Category : A2 – Contextual Notes

A2 – Contextual notes

Stefan513593 - Three fold perspective - #2 - left view

During this part of the course and in preparation of my ‘Object-Box’ approaches I was inspired and challenged by the following art practitioners and readings. I made some contextual reflections earlier in my post for project 2.6 ‘Painting in the Round’

“Painting is taken away the boundaries of an object” – Katharina Grosse (Art21, 2015)

Some key artists that inspired my painterly exploration of space are Jessica Stockholder and Richard Tuttle. My Object-Box as a box that engages the beholder to unbox, to unfold takes some references from Marcel Duchamp. My sculptural wall pieces were partly informed by works of John Latham and Robert RauschenbergCandice Lin and her project works for Enough Room for Space, especially ‘Performing Projects informed my preservation box approach, as Bianca Baldi informed a rather contextual idea of unfolding resonating with the unfolding performance of my Object-Box.

Throughout this part I could relate to Sarah Sze‘s statement that

“we have so much illusion but we don’t have touch and we don’t have taste and we don’t have smell” – Sarah Sze (Art21, 2016).

What resonates for me is her desire of material intimacy by ‘arranging paint skins, torn paper images, and other materials such as wood, thread, and rocks’.

My assignment works are very much influenced by my personal experience of packing and unpacking objects during my travels. Started with a suitcase that was replaced by a ready-made box and eventually led to self-made objects that drew my attention closely to the objects and the box. A certain relationship established over time, especially considering my longer break in between where I kept hold of my object-box during travels. Unfolded, the containing objects took over a certain subjecthood. This and some feedback from others brought me in contact and deeper reading of fetishism. An idea that Rauschenberg once looked at in the mid 1950s with his work ‘Personal Fetishes’. Fetishes could be seen as many things, including all artworks. We relate strongly to objects and things, Fetishism in a modern sense as described intensively by Hartmut Boehme (2012). A more consumer focused perspective was drawn by Karl Marx (1867). The more contemporary outlook in context of post-humanist thoughts and object realism brought me in contact with Karen Barad (2003), not that I understood all of it. Perhaps something to look deeper at for my personal project and/or critical review.

I struggled between boundaries of conceptual thoughts and just making things. Eventually, I worked out what is happening in front of me and to reflect later what it could mean, for me or the viewer. Many steps in creating my work was rather an ad hoc response to visual cues. Nevertheless, I also felt that what I create need a home and therefore looked for peer feedbacks and considered those in my way forward but also in my reading directions. I could feel the boundaries of what is happening and how it could be perceived. I spent some time with discerning possibly readings of the work. Not to condition possible responses form others, more for myself to keep a certain distance from my work and to see whic step I would go next.

It was a bit of surprise that I could relate some aspects in my work with Mark Dion. A sense of archive and collection, and a kind of ‘Wunderkammer’ of curiosities. Not on display – more to engage in a playful way. What opens the question for me whether to move along the archive way or to continue in a more sculptural way. I do relate some of my works, e.g. Walking Through Painting from exercise 2.5 that eventually informed by Object-Box / Paint4OCA assignment piece to the kind of engagement with objects as Abraham Cruzvillegas‘ ‘Autoreconstrucccion’, a work that develops overt time through an interaction of the museums visitors and the objects, painted by the artist and eventually considered as art-constructions.

I could see my role as a creator of things, but also as a subject in engaging with it. One the one hand an observer and on the other hand an actor. An artist-consumer possibly, or an object-artist. What I learned from other artists are the way to use paint as a mean for mediation, or activating agent as Sophia Starling‘s spatial explorations. I feel that the relationship between the viewer (and me) and the objects around us is a key aspect of how I see future progression of my work. Re parallel project and my idea of MRI as imaging technique supports the view of visuals as a tool to objectify, to place the viewer (the patient) as an object of interpretation and meaning. To use painting to raise awareness of how we connect to visual information through objects could be a guiding line for me. In that sense, painting is seeking attention.


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A2 – Preparation

Stefan513593 - Ex 2.5 - Making - box size 2

I explored during part two quite various approaches to painting, some I would have never related to painting at all in the first place. One personal idea continued to be my companion throughout this part: my object-box (Fig. 1) and the curious, partly magic driven experience of opening the box with dysfunctional objects (see my performative video).

