Lessons Learned

Art Matters I

 

My practice has evolved immensely relative to what it was before. In the first Unit I, we were expected to re-evaluate our art practice by experimenting with numerous different kinds of materials and with different methods that we learned from workshops, tutorials, constructive critiques, artist talks, trips, and articles. 

 

 We were “expected to conduct an independent research” in our area of interest. The steep learning curve that I have experienced has allowed me to self-reflect and self-enquiry as concerns my personal interests and even on some aspects of my personal, and very individual, perception of my previous practices during my BA (Hons). I was able to “develop my ideas and thoughts regarding different fields” and was deeply interested in the first semester.

 

I started by reading books about biculturalism and cultural conflicts, as my parents are from different countries and have different values, views etc. I myself had both a Norwegian and a Portuguese upbringing. I hold a double nationality. I was keenly interested in figuring out how we deal with two different kinds of identity when we are bicultural. Basically, we are living a double life that adapts and changes according to the different environments we are immersed in. That is why often the use of nature in my work is essential for me as an organic material, since it responds to surroundings, kind of adapting and changing its own identity in order to survive. The artists that I most connected with in the first unit were Ackroyd & Harvey, given their use technologies to manipulate nature in different spaces with their artworks; Frank Sandback gave his use of a simple line to create multidimensional minimal spaces, generating a sensory experience and illusion of it in his artworks – this clones the fine line we have as bicultural kids; Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement that talks about the life of Jean Michel Basquiat by being a bicultural or a mix driven to both identify problems and to figure out their position in a society predominantly led by white people.

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SKETCH I

Acrylics, cotton

10CMX10CM

2019

SKETCHES II

Acrylics

10CMX10CM

2019

SKETCH III

organic paper and pastels 

10CMX10CM

2019

TEABAGS UNTANGLING IDENTITY 

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TEABAGS

Teabags final, copper, wood and string 

15cmx15cm

2019

TEABAGS UNTANGLING IDENTITY 

 

I explore and aim to demonstrate how one can decontextualize an object and thus artificially interrupt the historical and temporal dimensions of a teabag in a way that renders its conceptualization and perception in today’s society meaningless. By looking at and grasping its mere materiality, stripping it away from its contextual reasoning, the function and value of tea bags – or of any other everyday object – is lost and so is its social and cultural signifier/referent nature. In other words, its intrinsic value is lost when there is no framework of understanding that sustains it. I got very concerned with the process of transforming simple tea bags into copper ones, as the process was extremely non-environmental-friendly. Indeed, the process of it was very toxic for both the environment and for myself. So, it made me think of how could I produce work that was more sustainable.

 

 

 

SPACE AND IDENTITY

SPACE AND IDENTITY 

 

I dreamt for very strong projects, ideas that I was unable to realize due to the fact that I didn't have enough knowledge or experience in their fields. I wanted to grow plants from a rope that was attached to the ceiling and to create a space with it. I talked with professionals and to gardeners about my project, that was unsuccessful, called Identity and space. The idea behind it touched on how nature is constantly adapting/changing its course in order to survive in its own surroundings, often struggling to do so like our individual identity does (in a short description). I always felt that nature and our natural behaviours were connected to some extent, but only in parallel. 

 

 

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Experiment 

rope, cotton, fabric, soil and seeds

3,5 metres hight 

2019

ENVIRONMENT AND INDUSTRIALIZATION 

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Environment and Industrialisation

metal, seeds, eco paper

43cmx45cmx45cm

hight 

2019​

My practice at the time had a deep effect on my lifestyle as I became increasingly more self-aware of contemporary issues, like environmental degradation worldwide, after carrying out a deep research about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This is mainly due to the global environmental crisis we are facing today, which may lead to the extinction of the plants that grow from those seeds. I realized that in order for us to conserve and avoid environmental degradation we may need to dedicate more effort to improving our industries and transforming them into more eco-friendly ones. 

 

My research question was a response to the ironies we are nowadays often faced with as concerns sustainability and industrialization. 

 

This is problematic, however, as society is often faced with difficulties and challenging tasks created by us ourselves in the first place. As such, and in order for conservation to be successfully implemented nowadays, I argue, industrialization needs to step in to avoid the inherent catastrophic loss of biodiversity in our planetary habitat. A balance between nature and industry is thus required.

