Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Rte description and introduction to the story of Brian MacNeill the Son of Eoin MacNeill, how he died, narrated by Michael McDowell

A Lost Son

Eoin MacNeill was one of the founding fathers of the Irish Free State. With Collins, Griffiths, and WT Cosgrave he grasped the chance the Treaty offered to build a new Ireland. But even at its inception this newly independent state was divided against itself. Where MacNeill saw freedom, republicans saw sell-out and surrender.
Ireland descended into civil war. As Eoin MacNeill sat in cabinet directing this war, his own son, Brian, was fighting to destroy the new state.
For Brian MacNeill, the war would end with his death in Sligo - at the hands of the army directed by his father.
Brian's death cast a long shadow over the MacNeill family. The controversial circumstances of his killing were too painful to examine. 90 years on Brian's nephew, Michael McDowell, goes on a journey to discover what happened that day in September 1922. Did Brian and his five comrades really die in an ambush, as the official version goes, or were they murdered in cold blood by Free State troops? And why was Brian MacNeill, the son of a minister in the Free State government, fighting on the Republican side? What were the forces, events and ideologies that drove him and other Irish men to take up arms against their former comrades - and in Brian's case, members of his own family?
Filmed in Sligo and Dublin, the documentary follows Michael's investigation. Piecing together accounts from the military archives, IRA papers, interviews with descendants, and family letters, Michael paints a compelling picture of a family divided and a country riven apart. At its core is the story of Brian MacNeill, the brilliant young medical student whose death goes to the heart of one of Ireland's greatest historical traumas.

My work with the Shoah Foundation recording interviews with holocaust survivors of WW2, and the correlation between this story and Brian McNeill's story during The Irish Civil War.

I am researching and mulling over the connection between memories and the Irish Landscape. I am currently creating Art based on this. I wanted to continue writing my ideas so that I can continue to refine these ideas so that I can better articulate my ideas. I wanted to document these new ideas and connect the current ideas to my previous work with the Shoah foundation and the emotions that work evoked is a definite beginning of where my current ideas began to emerge, The impact of listening to and recording the interviews of people who survived the holocaust in Germant during World War 2, how fragile life is, but how massive each life is and how many people and the places that these lives effect, and when that life is lost in a tragic and violent manner, there is a residue left with us and the landscape, I have written about my experience when working in Frankfurt and on the interviews in the past. So if you need clarification on this work go to the post my artist statement, which is a bio of my life and work.

Currently I am using the story of Brian MacNeill the son of Eoin McNeill.  I am interested in his relationship with Benbulben in County Sligo. Brian McNeill died on the mountain with his men during the Irish War of Independence. There is a documentary that was aired on RTE about the life of Brian MacNeill and this story moved me so much, the documentary was titled The lost Son, it was told by his gran nephew Michael McDowell former minister for Justice for the FF party.

I was very moved by the passion he had when he told this tragic story. A story that was repeated all over Ireland at the time of the War of Independence and our civil war, the tragic aspect of the story is that so many men and women died or had to leave Ireland because they did not want the treaty between Ireland and England at that time, and because they did not agree they were destroyed so to speak, and their families were made to forget them thru shame and intimidation, it's as if they were hidden within the landscape died and buried and forgotten, the landscape held their pain and shame. I am exploring the impact of Brian McNeills(and all the others who died or had to be banished from Ireland) relationship with the landscape in particular Benbulben where he and his men sought refuge and protection from the Soldiers, who eventually killed (them)him. I want to examine the impact that tragedy had on our landscape. I am examining the human emotions left behind after betrayal, bitterness, severe pain from the loss of someone to death.but then their families were silenced, by fear and shame. Etc, I am using the landscape to personify these emotions and to somehow answer the why's to these emotions, the unfairness of Brian McNeills death, my blog goes into more detail. When I previously worked in the Film and Video production industry, I worked in Frankfurt, Germany for ACI - Medienproduktionsgesellschaft mbH, Herrn Achim Ehlert Ingolst├Ądter Str.38 60316 FRANKFURT One of the projects I worked on was recording interviews of holocost survivors in Frankfurt and the outer towns.. All of the recordings can be seen in the smithsonian museums in Washington the interviews were conducted in 1996. I am extremely proud of this work and feel privileged to have recorded the interviews and met the wonderful and inspiring people who survived.
I had very similar feelings about the bitter sadness of people who have been victims because of others hatred, greediness the holocaust victims and the survivors stories was probably the first time I began to examine the questions I am now seeking answers to in my Artwork, and that is why I feel it is important to mention this experience when discussing my current work.

