Exposition

Rationality, Intuition and Emotion - Exploring an Artistic Process (2013)

Gert Germeraad

About this exposition

This exploratory text communicates the relation between my figurative sculpture and abstract drawings in an attempt to find the deeper grounds in my artistic work. During this project writing has become a connecting element, both as a description of my artistic process and as an integrated part of my work. In this writing I have tried to be open to underlying motives and early in this project it became clear that memories of psychotic episodes that I experienced in my twenties would start to play a crucial part in the description of my process. The psychoses had a prodigious impact on the formation of the person I have become and still play an important role as an undercurrent of emotional energy in my daily life and in my art. However, since I don’t want my art to be perceived through the point of view that I was once a psychiatric patient, I hardly ever talk about it. In this exposition I explore how, if I want to explore deeper layers in my work, I can no longer avoid this part of my past.
typeresearch exposition
date2013
statuspublished
affiliationKonstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm.
urlhttps://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/25145/25146
published inJournal for Artistic Research

comments: 3 (last entry by Annemarie Bucher - 18/06/2013 at 17:53)
Joan Mullin 18/06/2013 at 13:41

Many artists find themselves caught in creative reiteration, develop an artistic block, are dissatisfied with their work. Like Germeraad they may ask, What may be keeping me from pushing my work further? How might I fruitfully occupy another perspective to see my work differently? Common prescriptions to resolve these issues (“go research,” “read,” “look at other artists’ work”) are too often taken at face value and routinely employed. Germeraad moves these traditional research tools to the next level by examining the personal as research process. Here, the relationship between psychoses and artistic production is not sensationalized but harnessed as research/artistic process; well conceptualized and executed the exposition will be of use across a number of creative fields.

 

The artist generously opens up his memory and reflections, demonstrating how research/writing/drawing reveal deeper layers that link to his motives for creating identity (others’ and his own) through sculpture. This creative exploration both compliments and is stimulated by traditional means of research, and Germeraad shows how to coax the interplay of both, how to blur the lines among the grammars an artist employs (i.e. among sculpting, drawing, remembering, and writing) in order to expand the potential of media and push the artistic process to a new level.

 

Germeraad’s use of the personal and method of presentation in this exposition demonstrates that he is not giving anyone a template to follow. Instead, the exposition invites others to use his exploration as a model and create their own map, take a reflective journey that best suits their identities-as-they-emerge-in-art. He provides examples, such as his discussion about drawing and memory. He states that he never believed himself able to draw since his sister was considered best at drawing. Yet as Germeraad shows, his subsequent engagement with writing/drawing made visible this attitude and pushed him to engage in drawing anew. This in turn positively affected his engagement with figures.

 

Germeraad notes, “Motif and content are directly linked;” this statement seems obvious, but like much of the writing in this exposition, it metaphorically represents the layers at work in this exposition are the same as those in the figures he sculpts. Both his figures, drawing, and his writing subtly direct the reader’s/viewer’s attention, inviting reflectivity. As a result, the reader can more easily enter the work itself, become part of the final artist’s exhibition, one focusing on empathetic, human connection. Thus the multiple means of human research that contributed to the work are present at once: reflection, figure, drawing. This underscores the links Germeraad seeks to achieve by digging out his past (the self-as-artist built through experience, interpretation, artifacts of memory), and that of others’ represented, except for his work, with only numbers, brief descriptors that show not human complexity but surface. By interpreting his past, Germeraad faces his own erasure and finds the means to create a narrative that tangibly represents more than surface.

 

Opening statements correctly describe the use and misuse of physiognomy, and summarize how those notions have evolved over time. Those interested in other disciplinary explorations that compliment this area may find it useful to read further about current practices that connect the emotional life of the person and their surface/phsyiology—and, therefore, how an artists might enact their own narratives. Such readings are authored by medical doctors (John E Sarno’s The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain; Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief; Amit Goswami’s Quantum Doctor); psychologists (Shulman and Watkins’ Towards Psychologies of Liberation; Barratt’s The Emergence of Somatic Psychology and Bodymind Therapy; \Pennebaker’s work, http://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/writing/), and by the growing explorations of the Alexander Technique, Rolfing, myofascial release, and cranial-sacral therapies. These further support Germeraad’s use of rationality, intuition, and emotion in his artistic process, as do articles in The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice and ArtText (especially the article by Göransson & Ljungberg its 2010 publication).

 

The actual structure of this exposition also mirrors the purpose: the reader/viewer moves back and forth between commentary, journal, drawing, figure, making connections and sense out of the reflections as they are arranged. Germeraad successfully walks a line between directing the reader and pointing the reader in a direction, thus further reflecting the illusiveness of memory, it’s role in constructing identity, and its importance in shaping and linking artistic texts of all kinds.

