I have just read a very eloquent article written by Anish Kapoor about his sculpture 'Dirty Corner' in the gardens of Versailles which was recently vandalised.
I quote "Political violence however is not the same as artistic violence. This political vandalism uses an “art material” (paint) to make actual violence. It could have been a bomb or a hood thrown over someone’s head to kidnap them. Artistic violence is generative, political violence destructive. Artistic violence may scream at the tradition of previous generations. It may violently overturn what was before but in so doing it follows a long tradition of re-generation. It always, however, advances the language of art. Political violence, seeks erasure. Its aim is the removal of the offending idea, person, practice or thing. Simplistic political views are offended by the untidiness of the art object. In this context Art must be seen as obscene and destroyed."
Anish Kapoor - 19 June 2015
The distinction Kapoor makes between the aim of political violence i.e. erasure and the aim of artistic violence which is to advance the language of art is a very telling one. Our Intimate Transgressions exhibition is not seeking to offend anyone for the sake of giving offence, although there probably will be some people who are offended by it, the intention is very different. In keeping with Kapoor's interpretation the exhibition - the artworks in it will be generative and questioning, we hope to advance the language of art, the discourse around sexual violence and 'othering'.
Comment by Fion Gunn 25 June 2015
Beautiful e-book of Chen Qingqing's work featured in her recent solo show in Beijing.
Ma Yan Ling
"My name is Ma Yan Ling , I'm an artist who comes from Beijing. I have been doing art performance for many years. When I was doing my live art performance named " Gun" in Tian An Men square. I was holding a gun while walking in the crowds and ignoring people's eye contact. When I stood in front of the Tian An Men building, and held gun right next to my head. I felt my heart rushed out from my body, my blood was burning. I was extremely excited. You can see freedom and happiness in my smile. As a female artist, the happiest thing for me is that both body and soul are free. "
Participating artist Chen Meitsen describes her approach to making an artwork for Intimate Transgressions.
Chen Meitsen working on her FORMOSA ORCHID series
Formosa Orchid is inspired by the trauma of Taiwanese women caused during and after the Second World War. These women endured in silence all their lives both in body and mind, the deep impact of barbarity.
With this inspiration came the desire to create Formosa Orchid - a pristine flower shape which is carefully stitched and seamed with white lambskin as symbol of sacrifice; it exposes an elegant fragility which references the female genital. The folds of ‘skin’ are splashed and stained with red and violet in an inventive composition of abstract forms, which resemble a map of furrowed scars. Hanging on a meat hook like a carcass at the butcher's, ready for consumption, Orchid reveals the suffering caused by internalised conflict and nightmarish memories on this most intimate territory.
Orchid is not a random creation or a simple reference to historical fact, it follows on from my previous body of work - Suture. That series was an exploration of trauma and included artistic research about the nature of disclosure and of the organic imprint of Memory. Responding to the psychological environment from an artistic perspective I feel deep concern about sexual violence which is so damaging and so commonplace.
Formosa Orchid is my protest against the world which is descending into a state of chaos.
Participating artist Atsuko Nakamura speaks of her response to the issues touched on in 'Intimate Transgressions'
Why society cannot eradicate sensual violence, although it has been 70 years from "comfort women" during WWII?
Nowadays the victims of sexual violence in Japan are often young children rather than adult women.
The fundamental motivation of this crime i.e. someone's distorted and arbitrary desire to hurt someone physically and mentally is not changed, but why it is repeated?
The border of conscious and unconscious is the theme of my recent practice, the aim is to highlight and raise awareness of things which no one may have noticed before. As a Japanese person, I would like to explore the issue of sexual violence towards young children, to focus on what lies behind this crime and its impact as well as the 'mind control' by media and economic disparity which exacerbates its occurance.
Atsuko Nakamura June 2015
Participating Artist Niamh Cunningham describes the making of her artwork for Intimate Transgressions.
I first met Niamh in Beijing in 2011 where she cut a striking figure with her golden hair. The following March 2012 she had completed a wonderful knitted 'Pillar of Time' which stood over 3m high and made a wonderful centrepiece for the exhibition I was curated in Siemens Art Space, 798.
For this exhibition Niamh has literally been pulling her hair out to produce an artwork of wonderful intricacy - a padlock made with hair. The short film she has made is a really eloquent narrative of her approach to making the work and the inspiration behind it.
In 2005 in the course of an artist's residency in Beijing I first encountered Chen Qingqing's work and knew immediately that this was an artist with whom I wanted to work. The multilayered nature of her practice, its delicate, refined aesthetic combined with a sense of acuity, a fearlessness in confronting uncomfortable truths about gender, history, the nature of violence & suffering, resonates powerfully with the concept of 'Intimate Transgressions'
Qingqing's artwork for the New York Exhibition is an exquisite pillow woven from plant fibres and packed in an old suitcase, a metaphor for the lives of women in war all over the world; a memory of home, love, normality when destruction lies all around and then penetrates within.
The image below, from Qingqing's solo show is that of a cradle, shimmering and tactile yet replete with disturbing organic growths.
For more images follow this link: http://www.ccartd.com/zt/cqqdhmyx/index.html
Review by Clare Pennington in Timeout Beijing
Comment by Fion Gunn
This film documents the creative response of artist Michael Lisle-Taylor to the theme of 'Intimate Transgressions'.
