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Niki Hare: Hi Jane,

I really like this piece and admire the execution. Flags frighten me a bit, just all the things that lead on. I guess that is just something of my past and where I come from. This is a very open flag that implies something neutral.

Jane Boyer: Hi Niki,

Thanks very much for your comment! I know what you mean, flags kind of scare me too. When I painted this I had recently moved to Europe and was feeling very anxious about being American. I was thinking a lot about Jasper John's iconic handling of the American Flag. For me, my Flag is an anti-flag. It is neither symbolic, except of its own void, nor is it a call to action or allegiance, though there is a great deal of activity in it and it presents a clear distinction between right and left. I think it may be because these very things are brought to the fore in the work, that I think of it as an anti-flag. It shows all the things that flags actually do, without offering any symbolism which activates so much tension and conflict in their presence. Flags are simulacra, representing nations, values, and cultures. They stand in as an immediately recognizable symbol of all the history and actions a nation has undertaken. To present an anti-flag is to strip bare the simulacrum, undermine it, and induce its recurrence as something devoid of power when stripped of its symbolism. It turns the simulacrum into a simulacrum of itself, which is the ultimate destiny for any simulacrum. Simulacra never die, they just perpetually fold and consume themselves.

I should mention, an example of this is Enigma Wall, which is uploaded in my profile. It is a hyper-replication of Flag and it exemplifies this idea of perpetual folding of the simulacrum.

Thanks again for your comment. That is probably more than you ever wanted to know about simulacra!

Niki Hare: Thanks Jane!

You have both confirmed everything I was finding in Flag, and also strengthening my understanding of simulacra. Very helpful indeed ;-) Especially looking at your piece Enigma Wall now, the idea of this perpetual folding, nothing ever really goes away. I am thinking now of Richter's stripes, they were born of other paintings, so they were the other paintings, only in a different format, folded.
I am also thinking of a vast installation I made of a folded paper mountain last year, one of the things that fascinated me in it's process was the repetitive enlargement of my original image, and the changes that occurred in that process. My original image was less than A4 and was eventually printed out to over 160 sheets of A0, my process was rubbish, just a real bodge job of printing, enlarging and rephotographing by section, and reprinting and enlarging. However, little things started to happen with each reproduction, little dust motes and flecks of graphite would appear and then be enlarged to become significant features, there would be stripes of sunlight and shadows that weren't there before. It was an inefficient process but I loved it for all these flaws.

Jane Boyer: Thanks Niki, that's good to hear. Your installation sounds fascinating! Yes, all the flaws, imperfections, and crudities that get magnified are exactly what makes the reprographic process so magical. I love reprography, and have some of that in my profile too, in the Versions series! I hope to do more of that soon. All the things you mention in your comment are things that will apply to PHANTOM, in regard to translating your paintings into new works, so good luck and happy folding - in whatever form that might take! I can't wait to see what you come up with...

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Catherine Haley Epstein: I quite like this piece on a conceptual and material level. I wonder if this is part of a larger series on women? Or are you playing with the concept of cubism? Two artist to put on your radar - one I saw this summer at the ICA in Boston, he will be representing Canada at the Venice Biennale next summer. His name is Geoffrey Farmer. The installation was incredible. Another artist is Cynthia Lahti - she is local to the Pacific Northwest (US), and does some interesting work combining printed imagery with sculptural material in a witty and powerful way. I think you should do 20 more of these! Or have you?

Niki Hare: Hi Catherine,
Thanks for your feedback and thoughts, especially the artist pointers, both really useful and exciting.
This piece was just a one off prototype, something I have wanted to get back to and develop from....but earning a living keeps getting in the way. I think the thing with the Lego was the idea of interaction, that our perceptions and views change all the time. (At this point I must confess that I really don't think about things when I make them, I just have an idea and run with it, think about it later if at all) . Now I look back at it and see that it is much about shifts in the perception of the female form, how manipulated it all is by society and the time we live in.
Another confession, I had to glue her, that slightly destroys all the thinking on the interaction. She does have her own personal shoe box but still kept on falling apart and as she is going to exhibit herself in London I figured I had better do it to save phone calls to say she had come adrift. (ING Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London, this November)
As for the 20, no, but I have been stockpiling grubby white Lego from Ebay, I am also very tempted by the idea of a large scale Duplo version!

Catherine Haley Epstein: Yes to the large Duplo version and how fun to learn you are keeping a stash of white lego. By the way, I would not worry too much about why you are drawn to creating something. I think just doing what you are inclined to and then looking at it in hindsight is fine. You can always look in retrospect to what you have done to recognize patterns. And trust me, you can draw parallels to anything you are doing, with either contemporary artists or artists in history - we are all connected. Good luck and keep making;-)

Discussion

Niki Hare: Hey Christopher,
This is just great, really fab.
I don't know what to say now because I don't really know anything about art.
Why is it that word paintings can say so much more than the words? Yeah, there is the composition, the layout, the colour, it works as an abstract painting, a clack down the middle like a note book. The narrative could work in any form, but this takes it to another level.
Anyhow, I really enjoy your work!
Niki

Discussion

Catherine Haley Epstein: While red is a fierce color, these are not clenched fists or arms raised high - the brush stroke is highly emotive, yet the gesture is calm. Hands and faces inspire so much interpretation, as I feel they imply the need to communicate. The body language in this piece reminds me of protection, keeping something close. The blue is serene, while the red is intense and passionate. How to hold these two emotions in place at the same time? How to balance the hot side of our nature with the cool? Hands, like the mouth and lips, have more neural goings on than the entire body - hands can be creative or destructive. I see the hands in your work as creative, as representing consciousness, and that perhaps that calm gesture of the hand can be as powerful an image of a clenched fist or a pointed finger. I'm really enjoying this particular work Angela, thank you for sharing!

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Jane Fairhurst: This such a beautiful image and whilst on the surface it speaks of the fibrous nature of the broken wood set against a cloud like neutral background it also speaks to me of the broken nature of Western political systems, beyond repair. And yet there is hope here in the harmony of the colour palette and the perfect balance within the frame. It could also be a small section from a larger painting and thus takes my mind beyond the image to wonder what lies beyond the edges of the photograph.

Tracy Grubbs: Olga, this work grabbed my attention right away. I did not read your description before looking at the photograph more closely, so I was not sure at first what medium you were working in. Nonetheless, I find the juxtaposition of the forms quite compelling. The broken, organic form reads to me as quite emotional and I like the way it continues in two different directions through the composition. The brushed background adds to the mystery of conversation going on here. The darkness of the upper third of the composition works well and adds extra contrast to the broken shards at the top of the form. On a second look, I am now stunned to see the triangle created by the negative space right in the center of your composition. This image keeps on giving.

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