I am writing, to remind myself, of the art actions I want to get made. I put these into my phone in a compiled note to make sure I don’t forget them. The ones that resonate at present are two, that would A: work as durational pieces that would develop over time, weeks probably, and come to a natural end. B: are to do with repetition, strength and progressive actions.
A: Construct/Destruct. Build a vertical concrete sculpture, from cement and bricks. Sledgehammer it down back into fragments and rebuild, using only the fragments left from the initial constructed sculpture. Repeat until you are literally working with dust. Document this series of actions. Thinking about working with what you have. The act of repetition. Intrinsic strength. This is not an action where strength is objective, more so where intrinsic strength is required to complete the action, time after time. Whats the POINT of it: to experience the action. To seek a state of flow within the repetition of the action. To observe how the material reacts to its treatment. There are of course elements of this in earlier work I made like https://www.rachelmacmanusart.com/the-smash-up
B: Collaborative Portraiture. Paint a life size nude portrait and place in a gallery setting. Provide materials and invite the audience to embellish, add, contribute to the art work. Document this daily. Observe who contributes and how. Ideally: Place 2 similar or the same portraits in 2 different spaces, one in a gallery setting, one in a public space, like on a construction site temporary wall where there might ordinarily be billboards or graffitti, and see what occurs, whether the public choose to embellish, add, contribute to the pice, and how, and who. Whats the POINT: progressive collaboration. Will the audience in a gallery setting overcome the normal white cube constrictive behaviour to collaborate with the portrait as requested. And in what manner? How might their collaborative marks manifest themselves? And to observe the same process happening in a different setting, as mentioned, might be a bit too obvious, as you are immediately expecting a more cheeky response and likely less deferential to the work, in the form of moustaches, profanities etc scrawled over it. And then to compare. Which portrait was collaborated with more ‘successfully’? And in terms of all the unanswered questions around why nude, why female, why a painting and not a photograph: Nude to subvert the old narrative of the male gaze on the female nude form, to stand front and centre in a non inviting pose, and not a photograph because a photograph of a nude body has a million more connotations and assumptions than a painting. A painting of someone naked is weirdly more acceptable than a photograph because of that exact reason, a painting is simply an artists impression of someone. Its acceptable culturally to paint people naked. So it’s fun to ask people to mess with a painting, someone else’s finished work, and ask them to contribute. Would they even? Are they qualified? Is it too confusing? I started planning this work initially with the summer lockdown project https://www.rachelmacmanusart.com/collaborative-drawing-project but of course this was a curated project where I invited artists and creatives to collaborate with me, which meant it was very much a constructed and controlled experiment as such. (a lot of C’s!) This idea documented here, the portrait painting idea, would obviously be less controllable, which is the whole point of it.
I don’t know if either of these concepts lend themselves to the glór group artist project with Moran. I know I am seeking a pathway that marries my performance with my visual work, as both these do. Are there possibilities of making versions of the above that might work? Definitely in terms of the ongoing-ness, or progressive nature of these ideas, the fact that they would visually evolve over time, and that they would work simultaneously, and that they would fit in with Moran’s idea of the evolving space, makes them, in some form, a starting point to consider. Definitely it would be fun to see the ladies who come to glór for coffee taking up some indelible markers to scrawl profanities over a life size nude painting :) :) :)