Jane Boyer: I really enjoy the poetry of this collage; the elegance of its simplicity contrasted with the complexity of the symbolism. I think there could be a treatise written just on the juxtaposition of the Shroud of Turin with the Salvatore Mundi! I'm very intrigued by your mention of this image being a self-portrait. The image is already fascinating, but this element makes it compelling.
Cos Ahmet: Jane, I really enjoyed reading your response to my piece. Altered State I, is from a quartet under the banner Altered State.
Altered State inspired a whole series of works assembled and influenced by a diverse source from my personal archive (postcards, found imagery, newsprint/magazine cuttings, and remnants, amongst others). This use of collage marked a shift in my creativity, moving away from established repertoire of figures and body imagery, igniting a new fascination and passion, albeit with trace elements of past works.
Altered State questions the origin of identity, authorship and originality and it's relevance to making art today. A number of pieces include homage’s to artists and to their works that have been a constant inspiration and influence to my work. I have in essence, turned the table and physically started exploiting these works as my own as a nod to the original but with a twist in varying forms of erasure.
The appropriation of the Shroud of Turin and Salvatore Mundi started life in another project called 'My Shadow Sits and Waits for Me', which was based on Carl Jungs study of the unconscious body, something he referred to as the 'shadow' in the human psyche. I started appearing in my work in several guises, presenting a new face or mannerism. In other words, bearing a mask.
Altered State is made up of three elements: a dual image representing two halves, one of the Shroud of Turin, the other Salvatore Mundi. The third element, was a n image of a net that I cut out from a newspaper advert. They seemed to belong together, fit, had something to say. This piece that you find so compelling is in it's pure form that the images presented themselves. The rest of the series are a variation of a theme, but all have their own narrative. It suddenly became apparent to me, that these elements that I used for Altered State resembled my own features, particularly the eyes in the Salvatore Mundi, hence why I call it a self-portrait. It was almost like looking into a mirror, but for me it is like wearing a mask with no holes cut for the eyes, so when you do open your eyes, you are staring into your soul.
Jane Boyer: Thanks very much Cos for that explanation, it makes the reasoning of your calling it a self-portrait very clear and it loses none of the intrigue and impact in the telling, quite the opposite! You might be interested in the discussion on Diane McGregor's "Terrain" of the connection I've made between your work and Diane's work. I'd be interested to know if what we said rings true for you at all, aside from the self-portrait issue you've already discussed.
"Altered State questions the origin of identity, authorship and originality and it's relevance to making art today." I find this a very interesting subject for enquiry, and I think you've made a very elegant response. The issue of authenticity also perhaps is part of that? It's the question of authenticity raised by your use of the shroud of Turin that intrigues me so much I think. That then hops over to the Salvator Mundi, because of course no one knows what Christ looked like so all images of him are complete fabrications of imagination, assuming, in fact, that he was a real person. All this melds with myth, faith, interpretation, tradition, symbolism and on and on. It's a curious hot soup for identity, authorship and originality.
Thank you for your patience in awaiting my response to this next instalment in the discussion. I do feel it has warranted the wait as your connection with these two works this has intrigued me.
There always seems to be this question surrounding the Shroud of Turin, whether it is authentic, and actual object of Christ. There has also been the speculation of Leonardo involvement in fabricating the Shroud. There is of course the true face of Christ, of which you referred to in the Salvatore Mundi, and no one really knows what Christ truly looked like.
Altered State uses both these two images - a ‘separated at birth’ pairing. This split screen, shows the likeness between the Turin Shroud and a portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, pasted together into a visual of this theory. Who knows whether Leonardo was part of this deception? Who really knows whether the Shroud is a true artefact, this relic that has intrigued the world, wanting to believe, but never quite sure.. And so, the question of authenticity plays a very important part in these images but also in my manipulation, placing a new possible authenticity and identity upon it.
Your interesting comparison/connection/juxtaposition in 'Altered State I’ and that of Diane’s piece ‘Terrain’ is very interesting indeed. Both have a simplicity in their construction, but equal measures, if not more of complexity. My work does raise far more question than answers, and could be said for many of my other works in varying doses. As I have said to Diane in response to her thoughts about the grid, I see how this element in both have much to say; small narratives, journeys perhaps? They serve as small rooms or places, with the marks or traces acting like a ‘presence’ in a capacity that we don't truly know. The mystery that is present in both keeps that intrigue alive.
Diane McGregor: Cos and Jane,
What a fascinating discussion this is! I would like to make another connection with our two pieces, Cos. I see the three levels of your painting as being body (the Mundi painting), mind (the grid or net), and soul (the shroud). Since you explored a narrative with my grid painting, I now can see the same three levels within my own work: The grid being the mind, the yellow being the body, and the white background of the painting being the soul. This never would have occurred to me before! I have always steered clear of narrative, but Jane's sensitivity to our respective expressions has brought about a whole new level of recognition for me. And I suppose that is exactly what Point + Line is supposed to be generating with these discussions! I love it!
Diane and Jane,
This is so fascinating, I am really enjoying the continuation of the discussion and the many thought paths it is taking !
Diane, your new connection has really grabbed my attention, and is something that I have never really explored or entered into, but makes perfect sense with each component in each of our works, both acting for similar attributes. Layers in my work are important, and it shows in your work too. That is where the narrative lies.
I think that the understanding of 'narrative' can sometimes be played up too much in art, where some making an appraisal of a work wants to know what the narrative or story is. I work in a very intuitive way, so it can occasionally take me a very long time to determine what a 'piece' is all about. In the process of making, this never enters my mind, I just make it, the moment takes you through the motions! It can become apparent in moments, or later along the line, and in some rare cases can take years to identify with what it is all about. Whatever the nature of the work, whether it be abstract, surreal, etc., it all has it's own narrative in its own particular way. This comes from the artist, not as a premeditated effort, but is subconscious transference.
