"Contemporary art is a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context [..]" Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational aesthetics
Louises Will, "Pointless border", variable dimensions, copper wire, London, UK, November 2018
Nicolas Bourriaud is the first who theorizes the tendency of fine art at the end of the 20th century. In “Relational aesthetics” he defines art as "a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space". Bourriaud explains the approach of contemporary art, through examples of what he calls relational art, of gathering people discussing about interactions and social context. It includes any artform which involves people and communities in debate, collaboration or social interaction. As long as expressing ways of living and models of action for the existing real, socially engaged art critiques society.
Artist like Ai Wawai stimulates debate, as Bourriaud explains in Relational aesthetics, indeed he attaches 14,000 life jackets used by refugees to Berlin’s Konzerthaus concert hall, a tribute to the refugees that died in an attempt to escape war and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa. With this installation Ai Wawai successes showing the refugees crisis and highlights the problem of clandestine immigration. In the world of today, where people can circulate freely, borders, confines which separates countries, are pointless. Borders lead one subject feel not familiar, lost and dislocated in a country. One solution about social problems is discussion, which is possible if only people are aware of social contexts and culture, in general.
Another example of the approaches of social engaged art practices are the photographs of Zaida Gonzales which stands as a parody of the chilean cultural issues. This technique of criticism allows artists to highlight social problems and raise discussion then change.
Louises Will, "Cure", 21x29,7 cm, photocopy, London, UK, December 2018
Louises Will, "Food damages", 20x4x4 cm, paper on gypsum, London, UK, December 2018
“Everyone go wrong when it comes the future” Milan Kundera, The ignorance
Existentialism, the philosophical enquiry that explore the nature of existence, relates to social engaged art practices as both expresses the experience of human subjects. Indeed the argument of existentialism, a person's experience, can be the starting point of social engaged art practices as it leads to collectivity's issues and social problems.
One subject’s view of the world is the argument of discussion of existentialists philosopher Jean-Paul Satre, who writes “Nausea” where he narrates the life of Roquentin and his view of life. Nausea, a philosophical diary, invites human beings to live freely and autonomously. This leads people detain moral and intellectual freedom, which arouse a particular sensitivity which has in common with social engaged art practices.
The main character of Nausea says he feels nothing is real, as he is surrounded by cardboard scenery, the world looks like a theatre where anything can happen. Reality starts to lose its familiar outlines and everything seems an illusion. In this scenery Roquentin says there is no reason of living and what we experience is eventual and not absolute.
As long as Sartre, the Czech writer Milan Kundera discusses the viewpoint of his characters, demonstrating to be focused on the words that shape his characters more than their physical appearance. “Everyone go wrong when it comes the future” says Milan Kundera in the book “The ignorance”, when he narrates the episode of a men who predicts the duration of the USSR. If we see life as a path, we do not know where we are going, and we have no direction in life.
Louises Will, “Can’t see the way”, variable dimensions, digital photography, between the UK, Italy, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore
"The genius of Christianity is to tell man they will never die" Friedrich Nietzsche, Joyful wisdom, 1882
The only certain prevision about the future is the end of existence. In front of this uncertain prevision about the end of future religion reassures. Catholicism, in particular, promises the immortal life in Paradise, deceiving people.
Nietzsche, indeed, says “The genius of Christianity is to tell man they will never die”. This is the reason why Christianity takes over ancient Greece's culture, where human beings are considered mortals. The illusion of God pervades human existence as a consolation for the worldly and precarious life.
Nietzsche, despite he is the son of a pastor is strictly anti-catholic. He believes catholicism disregards life and pushes human beings believe in paradise, which devalues life.
The Christian morality with the promise of ascesis is killing the life of the people and condemning them to nothing. In front of the hardness of life and questions about themselves and nature man invented God. Nietzsche invites human beings to believe God is dead and to decide about their own destiny and establish their own values.
Without God life as no reason, and human beings are condemned to wander around without a way and no place to stop by. Nothing to believe and nothing to hang to. Humans are ontologically lying on nothing.
Feuerbach, and Nietzsche agrees with him, says man project outside their best qualities like love, justice and wisdom in an objectified entity which is God. By attributing these qualities to the outside man pauperize them of this good qualities.