Monday, 1 August 2016

What are your thoughts on the memories our Irish Landscape holds for us

Irish Landscape and the secrets held within based on Our History and interaction with the land, both physical and in our thoughts...

Irish Landscapes of the mind, history, experience, emotions.

Footprints on our landscape, memories left on the Irish Landscape.

Invitation to everyone to please leave a comment on the notion that we leave a solid memory on our Landscape, this can be done by our physical interaction with the landscape, it can even be achieved by our genuine thoughts on a place. I therefore ask you to leave your ideas on this statement and idea. What do you think of the Irish landscape, do you believe it holds memories, and our interactions with the landscape. I pose the question: can your own ideas and feelings towards the Irish landscape have an impact on the landscape in a physicoligical manner or a physical way? I am Researching the idea of the impact of our thoughts and memories on the Irish Landscape. The landscape has a memory and I am investigating this relationship with the landscape in particular the Irish Landscape.
I am using Brian McNeill as a personification of these ideas.
This is a link to a documentary on Brian MacNeill and his death in County Sligo,

The below image is of footprints that can be seen on Valentia Island, County Kerry, Ireland.
Footprints found in 1993 on Valentia Island, County Kerry

The reason I am showing you this image is to stir your thoughts on the notion of leaving a mark on our landscape. Can you think of other ways we leave a mark on our landscape, not only a physical mark as in the image above, I would like you to also think about the impact of your thoughts and views on the Irish Landscape. I will give a brief description on the above image: the image shows footprints that are left permenantly on the Irish Landscape in a remote place in County Kerry. The footprints are forever etched on our landscape. They are Ancient footprints preserved in stone that are estimated to be over 485 million years old. They were discovered in 1993 by an undergraduate geology student on the north-east side of the island.
They are one of the oldest sets of footprints found in the northern hemisphere (oldest found in Australia) and were made by a four legged creature called a Tetrapod.
A Tetrapod was one of the first known four limbed vertebrates to walk the planet. It was roughly the size of a large domesticated cat.
The ancient track-way is of international importance as it provides some of the oldest evidence of one of the first water dwelling creatures to make a transition from water to land?
Not easy to find but well worth discovering these tracks when you visit the island.
It's mind blowing to contemplate the fact that when these tracks were made by this Tetrapod, this part of the world was south of the equator and joined to north America! Our Landscape captured this moment in time and has kept it as a memory to share with us, can you think of other memories etched into our Irish landscape, there memories can be moments that have not necessarily left a physical reminder, for example a war, a battle, can leave a dark memory that our landscape minds, can you share your thoughts with me on that type of memory? Do you think it is possible for our landscape to hold on to our human experiences and interactions and keep thoes as a memory sealed into the land?

I am writing about this as it reminds me in a concrete way the idea of us leaving a mark on the landscape and when I say "us" I mean any living thing. I will continue to find more images of "footprints" I know people have found footprints of humans walking over the land that are also achieve, I will source the pics and post, again food for thought for all the artists following this blog and my ideas, The ideas I publish to keep you inspired and interested in this movement in the Art world which depicts the effects the landscape has had from our history, rather than the traditional way Artists used to capture the landscape and give us their visual interpretation, this movement seeks to visualise our impact on our landscape, this movement recognises that the landscape is a part of us and we it, and we explore that relationship.

