“Issue #8 of Covid Magazine is dedicated to the devastating subject of genocide and ethnic cleansing. For text, I invited an old friend, a scholar of the Ottoman history and an activist Rachel Goshgarian. I met Rachel back in fall 2002, at Harvard, where she was doing her PhD in Ottoman history. Over the years we encountered each other on numerous conferences. During the lockdown she became for me and many others the primary source of information regarding the atrocities against the Armenian community in Nagorno Karabakh. I decided to couple her text with Katie Taylor ‘s work, the only artist I know who once described her work as forensic art. She is a sculptor based in Oxford, UK, whose work is mostly inspired by the Bosnian genocide. Her art exposes the fragility of life, focusing on anthropological remains forensic scientists find in crime scenes associated with ethnic cleansing.I am truly grateful to both colleagues for participating in Covid Magazine which is slowly evolving into a site of textual/visual witness.”
In this session for the CAA Conference, artists and educators using biodegradable materials are invited to present their work and their process. The focus is on artwork made with materials grown in-house or locally, or obtained through waste collection or foraging, that can be composted in personal or municipal facilities. Examples may include mycocomposites or mycofoam, kombucha leather, bioplastics, recycled paper pulp, or bio-based colorants.
Presenters will discuss how the life-cycle analysis of materials contributes to the conceptual framework of their practice,
and connects to larger conversations about climate change mitigation, waste reduction, and regenerative systems.
How might art reflect the necessary shift away from a destructive linear economy to refocus on a circular economy?
The question of the archival of materials and the possibility of reframing a limited life-span as an asset will also be addressed.
Presenters will talk about the interdisciplinary nature of their projects: how they intersect with design, architecture, agriculture, biology, or material science for example, and how this might be utilised as a pedagogical cornerstone.
I have previously explored bioplastic as a material within my work and because of the biodegradability of it as a material it became an interesting material for the exploration of unidentified human remains. Gelatine is a biopolymer that is typically a waste product from the food industry. When mixed with glycerine it produces a fairly robust clear, sheet material. Gelatine is bodily, it is made from pig collagen sourced from skin, bone and connective tissue. Gelatine as a product also directly references forensics because pigs are used in the UK to train cadaver dogs because they are the closest animal proxy to the human body.
Gelatine Bioplastic is transparent, ephemeral and malleable, and easily made in a home kitchen. Because of its transparency it has a ghostly appearance, a physical embodiment of what is missing, barely there. Bioplastic is biodegradable, slowly breaking down just as our bodies would and becoming part of the immediate surroundings, and like us it is made predominantly of water that slowly evaporates as it dries. Evaporation is also ghostly; moisture is held in the air as it evaporates but remains unseen. These references to the unseen also directly evidence the unseen in society – the lonely, the homeless or outsiders as many unidentified people inevitably are.
With some experimentation I have developed a way of making clothes and shoes from gelatine bioplastic. Clothing and shoes represent the people who once owned them. We choose what to wear each day, to both fit in or stand out, these are conscious decisions that define us and determine how we are perceived to others. These items are also used to help with the identification of an individual. As previously mentioned, belongings and items of clothing are listed within the entries on the missing persons database. Clothes are often kept after the death of a loved one, ‘as a point of material contact with the body of a once living person. They thus provide a means by which memories of that living body can be generated.’ (Hallam and Hockey, 2001) Clothes and shoes are vessels or containers, a reliquary that remind us who they belonged to and ‘is so ‘potent’ because it exists as material that is both familiar and other: it is a materialized extension of the embodied person and the material mark of their death.’ (Hallam and Hockey, 2001)
Shoes particularly explore transience or movement from one place to another, from one city to another, from life to afterlife, from existence to no longer existing. The saying ‘If the shoe fits’ refers to something being the truth about someone and of course Cinderella was identified because of a shoe!
My research explores fabric and
clothing found in mass graves which
has evolved into interdisciplinary
sculptural installation artwork. Memory,
individuality and identity is indelibly left
behind within materials and belongings
including our bones. In this paper I
will discuss how my research develops
into artwork exploring identity and
individuality. I will show examples of
my work to date as well as exploring the
themes that I propose to continue to
research within a PhD next year.
Textiles and clothing are often part of the
primary tools used to identify human
remains after atrocity. In Rwanda people
had made their own clothing making it
very personal and individual. In Bosnia,
particularly Srebrenica, people had
not been able to leave the enclave, and
resorted to making and repairing their
clothing. In Iraq, many people began to
sew their identity documents into secret
pockets within their clothing. These
identity documents were later vital for
the identification of the dead. The fabric
used as blindfolds and ligatures, in Bosnia
Herzegovina were consistent across many
mass grave sites this evidence was part
of the proof that events at Srebrenica
amounted to genocide.
Fabric is an important part of identifying
these individuals and it is this research
that has formed the basis of my artistic
practice for the last 3 to 4 years. I have
explored evidence of fabric found within
Mass Graves predominantly within
Bosnia but also other countries including
Kosovo and Iraq. Borders too are an
important element for my exploration, the
borders between countries as a touchpoint
for conflict, but clothing and skin, life
and death, homeland and refugee are also
borders. This work has evolved through
my undergraduate degree in Textiles for
which I was awarded first class honours,
and into my current MFA (Master of Fine
Art) at Oxford Brookes University.
I am excited to have had work selected for the upcoming ‘Chromantics’ Exhibition.
A selection of artworks from some of OVADA’s Associate Artists pair together for a dramatic collection of colour and creativity. This playful arrangement of striking paintings and sculpture set out to challenge the audience on what modern art can be. Curator and artist, Tommy Watkins, invites you to explore this unique off-site exhibition and meet the people who are shaping the Oxfordshire art scene.
Opening reception and artist talk:Saturday 6 April 2019, 5-8pm.
Exhibition runs from 3 – 28 April 2019 Gallery Open: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am – 8pm and Sunday, 11am – 4pm.