e-tivity 06 – Identity – Performativity and Daily Life

Revisitng my notes from the presentation given by Iceberg on the subject of Identity we raised the issue of how art can be used to disrupt people’s routines so that they think about the everyday differently, using art as a strategy to defamiliarise the mundane, the automatic response to daily stimuli . Thus inviting an audience to consider the extraordinary in the ordinary, to celebrate life and its wonders and realign themselves with what’s truly important about life. Often it is the great events in a life like birth, marriage, divorce, illness and death that cracks our everyday existence and is a potential catalyst for transformation, forcing us to re-evaluate our lives. I know for myself that when I am able to see things differently, I feel expanded, uplifted and empowered to live my values. Being creative through making art, dancing, making music, playing with friends, being part of rituals, witnessing other’s creativitiy are potential pattern interrupts for me. Experiencing the powerful forces of nature and tasting the daily labours and attitudes of societies that are different and less resourced than my own, interrupts my habitual view of the world that I inhabit. It is an amazing wonder that I have this medium called electricity that is conducted into my home so that I can use this computer. It is an absolute gift that I can eat delcious, healthy food without having to labour to plant, tender and harvest it.

So we examined the work of artists like Cindy Sherman who has played with her physical appearance to simulate various iconic images of women from the 50’s and 60’s and the use of dolls, puppets and sculpture to show woman as sex object and hag. Indeed artists like Orlan go one step further to use her own body and the procedures of plastic surgery to make “carnal art”, transforming her face with the aim of attaining unconventional beauty and questioning the role of the body in society and how we identify with our own bodies. More culturally familiar figures that are chameleons are music artists like Madonna and Kylie Monogue, who are constantly reinventing themselves and could be said to be nourishing the media’s lust for the surface and superficial of life, the ‘appearance’. In the past, artists such as Mary Cassatt unusually depicted the everyday world of 19th century women, mothers and children in intimate domestic portraits free from sentmentality and idealisation. Today, artists like Tracey Emin uses all aspects of her life in her work, suggesting intimate autobiographical accounts can be turned into broader statements about everyday life that have value in society.

Theodor Adorno argues that Capitalism and its emphasis on growth and consumption produces a culture where its members are both politically passified and satisfied and I would say, hypnotised into identifying with and justifying the meaning of life through the creation of false needs and its concurrent obsession with commodities (commodity fetishes) As Grayson Perry puts it ‘we are what we buy’ – the focus is on product rather than process. when surely the quality of our lives is about the excitement, gratitude and joy we feel in our daily lives – giving meaning to our daily work and how it shapes our being rather than the having that results from it. So how can we establish a healthy identity in society as we seek to fulfill our roles as siblings, parents, sons and daughters, friends, colleagues, neighbours, business owners, voters…?

Purpose: In the process of further exploring this topic I came across Theory.org.uk – an on-line resource created by our very own professor of media and communications here at westminster university, David Gauntlett. I invite you to study the site, the structure and the content with the aim of thinking about individual testimony and intimate experience ‘v’ the forces of society, history and memory.

Task: Select one of his Theory Trading Cards (official or unofficial) and further explore and present information on this topic in relation to identity, performativity and daily life. I would also like you to describe either a personal experience of performativity in relation to your art practise or briefly refer to an artist’s work you have seen in situ that resonates with this topic for you. Please enclose an image in your e-tivity and I hope you find it useful.
Respond: Come back to the tiip’s blog, read your classmates posts and leave a comment with your feedback.


Task: Friday, February 23rd
Respond: Tuesday, february 26th


About estherdeangelis

Hi fellow artists I have just discovered that my previous introduction doesn't appear to have loaded. Sigh! and I think it was a lot simpler - sorry folks. 'Art is Healing made Visible" Art has been a powerful ally and tool for self reflection throughout much of my adult life. At times it has taken me into another space where I felt galvanised by life. The process of creation has appeared to me to have been truly magical and a blessing. I have been able to reach out and invite something new and wondrous into the piece – something bigger and more life affirming than me. The same with music – through singing or drumming with others I can access and receive life in exciting, beautiful formations. For me, making art must be about my own journey of healing – moving in a process of transformation from powerlessness and fear to love and wholeness. Moving away from ‘not being good enough’ to ‘being’ and accepting the grace of life as it is in this moment. Along that creative journey I hope to share with and inspire others to a more expansive, loving and potent vision of themselves. Thus it is that I have chosen the theme of Mandala or sacred circles as my focus and catalyst for my art over the next two years. A Mandala is seen as a vehicle and map for the unification and healing of consciousness, used historically as a spiritual teaching tool for realising a sacred space and guiding meditation. I aim to explore some of the ways that the rhythmic and patterned use of colour, sound and form can have to transport us. Historically it has been used for thousands of years in many cultures across the world To date I have created a number of mandalas using digital montage and painted two large mandalas with enamel paints on the bonnets of my two art cars. Creating them I experienced something intensely ancient and yet new - of this time with contemporary materials. This is why I am interested in experimenting with ways of bringing the sacred circle / mandala into a contemporary context. I plan to explore video, some form of digital animation and sound as additional methods in my practice. I am also interested in researching mechanical mechanisms and motors for the rotation of pieces and attempting some form of sculptural or installation work. I would also love to incorporate two further passions of mine – dancing and music making – particularly singing and drumming. At this point my head is bursting with ideas and I feel both very inspired and overwhelmed by my research on this theme so far. I had originally intended that my project use as a framework, the system of the chakras or energy centres of the body. This is a map of the movement of consciousness developed in India over two thousand years ago. I have been working with it, teaching Chakra Yoga and developing a new dance practise, Chakra Dance for the past seven years. So I would like to address some aspect relating to wealth, sexuality, power, love, creatvity, purpose and spirit. I also work with NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and hypnotherapy and I have no doubt that these disciplines will influence my art. Guess what I am seeing mandalas and circles everywhere I look ....... Blessings esther
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