Caves to canvases the Irish Experience

I found the Title for my upcoming work, watch this space, the actual art work will not been shown or the written proposals/articulated ideas behind the work till the end/showing. That is where the true uniqueness of the artist and work Resides!  It is not enough( for me)
to take pictures and put on a gallery wall or present a video installation without also including artwork that I have created, along with the afore mentioned. I would also like to rely on my skills as a visual artist painter and sculptor and create a visual solution for this project( Caves as refuge for 1916 revolunitaries, the people of the Irish civil war 1922 and our ancestors who sought refuge in our landscape, the impact this history has had and continues to have on our landscape((see previous posts)(it is only then that the viewer will have an answer, actually I will have an answer to the question; of the impact our history has on our landscape and the memory that our landscape holds/ the secrets our landscape holds. The solution is something to view that takes the viewer on the emotional journey that is held by our landscape, I want to unravel her secrets and spread them on a surface. I need to give the viewer in addition to pictures and videos of something that they can see, and presenting the video and still images in a gallery alone does not give it any meaning to me. The viewer can stand infront of the landscape and see exactly what is in the pic. I propose to go beyond that, to put an emotional dimension to the images of the landscape, thereby freeing the imotional impact of our Irish history ... That history which has scarred the landscape in a physiological way.
I will update this as I refine my ideas, the artwork will only viewed before being shown on this blog.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Irish Landscape and the impact of betrayal, death and bitterness and more on this Landscape: focus on Benbulben Counry Sligo and Brian McNeil during the Irish Civil War and the Irish War of Independence.

The Noble Six, and Brian McNeill 

Benbulben, County Sligo

Benbulben Mountain, Co. Sligo. 

Preparing for a research and working trip to County Sligo in July 2016.  

Benbulben, County Sligo
I have been sketching quite a bit, challenging my observation, and rendering skills in preparation for a research and working(sketching and painting) trip to Benbulben Mountain in County Sligo.

I have become preoccupied with giving a voice to the noble six, and in particular Brian McNeil, (website that gives a fantastic history on the life of Brian McNeill and the Noble Six)  son of Eoin McNeil. Brian McNeil died on the Mountain Benbulben while on the run. This link gives more information about the story of Brian MacNeill as told by his gran nephew Michael McDowell former Minster for Justice, the story is so tragic as Brian MacNeill was shot down on Benbulben and the men who shot him were on the same side as Brian's Father Eoin MacNeill.
I am not so interested in the political aspect of this tragic story, although the political aspect of this story resulted in the death of Brian McNeil at a very young age, he was essentially killed by men who supported his own father Eoin McNeil's political views. This was at the time of the Irish war of Independence, a civil war, and Brian found himself on the opposite side to his Father. My focus is on the tragedy of this story and its physiological impact on our Landscape throughout Ireland at this time. I want to create Art that will tell this story and brings together some themes I have been eager to explore in my Art work.

On Benbulben, County Sligo

On Benbulben, County Sligo

On Benbulben, County Sligo

On the way up Benbulben,
County Sligo.

Iam very interested effect violence, betrayal, bitterness, has on our landscape. I believe these emotions and the experiences that cause them are remembered by our landscape, The Artist Willie Doherty (updated on July 31st 2016) had a show which focused on "The legacy the 1916 rising had on our landscape" he focused on Donegal and Dublin, he used Photography and video installation to visualise his idea. His show was part of the Earagail Arts Festival for 2016, and will show in Kerlin Gallery Dublin, and Matt,s Gallery, London.
Before he died Brian McNeill and his men hid a cave in Benbulbin, the fled up the mountain and initially avoided capture ... In the end they were spotted and gunned down.
My previous work has explored the symbiotic relationship between people and the landscape how we come from the land are nurtured by the land and return to the land, I was influenced by the landscape in a formal way, the outlines etched in my mind and I would render these etchings on a surface.
Another theme of my work is giving the victim a voice, the other, the betrayed, the left behind, the idealistic. I again look to the landscape as a way to help create or make tangible my themes and ideas.
I want to follow and gain instruction from the following artists:
Nancy Spero I relate to her use of Artaud and how she gave him a voice, Brian McNeil is My Artaud if you will.
I want to rely on Louise Bourgeois giving the other a voice, he focus on violence the bully, and her style of work.
Richard Serra, his use of space and sculpture.
Update July 31 2016, Because of the similarity in ideas, I will take a look at the work of Willie Doherty for his focus on the 1916 rising and the impact of memory on our landscape.

On Benbulben, County Sligo

On the way up Benbulben,
County Sligo

On Benbulben, County Sligo
On Benbulben, County Sligo

On Benbulben, County Sligo

Hiding in the mist, Benbulben, County Sligo.