The idea driven by my nomad life between two residence and other places, taking my art stuff with me in a suitcase (or at times a bag-pack). My life expressed through a life out of a suitcase, an opening and closing, a repetitive action across the weeks.

Stefan513593 - 2.1 -sketchbook - box - closed

Fig 1: Object-Box – sketchbook

I started my process with ready-made items, actual useful items, and moved to dysfunctional ready-made trash items from my close domestic environment. All of it resulting in the object-box. I was so much hooked with the idea, created with items typically thrown away with not looking at a relationship with these. Perhaps, with some guilt when throwing them away, more waste piling up. But what it these items have an existence as well? And would art not be the wonderful area to explore?

Over the last months and my break period I couldn’t throw neither the box nor any items away. A constant search for sense and eventually leading to my ‘fetish’ wall (See post INSPIRATION & IDEAS – OBJECT & FETISH INSTALLATION). The term ‘fetish’  came to me first by fellow student Sue, and I had to research a bit around that term in relationship to objects around us (see post  OBJECTS AND FETISHISM – THE HANDLE AND THE BOX ). My dysfunctional items collected had some connotated meaning in a wider sense

My listed items with qualities:

box (brown, textured, transport, packaging) – pebble (heavy, nature, memory) – cards (thin, plastic)  – foam pieces (greenish, light, soft, plastic, packaging) – white thread (holding together, connecting, thin and long, light, plastic, packaging) – gloves (the handle, the touch, soft, human plastic) – bubble wrap (textured, flexible, plastic, soft, packaging)- sponge (nature, painting) – dog poop bag (human, relationship, plastic, nice red translucent color) – newspaper (thin, flexible, human, outside, paper) – fork (food, outside, human, hard, plastic) – black plastic tray (food, outside, human, hard, plastic) – cat fur (light, nature, relationship, soft, human, memory) – tissue (light, paper, soft, textured) – painted board (human, painting, hard, memory) – styrofoam (light, plastic, soft, packaging) – plastic container (light, plastic, transparenthard, packaging) – finger brush (hard, human, touch) – milk box objects (food, packaging)

Some objects had a very strong connotation with things in the world, e.g. the fork and in combination with the black plastic tray related to food, dinner (see peer feedback on my initial object-box performance video and second peer feedback on the latest assembly of works, especially the animated paintings). Is this strong connotation limiting or possibly a ‘handle’ into a work? The handle, that literally I made in my first object-collage Two Sides of Folly

Other pieces are more personal, e.g. the pebble, found at the river banks of the Aare river in Switzerland, a place in absence, or the cat fur things, from our cat ‘Dobby’. Objects as the gloves to connotate with touch as well as with magician. The dog poop bag seem to be a constant in my work since part one, still don’t know the meaning or reason, perhaps I just love the red color. Similar the painted board, an artefact pieces, cut out of a art therapy studio wall. It is already painted, with traces of others, human presence, memory.

The box in itself, corrugated board that can be unfolded to reveal the corrugation is the container, the mean for meaning, i.e. the object that the other objects can fit in and be transported. The same as the plastic transparent container with the foam pieces inside (both nearly forgotten things)

Other things as the newspaper, the tissue, the bubble wrap, the thread seem to be connecting things, enabling the connection between the other objects. And other things, as the foam pieces or the sponge do seem to have something ‘to say’ in the assembly, embraced by some of my works, mostly due to shape and color. And the  styrofoam as well as the cards seem to play a visitor role, are they on stage or the audience?

The ready-mades were replaced my mock ups, maquette, new objects resembling in form and shape, but not with the charged meaning (that what I thought of). My cut-out collages and my large scale sculptural painting  ‘Walking through a Painting‘ took the object-box idea into new realms of animated ‘entertainment’ and phenomenological experience. 

My assignment work is built on and grew through this part of the course. In a sense that all projects were kind of preparation for my final ‘showdown’: a relationship to objects and the unique experience of these placed in a box. Instead of contemplating a flat picture I wanted to reflect on this experience. The opening of a box aka suitcase is not only relevant to my travel life but also to my distant learning with OCA. During a hangout I received the feedback that also the OCA course-binder box (with red inlet) could act as one example of an intriguing opening of a box.

