

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