On the road towards Benbulben, County Sligo

I found an Artist called Dara McGrath and his work focuses on how voilence effects the landscape: When I read an Essay on his work by Dr. Deborah Lilley here was my response to that:
Below is a conversation we had about our ideas: June 2016

Jennifer Burke:  The essay by Dr. Deborah Lilley really captivates your work. When she says "that violence leaves an invisible trace on the land and that history leaves a physiological  charge on the landscape:  these descriptions makes for a Powerful essay that really complements your work and gives a voice to your images. Very captivating words, and imagery. I have been trying to come up with a total visual solution to capture the use of caves during the Irish war of independence, these caves were used by men on the run, in locations in Killarney, Sligo and in a place close to Fenit where I live. equally I felt these places were charged by the presence of these men, the fear, the violence , the bitterness, the betrayals, and their death, in particular the men who sought refuge in Benbulben in Sligo (Brian McNeill, the son of Eoin McNeill, who along with his men were hunted down by fellow Irish men, finally found and murdered on the spot, my focus is not on the politics, it's on the use of the land as a refuge and the physiological impact on the land. Again great work and excellent essay.

Dara Response:
Hi Jennifer.Nice to hear from you and thank you so much for your great and kind comments. I'm humbled!! I started this out almost 5 years ago on this project and Im on the home stretch. Thankfully. I love your ideas of researching the caves used during the War of Independence and Civil War. Makes me think immediately of Yvette Monahan's work 'The Thousand Year Old Boy' She explores the genetic lineage of bones found in a cave in The Burren. Check out her website. Great approach. I think these days just photographing the object (your caves??) is not good enough. My work beyond just taking the photos, includes objects collected (Ebay), video interviews, archive documents,sounds,  video stills, anything I can get my hands on to convey my ideas on numerous multi-media platforms. From reading your message there seems to be alot of bitterness, betrayals,resentment, secrets. caught up in that time. Dont mean to be pushy but, wouldnt it be good to visually/artistically bring the truth (as far as you know it) to the fore. A sort of resolution to the landscape and the memories that are ensnared into it?? God you got me thinking now!!Thanks again for your kind words and your great ideas.Best wishes. Dara

Jennifer Burke:  Dara Mcgrath that exactly what I want to do, it will be a multimedia show when I finally create the visual solution to my ideas of our landscape and its stories, the secrets etc... I will do some research on the artist you mention. For the month of July I will travel the wild Atlantic way doing research and of course the cave in Sligo. Brian McNeill has become my inspiration, almost an obsession. Please visit my google plus page and read an interview I did with Nancy Spero her inspiration was giving a voice to Artaud a man who was silenced, also my page deals with the themes and ideas of our landscape and how we are connected ... (Sorry not very articulate at the moment.. But tired, I have been sketching and doing some preliminary work for my installation show.

Thanks for your reply, essentially you completely understand what I am doing and equally I completely admire your project and agree with you that you have much more to do!!!

Dara :
To be honest, im jealous of your caves idea. So is my partner who peeked into our conversation.Please do keep me posted on how it progresses. When I started my project there were so many doors to open, discover and explore. Now I am closing doors to keep me focused and to finish it. I will get the chance to have a look at all your links later. Best Dara

Friday, 4 December 2015

1916 Ireland and the Caves of Ireland Art Project Research Phase

Research for my project based on the caves in Ireland where revolutionaries in Ireland sought refuge, up to and including the Easter 1916 Rising, The War of Independance(focus on Bian Mac Neilland his father Eoin Mac Neill. Link to background and story of Brian MacNeill also fantastic documentary by Micheal McDowel Grand Newphew of Eoin MacNeill titled "A Lost Son"
Below are some pictures I have taken of Mangerton Mountain in Killarney County Kerry, and of a cave entrance in Churchill close to Fenit,  County Kerry.
Entrance to cave near Fenit, County Kerry.
Beside entrance to cave at Fenit, Co Kerry

I am continuing my research in County Sligo.
The first part of the project focuses on the men and women of Ireland who sought refuge from the English leading up to and shortly after the Easter 1916 Rising, and later the second part of the project will gain inspiration from the individuals who used the caves during the Irish War of Independence.
The Art work will be entirely influenced by the caves, the natural beauty and  surrounding areas and the spirit of the work will be influences my the nurturing element of Mother Earth and how she protects her own...

