from the Me and Maya series (my eye), image by Robert Kittila, 2013
My long-term endeavor “Searching Selves – an intersubjective art project with remarkable women artists of the 20th century” blossomed in this last year. Pursuing and contemplating the artistic practices of Nasreen Mohamedi and Helena Almeida, as well as Maya Deren has shifted my own artistic practice into new dimensions and perspectives. I have been empowered to make new and exciting work in photography, drawing and performance. It has been a time for pushing the boundaries of my identity as an artist – a time for searching, working hard, wandering, and finding. I was a bit of a drama queen in my art/life process, which was fun. At times this work seems narcissistic, at times profound – and much of the artist’s process is both I think.
dome at Humayun’s tomb, Sherry Wiggins, 2014
I found my way back home from India at the end of 2014 and back into my studio bringing my contemplations and experiences with Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990) as “my guide” with me. The shift for me with Nasreen has been the realization of a more personal and perceptual relationship to space – in particular in my drawing practice. I brought back a stack of photographic images I took of ancient Indian sites and architectural spaces – I took these images quietly and alone, a kind of meditative photographic practice in Delhi (which is hard to do if you know Delhi). Though my physical body is not in this work, there is a sense of using the space of my body and the space of my eye (and the camera’s eye) and the space of my mind to see and experience these phenomenal architectural spaces and then to realize my own more interior and metaphysical spaces in abstract drawings.
out of India series, gouache and graphite drawing, 30” x 30”, Sherry Wiggins, 2015
I left my drawing practice (temporarily) to prepare for my project in Portugal. The work that I accomplished in Portugal was emboldened by the significant work of Portuguese conceptualist Helena Almeida. I was compelled to look at Helena’s work because I felt/feel the desire to “enter” my own work more fully and to use my own body in the work. This is new territory for me. I have done a little bit of performance in previous works such as “Me and James Bond” and in the “Me and Maya” series. In these earlier works I was mimicking other bodies – movie stars and Maya Deren. My intent with this new body of work is to create the space of the artwork with my own body and other materials and enter and “perform” the drawing. I laid down white canvas and cloth constructions of a circle, a square, rectangles and a rosette pattern on the floor of the studio at Obras and on the terrace at Obras and literally entered and performed the drawings.
3 images above – inhabited geometries series, images by Luis Branco, 2015
Being “looked at” instead of “looking at” is a shift in perspective for me. It is like being a voyeur of myself, which is a little disconcerting. Here I am using my body to create and occupy spaces in odd ways, shifting the perspective of the self, opening the space of the image to the viewer – it is very feminine and personal work. I am now producing this large “body of work” that I accomplished in Portugal.
performing the drawing, image by Rui Fernandes, 2015
I am fascinated by perspective – how we look and how we see and how we are seen. These remarkable women artists; Almeida, Mohamedi and Deren, have shifted my perspective as an artist and as a woman. I am interested in how we look and experience from our “own” perspective, how we try to look and experience from the “other” person’s perspective, from a feminine perspective, from a masculine perspective, a camera’s perspective, a drawing’s perspective, the perspective of the mind’s eye, a cultural perspective, an architectural perspective, the perspective of the sky, of the bird’s eye, of the Buddha’s eye, from the perspective of infinity, from the perspective of the ground and so on…
There is an element of both introspection and extrospection/observation in these images. I am still not sure of where this work will take me next – and that is both exciting and challenging.
horizon above (image of me on top of the castle at Evoramonte), image by Rui Fernandes, 2015
Also, not to be missed this spring:
Helena Almeida’s largest exhibition to date (My Work is My Body, My Body is My Work) that I saw at the Serralves in Portugal, has opened at the Jeu de Paume in Paris and will be up until May 22nd:
The largest exhibit of Nasreen Mohamedi’s work to date (I will be going for sure) will be at the new Met Breuer in New York March 18th to June 5th: