Sometimes things just fall into your lap and you have to pay homage to the synchronicity. Last week, I was trawling Theresa May’s twitter feed for language to subvert. In doing so, I came across this gem – which speaks for itself – and tidily introduces this week’s theme: Word and Image.
If I could draw, I would be a painter – however, in the very clear absence of this gift, I have looked at ways that Word and Image interact with each other to create layers of meaning. This topic seems, even more, fitting in light of the absence of images in Magna Carta. Although visual art – like the cute and informative animation below – has been created in response to Magna Carta’s legacy, I haven’t found much that blends the worlds of poetry and visuals to speak directly to Magna Carta and the tenets it supposedly espouses.
As we’ve established over the last two weeks of my residency, I’m not only interested in the positive aspects of Magna Carta, but also the elements that are less frequently discussed. Whilst I love the video above, I’m interested in work that engages more critically with the document and really forces us to look at the ways the document has not been lived up to. So this week we’ll be responding to Magna Carta using visual and poetic language, and of course, I invite you to get involved. I’ll be exploring different techniques that bring poetry into the visual realm of art, and I’ll see how this can be used to start a dialogue around themes of freedom, justice and whatever else pops up along the way.
We’re also running an Instagram competition where we’d love you to share the pieces you come up with by the end of the week. Here’s a little behind my thought process to get you started:
Writing the poem in response to Yinka Shonibare’s Victorian Dandy, got me thinking of visual art and paintings that speak directly to the viewer by literally weaving a narrative voice into the canvas. The first artist that came to mind was badman Jean-Michel Basquiat (side note – check out his illustrations in Life Doesn’t Frighten Me a collection of children’s poems by Maya Angelou). Basquiat lived and worked in New York in the 1970s and started off his artistic career as a graffiti poet, lucky for us he kept using language when he moved his expressions onto the canvas.
Known for his rejection of the formalistic tropes influencing art at the time, Basquiat was unafraid to craft his own visual language and used it to express his interest in Jazz, the body and the history of race in America amongst endless other things. One of my favourite quotes from the iconic artist is: “I cross words out so you will see them more: the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them”, in so many of his pieces he places words cryptically throughout the frame asking you to think directly about what they mean in the wider context of the painting. I’m inspired by the way he uses opposition to create meaning and will see if I can draw on this technique of obscuring to add meaning in my own work.
Basquiat’s influence on the art world and beyond spans further than his short 27 years on earth. Some of his paintings could even be seen as foretellings of the world we inhabit today where apps like Snapchat and Instagram have us literally superimposing language onto images. And of course, with adverts plaguing our lives, our daily landscapes are also awash with word and image playing off each other. Word and image are more synonymous than ever nowadays and I’ll be taking inspiration from my daily experiences and language from Magna Carta to try and make something new out of the two!
This week I’ll be looking at interdisciplinary artists like Jorg Piringer and Joy Miessi (visual artist) and drawing inspiration from the ways that they bring language into their own artistic landscapes.
Are there any other artists I should know about that incorporate both in their practice? Send us your art mixing image/video and language and we’ll share the best ones on the 1215 Instagram page! Don’t be shy 🙂
Tweet @1215 and @remigraves to let us know!