Images can be viewed at Twitter account
Ground underfoot at the entrance way towards the base of Mangerton
Add caption

The Punch Bowl Mangerton 

Lake Mangerton

Remnant of stone building Mangerton

The path leading to the base of Mangerton the branches
are so black.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Dreaming ..... Thoughts behind a series of work I did

+Orlando Santos having read your link on the aboriginal dreams I could not beleive when I read this

" The Earth was a flat surface, in darkness. A dead, silent world. Unknown forms of life were asleep, below the surface of the land. Then the supernatural Ancestor Beings broke through the crust of the earth form below , with tumultuous force"

I had based a series of my paintings in this very idea the belief that we came from the earth grew up out of the earth and nurtured our world... And as time passed we died returned to the earth and nurtured it for our descendants and so the cycle began... Below are some of the paintings on this subject..,. So I was delighted to read ur post and felt a connection with the aboriginal belief of how our world began .. Naturally this belief is purely spiritual and not my scientific view.. Like a dream I loved being enveloped by the idea

Link to the dreaming Aboriginal Art and stories.

Please select the google plus icon in the top right hand corner of this blog to bring you to the post regarding there iseas

Thursday, 22 January 2015

What's on view for 2015

Since creating this site 2 years ago I am delighted to say that I have had over 134,000 views!!! I am delighted to see how many people are interested in art and the artists featured in this blog: Nancy Spero's, Louise Bourgeois, Leon Golub, and more....
In 2015 I will be featuring more interviews with visual artists and adding a few new dimensions such as art education on line, Irish TV and its place in the Art World. Another area of interest will be web design and designing educational sites for adults and children discussing content and creative and featuring some of the best on line educational sites available today... Keep watching...thanks from the publisher; Jennifer Burke

UPDATE July 2016 I now have over 350,000 views,

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

VET Interview styles and Inspiring Artists

By Jennifer Burke

In preparation for VET: To interview and then review an artist’s work I have been reading so many interviews of Artists who are influencing my own work at present.  I would like to share an Interview with the Artist Ann Hamilton. Although I will not get the opportunity to Interview this Artist, I do want to Interview an Artist who’s work inspires me to "art"iculate what I am trying to achieve in terms of creating an Installation, I am intrigued by the materials used and relied on to create an environment that stimulates all the senses  auditory, visual, touch and smell. I want to expose the viewer to a world where secrets are exposed. I want the viewer to enter a world "the installation" where their own body becomes part of the Installation and their experience is relying on so many senses, their response will be emotional. The key word is "experience" I want the viewer not just "looking" I want to get a particular emotion after they have had an experience, so to speak. The installation will be in control and will be designed to purposely ignite specific emotions the experiences which will be premeditated. "The viewer would be swept into an awareness beyond that of the normal viewer, intriguing the whole body. I want to bring to the surface the questions we should be asking"  Ann Hamilton. 
Katy Kline, the director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Maine, who chose Ann Hamilton for the 1999 Venice Biennale, says of Hamilton, "She invites the viewer into a set of visible and auditory conditions where their entire bodily experience is activated. They are swept into a state of awareness beyond that of the normal viewer. She tries to intrigue the whole body."Jennifer Burke.

"Swing"The event of a thread-Ann Hamiltom at the Park Ave Armory.

Ann Hamilton Interviewed by Lynne Cooke July 1999

Over the last decade, Ann Hamilton has emerged as one of the most provocative installation artists of our time

Best known for her site-specific environments that make use of sophisticated technology, unusual and highly sensual materials, recorded sound, and literary and historical allusions, the forty-three year-old artist – who received a MacArthur award in 1993 – was selected to represent the United States at this summer’s Venice Biennale, Her installation, entitled myein, will be on view through November 7.

LYNNE COOKE: What were your first thoughts when you were offered the American pavilion at the Venice Biennale?

ANN HAMILTON: From the very beginning I responded to the fact that this is an American pavilion in another country. So I took my cues from the pavilion’s American references and its neoclassical architecture.

LC: Was the pavilion built In 1895, the year the Biennale began?

AH: No, it was built in 1929, the year the stock market crashed. A rather auspicious date. Its architecture is very Jeffersonian; there are two symmetrical wings that embrace a central courtyard. You’re very aware as you step into the interior courtyard that you’ve crossed a first threshold, and on entering the central rotunda you cross yet another one.

