As kind of a follow-up from the feminism articles, an announcement of a new project, and to share someone really awesome, in this post I will become a fanboy(girl) of Louise Bourgeois.
I’m currently working with Stephanie Cotella Tanner of Art Smacked who is curating a show at some point in the future. Stephanie is being kind enough to include me in the show with some really awesome artists. I kind of want to describe them as ‘proper’ artists as they’re both formally trained in art and are really quite good! Anyway, Stephanie wants to compare my work to the historical precedent of Louis Bourgeois.
Bourgeois is a French American sculptor and artist who worked with many materials and with many themes over her extraordinarily long career. My main interest in her work is the textile pieces that deal with the ‘exercise of memory.’ She was the artist behind the giant spider object at the Tate Modern a few years ago.
From the description of an exhibition at Cheim and Read:
Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911. She moved to New York in 1938 and lived in the city until her death last year at age 98. Her works on fabric are emblematic of certain themes: marriage, motherhood, sexuality, femininity, domesticity. This focus on the familial results in work of intense psychological complexity, exposing relationships and hierarchies related to female identity and its opposite (male/female, mother/father, organic/geometric, rigid/pliable). Coinciding with an inclination, at old age, to stay closer to home, Bourgeois’s late fabric works provide a sense of introspection – her wardrobe and linen closet became representative of memory. As Bourgeois has stated, “Clothing is…an exercise of memory. It makes me explore the past…like little signposts in the search for the past.” The re-appropriation of her husband’s handkerchiefs, stained tablecloths and napkins, and worn dresses from all phases of her life infuses the work with a confessional, talismanic aura.
The description of her work, is basically what I’m trying to communicate through my art. I joke that I make art because its cheaper than therapy, but to some extent, it is a way of exploring the world, my experiences, and my memories.The idea of using something with history also appeals to me. The material, if reused from somewhere, sometime, else brings all of those memories to the new object, kind of like magic.
I think also that what appeals to me about using string is the idea of taking a mess of string and organising it into an object. From personal anecdotal evidence, I’ve found that a lot of information professionals knit or crochet and I think that there is some kind of organisational aspect to working with string. I trained in information management, work at organising a database, and generally am a bit of a clean freak, so this aspect of working with string fits into my personality.
The production method is also essential to my work. The fact that it’s awkward, hand made, and takes ages (in my case), makes it a meditation on whatever I’m trying to make sense of be it year’s worth of memory or of the entire city of London.
By combining the memory of the materials used in the awkward production method that I use, the object is transformed into an organised memory. It is transformed into something that makes sense of all that it contains.
I’m not entirely sure how this fits into my previous posts about art and feminism, but Bourgeois is incredible. I think I have a lot more to learn about Art History.
Now if someone could teach this American how to pronounce her French last name, it’d be greatly appreciated.