Category : A1 – Contextual Notes

A1 – Contextual notes: Gesture, Body movement and Failure

  • A1 – Contextual notes: Gesture, Body movement and Failure
  • A1 – Contextual notes: Gesture, Body movement and Failure
  • A1 – Contextual notes: Gesture, Body movement and Failure
  • A1 – Contextual notes: Gesture, Body movement and Failure

Some of my thoughts on how I do see the wider context my work, artistically or culturally.

One attempt of Failure: Folding and Unfolding

When I started to explore my folding and unfolding work, it was more a result of my earlier ‘paper’ work, expanding the flat surface of paper through a notion of the figure (the paper turning from support into the medium) of a collage (Fig. 1).

Paper ground in space #2 - sheet / skin collage

Fig. 1: Paper ground in space #2 – sheet / skin collage

A rising ground, or a reverse to ground and figure. It relates mostly with my earlier interrogation with the texts of Gilles Deleuze (Differences and Repetition) and related to my parallel work started during my UVC studies: Difference and Becoming 

Folding - a sketchy exploration - and failure

Fig. 2: Folding – a sketchy exploration – and failure

With some more sketches and further experiments I got hooked by the folding and unfolding as such, A human gesture, intention of making something. Considering the creative aspect, it truly brought up notions of Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.  But not the decorative aspect of it, the creation of something beautiful, rather the creation, the action as such. I always found Origami kind of magic – the end results made me wonder how theses were done. Thus unfolding helps to get more insight, knowledge on how to do. The issues with that approach is, that after some unfolding I found it so difficult to fold it back, to create the initial final result again. This is mirrored in my simple sketchbook exploration of folding (Fig. 2). 

What I realised here, was the idea of failure (as I explored during my reading of Emma Decker’s essay (Le Feuvre, 2010:162)

My execution of the work was done rather intuitively and I was very much occupied with what I do and how my body and thoughts are impacted by my doing. Quite a different approach to painting, as in the past and during drawing 1 and painting 1 I was so much self-conscious and trying to anticipate the outcome that I was perhaps less in contact with what and how I did at that moment. It changed with my parallel projects during UVC and the collaborative project with SarahJaneField. 

One aspect I experience with my moving of folding and unfolding was the applied structure, to make folds. I have the feeling that structure is something I more often rejected in my past life, but going to appreciated as part of the creative process, providing a foundation to start off (and to come back in case) into new realms.

Unfolded sheet #1 (ink, paper)

Fig. 3: Unfolded sheet #1 (ink, paper)

Talking about new realms I felt at times, especially looking at the unfolded sheets (Fig. 3), reminded or the work of  Katharina Grosse, especially her latest large scale works in Sydney The Horse Trotted Another Couple Of Metres, Then It Stopped , 2018  (Acrylic on fabric / 1000x4600x1500 cm, Carriageworks, Sydney).


Stefan513593 - Assignment 1 - folding#2 - Fragments #2

Fig. 4: Fragments #2

At the end of the process I was facing the fragments of the sheets (Fig 4). My approach to recombine back can be considered as failure and as an impossible task, a mental challenge. What is triggered though, was the association with Jean Dubuffet and his Assemblages. I was already during my visit to a major retrospective in 2016 in Basel intrigued by that fragmentation process and giving it another layer of meaning. 


I am not aware of other context. Also I didn’t ask other yet. Though, it would be good to see a wider context of my performative and repetitive action towards failure.


Another attempt of Failure: Dog Shit Performance

Stefan513593 - Part 1 - Exercise 2 - Painting without brush #1 - ground and sheet

Fig. 5: Wasbaord (Laundry)

My approach to this part of the assignment was mainly inspired by my own work for exercise 1.1 (Fig. 5).  I related my Washboard (laundry) work first with women doing household work, especially the past physical intense and repetitive action of using a washboard (see online images). Through my own painterly action I could feel the physical intensity, the exhaustive effect. It reminded me of Janine Antoni (1993) Loving Care, not as a nostalgia of childhood memories, rather as a cultural and social activity, mostly hidden and ignored. There might be some feminist elements associated with it, for me as man to wonder what it would mean?

Stefan513593 - Assignment1 - Dog Shit Ground view - final

Fig.6: Dog Shit Performance – final ground view

After peer review  I got connected with the IRA Dirty Protest in 1978, where prisoners in the Maze prison protested against the sanitary conditions in the prison and started to smear their own excrements on the wall. With some further research I found that Richard Hamilton (1981 – 83) The Citizen, who appropriated the at that times media circulated image of the prisoners alongside a gestural ‘smeared’ painting (also called blanketmen, as the rejected to wear regular prisoner clothes, communicating their wish to be seen as political prisoners, not criminals) 

I can see some connection with Carolee Schneeman (1973 – 76) Up to and Including Her Limits, with the stretching the limits, and embracing the floor and wall space. 

In the peer review on the OCA discuss forum fellow students could relate the work to Richard Long and his paintings with mud from the Severn Estuary onto the gallery wall. Or I could add his M-Shed work in Bristol. An artist that already inspired my during my personal project as the final part of drawing 1.

Another reference provided by Kate, was the work of Keith Arnatt (1990) Dog Turds. The artist interrogated in his work also rubbish as such. I am wondering what was driving me to dog poop, and the bags, the dog turds, the shit, or the human actions, the gesture, or even beyond that , the absence of gestures as an social agreement? An open question without an answer. My performative painting was done in the material I used before, shellac and gum solution, that after mixing and rubbing turns into a dirty dark brown ‘shit’. Is the material, the visual appearance what makes associations?  I think my work opened more questions as possible answers. The feedback from peers in relation to my moving images sequences gives me some idea about ambiguity of meaning and intent.

Visual Collection:

My Pinterest board capturing images and works in context relevant to my assignment work:




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