LC: The architecture of several of the permanent pavilions in Venice – I’m thinking specifically of the Dutch and Russian pavilions – seems designed to symbolically reinforce the nation’s values. Is that true of the American pavilion?

AH: Yes. I saw the pavilion for the first time last June, and immediately upon returning to the States I went to see [Thomas Jefferson's Virginia home] Monticello, and I started reading about American history in a way that I hadn’t before. I suppose there were some parallels to how I approached my recent installation at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art [in Ridge field, Connecticut]; for that work, whitecloth, I researched New England’s Puritan history. For the Biennale the question became: How does an architectural ideal embody a vision of social democracy? And then what are the schisms, paradoxes, and contradictions within that vision?

LC: You seem to work simultaneously on two fronts – you think through the ideas in relation to a site on a fairly abstract level, and at the same time you think in response to very specific material conditions.

AH: Yes. And I was also thinking about the rhythms of actually being in Venice. The simplest observation I had that was pertinent to the project was that you’re always getting on and off boats, so you’re constantly accompanied by a subtly shifting horizon. I was thinking about air and movement, of metaphors of descent – that was a very visceral, emotional response. And then, because it’s a very particular circumstance to be representing a national identity, I had a more conscious sociopolitical response. I came away thinking about what issues might be most pressing for us now as a country.

LC: Where did these thoughts lead?

AH: I approached the building as an object, and began working with the relationship between its exterior facade and its interior space. I began with the idea of a mirrored wall that reflected the garden in which the pavilion sits. That went through several permutations before I arrived at what we’re building now, which is a large, rippling glass screen that extends across the entire front of the building. It doesn’t dematerialize the building but renders it very liquid as an image.

LC: And the viewer must decide how to enter the building, around one end of the wall or the other.

AH: Yes. And once in the rotunda, you must again decide whether to go left or right. One thing we’ve done is remove aH of the false ceilings that had been installed in the ’60s, which covered the skylights in the four adjacent galleries. For the first time in years there is natural light coming into the space, which is filled not with objects but with something more like a phenomenon. There is a mechanical system that sifts an intense, fuchsia-colored powder slowly down the walls. The powder is very responsive to your movements – to the turbulence in the air you create but are not aware of. It’s almost invisible as it descends over the walls, which have been encrusted with small raised bumps that spell out a text in braille. There’s a continual movement, a marking of the text that doesn’t actually stay on the walls.

LC: What is the source of the text?

AH.’ It’s taken from two volumes of poetry by Charles Reznikoff called Testimony: The United States 1885-1915 Recitative [1965]. They’re incredibly wrenching accounts of acts of violence based on turn-ofthe-century legal documents. And rendering them in braille in some sense mirrors the way this kind of violence is difficult to absorb into the democratic ideal.

LC: You will also have a spoken-word audio recording as part of the Installation. What will be on the tape?

AH: I used the middle section of Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which was an extremely important speech in its time, quite radical in its brevity. It’s an attempt to ask: How do you heal the schism that comes from the inheritance of slavery and that is the basis of much of this country’s early history? I translated the text into an international phonetic code and spelled out the paragraph according to that code, and you hear my voice, in unison with itself, whispering it over and over again with urgency. The meaning isn’t immediately apparent; it’s more about the rhythm of the voices than the voices as conveyors of meaning. The quality is halfway between an echo and a remembrance that can’t quite be pieced together.

LC: Frequently, your most immediate reference points come from literature.

AH: Yes, I’m beginning to do work that is more actively about being a reader. The way one reads is almost like a signature, much in the way one might write or speak.

LC: What practical problems did you encounter in working on this project?

AH: Well, lately my process has shifted, so that increasingly a lot of what I need is highly skilled technical help. Previously, I produced my installations with the help of volunteers who worked by hand. But now much of my work requires more complicated technology – this piece, myein, is set into the membrane of the building – so we’re really pushing the limits of what’s possible.

LC: What has caused this shift away from the labor Intensive hand-manufacturing?

AH: My work shifts in response to my emotional needs from the work, and I’m now looking for different kinds of experiences. But certainly making the braille is very much a hand process. And as we were standing there today putting dots on the wall, I recognized how the underlying concerns of the work are similar to other pieces I’ve done. No matter how much you think you’re making a new work, what rises out of it are continuing concerns.