As long as impoverishing the qualities of man, religion promises a better life after death, pushing man to abandon their freedom and will in front of their mortal lives. In these scenery religions, in particular catholicism, deletes the individual by shaping creatures which are unwilling and controllable. Religion does a negative effect on people, it alienates.
Louises Will, "The power of religion", gypsum, variable dimensions, London, UK, February 2019
Louises Will, "The morning after Saturday night”, still life of jewelry, London, UK, January 2019
Louises Will, "Crucifix”, pencil on paper, 21x27.9 cm, London, UK, October 2019
Louises Will, "Crucifix”, digital photography collage, 210x147 cm, London, UK, October 2019
"There is a lot of art outside the art market [...], and it is doing quite well" Olafur Eliasson
"There is a lot of art outside the art market [...], and it is doing quite well" says Olafur Eliasson regarding artworks outside the art market. He believes art has a strong impact outside the museum and argues art can arouse a strong sensitivity in people. He strives to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large. Indeed, not limited to the confines of the museum and gallery, his practice engages the broader public sphere through architectural projects, interventions in civic space, arts education, policy-making, and issues of sustainability and climate change.
Inasmuch as detecting a very important function in art, arousing sensitivity, he successes in making people reflect about historical issues. Part of his artworks narrates the relationship between the environment and human beings, as it risk to undermine the world. Human beings' activity modify territories, climate and the structures of the planet. Homo-sapiens has a big impact on the planet, in particular one of the biggest modification is the increasement of the quantity of CO2 and CH4A in the atmosphere, which leads to climate modification.
As long as climate change, nowadays a big issue is represented by pollution.
Plastic pollution, in particular, demonstrates that human consumerism exploits the environment without considering the consequences. Polluting is counterproductive as it means damaging the same environment of living. The reason of pollution could be for no sense of community, or because one subject does not feel part of nature, feels to be above it. But human beings are part of the ecosystem as long as every other animal.
Louises Will,"What would you prefer", 211x141cm, digital drawing on photography, London, UK, February 2019
Louises Will, “Plastic People”, 1280x720 px, video, London, UK, April 2019
Louises Will, “Ego mirror”, 70x42x3 cm, mirror on wood frame, London, UK, December 2019
"Memento Mori" ancient latin proverb
Human beings feel superior to nature to forget the rules of the earth, which includes the natural stream of decay. One subjects believe to be omnipotent, superior to nature because dying, which is natural, is scary.
“Memento Mori”, remember you will die, it’s a proverb from ancient Rome, which stands as a reminder of the temporary existence of humans., which can be compared to decomposition and mold. Death is decay, and this condition of getting older, ugly and disappearing scares human beings. But existence in this world is temporary, and the destiny of every being is to follow the natural rules of decay. Human beings will die in any case, and the aim to dominate nature is because they would like to be superior, so immortal.
Considering that human beings are part of the ecosystem as long as every other animal, there is a difference in the attitude of each one. Animals take part of the ecosystem peacefully, but human beings are not animals because they lack instincts, for the simple reason that they can predict them. This difference is explained by Plato in the “Protagora” dialogue where he describes Prometeo, the men who Zeus gives the ability of seeing in advance. According to Plato, humans are characterized by prevision.
Prevision, indeed, is the core structure of human beings and the only thing which differentiate them from animals, as they are able to predict what they will need. This difference leads humans the need to decide what they need to do and their destiny, not like any other animal which just follows its instincts. This could lead angst and fear to one subject, but the ability of decision leads a feeling of superiority to every other animal and nature.
For the ancient Greeks nature is the immutable structure which is created by no man. On the contrary, according to Christianity, in the book of “Genesis” God gives man the order to dominate nature, which is created by God for the human beings. The catholic culture gives the basis of the presumption to dominate the world, and to gain a superior position in the ecosystem. Human beings tend to domain nature, there it comes the presumption to be immortal because dying is natural indeed.
Natural and man materials creates a fatal interaction as human beings exploit nature. One example of the relationship with human beings and nature is The expression “mother nature”. As a personification of nature, it shows that man associates the power of nature, and its creation and devastation, to a human being.