I first saw Michael's work and heard him speak about his practice a number of years ago, during the course of a seminar hosted by the Group for War and Culture Studies at University of Westminster (London). I was deeply impressed not only by the works themselves, but by his approach to and analysis of very complex ethical issues. When I set about selecting artists for this exhibition he was one of the artists at the top of my list. His perspective on the military (he served 12 years in the Navy before going to art college) gives his work an authority and a veracity which is vital if we are to engage seriously with the issue of how sexual violence has become military strategy. Michael gives an insightful male perspective in 'Intimate Transgressions' and provides a subtle complementarity and counterpoint to the female artists' voices.
Comment by Fion Gunn
Gail Ritchie was inspired by the poetry of Wing Tek Lum, a contemporary Chinese poet who has written about both the Nanjing Massacre and the Comfort Women from the perspective of the victims and the perpetrators.
In this short film she describes the symbolism of her work and the visceral qualities it shares with Wing's poems.
Comment by Fion Gunn
ANVIL (A New Vision In Light) is an Art + Curatorial Collective founded by Rosalinda Gonzalez and Juan Puntes. Igor Molochevsky, Elizabeth Schmuhl, Andriy Bazyuta and a series of anonymous guest artists are artistic contributors. They live and work in New York City, Chicago, Kiev, Spain, Mexico, and Kotor, Montenegro.
Glass Patterns is an audio-visual installation and performance as ‘group portrait’ for social justice.
Work is created in a three step process and debuts in the group exhibition,
Intimate Transgressions, September 2015 at WhiteBox.
The first stage is the inquiry and pathological reflection of military ethics portrayed via process driven research and performance for video. The second step is working with survivors leading to the final stage of engagement with space and live audiences. The installation becomes a backdrop for performance and the exhibition plays host to an educational panel on the destructive phenomenon of organized military rape, conducive to transgressions in the theater of war the troupes will engage soon or later.
Glass Patterns (GP) is an audio-visual installation and performance as group portrait for social justice. The Work has been developed by the New York based art collective ANVIL in response to an invitation by the curatorial team of Intimate Transgressions , a multi-media group exhibition at WhiteBox exploring the human experience of war from a gender perspective reflecting on the urgent necessity of limiting future conflict. Glass Patterns pertains, alludes and directs our view to, at least, a few probable causes as the roots of the phenomenon of organized war rape and genocide rape being contained in, and unfortunately intrinsic to, the traditional hierarchical structure of the military as-is and remains today.
The artwork that constitutes Glass Patterns is being developed in a three-stage process. The first/current stage is the inquiry and pathological reflection of military ethics portrayed via ‘process driven’ research and performance for the medium of Video. Research on the topic/subject generates the material culled from online publicly available videos as testimonial sound samples, and other conducive information gathered via internal methods by one of the female artists having been raised in the US Military culture.
The testimonies of surviving women veterans inform a series of performances for video such as “Drawing a Line with my Civilian Clothes,” a performance staged on Governor’s Island, traditional seat for the Army branch of the military in New York City. Overall, GP asks key questions, “why enlist” and “where does the journey begin” -for a civilian woman in the moments leading up to trading in her civilian clothes/freedom and purported for a constraining mores of the uniform; public nudity in such environment portrays the complex visual tenor enshrined in the video images exposing the traditional ‘object’ (and frailty) of desire, unbound. A moaning, shrilling sound composition is crafted with the electric violin enveloping the surviving veteran’s voices to the tune of a strong seashore wind in this video piece. In a surreal framework, a quasi-metaphysical scene where the Ellis’ Island ferry transports the viewer past the iconic Statue of Liberty is paired to the denuding body of the actress.
The video installation sketch within the GP installation, “Testimonial Totem Pole,” consists of a looped video allowing the viewer to listen with headphones to news reports, congressional hearings, and survivors’ sharing their stories with the media. Echoing the military structure, there is a “chain of command” and hierarchy that is expressed in the verticality of the five CRT video monitor installation.
In progress are two more videos, “Treading Water” and “Suiting Up.” Both performances for video are created as a two channel rear video screen projection into a 1.75 liter bottle of Vodka-alcohol being a primer for seduction. It contains sound compositions of testimonies of veterans working during active duty dealing with the “second betrayal” and the nightmares, suicidal thoughts, and drug abuse that often followed. A final performance for video is to be determined yet in the research process of “the breakdown of the civilian” and the “building up” of a solider in basic training.
The second step is working with survivors, conducting interviews and further journalistic research on the theaters of war these veterans worked in. One important form of research is undergoing a 30 hour New York State rape crisis counselor certification and a 30 hour military sexual trauma training conducted online through the Military Rape Crisis Center. This stage will help transform the work into a rich group portrait for social justice offering the viewer a deep understanding of the respectful sensitivity and perspective the topic requires. Panayiota Bertzikis and Kori Cioca are muse to a series of video, performances and paintings. They are key figures in the fight for justice as survivors of military sexual trauma. Availed of further training, ANVIL aims to reach out to them as a collaborator and supporter.
Interviews conducted will generate substantial content and movement leading to the final step, that is, to engage the space and the public at WhiteBox.
The installation Glass Patterns is a backdrop for a two-part performance by invitation only. Guests and participants will be veterans, key New York arts/cultural figures, and journalists.
The first part, “A Series of Slow Escalating Violent Gestures,” features a female performer in uniform lying in a still crucifixion pose on the ground. Participants cut away at the uniform to the severe score of draconian music syncopated by sudden moments of strict silence and wedged-in interviews linking memories of the unfolding betrayal of her “band of brothers” on the hopeful road to recovery on the home front.
The second part of the performance is a series of live “Pinning Ceremonies” decorating survivors adjoined by a collaborating in situ action of an ‘alternative medicine’ doctor. Special pins and ceremonies will be created by members of ANVIL to honor the strength, courage, and aid in recovery through acupuncture and meditation.