LC: Do these preoccupations – which seem hinged on a dialectic between sensory experience and information acquired through codified forms of knowledge – date back to your formative years in the Midwest? You grew up in Ohio, where you still live.

AH: It’s hard to know because sometimes you’re blind to your own interests. On one level you do this intellectualized research and you think you’re really onto something – but it’s almost as if you’re keeping yourself busy because you’re blind to deeper issues. It’s like you set up a process that allows these issues to rise to the surface. And as my research takes its own path it almost forms an organism within which each project occurs.

Interview copied from bnet art publications.

Lynne Cooke “The Ann Hamilton experience – installation artist – Interview“. Interview.


This link will allow you to view images of the installation

Friday, 14 December 2012

Louise Bourgeois

Interview with Louise Bourgeois at her home in New York.

By Jennifer Burke


While attending School of Visual Arts in New York 1992. I decided to ask the Artist Louise Bourgeois if I could interview her for an assignment which was to Interview an Artist and then do a presentation of the artist and their work.  I thought if I would ever have the opportunity to meet the artist Louise Bourgeois, now was the time. I had discovered the artist a few years earlier while taking the class "Women in Art" at School of Visual Arts.
The first piece of work that I ever saw of this artist was the well known work "The destruction of the Father" - 1974. Fig.1.
 Fig.1.      The Destruction of the Father-1974
The day I went to Louise Bourgeois Brownstone in New York for the interview it was a freezing cold day. I arrived at her house knocked on the door, Louise opened the door greeted me and I followed her through a hallway into a living room. She seemed so small to me for someone who produced larger than life creations. She offered me something to eat, she was very kind She wanted to know about me where I came from ........ She wondered how I was coping with living in New York while being so far from my home in Ireland. I felt she was very motherly, in fact when I was leaving her house after the interview she was concerned that I was not warm enough and insisted that I take a beret of hers to keep my head warm! I remember it smelled exactly the same as her home I treasured it.  She had a student photographer present who photographed us as I interviewed her.
During the interview she would take breaks and go into her kitchen which was just off the living room. I would gaze at a wall directly across from where I sat in the living room. The wall seemed to be covered in bookshelves which were filled with books papers small works. As I sat quietly waiting for her I could see her small frame through the glass in the door between the kitchen and living room as she paced and then suddenly she would return and take up where we left off. I felt she needed to do this as she became exhausted or rather overwhelmed with emotions that she was re-experiencing when she discussed works such as destruction of the father and her relationship to her work. These relationships were difficult for her and she really felt everything she was saying, (And I am sure at times my questions were frustrating I was young and opinionated and had no clue of what I thought I knew) She took the interview seriously. I felt she was sincere and very real, she was honest, she lived her art and was completely surrounded by evidence of this in her home it was as if she had no choice about it.

The Interview:

JB: What are some of the ideas behind your work?
LB: This is the subject of a book and I cannot answer this question in one sentence or even two!

JB: Is it possible to define art?
LB: Yes, art is a guarantee of sanity.

JB: What is the other for you and do you think of yourself as the other?
LB: The other is everything......everything! The French say there is the toi and the moi. I am very interested in the toi and in the relationship if possible between the toi and the moi. These relationships are very complex and I am trying to understand these relationships in my work.

JB: How do you give the other a voice in your work?
LB: My work is about others. I am extremely conscious of the toi as opposed to the moi. I am not interested in myself, but I am interested in how other people see me, and in the way I can be liked by others.

JB: Liked by others in you work?
LB: Liked by others in my person and I do this by offering the best I can be in my work, but it is a personal achievement that I want. If somebody asked me: would you rather have me like you or would you rather have me like your work? With the hundreds of pieces I have made I would say, I would rather that you like me.

Fig. 2. Femme Couteux 1982 

JB: I feel in some of your work you characterise the other as both male and female, you seem to combine both male and female attributes in your work for example "Femme Couteux-1982" Fig.2. Fig.5. 1969 and 1970. Is this one of the relationships between the toi and the moi that you mentioned?
LB: I am exclusively a woman. I believe in opposites and the differences between men and women. These differences are profound you are one or the other you cannot be everything to everyone for instance you are different from me, not all too different but you come from a certain background and I come from a different background and it is these variations that are going to be interesting to each of us, going back to the toi that I talked about I show some people who are not myself.....not everything is a self-portrait.