I think Dan would be proud to witness the ping pong of thoughts and discussion generated, fulfilling the mission of Point + Line!
Jane Boyer: Body, Mind and Soul, the Trinity which is so important to our Western civilization. Can we actually ever think of an experience which does not involve these three? I can't think of any, and perhaps this is why the concept of the Trinity is so important in Christian faith. The fascinating thing for me in this notion is the recursive presence of a trinity of 'body, mind and soul' throughout our Western consciousness. It doesn't matter if we follow a particular Christian faith, this still is present in our comprehension. That kind of fundamental comprehension makes understanding culture real for me.
Cos when I first saw your 'net', I thought it was painted on the other images. When I saw that it was a cut-out, my perception shifted slightly. Instead of being 'fused' with the images by being painted on them, it lay on top of them capturing them, corralling them, binding them. Of course, the imagery of a net is also important to the story of Christ and his 'fishers of men', so this also added to the complexity of meaning in your work. It causes a similar struggle as I described with Diane's grid; Christ is caught in his own net. However, in Altered State 1 the grid is winning the struggle, time and experience is at the mercy of the net.
An interesting new addition of thought to our discussion...
With many things, the links are never obvious until they are pointed out to you. We hold many stories in our heads, but never use them when we are creating, which I think is a very positive attribute, otherwise, art becomes too contrived, forced to make a bold statement just for the sake of it, rather than feel the nature of the creation at hand, which is what makes the physical act of making so fascinating. There must be something that happens when you create, that, subconsciously you have a sense that these elements connect. However, when intuition takes you on a journey, these components aren't relevant, yet are part of the work on a completely 'other' level.
All the components in Altered State are collaged one upon the other. Layers and depth (with the body, mind and soul being these layers) are very much a part of my work, so I am glad that your perception changed once you realised that the net was another layer. Interesting view that the net conjures up, with Christ and his 'fishers of men' and Christ being caught in his own net!! More interesting is that the grid or net is winning the struggle.
Christianity is something that is not part of my cultural background, and my utilisation of this is my way of responding to my 'Westernisation'. The Christ figure or crucifix has appeared many times in my works, and usually connected to my struggles - sexuality, identity, culture. When I use it now, it is more an affirmation of who I am rather than a struggling to find out who I am. It also responds to religion as a whole. My use of it says, 'religion or faith to me is just paper thin. However, I respect it without having to make it a part of who I should be. Instead I have adopted it as my own Altar. An 'Altered-Altar' if you like ...
Jane Boyer: Being an American from the 'South', religion was an important part of my culture, though my interest in it now is as a cultural influence only. It's interesting to see the imagery and symbolism which comes from this influence. It is even more interesting to see those images and symbols which come from the influence of other religions, though not being as familiar with those traditions, I probably miss some of the symbolism. I find it very interesting that you are working with cultural symbols that were not part of your own identity development, but come to them as an influence or expression on your already formed self - if I've understood you correctly. I'd be interested to know if this reinforces your own cultural influences, because the process of westernisation is 'other' for you, or if there has been a melding and merging of cultures for you, perhaps causing fuzzy edges on your own cultural identity?
I started using cultural symbols fairly late, and came at a point when I was sorting out the struggles in my own cultural and sexual identity as a form of expressing them. The cruciform is a particularly strong image that served both as an aesthetic and symbolic sign of my westernisation, trying to find out who I was, retuning to it at different stages as my own 'ressurrection', or like the Phoenix rising from the ashes. In Greek mythology, a phoenix or 'phenix' symbolises regeneration, obtaining new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. I see these 'predecessors' as the many layers of myself, dealing with one struggle, rising and moving on, until such time the process begins and is repeated. A shedding of layers. Now when I use any Christian symbol, it defines an inner peace.
I supposed that my own cultural influences are vague in my work and are hard to spot, if at all. I consider myself British, born in London, and have lived all my life in London, the 'cultural side' of me always seemed that much more alien. Coming from a Turkish Cypriot background, I think the only real cultural influence derives from my use of the veil, especially in my early works, which filtered and trickled through to recent works.
I turned the veil into what became my own shadows. These were very apparent and strong in a series of works I made for a solo show called 'My Shadow Sits and Waits for Me'. These veiled or shrouded figures, now my own 'shadows', were something that I was always trying to run away from, trying to find my own light. Being interested in Jungian theories, his theory on the shadow played heavily in sorting out these cultural struggles. I think the shadow never leaves you, but it is there in many guises, an indicator of something else to deal with.
Diane McGregor: Cos, I am so impressed with the sensitivity and insight you give to your work. Your interpretation of the cross and veil symbols is brilliant.
Thanks Diane. These interpretations and insights become more and more apparent the closer I look and think, but also when the chance for discussion arises.. It helps me to understand my work. That might sounds strange to some people, but when you are immersed in that creative process, the last thing on your mind is 'what does this mean?'.. All this comes later.
This is why I feel Point + Line is an important space and place for discourse!
Diane McGregor: Agreed!! Yes, it all comes out of the unconscious -- for me, almost a dreamlike state -- and it's only afterward that I can see the context of the work. And, of course, with these kinds of discussions, the sharing of visual ideas, and the input from viewers, so many other levels are revealed and considered. Point + Line is a marvelous resource for all of us!
Jane Boyer: Absolutely, Diane and Cos, on all counts! Creation is creation and discussion is discussion, they both need their own space to fulminate. Working outside a studio complex in relative isolation, as I do, the chance for discussion can be limited. I wholeheartedly agree with you both on the value of Point + Line to meet just that need. Thank you both again for a really great discussion.