 

Given this, I explored those ideas – through different materials such as copper, other metals, oil colours, photograph, sound, video image and environmentally friendly paper. But I became attached to this “environmentally friendly paper” as it was kind of hard to manipulate and to manage. Its fragility gave me food for thought and made me obsessed with it. I decided afterwards to construct a three “little metal chair”. I found it interesting to play around with materials such as the eco-paper, seeds and industrial metal, the contrast between them went from hard and soft – the opposite of my earlier experience. 

 

How could they work together? What was their relationship? One of interdependence? Did the industrialization and sustainable materials I used work together as one and ensure conservation was achieved? Yes? No? Illusion maybe?  

 

So, the installation that I created for the first assessment explores this relationship between industrialization and conservation techniques nowadays embedded in our society. The outcomes of this show us that even ‘materials’ deemed as ‘ecological’ are a product of industrial manufacture and that brings our attention to the fact that the production processes behind such materials require mechanized manipulation. The two worlds of ‘industry’ and ‘ecological’ need to overlap and coexist in the present so conservation will happen before it is too late. 

 

My work was a critique of the misplacement we are often face due to our errors about the environment. It is also important to note that I created a chair-like structure (with the official measurements industrial designers normally use) as a way to symbolize and to provoke viewers about the lack of action that comes with the fear of stepping out of one's comfort zone. The vulnerability present in stepping out of that zone is often frowned upon, as it has become 'normal' to 'do the talk and not walk the walk' due to our fearing of the unknown.  

Lessons Learned

Art Matters II

My practice has changed and evolved immensely. My previous errors or failed projects (not all were) from before helped me to come to engage in a more crisply defined art practice. 

 

I needed to chart my art practice. Mapping my interests, mapping my social, cultural, political and environmental debates by knowing my position in them. What is my art practice about? What am I not acknowledging from it? Those are questions I wondered about as I moved along this unit.

 

 

I started by reading books about sustainability and those approaches or methods undertaken by those of us who are attempting to not making huge difference by reducing our ecofootprint. Basically, the sustainable development strategies taken by governments are obviously not enough and that will have economic and social consequences as well as ecological ones. Our “consumption and production will be sustainable only to the extend that they minimize greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation”. I began to get lost and my art practice did too. I felt trapped in my ideas of this utopian world that I was nurturing in my head. I thought I was creating work that was sustainable, friendlier. My work was becoming of the emptiness and illusion of my imagination. That is why I started changing the path of my art practice. I decided to look for more books about identity as my practice and I needed it in order to progress. I came across many articles, videos and books about our unconscious; identity in gender and in which race people counts too (I deem it important to notice, however, that I think 'races' do not exist). This made me realize that we tend to create such abstract ideals through our unconscious about this perfect person or we tend to objectify ourselves so we become more desirable and more equal – which is very ironical when we look at our past. That’s why I became enthraled by this anthropological term “Social Norms” read from a feminist perspective. However, even then my utopian world about sustainability was not working, even as I still made sure everything was as green as possible. 

 

I was influenced by many artists during this course-unit and one of them was Helene Aylon a rather well-known eco-feminist artist. In her practice, she tends to explore biological, ecological and theological issues from a feminist perspective, by using a different range of mixtures ranging the span from art performance to protest art. Eva Hesse was another artist that I was inspired by for her minimalist and feministic sculptures that consist of abstract forms carved from a varied panoply of industrial materials. She often “illuminates women’s issues while refraining from any obvious political agenda”.

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SKETCH I

Jardim

Printmaking

2020

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1/1

Anonymous art project 

2019

SKETCH III

acrylics on paper

A5

2020

S K I N

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SKIN (Social Norms)

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I decided to continue this idea of connecting ourselves to Nature. I wanted to explore that since my personal interest is often triggered by my individual perceptions of what is Identity and the effect of others in it. Moreover, is important to acknowledge that almost all materials used during the process were certificated as sustainable as I felt morally obligated to do so and it thus became a part of me after the experience of making copper teabags (a highly toxic process).

 

My research question was a reflection or response to the impact social norms has on us. I was trying to understand, or to justify, the lack of change we are often faced with. 