JB: When you think of theses variations and attributions of character did you combine them in the works  "Femme Couteux-1982" Fig.2. Fig.5. and  "The Fragile Goddess-1970" Fig.3.? Is the "knife" a phallic symbol?
LB: No this is a couteau which is a knife. The knife comes from a need to defend what she is carrying which is a child so this knife appears as a defense of her child.....that is not male. That is what you think.

JB: Why did you feel she needed this protection?
Fig.3. The Fragile Goddess 1970
LB: The "Fragile Goddess" Fig.3. is a weak person who has to carry a child, and it is too much for what she can do, so she is on the defensive. The "Fragile Goddess" Fig.3. represents a young girl who finds herself with child the fact is she is not up to the job, she is not up to the responsibility she suddenly has and she is supposed to defend what she carries and that frightens her. So she borrows the knife of the man. She is a woman on the defensive I agree with that, but this has nothing to do with the man, in fact she admires the man. I am not a feminist because I like men. I am afraid of them but I still like them. So she borrows the weapon of the man. She is very young and sees everything in black and white, this is very subtle. The "Fragile Goddess" Fig.3. is a frightened pregnant girl that is all she is.

  JB: What would you say about the work the "Fillette" Fig.4. 1968 ?
Fig.4. Fillette 1968
LB: What I have to say about the "Fillette" Fig.4. is that the "Fillette" Fig.4. does represent a male organ. It means that  if a woman has a man around, she is supposed to take care of her man, to cradle him this is why it is a fillette,  because fillette is somebody who is very young......(she pauses and thinks about it for a bit) yes, innocent and very you attribute these qualities to the male organ and you take care of your man. This has to do with my autobiography I have a Husband and three sons so I got used to it. I never had any girls and my way of getting along with everyone was to actually take care of them.

JB: And in return......
LB: And in return they would tolerate me, they would not kill me off...she laughs...But it was up to me to take care of them. That's what it means. So if you have a boyfriend the way to get along with him is to take him with a grain of salt, be nice to him, take care of whatever he wants, almost nurture him like a mother, basically that is what it means.

JB: And what will he do in return?
LB: He would make you feel important significant he would make you feel like a good woman like a good girl which is not easy to be. He would give you self-esteem. I assume in all my writings that the woman suffers from a certain lack of self-esteem.

JB: Can you comment on your quote: "A woman has no place in society as an artist unless she proves it again and again"
LB: This is an ancient quote of mine. But absolutely that is to is not that men dislike women as the feminists try to prove. Men do not dislike women they do not see them, they do not conceive of them so if there is something you want to put across as a self-expression you have to say it again and again until they finally listen to you. I suppose it's not just that they don't see you, it is that they are self preoccupied.

JB: Would you talk about "The Destruction of the Father"- 1974 Fig.1.  in terms of the other?
LB: "The Destruction of the Father" Fig.1. comes from a difficult time at the dinner table when the Father would gloat, fill up and brag about how great he was. No one could shut him up. It made the children very tired listening to him brag  the macho this is the other the toi. The Macho problem I am still interested in. What constitutes the macho of man? How do you experience it? What do you do? What do we mean by that? It is a constant bragging right. It is because of that, I fancied taking this big hunk of a man trowing him up on the table where we were eating. Instead of eating the food we would eat him, so we would dismember him like a chicken, you pull the legs out, you pull the arms out, twist the neck and you cut off the neck, then gobble him up. This was not a constraint this was a fantasy a very pleasant one. He would never have had a chance, he would not know what happened to him.

JB: Do you think we can become what we fear, what we resent? Is fear something that motivates your work?
LB: Now that is a very good question. We are more than that, but fear and resentment are very important. Fear was not the motivation in "The Destruction of the Father" Fig.1. as you say, it was a Fantasy   But fear, resentment, loss, these are very important.

JB: So lets go back to the first question, your ideas behind your art...
Fig.5. Femme Couteux 1969

LB: No, no! I have no answer
JB: No?
LB: This is ironical...
JB: Why?
LB: Absolutely nothing when there is so much.

This interview was done in 1992. The focus was on Louise Bourgeois's earlier works. In 1993 she represented America in the Venice Biennale.