Case Studies :
This portion of the website is dedicated to artists, artorks and other cultural signifiers that have informed my work. Each article or topic is accompanied by an overview with practical reflection.
A studio visit with Grayson Perry
in April, I had the pleasure of paying a visit to Grayson Perry studio and meeting this phenomenal artist and winner of England's highly acclaimed Turner Prize. As an artist with a background in ceramics, it was particularly fascinating for me to learn about his practice and the craftsman behind the character Claire.
I had read Cycles of Violence and browsed The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman and this gave me a good understanding that his personae and his work were something that needed to be understood individually. His avid interest in Greek pottery, anthropology and folk art are what allowed me-an American of Greek ancestry, to connect with what he did culturally. What struck me most that he was not only a family man, but a highly expressive individual, a veteran of some of the hardest travails and difficulties that artists are faced with.
Like myself he had made a studio practice out of squat -living and had somehow persevered-a case for survival (as much a case for sustainability of practice if there ever was one).
He spoke of his tenacity and the summoned efforts to face his demons and forge ahead despite [the artist's life's] obstacles and emerged to providing artists across London's subterranean ecologies with a voice-one that transcends the urban myth and our very realities with his notion of the Hobbit and the Punk Rocker-one who perseveres through craft and hard work, the other breaking from trends both inane and mundane in the context of London's artistic ecology.
His profound understanding of ceremony and ritual across cultures and the way in which he has used experience or recursive logic to overcome trauma and hardship alike are a testament to what I would call a winning case study.
The experience brought me closer to what it means to be an artist, the sense that we are all perhaps a bit different and yet so very much alike in our profound love for craft and in our need for understanding and validation, sister souls.
...and yes, I had the pleasure of meeting the revered and sacred kiln god, Alan Measles.
Deskilling in context
Today the remnants of any nostalgia for the artisanal which once hung over the early twentieth-century debate have long vanished, as consciousness of the copy in our daily technological practices has dismantled notions of expressive and formal uniqueness. The implications for art from this are indisputable. Art is not just a series of unique inheritable objects produced by diligent individualized handcraft, but also the outcome of a set of shared iterative skills, temporal forms and collective relations. In this its forms are dispersible, expandable and endlessly reproducible.
Yet discussions of skill, deskilling and reskilling in art are barely broached in contemporary art theory.11 Too much theory and history, in fact, filters its sense of art’s futurity from a narcissistic mourning of art’s would-be lost affective qualities and possibilities. As a result
the interpretative disciplines can hardly keep
up with the social, cognitive and cultural forces that are now bearing down on the category of art.
To reposition artistic technique in relation to replicant thinking and general social technique is not an attempt
to provide art with a set of functional use-values borrowed unmediated from science, as if the solution to the alienated social form of art was art’s greater openness to scientific method and technology per se. This is the fundamental problem with complexity theory, and cultural theory influenced by it, which map, in an enfeebled way, a bioscientific model of mutation on to cultural practice and social agency, as if art was a self- replicating intellectual system free of cultural and social division.12 Rather, the fundamental issue remains: how might the autonomy of artistic technique be a condition of general social technique, and of use-values external to the realm of art?
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