Nigel P : Flag intrigues me greatly- at a glance I get the Richter references and see that it looks vaguely like a lot of other paintings from any time in the last 40 yrs or so. As in - it looks like a lot of the paintings I like looking at and feel comfortable with. But then I'm not so sure that it is like anything so familiar. I started to see landscape, or aerial photography or some kind of animal pelt in the left hand half. Then there is the spine - I'm assuming it's two separate panels with stitching pulled between - that reads like a border, isolating one from the other, minimising a contagion. Kind of thought that the title refers to a warning - to be aware of the danger, not to take the painting at face value, which I certainly would heed.
Jane Boyer: Hello Nigel,
Thank you very much for your comments, I'm sorry to be so late in responding. First of all let me address the technical question you raise of two panels stitched together. Flag is in fact a single unitary piece. The central line which does look like a sort of stitched spine, is a thick application of acrylic white paint that cracked in the process of drying. I think it may be the thing I love most about the piece. It's funny you mention seeing an animal pelt in the left side. If you saw the painting in person, that area on the left does indeed look like a pelt. It is a very thick smear of paint that has a curiously fuzzy/dull texture, which is not at all evocative of the texture of paint.
Yes, I was as equally enthralled with Richter's smear paintings, as I was with Johns' flag paintings when I painted this. I'm very gratified by your comment, "Flag intrigues me greatly- at a glance I get the Richter references and see that it looks vaguely like a lot of other paintings from any time in the last 40 yrs or so. As in - it looks like a lot of the paintings I like looking at and feel comfortable with. But then I'm not so sure that it is like anything so familiar." I think that is an important thing to accomplish in a work, the feeling of familiar resemblance, that simultaneously raises questions of familiarity and resemblance. That is another aspect for the simulacrum, that I discussed in more detail in response to Niki Hare's comments below. That sense of familiar resemblance also hopefully indicates that my work is grounded in art discourse, but is pushing boundaries.
I like your final statement too, "Kind of thought that the title refers to a warning - to be aware of the danger, not to take the painting at face value, which I certainly would heed." I think any time an 'anti' concept is presented, which is essentially what you have responded to in your comments, there is cause for warning. Much like the words 'neo' and 'post', 'anti' is a prefix that presupposes a great deal in the debate, it's perhaps this presupposition that is more problematic than the notion of resurrecting, reinventing, or antagonising, which is carried in 'neo' 'post' and 'anti'. And to be perfectly clear, I am not suggesting something like 'neo-fascism' is in any way not problematic! What I'm talking about is language and the way we use it. The warning you sensed in the title 'Flag' is a warning to engage preconceptions with care.
Thanks again for your comment.
Nigel P : Hi Jane Thanks so much for taking time to write. I very much enjoy the clarity with which you discuss your work and am eager to see what happens next in the play of expression, autobiography & simulacra. I'm used to thinking of simulacra in terms of post modern critique - new media, virtual reality & breakdown of meaning - here though there is a sense of the personal and uncanny tied into wider ideas of how paintings become Painting and how we assess values, social justice etc.
I especially like the process by which paintings translate across media - when the single object becomes many images: the changes and distortions that occur, the misreadings.... that a raised bar of paint can read as a tear or split - the role of the viewer in endorsing likeness: witnessing the cycling of images-unwittingly perpetuating slippages and misreadings: such spaces for expression & story.
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...