Tarja Pitkänen-Walter 18/06/2013 at 16:44

Artistic research - working in between the layers of anchoring and dissolving subjectivity

 

Gert Germeraad´s exposition includes a lucid description of an artistic process. Germeraad brings the proceedings of embodied mind [1]  into the focus of art making.This is an interesting subject and has the potential to benefit our understanding of not only art, but creative processes in general. The understanding about artistic processes is challenging, still widely uncharted area. Explorations of artistic processes by artists allow rare insights.

 

The methods Germeraad is using become evident through his text. Sculpture, drawing and writing each have crucial, intermediating and clearly defined roles in the artistic process. It is Germeraad´s text that reveals the specific relation between drawings and sculptures: drawings as vehicles of intuitive, emotional and “maternal” substance; sculptures as embodiment of a more rational- conceptual and “paternal” side.

 

The sculptures and drawings were displayed at the examination exhibition for the course Artistic Research Processes at Konstfack Stockholm. According to the attached images the installation was a highly professional artwork. In contemporary art scene it works well as such. The sculptures are very expressive. As artworks they are touching and would do well also without the drawings and the text.

 

The dark drawings are situated behind the sculptures. According to my interpretation they endow sculptures with a somehow threatening background. In a way the portrayed children seem to be in the midst of unfathomable powers. The pervasive character of the drawings (the continuing dark surface on the verge of a figure) alludes that the suffering and humiliation of children is not caused by and restricted to their personal family histories. The children are individual, anyhow they all are at the mercy of the same universal dark powers. Besides one of the children seems to be engulfed by the background powers: There are four backgrounds but only three children. 

 

The artistic research project is strongly positioned in between very controlled, technically skilled, rational process of sculpture making and on the other hand very intuitive process of nearly formless drawing alluding to a corporeal and complex emotional presence.

 

Even though War against War sculpture suite was not shown in the Konstfack exhibition, it is mentioned in the text as a “freer style” sculpture. War against War might be a crucial work considering the artistic aim of the research; the need to charge artwork emotionally in order to make it more powerful. “Freer style” sculpture alludes to the active negotiation between the aims in drawing and sculpture.

 

Germeraad´s writing reveals the exploratory character of the work. The writing is entirely based on the artistic work, especially on exploring the different roles and features of sculpture and drawing. On the other hand the journal texts themselves turn into a very important component of the artistic process. There the memories of the psychoses are conveyed in(to) a verbal form. While delineating the process the text does not merely explain but evidently formulates the process further.

 

The exposition text assigns a psychically important role especially for the drawing. It also defines the intermediating relations and meanings between sculpture, drawing and writing in an interesting way. Germeraad reveals the possibilities of accessing different layers of subjectivity and embodied mind by working with different mediums. Until now only a few research has been done on the interface of different artistic techniques / mediums and processes of embodied mind / subjectivity.

 

In his research Desiring bodies: Gilles Deleuze's Thinking in the Research of Artist's Subjectivity (2004) social scientist Atte Oksanen refers to Deleuze ́s thoughts of subjectivity as a continuous process of becoming. Considering the process of subjectivity he compares painting to printmaking, photography and new media art. He indicates that technically orientated phases of artistic processes keep subjectivity and creative process anchored, giving shelter against unbounded flow and dissolving of subjectivity. Less technical phases or mediums allow subjectivity to float and immerse, for example in painting into colours and materials sensuously.

 

For Germeraad especially drawing seems to function as a subjectivity dissolving medium. Through drawing he connects to emotions and even former phases of psychoses. Sculpture making provides him a tool for anchoring. Writing functions as anchoring, as well as dissolving, depending on the phase of the process (procrastinating, contemplating, reflecting...). Note that the mediums or techniques per se should not be categorized as solely anchoring or dissolving! In my view touching art pieces need to be fed by both. It seems to me that Germeraad has been diving well in between dissolving and anchoring also while making the exposition sculptures.

 

The submission is a credible exploration of the artistic process. The sculptures, the drawings and the text formulate a well-defined and articulated setting, including the first results of artistic research. Since the intention of the research is to open fresh interpretation and understanding about art, it´s relevant that the journal texts were part of the exhibition and available to the public in the form of a booklet. I assume that the submission excellently fulfills its potential in the context of the artistic research course in Konstfack.

 

At least the artistic research supports Germeraad in his artistic aims. Germeraad ́s artistic research fulfills the endeavor he assigns for himself: to charge his works emotionally in order to make them stronger. The face of little Jacques Wisznia encapsulates and expresses nearly tangible emotions of humiliation and shame. The powerful emotional charge has been transmitted to the sculpture.

