Ger van Elk
Conclusie ‘Santa Moritz’, ‘Swiss Landscape’
Acrylic paint on photograph on canvas
96 x 102 cm
6.5” x 6.5”
Watercolor on paper
Part one of a larger in-progress piece that also includes some audio.
Oil Paint on Board
2’ x 3’
I love this painting so much! The black background isolates the subject(s) really effectively and that along with the bright and dramatic lighting makes them seem like a specimen. The symmetry and interwoven body parts create a surreal, trippy effect, which is cool. Nice one.
It’s that time again: artist statement
I paint (and otherwise art-make) about strength. It’s fascinating to think about the invisible emotional and psychological clockwork running inside every person that keeps them keepin’ on and that is normally shielded from mass view. It’s also somewhat shocking how problems on such drastically different scales—famines versus college applications, say—can both have strong impacts on individual people, even while they are vastly different from a global point of view. No one can control the problems that they have, but it’s interesting how struggle in general is this great equalizer, as is survival, be it in its mental or emotional or physical form. My work sometimes deals with the global cultural oxymorons that often accompany the proximity of cultural extremes that has become all the more common through on- (and off-) line globalization. I think about all of it through pre-loved-and-lost building materials because they provide a perfect metaphor for the construction projects that every person bangs away at on the daily; we all, no matter our cultural backgrounds, look around for whatever irregular-and-often-somewhat-battered pieces we can find to hold together with kind of bent nails and build ourselves some lives. Some people happen upon more snazzy plywood than others, but building up a personal bubble of strength and survival is something that every person has in common.
Experience: Heide Trepanier
It was superfun to see Heide in the blackbox, probably especially because I’ve seen her work around Richmond before.
The most interesting aspect of her talk was hearing about the narratives behind each one of her paintings. Her work is decidedly personal in that it doesn’t cater to anyone but her— it’s doubtful that anyone would be able to discern the exact stories behind each painting just from looking at it. It seems very much like her style to leave interpretation up to the audience. Her comment about the two different types of artists (those who have one general idea and express it using different media and those who have many ideas and express them using one unified visual style) struck me as very true. (I’m probably the second kind as of now.) Heide is a prime example of an artist making art for herself while the world looks on (and pays her), as opposed to an artist making art to communicate a specific, concrete message to the world. With her entire body of work, she communicates more of an overall feeling.
Curiosity: Alfredo Jaar
Alfredo Jaar is a conceptual artist who “explores the public’s desensitization to images and the limitations of art to represent events such as genocides, epidemics, and famines.” He says that there is an insurmountable gap between representation and reality, but that as an artist he nevertheless tries to bridge that gap. I’m curious as to whether or not it is true that it’s impossible to convey serious global problems through art in a way that will communicate to gallery-goers in east coast cities the struggles of less privileged people all over the world. To some extent, there has to be a gap between people experiencing awful things and everyone else in the world—including the artist himself, who in this case doesn’t actually experience the social phenomena he comments on, but instead researches them through a sort of fine-art photo-journalistic approach. After all, fine art is in itself a luxury. What is the most successful way to use art and artists as vehicles for global awareness about big problems? Can activist art like this really foster any sort of change, or will its viewers just shake their heads and go back to their lives, despite the efforts of artists like Jaar to jolt them out of it?
This machine allows anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they like. Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour. This corresponds to minimum wage for a person in New York. This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary. Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank. A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day…at much harder jobs than turning a crank. This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage.