I had my first meeting with my new mentor, artist and professor Suzanne Kanatsiz who kindly drove up from Al Ain to see me. I spoke extensively about my work and tried to cover all the important areas that I had been concerned with up until now.
One of the first things Suzanne commented on was that my photography is strong, and even though a lot of it either supports/informs my work or documents it, she said that she prefers it to the actual work. The photography in question was the work that was presented at both residencies, so that the idea that it is the work, has been something I’ve definitely been considering. Suzanne elaborated by saying that my "buckets" are, in her mind, mostly about process, a ritual, with the end result being residual. She went on to say that when photographing the work, I step back and create an image, which then becomes the art. Suzanne said that she found it interesting that the direct process (object) is translated into an indirect process (photography), which she thought captured the intention of the direct process well.
“I think you’re too much in your head” Suzanne diagnosed and said that I was stuck in dialogues after I'd taken her through most of the work. She advised me to release all the symbolism, philosophy, theory and dialogue and just acknowledge that I am working with age-old, indigenous, very rich archetypes, which are free, and in the fabric of every human being. Suzanne said that for real experimentation to happen, I need to take bigger risks. “Why did you bother firing the clay work? That to me is conclusive. You’re caught in the formula of beginning something and ending it… I think your mind is developed… but the artist part is a little amateurish, not as fluent and feels bridled. These [works] are compartmentalised and your thinking is not.”
This was interesting to hear and Suzanne and I both agreed to think about what that would mean in a more concrete and specific way. I briefly discussed a few future projects that I have planned, one being an animation of a portrait transformation. I am unsure how this will work or what it will look like but, in my own way, this is a risk that I am happy to take in order to have tried as much as possible before the third residency (after which I would like to pick up a thread or two and begin refining some of the work). I also intend to experiment with making snow globes using the fired clay figures and am looking into collecting and layering sounds as a soundtrack, which if it works out, can be used with one of my videos.