February 10, 2016

What Would Jennifer Do? Nr. 3: Akane Kimbara on How Artists Look at Art

Japanese artist, art blogger and friend Akane Kimbara and I do gallery hopping and we do so always with Jennifer on our mind. Last week we were at KW which ended up with me reflecting about choosing love. Now Akane writes for the first time in English to explain to me how an artist looks at art.

お久しぶりです。共通の友人ジェニファーが以前メッセでJoão Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paivaの作品を見てすごく気に入ったらしく、是非、展覧会を見に行って二人の感想聞かせて!と言ってきたのでWWJD第二弾となりました。

I usually write about my thoughts and theories in Japanese, even though I’m not quite sure how many people can read them, while your blog is followed by people all over the world. But this time, I would really like to share my opinions. So I will make an effort and write this entry in English. Last time we met, we touched on some different topics - the affinity between artists of three particular countries - Japan, Iceland and Switzerland, and the “trendy” styles of female and male artists around the age of forty. An, let’s speak about each of these topics in more depth sometime - maybe we could do a symposium or a workshop together?

You wrote about why Jennifer likes those filmic meditations… huhuhu, filmic meditations... (I like this word!) To be honest, I also like them. Quite a lot! Because we hadn’t met each other for a long time, we chatted that day about personal stuff, and so I didn’t really pay that much attention to the films. But when I was at home, I remembered what I saw, and I was overcome by the thought that I wanted to see these films again - even though the sound of the projectors was distracting. (I understand the aesthetic that the artists were striving for, but still I would have preferred if the room had been silent - it would have been more effective for me.)

Such filmic meditations do not have a clear beginning or end, and are not just "tickling" or "clever". But I sensed something, even though I only saw short, but engaging sequences. If Jennifer and I had visited the exhibition together, we probably would have stayed a long time just to watch the films. We feel something. That means there is something. Of course, this stems from our Zen-nun like tastes. But it’s not just that, there is also a difference in perspective between an artist and an art-historian or curator in the way we perceive works of art. 

When I look at a work by a fellow artist, I’m mainly interested in the way they process their thoughts. In your "Berlin Art Lovers" segment, I talked about the development of an artwork being similar to the growing of a plant. When I look at art, I probably start looking for the root of each artist right away, and try to grasp it. In the end, it is not so important to me what shape a work of art assumes, because each artist has their own style and medium anyway. 

I think you might be looking for a more concrete answer from a work itself. If I may describe this, I would say: an artist is growing a work from the seed to the plant. The curator creates their work from the finished plant, right? Therefore you need more of a tangible harvest. Both are very creative ways to work. You as a curator need many different kinds of plants (artworks) and concentrate on finding a new interpretation or perspective. The artist, on the other hand, is busy raising their own plant, developing their own work. For me, it is not the priority if I like or dislike the form that an artwork takes, as long as I can get in touch with the thought process of the artist. What is the most important aspect for you, when you look at a piece of work?

I like bell hooks’ definition of love. In my mind, another important aspect is "passion" or “excitement”. When I create a work of art, or when you think and write about art, we definitely need excitement. Without it, one cannot reach the necessary strength to fully express oneself. Even those trendy female artist around 40, who hide any hint of emotion in their work, or the trendy male artists creating impeccable objects and giving them poetic names for mystical sheen, they also need excitement first.

By the way, are there also thoughts, interpretations, philosophies or manifestos that are “trendy” or popular among curators at the moment?

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