Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Studio is Sudden: Nadia Hebson

Image: Vyt Residency programme, New York May, 2014

Between November 2017 and February 2018 Giles Bailey & CIRCA Projects have invited a number of guests who take interesting and unique approaches to working with archival material, rethinking the contemporary by moving away from dominant narratives in history. This week's event was a conversation with Nadia Hebson as she reflected upon her recent practice.

Nadia writes

“When considering the legacy of American painter Christina Ramberg and her creative female circle I have made paintings in concert with large-scale prints, objects and text. When called to I’ve described the work through a narrative of recuperation, a reconsideration of overlooked histories, aware this was a partial truth perhaps more diminishing than expanding.

One afternoon in Antwerp the writers Daniela Cascella, Kate Briggs and myself met to discuss Daniela’s book ‘Singed’, Daniela had just read an excerpt that described her coming to Clarice Lispector, a woman writer drawn to a woman writer, but a description of recuperation wasn’t enough to describe this exchange. Daniela, Kate and myself searched for another way to acknowledge this work, our work and the impulses that drive it, criticism seemed like the only option.

Italian feminist Carla Lonzi had a theory that in order to break the monologue of patriarchal history women needed to articulate their subjective experience through a collective endeavour, as unexpected subjects they could converse with other women both in and across time. Lonzi named this political act resonance, a means by which to avoid complicity with the patriarchy, a means by which to undo the roles linked to women’s oppression.

If the work I make needs to resist categories, how do I talk about it, how do I make it and what is it? Not interested in re-configuring canons but addressing alternative histories through self-reflexive means (maybe?) how do we even start a conversation, please let’s start a conversation”.

I admire Nadia's articulacy and depth of knowledge, and have held the impression that her work is heavily researched and academic. I was therefore surprised to find out that the way her work is framed in the academic field is not necessarily how she wants the work to be understood. Throughout the conversation Nadia spoke about her personal reaction to other artists work and the memories and associations that are attached to particular materials. Framing her work in terms of archives seems to ignore the more subjective and intuitive nature of Nadia's practice.

Sadly, I did not have long to spend in Nadia's studio, but what was obvious was that there was a continual process of play with materials, colours, forms and imagery and I think that the language used to describe Nadia's practice does not necessarily recognise these important aspects of her process and work.

The conversation was a very effective way of learning more about what Nadia is interested in and her process of making work. Thank you to her and CIRCA Projects for sharing this with me and the audience.

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