Stefan513593 - Part 2 - Reflection 1

Fig. 2: Part 2 – Reflection 1

I found that I moved away from an observational painting approach (Fig. 2) with a sense of representation constrained by conventional perspective rules towards a painting to explore space and relationship. Objects as model for my paintings shifted towards objects to be painted with and on. My distancing relationship as an observer, as a subject facing objects, shifted to an in-between actor establishing a spatial and meaningful relationship with items as they are, without deferred meaning (Fig. 3). In the last exercise I worked on two layers bringing both together: a flat surface painting with some illusionary elements and physical objects claiming space, and curiosity and engagement of the spectator who can’t sit just in front a flat screen to ‘understand’ the work. This would give just one aspect of it. Paint is spatial exploration and meandering through layers of illusion and tactile surfaces.

Stefan513593 - Part 2 - Reflection 2

Fig. 3: Part 2 – Reflection 2

One of my recent attempts in making objects was an intermediate step, possibly to another new object-box (Fig. 4). Kind of object-evolution.

Stefan513593 - Ex 2.5 - Making - box size 2

Fig. 4: from Ex 2.5 – Making – box size – intermediate step towards larger scale work – on display on black structured foam

This picture has some appeal of archive, display in an ethnological museum, or just some fancy items of unknown purpose.

Before, digging only into this area, I explored other ways of looking at things, overcoming flat painting and one point view perceptions. Making cut-out collages and experimenting with different installation options, it gave me another angle in how possibly to approach my assignment. I wasn’t sure wether this would be the way to go or not. However, I took some learnings from it: 

  • Objecthood: A sculptural painting as an object or assemblage that could visually engage the spectator. Also it could dissolve a ground-figure question.
  • Movement: Objects that rotate autonomously, or by spectator’s agency (moving the object, or moving subject)
  • Perspectives: Glitches, fragments, invisible visual information opening up questions how what a picture is and how we make sense out of visual information. The spectator’s active control of what, how and when something is perceived, the painted images might add to a unique experience, especially when juxtaposed with non-visible information aka void.
  • Installation: Is installation an arrangement of things or a body aka object as a whole? Installation of objects as ‘ready-to-consume’ for the spectator and just to make sense out of it, or installation as space to actively engage and interact? => This question I deeply explored in my ‘walking through a painting

At the end, it was about installation, and conveying a sense of interaction and engagement with a slight hint of entertainment and humour. The process of seeing seemed to me an important aspect in my work, what I can relate back to my previous assignment 1. 

Three different options:

  1. Object Box as a sculptural painting and a display of objects questioning the notion of a painting as an object. An experience encouraged to open by the spectator (inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s (1935-41) Boîte en valise and Bianca Baldi (2014) Zero Latitude. 
  2. A sculptural painting as a reflection or better documentation of my object-box experience, inspired by my initial object-box performance of opening the box and removal step by step the objects, a spatial and temporal displacement. I will take some inspiration from Jessica Stockholder and Richard Tuttle as well as from Cornelia Parker Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991)
  3. Multiple viewpoints as a kinetic experience  – movement through interaction of a spectator. Considering the space not seen, the invisible made visible through painting. With some inspiration taken from Mika Taijma The Extras (2009) and some ideas about translucency from Victor Pasmore , some conceptual thoughts about space and invisible from Katharina Grosse. I am wondering how and whether my ‘glitch’ ideas do fit in here. 

For the sake of focus and time, I will skip option #3 and continue with the two options for further exploration:

  1. Object Box 
  2. Spatial Box 



Joanne mentioned in the OCA discuss forum a planned SHOWCASE at Barnsley. The context for that is: 

Key terms: accessible, engaging, process, journey, sharing, community, learning.

We are looking for portable student work that would fit on a shelf or in an OCA course box (35cm x 30cm x 10cm) that we can feature in the SHOWCASE exhibition at gallery@oxo, London. – Joanne Mulvihill-Allen

How relevant is that? I am very excited. What makes option #1 more important for me to finalize.


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