This unending development creates environmental incompatibilities like pollution, climate change and the ending of natural resources. This means the sense of progress goes against nature and the ecosystem, and it needs to be changed in order of a sustainable development which is compatible with the safeguard of the environment.
Gino De Dominicis, Italian artist of the second post-war period, thinks that time is discontinuous. This conception of time does not agree with the culture of progress, conceived as a linear evolution of human society, as it supposes gradual advances of time. The culture of progress, as long as being in contrast with time, is harmful for nature, subdues the minds of human beings, forcing them to follow the only goal of progress. In the twenty-first century progress is indicated by the economical development of one society.
Louises Will,“Mold”, 35x20 cm each, digital photography printed on Somerset paper, London, UK, January 2020
Olafur Eliasson, Blue artic moon, 2006
Louises Will, “Subdued”, 20x5x3, wood twigs and iron wire, Pisa, Italy, March 2020
Louises Will, sculptures, variable dimensions, Pisa, Italy, between February - April 2020
“Man invented ways to be faster because they can't stop the inexorable flow of time” Gino de Dominicis
Gino De Dominicis, Il tempo, lo sbaglio, lo spazio 1969
The culture of progress denies the fatal role of death in human beings' life. To solve the problem of mortality time should be stopped, because time passes and death comes, what Gino De Dominicis says in his manuscript “Lettera sull’immortalità del corpo”, in English: Letter about the immortality of the body. Gino De Dominicis, artist and philosopher, concentrates his artistic research in finding solutions to mortality, which is possible, he says, only if changing the modern perception of time. He pushes the viewer to see another dimension of reality, where the law of physics are not valid and where the connections between perception, movement and duration are banned.
As long as talking about the intrinsic desire of immortality of human beings Gino De Dominicis explains the mistake of trying to evolve within time and space, represented by the artwork “Il tempo, lo spazio, lo sbaglio”, in English: Time, space and the mistake. Beside the rollerblades, which distinguish the person from the animal and represent the aim to shorten time, death arrives anyway. This work synthesizes the sentence of De Dominicis about the relationship between time and space: “Man invented ways to be faster because they can't stop the inexorable flow of time”.
He configures the artworks immortals and not the artist who produces them. Everything that moves in the space is not gonna last in time, but the immobility of an artwork stands as a guarantee of unlimited duration, of immortality. The space of human beings, what is considered real, is ephemeral and illusory compared to the timeless dimension of artworks. Human beings are condemned to the will of movement, of running into the space with rollerblades. This destiny is not valid for artworks, which are perfect and immortal beings.
Gino De Dominicis creates a mirror associated with time: it is a mirrored clock with no hands. He creates an instantaneous metaphor where time is the viewer who gets old. He thinks death is a mistake, indeed he theorizes the still universe, where time and space are dislocated and everything is motionless. The realization of an artwork coincides with the manifestation of the still universe. This means that artworks are forms of eternity which are intelligible in this still dimension.
Artworks represent the paradox of eternity, located elsewhere than mind and body while finding a place in the present, as it shows the start and end of time and space. It is possible that time is not a flow of moments from once to now. Time is the modification of what is perceived, which leads to think that Gino De Dominicis considers time as a range of disseminated now.
Time is a characteristic of reality, indeed without time it would be impossible to see what’s around the world. Without time every intelligible being would be still and would not make sense and nothing would exist. Being is understandable only if we relate it to time and history, as Heidegger says is “Time and Being”.
Heidegger relates time to movement: time is a description of the movement of human finitude, as it can be perceived only if it is related to a being in movement. Heidegger criticizes the idea of time as a uniform, linear and infinite series of "now-points". He quotes Augustine's Confessions which says time does not exist as: the future is the not-yet-now, the past is the no-longer-now, and the present is the now that flows from future to past at each passing moment.
If time can not be considered a flow but a dimension of constant changing now, it is impossible to establish a still dimension, a still reality. With no flow of time the contact with reality is lost as every fact flows and there is nothing still. Everything is a continuous becoming and what is perceived now is the result of what happened in the past.