 

My current practice at the time made me increasingly more self-aware of contemporary issues prompting several (self) analyses of these power relational inequalities (often embedded in gender in our present days). 

 

I decided to deepen my knowledge about a subject that I have always been fascinated by - ‘social norms’. I began by comparing the fragility of a specific eco-friendly paper (the same material that I used in the first year) to that of a woman's skin, aiming to shed light on the impact of societal norms on ‘the self’ (identity), from a feminist perspective (since I am a woman). Some of these ‘social norms’, as I further explored them, maintain and uphold gender inequality; something that ought to be also debated as concerns gender justice. 

 

We had an exhibition coming up so I decided to create an artwork around this subject. In a short description, my work was a critique of the misplacement that woman often live in. The skin (eco-paper) is meant as a metaphorical representation of the impacts of some social norms on women's bodies everyday. The new skin is following those social constructions while the older one is not, therefore appearing more washed out or ‘faded’: interestingly, I think, sort of similar to what often happens to the ‘outcasts of society’ (since identity is manipulated, and contested, around societal views).

 

This work was an exhibit in the Crypt Gallery in London, and it was named Immurement. The space itself was a very original one, located in an old basement under an Anglican English Church in Euston. 

 

 

Social Moulding

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Social Moulding 

wood and eco paper

2020

My artwork explores the relationship between social norms and societal power imbalances, looked at mainly from a feminist perceptive, shedding light too on the ways in which these are often embedded in development-related practices in our society. I do so by manipulating 'natural materials' – i.e. ecological paper – and showing how that to successfully do so one requires mechanized manipulation.

 

I begin by exploring the fragility of this eco-friendly paper (symbolizing women's skin) and comparing it to the effects of societal norms on the final outcome. As became increasingly clear to me, some social norms are maintaining and are contributing to gross gender inequalities.

 

My work is about the daily norms women 'need' to follow in order to be accepted in society. Our identity is being changed and daily molded around traditional views.

Through my piece, I decided to use the measurements of my own body to create 3D paintings by using the irrational/awful method that was used during the Second World War to define who was of a pure Aryan race/identity groups; i.e. through measuring people's body parts to find out who belonged to them or not. I decided to apply this irrational theory in my work to define how gender had been manipulated through the decades.

 

In some senses, one could argue that my work serves as a critique of the ways in which gender had been impacted by the ongoing processes of 'naturalization' patent in our own society. These are often based on irrational methods that have been used to identify and define members of society. Over time, the abstractedness and irrationality of these methods have proven difficult to sustain.

 

It is also important to note that I created an abstract installation as a way to symbolize society’s ‘social molding’ theories that often use sociological "categorical tools" based on mere unreal and fabricated ideals, or memes, from Patriarchical systems - illusion of women bodies - where the unnatural becomes natural.

 

 

BEFORE EASTER

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Before Easter

 

Before Easter, we had our last exhibition at University. In this small time frame, the exhibition needed to create work for what we thought (just an idea) we were going to exhibit in Copeland Gallery for our final assessment at UAL. My idea, during short period, was to create a 3D space like the one I wanted to hang down in the first unit, called Identity and Space by using weeping willows. After that I realized I wanted to do something that had more impact on viewers by using different sensory inputs.

 

 

 

 

SKETCH I

Pencil on paper

A4

2019

PANDEMIC

Pandemic

 

During the pandemic I decided to go back home because my parents thought they were infected (thank God they were not). I just packed my suitcase very quickly and packed everything in my room because I knew I probably needed to move them out, as I could not afford keeping a room due that the Norwegian currency was extremely low, as it still is. The only thing that I was able to take with me was my linocut materials because they were easy to carry and right in front of me. Since I arrived home, I was able to do some work and even made my little workshop in a corner of my living room where I printed some work.  In this work I explored the abstractness of living in a pandemic, freedom, and women. With that I made sure that I was making and producing something even during a lockdown. I bought online loads of art materials, flowers, but they haven’t arrived yet… too bad.

 

 

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SKETCHES

Printmaking and study installations

A4

2019

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SKETCH I

Petalas of Cravo 

Printmaking

2020

SKETCH III

printmaking 

A6

2020

SKETCH IV 

Jardim

Printmaking

2020