Sunday, 13 September 2009


The art and writings of the Austrian-Nigerian artist Susanne Wenger and the English artists and writers Mark Dunn,Katherine Maltwood, Jhenah Telyndru,Kathy Jones,Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillyer are centred in the transformation of space. These artists engage in visual and auditory transformations of space which are reinforced through their verbal conceptualisations of the rationale for and the character of these transformations.These artists engage in spatial transformations through their interpretation of landscape in cosmographic terms.

Susanne Wenger depicts the Osun forest in Osogbo,Nigeria as an expression of the Orisa cosmology first developed by the Yoruba in southern Nigeria.Katherine Maltwood, Jhenah Telyndru and Kathy Jones describe the landscape of Glastonbury in England as projecting the presence of archetypal and timeless forms,whether astrological and Arthurian,as with Maltwood,or Arthurian and feminine,as with Jones and Telyndru.Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillyer are inspired by the landscape of Dartmoor in England,an inspiration that emerges in their understanding of the landscape in terms of correlations between seasonal processes in nature and the progression of experience emerging from the conjunction between biology,psychology and the dynamism of human experience.These integrations are concretised in Hillyer's self created feminine mythic forms and drums and Shaw's self carved masks,totems, and flutes.Hillyer's feminine mythopoaeia embodies feminine biological rhythms,their conjunctions with natural processes and the vicissitudes of human experience. Her drums both symbolise and create the auditory rhythms that facilitate journeys of body and mind along paths that enable constellations of knowledge.Shaw's masks embody the raw power of the landscape,his flutes the senstivity of mind and senses through which the experience of the landscape emerges into musical and plastic form. Mark Dunn's inspiration is demonstrated in his integration of cosmic,terrestial and biological space in cosmographic terms, evoking what he describes as an Inorganic Feminine Intelligence, a correlation between spatial form and the feminine being a conception that could be understood as unifying the artists at various levels of explicitness and implicitness and of susceptiblity to metaphorical correlation.

A central motif that could be understood as unifying the oeuvre of each of these artists,and strengthening their correlations with each other,explicitly so with Mark Dunn and Kathy Jones,less explicit but nevertheless prominent with Wenger and Hillyer,and implicitly with Maltwood and Shaw,is the image of the portal as transformative space,particularly the portals constituted by the vagina and the womb.

Each of these artists interprets physical space in terms of cosmographic space,and cosmographic space in terms of physical space.In doing this,the image of the portal as a zone of transformation through an understanding of penetration through portals as both physical and psychological, emerges explicitly in the work of Wenger,Dunn and Hillyer.An understanding of the portal as transformative space can can be inferred in relation to the work of Shaw and Maltwood.

In Wenger's work,the image of the portal is related to an interpretation of landscape,sculpture and architecture in terms of biological space,and both the physical and the biological in relation to cosmographic space.Dunn projects biological space in terms of cosmographic form.Hillyer conceives of changes in female biological space as these emerge through time as synecdochal/emblematic of transformations of nature and its metaphysical subtrates.This understanding is reinforced by her musical collaboration with Shaw,whose music is inspired by lanscape and refers back to it,and which is developed in relation to the conceptual and visual themes of Birth, Hearth,Well and Source,which,in their archetypal resonance in relation to metaphoric interpretations of female procreative biology,suggest relationships bewteen the subjectivity emerging in the experience of landscape and the relationships of this with the experience of the development of life through gestative processes and the temporal space in which they take place.

Maltwood interprets landscape in the light of the cosmographic implications of the constellations.

The dialogue between physical space and the physical and subjective experience of space,as expressed by the various artists in words and images,is further transmuted by Shaw and Hillyer through the fluidity of sound.Their music integrates and transposes the experiences and themes that inspire their work,and which links their art with that of Wenger and Maltwood.Their music transcends verbal conceptualisation and imagistic suggestion to engage with their subjects in terms of the untrammeled nakedness of sound,reaching a particular concentration in music that is nonverbal,instrumental,or composed totally of sounds from nature.

The image of the portal plays a prominent role in relation to the spatial configurations in terms of which the artists work.The specific mode of emergence of this image differs with each artist in terms of the relationship the artist establishes with the material they work with.Wenger used cement and mud in creating sculptural and architectural forms in which portals are prominent and creates at least one portal which explicitly evokes female procreative biology,a gate she names the Vagina of the Chameleon.Her aesthetic emphasises conceptions of relationships between imagination,mind and ontology that draw inspiration from and amplify her prominent deployment of portals suggestive of or explicitly named in relation to the procreative associations of the vagina and the womb within both open space and architectural constructions.

Dunn uses visualisations of the image of the vagina in photographed and digitally created human figures in association with images of elements of landscape,evocative of the vagina and the womb, in developing his ideas of penetrating into and mapping cosmographic spaces.The image of the portal emerges in Maltwood's engagements with space in terms of the built character of the landscape she engages with,rather than in terms of images created by herself,as with Wenger and Dunn.In her engagement with landscape,the character of the landscape as a spatial configuration independent of human perception but the understanding of which is dependent on human perception is as important as her own perception of the space.

Whether or not one identifies with Maltwood's conception of the cosmographic character of the Glastonbury landscape,her visualisaltion of the landscape as demonstrating a cosmograpic image highlights the capacity of the geological configuration of the landscape to enable a panoramic view of the landscape as seem from the Tor which dominates that landscape.The Tor is reached through a long ascent,at the completion top of which is the ruins of the church of St.Michael,at the crown of the Tor.One of the most prominent features of the church is the arched portal,which frames a kaleidoscopic view of the landscape.The landscape can be perceived with even greatest scope of vision outside the church,but the possibility of the portal to frame while allowing a a panoramic view of the landscape is evocative of the artists' engagement with the space she is dealing with in terms of both the act of perception and the framing of that perception in terms of the perspectives in terms of which she perceives the landscape.This possibility of perceptual framing is also suggestive of the character of the Glastonbury landscape,the landscape of the Osun forest,and the biological spaces Wenger and Dunn evoke or construct as what Ivhakhif describes as heterotopic spaces,spaces which accumulate a hermeneutic density in terms of the range of associations in terms of which they are perceived.

No comments:

Post a Comment