Martin Creed assign each of his works a unique number, usually at the point when the works is first exhibited. Occasionally a number is not allocated and that number in the sequence is skipping over. His woks sometimes are assigned a number retroactively, so that an early work might have a different number compared to the date of its production. This decision is of order correspond to a metaphor of the discontinuity of time, where each artwork is sequential to another one but the order is interrupted.
In 1993 Martin Creed makes his Work No. 81, ‘a one inch cube of masking tape in the middle of every wall in a building’. A central theme of Creed’s work is the relationship between art and reality and with Work n.81, as long as filling the space in a gallery space, represents a cube made by many layers, which conceptually stands as a stratified reality.
Schopenhauer in “The world as will and representation” explains that thanks to time one subject experiences reality, as human beings don’t see the objects in the world immediately, but they only see the mental representations of external reality. This book of Schopenhauer discusses the idea of reality as everything that is perceived is just a reflection of the mind, which allows concluding reality is a secret dimension.
Reality is not absolute but it depends on the subject who experiences it and with no experience reality would not exist. For example idealist philosophers denies the existence of reality, which is considered as a reflection of the experience inside the subject. In any case, reality depends on each subject convictions, on the experiences: it is not absolute, it changes.
Secondly, reality depends on perception, which is different for everyone, indeed one person's eyes manipulate colors and the appearance of objects. If reality is not absolute and varies then the border between reality and fiction, true and false is vacuous. According to this statement the world has no sheer information, indeed how can I tell that what I know is true?
But if existence has no exact meaning so the informations human beings get. I do not have univocal and indisputable information because notions are from the world of appearance. One subject is pushed to know the truth, but the surrounding does not allow one subject to know absolute questions. I never had all of the information, so I can not decipher either the question I am asking.
There seems not to be an answer to this questions but my work tries to address this questions even tho there is no solution, the truth is the answer to this question.
Louises Will, "Self-portait in time", 4288x2848 px, video, Pisa, Italy, March 2020
Martin Creed, Work n. 81
Louises Will, "Perception", 4x4x4 cm, polish on wood, Pisa, Italy, March 2020
Louises Will, "Distortion", 2000x120 cm each, Pisa, Italy, between March 2020
Louises Will, "Reality", 200x120 cm, digital photography, April 2019, Singapore
Louises Will, "Trapped in time", 17 cm diameter, clock with metal net, Pisa, Italy, March 2020
Notice for the reader
This text follows the methodology of an experimental essay, following the chronological order of the artworks to show the progress made during the MFA, where every section addresses the concept behind each artwork.
Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics, Dijon, France, Les Presses du réel, 1998
Martin Creed, Works, New York, USA, Thames and Hudson, 2010
Umberto Eco, Storia Della Bellezza, Milan, Italy, Casa Editrice Valentino Bompiani, 2012
Micheal Erizot, A New History Of Photography, Cologne, Germany, Könemann, 1998
Umberto Galimberti, Cristianesimo, Milan, Italy, Feltrinelli Editore, 2012
Gabriele Guercio, L’arte non evolve - L’universo immobile di De Dominicis, Milan, Italy, Johan and Levi Editore, 2015
Luigi Ghirri, Kodachrome, London, UK, MACK, 2019
Martin Heidegger, Time and Being, New York, USA, State University of New York Press, 1996
Milan Kundera, L’ignoranza, Milan, Italy, Adelphi Edizioni, 2001
Alberto Moravia, La noia, Milan, Italy, Casa Editrice Valentino Bompiani, 1967
Piergiorgio Odifreddi, Il Vangelo Secondo La Scienza, Turin, Italy, Einaudi, 1999
Jean-Paul Sartre, L’Essere e il Nulla, Milan, Italy, Il Saggiatore, 1972
Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea, London, UK, Penguin Classics, 2000
Arthur Schopenhauer, Il Mondo Come Volontà e Rappresentazione, E-text, 2005
Jean Vernette, Atheism, Milan, Italy, Xenia Edizioni, 2000
Louises Will, “Loss of informations”, 40x30cm, paper and polish on canvas, Pisa, Italy, March 2020