Something is meaningfull
by Beth Mohr
The process of artmaking. From inspiration to final artwork.
In a way, this seems impossible. To describe where my artistic practice starts. Where the inspiration comes from. How it is developed and completed in a work.
For me, a completed work is a start of something new. Something that points forward and not backward on a prior process. Forward to the next physical manifestations and clarification of this "something" I will convey.
For me, the artistic process is a circular motion, where most works only seem to represent the basis for my future development.
But I will nevertheless make the attempt. To describe my practice. From inspiration sources of idea development and to the translation into the final physical manifestations.
To describe the artistic process, I must make use of a linear logic. Where the artistic process has a unique and clear beginning without overlap from other processes that insist on making their influence - and culminating in a convincing unambiguous physical manifestation.
The linear logic of the written and spoken word. You start by typing in the top left corner. The text flows to the right and is limited by the paper or the computer's right side. After line breaks the writing is starting again at the left beneath the first line and so on. The writing ends when you have no more to tell - usually with a dot.
Linear! It's the text field.
The linear thinking do not reflect the nature of art. It's more circular. The circles can be large or small. But you always come back to yourself, to your starting point. And, if you are lucky more clear about your artistic intention and expression which now represent the new basis for the future artistic development.
And now to the point.
What inspires me? Where does the inspiration comes from?
One thing is certain. The inspiration is present and a real companion. This is often assaulting me and insists on its presence. For me, my memories and perception are the inspiration source, as an archaeologist I dig in the corners of my childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
Sigmund Freud had a hypothesis "that the psyche is a system of deposits of experiences from different life periods, roughly like the geological deposits in the soil are piled up and get older the deeper you dig".
I am the archaeologist in the deposits of my mind.
The deposits can be very specific, as the punishment for forgetting my sister's tricycle at the street. Or be more emotional based without binding to a unique situation, just a fundamental sense of loneliness. The recollections are mixed with each other and with the current assumptions, thoughts and experiences, but I always take of from the corners of my past, the real, the restated reality or take of from my dreams.
Sigmund Freud summed up in "Psykoanalysen i grundtræk" (Psychoanalysis Basics) from 1941, some of his basic insights and theorem on what he called the personality model. Freud says that during the childhood period in which man lives in dependence on his parents, "the ego" creates a specific part in which this parental influence is retained and deposited. This part he named the superego. During the individual development the superego also gets contributions from the persons who succeeds in replacing the parents, such as teachers, or public ideals and the ideals which are valued in society. The id and the superego despite all their fundamental differences have in common that they represent the impact of the past, the id inherited, the superego is essentially what has been taken over from others while the ego is mainly determined by it's own experiences. "
My inspiration comes from here. From the imbalance and the inner conflict between the id and the superego. From the gap between the child and the respectable bourgeois expectations of a life in the context of economic security and a polished, smooth and unbroken surface.
To be pressed into the outer worlds way of doing things without any escape routes. Doping art is for me a way of remain intact in a world of expectations.
For Louise Bourgeois, art was a means of "survival", not a free career choice, and there was "no escape" from it. The "catharsis" or "sublimation" that it brings may be personally therapeutic; but its "vibration" reach beyond herself to "universal" emotional.
My personal memories and stories are private and without immediate interest to anyone than myself. The recollections must go through a translation procedure and be reshaped - as Louise Bourgeois formulated it - to universal statements. A transformation of the personal into something general. Such translations I only can come to being physically active - by creating. I need to have materials between my fingers. Feel the textures of materials, weight, surface, fragility. Putting the five senses - sight, smell, taste, hearing and sense of touch - in action. And use my intuition - "my sense about snow". Intuition defined as "the capacity for immediate and direct perception of a whole or a context without rational thinking".
I sketch out ideas on patches of paper. Realise some of the ideas in different materials. Writes notes. Cutting, sewing, hammering. Burning clothes and last year's Christmas tree in an explosive inferno of flames at the seashore. Photographing, painting, making videos, fastens old iron into clay and behind glass in frames. Slowly growing a catalog of ideas emerging from the mist. Some ideas are muddy and unclear while others shines brighter than neon light in my studio. With minimal critical approach I cover the walls with all my inventions - like putting up wallpaper. The wallpaper is changing all the time. New ideas comes. Others goes. The intuition - and my belief in my intuitions eligibility is my partner in this process. The individual works, sketches, bits of text, sounds, videobits, combined with my vague ideas and sensations define the next step in my artistic process.
From idea to artwork - the translation.
"The artist has access to his uncouscious and the gift of sublimation. The only thing that counts is the form - not my biography. The form must be convinsing." Louise Bourgeios said, which I totally agere. The art, the object, the story, the result of my physical work must be convincing and refer to the universal. Without a visual referencers my memories.
The ideas reveal itself, embodied in the eternal interaction between equal parts of reflection and practice. They depend on each others. No reflection without practice. And no practice without reflection. Reflection and practice only excists due to each others existence. Practice and reflection melts into a whole - forged into a work of art.
But how can I know that the translation of my own personal memories not just ends up in another personal expression that does not have a pinch of universal nature? It is for me, the most difficult exercise in the artistic process. A tightrope walk between canyons. I have to move away from self reference and turn the critical eye towards myself and my practice. Not succumbing to self-aggrandizement, easy solutions and mediocrity. Demand an undisguised feed back from the world around me, without being offended. Be open to criticism, and use this in a positive way no matter how hurtful it can be.
I try my best - make serious efforts. But the doubt is undeniably my companion. In moments I seem to "hit the mark". Achieved the utipian . To provide a universal work. The doubt though often roll up in the slipstream.
Doubt I use to refine and clarify the work. Make adjustments. Change the size, color, media. Ask questions to the work and respond to it. Repeats works in other materials and formats. Correlate the inspiration from my remembrance with materials. Remove everything that ain´t necessary and leave only the central. And now it hopefully can stand for it self.
Body and art.
I am a physically oriented person and I prosper when I can be physically active in the artistic process with materials between my hands and all senses in action. I don't bind myself to a single medium - a single material. I'm working with the materials which supports my intention, and searches for the combination of materials where I find satisfaction - find the balance between thinking and making.
And now, facing the appearence of an art work, the process in a way return to the starting point. To the inspiration level. Without the physical work of art and its physical expression and body, my inspiration would be inaccessible.
"Sculpture allows me a realationship with my body", Louise Bourgeois said.
It is my physical body that creates the physical work. My memories as a source of inspiration and the physical work of art are catalysts for each other. The art and the body are each other's necessities - existential and mutual.