Exercise: three case studies

This exercise asks us to look at three bodies of work:

  • Peter Mansell – work done for his OCA course
  • Dewald Botha – Ring Road
  • Jodie Taylor – Memories of Childhood

Brief

All three of these projects are examples of personally driven work but they become universal when we can relate to the feelings they present by visiting our own personal histories.

Which of these projects resonates most with you, and why?

How do you feel about the loss of authorial control that comes when the viewer projects their own experiences and emotions onto the images you’ve created?

Resonance

The strongest resonance for me comes from the work by Botha. Born in Australia and living in Switzerland near Geneva, I can understand some of the feelings of separateness and alienation that Botha must feel. I have only visited Hong Kong, never mainland China, but I can imagine that the gap between South Africa and where Botha was living at the time must have been huge. For me, it is less obvious, but that makes it all the more frustrating at times. Superficially, people here are similar to what I am used to, but every so often there is a cultural reference such as a French movie or a TV show which I completely miss. Even after living here for 11 years, I still struggle at times with fast-moving and slang-ridden French. In conclusion, while I believe that the cultural gap is less extreme than for Botha, the feelings of not “fitting in” are definitely there at times.

Authorial Control

I believe that this so-called “loss of control” is a central strength of all art and is actually exciting, rather than threatening. As artists, we are trying to elicit a response to our work. Even revulsion can be an interesting response: look at much of the media’s response to some of Damien Hurst’s work, for example. The viewer projecting their own emotions and experience is a way for them of understanding and taking ownership of the work that they are viewing. I see that provoking such a response is encouraging – I am always curious to know how others see my work.

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