 

The setting of Germeraad´s research exposition is a potential base for further, more profound artistic research. It opens curiosity and desire to bring the research further. Interesting questions arise from Germeraad´s artistic practice. I wonder, what would happen, if instead of black charcoal he would use colour pigments for drawing. Is blackness a prerequisite for the flow of affective emotions? How does the flow (dissolving of subjectivity) as experience differ when sculpture making and drawing?

 

Germeraad’s research is potentially interesting for a wide audience. Disciplines like psychology and (art) pedagogy might gain fruitful insights from Germeraad ́s research.

 

Considering the manifold aspects it implicitly touches upon, it has a great potential to be continued. Depending on the interests of the artist researcher, the further work should be appropriately contextualized with theories and possibly in dialogue with other artist’s practices.

 

[1] With embodied mind I do not refer to any specific theory here; but use it (in current common sense) to point to the union of mind and body.

Annemarie Bucher 18/06/2013 at 17:53

Gert Germeraad Rationality, Intuition and Emotion: Exploring an Artistic Process This submission presents an interesting and complex framework for interweaving artistic strategies and visual expressions to investigate the sensitive matter of representing the vulnerable human being. It focuses on the visual representation of the classified human being as the joint bases of artistic expression and exploration.

I especially appreciate the exploration and interrelation of highly artistically connotated means such as sculpture and drawing to produce not a formal debate but instead an integral approach to a sensitive issue. This makes this submission outstanding and worth publishing.

 

Questioning the human condition and its visual representation is a challenging issue, especially in times of ongoing and often covert discrimination on the grounds of race, and of physical or mental disabilities. The submission as such deals with highly relevant intellectual and political concerns.

Considering figurative sculpture, abstract drawing, and writing the research project seems at first sight to promote the “classical” media of art. Only the concrete use of three-dimensional sculptural moulding, two-dimensional drawing, and writing a journal indicates that different artistic means help investigate a multilayered and highly sensitive subject-matter. In this way, all means lose their mostly disciplinary significance and support an overarching concept.

 

This research project reveals a highly transdisciplinary subject that encompasses both the fundamentals of the creative process and the current use of artistic media, as well as various ways of representing the human being as an Other (as a not self-evident but discriminated and therefore wounded subject). This makes this submission interesting not only in terms of its specific contents but also in terms of approaching human vulnerability in our globalised world. The fundamental question remains: “Who is represented how?” It includes, by further implication, its negative counterpart: “Who is not represented and why not?” Overall, the submission addresses important issues in the debate on artistic research. Its discussion will interest a wider audience concerned with the revision of the conditio humana and its visual consequences.

 

This submission exemplifies artistic practice as a form of research that first explores the creative process and its components, and, secondly, questions the established scientific and social ways of approaching human representation. While the author does not advance a clear research question, he searches for hitherto unrecognized intersections between racial biology, its classification systems, and the visual representation of human beings. His project as such contains an implicit research question, whose outcome is chiefly practice-based and practice-oriented and yet touches on a central area of social and political life.

 

A vital scientific aspect of this submission is given through its direct link to anthropology, notably physiognomy and racial biology. In his earlier artistic work, the artist refered to Johann Lavater, the famous 18th-century physiognomist, who linked a person’s outer appearance with their (inner) character. Lavater thus produced not only a challenging task for visualization, but also many popular and scientific fallacies up to the point of eugenics and racism. It is a matter of fact that such fallacies can hardly be erased. What is therefore needed are haunting visual or intellectual arguments. As this submission shows, art can without doubt be a strong agent in this discussion.

 

The artist approaches the visual representation of the vulnerable human being from different sides: first, by investigating photographic memories and documentations of the victims of biological discrimination, he draws a line in the field from a more scientific-oriented, external perspective. His choice of photographs of Jewish children as the most vulnerable victims of eugenics and racial biology during WWII leads us directly to a painful and inglorious chapter of European history. This is just a starting point. In a next step he rethinks and reworks these traditional forms of memory and representation by converting the two-dimensional images into three-dimensional figurative portraits. This sculptural form-finding-process is a mainly rational one.

Second, the artist adopts an internal perspective, by searching for an emotional approach by re-processing his personal experiences as a psychically injured self. Through arranging charcoal or ink on paper, he creates elementary signs and abstract forms in contrast to the naturalistic portraits. Using such primary drawing features and intuition, he tries to establish adequate visual expression. How can these apparently antagonistic artistic outcomes be brought together? Here text comes in: The author has decided to describe the artistic process in the form of a diary—a journal written over a period of 13 days. This is not only feasible but also helps retrace the ongoing creative process in its different phases.

 

While the artistic approach to interweaving intuitive and emotional decisions with rational findings in order to create art is not new in general, its connection with an especially sensitive subject-matter turns the approach into an appropriate and promising method.

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