Since my last post I have been working with the words and thoughts that you drew out of your own head Ben, printing them off, making them material and exploring their physicality with my own body - washing or cutting them away. I have also taken some photos of some of the things I've noticed, as a reply to your images, and started to explore the beauty in rubbish and the discarded/domestic (it's Half Term now and my residency will run alongside keeping my boy entertained). But as I wake up today, I've got lots more thoughts in my head again, and am going to try and link a few things up. So here goes...
I liked getting a glimpse into what you've been noticing, through your post, and via Instagram. Although our work may seem quite different in media and appearance, it seems we share a lot of interests and concerns. What you describe as the 'backdrop of environmental destruction' is a constant in my work. I was interested when you described the Will Coles plaques (imagery of bees with the words 'you need us more than we need you'), as forcing the issue of environmental destruction from the background 'to the forefront of my mind'.
An immediate thought, in connection with our discussions and imagery so far is 'what is Mind?'. We have talked about 'getting out of our heads' but what do we really mean? For me it might be connecting perceptually with the 'natural' environment (two words there that actually reinforce division into human/nature, individual/environment). How about You? Going beyond the boundaries set up and accepted by our predecessors?
Is this about reaction and rejection, as some might associate with the word Dissent, or is it about going deeper? Knowing beyond barriers? What is necessary in order for us to experience unity/connection on a daily basis? What would allow us to perceive and care about the impact we have on bees and every other being we share the world with, not as a niggling background worry, but as an innate ongoing ability?
This is turning out to be a post of questions rather than answers!! But I think you answered this last one yourself in your post when you talked about 'revealing truths...into the commons to make them accessible'. So how do we do that?
A few years back I wrote an article for Earthlines Magazine, about my arts practice, from the perspective of a Gay man (I don't like the Gay label either, but can leave that one until another time) working with people and places. I wrote about how when I was growing up, and into early adulthood I could find no representations of how I felt or who I thought I was, and how I turned to the 'more-than-human world' for a sense of belonging. A society built by and for straight people didn't value me or what I had to offer, but the woods didn't ask questions, and didn't exclude anyone.
Here's a small section as it feels relevant:
"Time in 'nature' has always shown me that I am wanted and valued. That in a wider sense I belong. And my practice as an artist has enabled me to develop ways of maintaining a life-affirming dialogue between my body, mind and environment, feeding its messages back to society. Bridging the gap between two worlds and weaving them back together....
For me, the value of using artful ways to explore and come to know the world, is that they can enable each of us to experience ourselves through relationship with that world, whatever gender or sexuality. We can use our senses, imaginations and emotions to see beyond the blinkers of inherited ways of being, and binary models of male/female, gay/straight. By paying attention to what we are called upon to notice, and responding in ways appropriate to our own creativity, we come home to the joy and beauty of who we really are."
You wrote on Instagram that the things you noticed and photographed were '...out of place; at odds with their surroundings'. I think this ability to see what is different, what is unplanned, to see value in the unexpected is hugely important. I can't quite put into words why as yet, but it's a rich source of inspiration and research and is something to do with seeing beyond what we are taught to, noticing change, having alternative values.
I can't speak for you, and I hope that your childhood and adolescence was a more positive experience than mine, in terms of finding positive LGBT role models, and less negative associations, but I wonder what place you think your sexuality has on the way you see the world, and so on your arts practice? For me, growing up 'different' forced me to to develop my own ways of being and seeing, that weren't the same as those people around me. When the values and ways of seeing the world of those people close to you don't fit, and go against what you feel to be true, it's difficult and disorientating, but I think if you come through it can prove a real gift.
Which brings me to Queer perspectives (Timothy Morton's writing on Queer and Dark Ecologies really interest me, although I've really only dipped into his writing), and the role of the artist as someone who sees/lives between worlds (something else that my tutors at Uni weren't keen on me exploring, with its new-age associations). What if from being excluded and seen as 'other' we come to be leaders - valued for our different ways of seeing things - needed to 'reveal truths...into the commons making them accessible'?
I don't expect you to answer or respond to all of this Ben, but its helpful for me to write and start to make sense of it all. Looking forward to whatever may come next!
(I've stopped and taken time to photograph or draw animals killed on the road for a while now, and I'd like to make use of these images in this work - it's another related subject that is ignored/edited out of what we notice. Why do we not grieve for these animals? Why do we rush by and not recognise the beauty?)