Jennifer Gillia Cutshall
INSIDE the ABSTRACT, post #8: Of Archetypes, the power of self, and allowing the work to make itself
"I would have coffee with Leonardo da Vinci and ask him who Mona Lisa really was and I think that he would be an amazing conversationalist."
What attracted you to the 7th Annual Abstract call? My work utilizes abstraction, done in various ways, to cause an inner reality to be exposed when the appearance of certainty becomes eroded. When things shift from secure and safe to a reality that is indeterminate. By abstracting what is recognizable to the viewer, forms detach themselves from their literal nature and are then capable of isolating the most significant expression within their meaning. So having the opportunity to show my work with other abstract artists seems like a powerful vehicle in forcing the audience to question their customary perceptions of reality and cause them to recognize how much of their sense of the world is carefully constructed by various cultural conventions.
Does the idea of transformation influence your work and process? My work elaborates on the idea of pulling away from a cultural grand narrative and transforming to a state of becoming and potential which is in all of us. Moving away from the isness of society to see and feel the potential in ourselves, but also to see the potential in others through empathy, because to see the other, is to see ourselves. It modulates against a fixed self and against the very nature of photography, which is a type of consciousness that has a fixed point, a frame that represents a dominant, knowing conscious. What draws you to the medium you chose? Photography allows me to manipulate light, space and slip outside of the rigidity of the group by creating unstable images in which the subject operates through two points, in a kind of in-between, liminal space. In doing so, my pictures illustrate a destabilization from the strict, scientific representation that limits them and brings them into a state that frees the full potential of the subject. The use of light and motion.
Tell us a little about your process (I don’t believe in giving it all away). My method for creating imagery allows for a visual kind of Parapraxis to manifest. The work is allowed to create itself, in camera, with little to no postproduction. Through the use of slow exposure, motion and light/shadow influence, my work crosses the threshold where subject and object become one. A transcendent moment is created, like a slip of the tongue, when a repressed truth is revealed. My self-portraiture is an organic technique to control the narrative in the work, while using motion to obstruct to the patriarchal order of viewing. This represents a female archetype leaning into self as an equal.
What are the strengths of the medium? Photography allows time and space to be malleable. I can create images that аre evocative and represent the trace of what is coming, not of what has been. I can make images that illustrate a semiotic dislocation that has been organically reconstructed in a way, which forces the viewer to consider self as a stronger potential that does not correlate with a bounded social order and my subjects don’t abide by rules. The camera allow me to create a strong presence of future and coming into being, which allows my images to pull the viewer forward through recognition and interpretation, into a new sovereignty and expanded possibility.
What are the challenges?
Specifically with abstraction in photography, you want to create a bit of anxiety that stems from causing the viewer to detach objects from their natural context and make them absolute; that can be difficult for viewers to wrap their heads around and sometimes uncomfortable.
Do you work in other modes of expression? Yes, I am also a filmmaker. German Expressionist cinema of the 1920’s heavily influences all of my work.
Who inspires you? Francesca Woodman, Sylvia Plachy, Josef Koudelka, Daido Moriyama, Roy DeCarava, Robert Weine, Fritz Lang, Federico Garcia Lorca and Otto Dix.
If you could have coffee or tea with any artist who would you pick? What would you have coffee or tea? What would you ask that artist? I would have coffee with Leonardo da Vinci and ask him who Mona Lisa really was and I think that he would be an amazing conversationalist. What do you hope your work achieves? Today, anything that is not “fixed”, anything that does not identify as us, is viewed as threatening. It can be easily demonized and destroyed and with it our ability for becoming. Today’s political climate is about protecting a modern day grand narrative through nationalism. Anything within the narrative that is threatened by the other, whether it is other ethnicity, race or gender is not accepted. My work is meant to confront iconic imagery with a quiet but disruptive force that creates such a surplus of the other that the idea of it cannot be dismissed. It is evocative and represents the trace of what is coming, not of what has been. My images illustrate a semiotic dislocation that has been organically reconstructed in a way which forces the viewer to consider that empathy should not be lost, that potential is not binary, that the isness of things is not the essence of things, that indeterminate is enlightened, that the space in- between is the future and that self is all.
If you could tell your viewers one thing, what would you tell them? The great thing about abstract work is there is less grounding for interpretation and you can freely open yourself up to the work, providing a connection with your own subjective
truth and that can be life changing.
Email purchase inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or text or call 347-752-8915