“I am interested in solving the unknown factor of art and the unknown factor of life” - Eva Hesse
By: Joanne Makas
Artist and Exhibition Maker
Director STACKS Project
One purpose of Art is to make visible something that is deeply hidden within. Art exists
to make one feel things, to go to another place, to go to the soul. I believe creative practices
are an entanglement of the subject’s body and mind with the world and it’s phenomena. For
me art provides an intimate journey of interconnectivity, and so I consider my practice to be
a complex condition inclusive of processes entwined in tactile, intellectual and emotional
activities. It conveys the experience of being in the world and of becoming conscious of this
being. Thus, art reveals an affective dimension which can be both healing and transformative.
Art exists to make one feel things, to go to another place, to go to the soul.
The production of an affective dimension for audiences has been a central concern for
artists for many years. French artist Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954) dreamed of a mode of artistic production – the creation of affective “machines” – that could transfer expressive content into the soul of the viewer without representational mediation. An artist’s motivation to present how the affective textures and activities of everyday life are shaped is an important element here. By affect, I mean embodied meaning-making. Mostly, this will be something that could be understood as human emotion. This mode of meaning making emerges from sensory processes and can be understood as a form of knowledge production, i.e. Noetic Knowing. Emphasising feelings and attitudes as modes for developing knowledge and toward the content of knowledge an artist seeks to create new ways of thinking, perceiving and sensing life’s infinite possibilities.
When in the studio I immerse myself in creative activity, and through the process of
“making” the work and I eventually become one. My body is engrossed in slow, physical,
meditative and repetitive actions. Within this ritual I create an affective dimension. Leaving
all behind. There is a constant dance between me and my materials, facilitating the transition
from an emotional experience to one of mindful awareness. This period of mindful awareness is what many artists refer to as being “in the zone”. It is when time flows, and you disconnect from everything in your environment. Thoughts, feelings, fears and stressors are all erased, body and mind are unified. It is this moment of bliss, when you are in the present moment of the unknown that creativity and new modes of knowledge emerge. I often reflect on how similar this is to meditation and the health benefits that transpire from regular practice.
“...in the zone”. It is when time flows, and you disconnect from everything in your environment.
Notably, when you are somewhat conscious and aware but not actively engaged in thought,
your consciousness is moving out of the thinking neocortex and entering the midbrain,
otherwise known as the subconscious, the home to the autonomic nervous system and the
cerebellum. I wonder, if by transcending thought through an art practice, we may have the
ability to transform and use our awareness to create the bodies we actually want. Happy,
Health and Strong. I believe that my art practice connects me to the quality of awareness and reinforces the intuitive knowing being that I am. Art revealsthe thinking feeling body. In turn, the intelligent body reveals art’s role in meaning-making.
Art is that which connects us to the world and is thus something that goes beyond
consciousness. Art then might be understood as a function, a magical and aesthetic function
of transformation, less involved in making sense of the world and more involved in exploring
the possibilities of being in – and becoming – with the world.6 When the soul comes into
making and viewing art, then we can become aware of the shapelessness of life. It is
expanding and freeing.
Joanne is a visual artist with an underlying interest in the human body, temporal
experience and the interconnectedness of the world we live in. Her research interests include feminist phenomenology, body studies and the politics of materiality. She is currently
engaged in how care as a concept and as an ethics of practice can forge new ways of Being. It is about bringing the body to the forefront of practice.
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