November 12, 2018

Winnipeg
-11° C, Light snow

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Opinion

Research, trial and error part of fine-art practice

Happy Birthday to DNA.

Happy Birthday to DNA.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/9/2015 (1141 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Most people know that lawyers "practise" law. A doctor's career is also known as a practice. Fewer people appreciate the fact that artists have practices too. In fact, one of my editors once removed the term from an article. It didn't make sense, she said, for an artist's career to be called a practice.

Well, yes, it does. In the United States, the professionalization of fine art began after World War Two, with the wide-scale expansion of university art departments. The trend then spread around the globe.

Young artists have a vibrancy and energy in their work that is often a joy to behold. The work of mature artists, for me, at least, is the most satisfying to spend time with. The best artists are avid researchers, learning through repeated trial and error. The best artists tenaciously follow lines of thought, over many years, to their farthest reaches.

This Friday at the News Café, audiences will be invited to learn about the practices of two such artists, Reva Stone and Seema Goel. Guest host Diana Thorneycroft, an artist herself, will interview both women.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/9/2015 (1141 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Most people know that lawyers "practise" law. A doctor's career is also known as a practice. Fewer people appreciate the fact that artists have practices too. In fact, one of my editors once removed the term from an article. It didn't make sense, she said, for an artist's career to be called a practice.

Well, yes, it does. In the United States, the professionalization of fine art began after World War Two, with the wide-scale expansion of university art departments. The trend then spread around the globe.

Young artists have a vibrancy and energy in their work that is often a joy to behold. The work of mature artists, for me, at least, is the most satisfying to spend time with. The best artists are avid researchers, learning through repeated trial and error. The best artists tenaciously follow lines of thought, over many years, to their farthest reaches.

This Friday at the News Café, audiences will be invited to learn about the practices of two such artists, Reva Stone and Seema Goel. Guest host Diana Thorneycroft, an artist herself, will interview both women.

If Stone's name is familiar, it is because she is the recipient of a 2015 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. Stone is not what most people typically think of as an artist. She doesn't use paints or brushes, but interactive electronic technologies. She's been making art for more than 30 years and her work has been hailed as groundbreaking.

Lately, Stone has been repurposing obsolete machines, imbuing them with eerie new life. A Radiopticon, for example, is a photograph projector from the early 1900s. Now, armed with sensors and a screen, Radiopticon is a robot that motors around the gallery, showing videos about photography and memory on its screen-shaped head. A second piece, Medcolator, was a vintage electric shock-therapy machine. The machine, rigged out with various technologies, is now "alive." Seemingly self-aware, it displays video clips about the history of psychiatric treatment, pharmaceuticals, and neuroplasticity.

Experiencing Stone's Radiopticon is unnerving. It bumps into corners, making it seem ungainly, but when it tried to locate me, I felt distinctly hunted. At one point, I felt as though it were reading my memories, projecting flickers of imagery from deep inside my subconscious. There are ghosts in Stone's machines, as though the casing, circuits and wires are keepers of our long-forgotten past. Her practice spans an amazing distance, pulling antiquated technology from archives and museums, while reaching forward into future possibilities.

Saskatchewan's Goel also has an art practice that is refreshingly unconventional. Having completed a master of fine arts in sculpture and almost completed a master of science, her work straddles both fields. Goel is most interested in the relationships humans form with each other, with animals, with places. Her work is incredibly varied in its use of materials, but it is often poignantly, uncomfortably funny. She's been known to use stuffed mice, for example, to off-putting comedic effect. In a 2005 piece, 52 mice stand in a row. Holding candles, the mice are triggered by a digital circuit to sing, in a chorus of tiny, high-pitched voices, Happy Birthday to DNA.

The piece, which commemorates the 52nd anniversary of DNA's discovery, is also the result of Goel's research on our relationship with lab mice. As her artist statement notes, the species does not exist in nature but was constructed for use as scientific tool.

In another project, Goel recreated five Inuit sculptures out of spongy Wonder Bread, critiquing the commodification of Inuit culture and the diabetes epidemic that is caused, in part, by the low-nutrition food shipped to the North.

If Goel is a scientist, she's the most un-stuffy scientist ever. If she's an artist, she's the most grounded in evidence and data. What her practice ultimately does is erase all borders between modes of learning. She uses whatever material she has at her disposal — mice, bread, wool, clay — to get us to re-examine our relationship with it. Her work makes me aware every single substance or object I live with has a complex story to tell.

Thorneycroft, who selected Stone and Goel from among hundreds of possible artists to interview, says this; "Both artists do work that appears to be very different, but once you start talking to them about their approach to their work, the similarities are remarkably similar."

Thorneycroft also notes, "They both come across as activists; artists engaged in calling attention to our very troubled world."

 

Sarah Swan is Winnipeg arts writer and educator. For tickets to this event, please call 204-697-7069.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us