So its time, for the closing reception of ‘Repartea’, an exhibition of my sculptures and their associated portraits, at Project 1628 in Baltimore. I would say more but I think Cara Ober of BmoreArt says it so much better!
Hope to see you between the hours of 2 and 5pm on Saturday 19 February at Project 1628, 1628 Bolton Street, Baltimore
Project 1628 is a generous space (in more ways than one!) owned and directed by Marcia Hart. This occasional gallery exists to share art and culture with those who enjoy the spark of new people and ideas. Sign up to their mailing list Project 1628 so that you don’t miss out!
So delighted to invite you to the opening reception of ‘Repartea’, an exhibition of my sculptures and their associated portraits, at Project 1628 in January 2022!
I’m thrilled to have been asked to show these works that were made and posted on instagram during the pandemic @elaineyfish. Originating in a #tenminutesculpture project with household recycling these objects and images have become a staple of my studio practice, developing in size, media and complexity (and yes, also time!) whilst retaining their provisional, playful nature.
‘Repartea’ is a dinner-party installation drawing its inspiration from previous ‘banquet’ events at Project 1628, a refined non-commercial setting in Baltimore’s historic Bolton Hill neighbourhood. The words ‘Repartee’ (conversation or speech characterized by quick, witty comments or replies) and ‘tea’ (a term used to denote ‘dinner’ or an evening meal in England as well as the Colonial ‘brew’ itself) combine to invite an imaginative viewing of this work. As place-settings for a sumptuous feast, and through the shifting and layered dialogues that emerge from their trashy parts, each sculpture is gradually revealed as both consumer and consumed – we are what we eat!
“The imaginative play of my recent miniature exhibition ‘the baby and the bathwater’ at Shelter in Place Gallery, Boston, hoped to break down some of the barriers that make it difficult for us to properly address alarming environmental issues such as climate change. At Project 1628 I intend to match that with an undeniable physical reality. Faced with an enticing feast of household recycling I hope that it will be difficult to look away” Elaine Fisher, Artist ‘Repartea’
“We exist to share art and culture with those who enjoy the spark of new people and ideas. Our mission is to support the drive to create and the drive to connect.” Marcia Hart, Director Project 1628
found objects are re-assembled and re-made with color, highlighting an adaptability to change that is in our nature(s). Includes a ‘free pile of healing Aloe Vera plants and ‘Brood X’, a natural cicada soundtrack.
List of works:
All armed and grown up composite wood panels, cast concrete cones, plastic rod, mason twine and acrylic, installed with light bulb, insulation wool, Aloe Vera plant and silk screen transparencies
Girl Doll (girdle) uprooted tree, childhood French Knitting doll, mason twine, metal sieve, clear view TV, media player, video ‘working rhythms’ (74 seconds looped)
Unfinished work ‘French knitting’ silk screen collaged ‘French knitting’ print (acrylic on gesso-coated calico) with mason twine
Not yet made ‘honeycomb’ two silk screens, slide projector, slide viewer and carousel containing 140 digitally printed 35mm slides [6 pack of slides to make one silk screen print (edition of 20 plus 1 AP) $25]
Plant Care instructions pages from ‘home appliance testing’ overprinted with photographs of Aloe Vera plant, re-bound with mason twine on sections of wooden window blinds
Everything you need (to make a new Kore) cardboard shed space mini containing cotton bobbins, duck tape, mason twine and paperclips; peg board and metal hooks with functional and dysfunctional knitting dolls
A veil (avail) overpainted silk screen print (acrylic on gesso-coated calico) with silk curtain
Delicate balance / Ballet d’action table leg, mason twine, foil-backed insulation wool, plastic fruit bag handles; Ballet d’action by Holly Hertzfeld (15 minutes, looped playback)
Madame Cholet and Alderney two paper pulp cones with insulation wool, mason twine and lamp diffuser on paper edged wood-block flooring
‘and repair them with the colors all around’ is a lyric from Amber Rubarth’s ‘wishing song’ from the album ‘Wildflowers in the Graveyard’, released in 2017, which became the soundtrack to this work
Athena is the goddess associated with technical and strategic skill, warfare, weaving, and other kinds of expertise. In Roman Mythology she is Minerva, who came ‘all armed and grown up’ from her father’s brain, appearing with a countenance full more of masculine firmness and composure than of softness and grace. In one hand she held a spear and in the other a shield. In most of her statues she is represented as sitting.
To be of use or value to; profit; advantage
To be of use; have force or efficacy; serve; help
To be of value or profit
To use to ones advantage
Advantage; effective use in the achievement of some goal or objective
-veil to cover, provide, obscure, or conceal with, or as if with, a veil
‘Ballet d’action’ is a hybrid genre of expressive and symbolic ballet that emerged during the 18th century to liberate the conveyance of a story from dialogue, relying simply on quality of movement to communicate actions, motives, and emotions.
The ‘Free Pile’ is the popular name given to the recycling area in the loading bay of The Copycat Building where I have had my studio since August 2018. Everything in the installation (including the slide projector but excluding the duck tape and mason twine) has been used by others and passed on. Of the two TVs, one was purchased ‘used’, the other has been kindly loaned.
The ‘French knitting’ doll that appears in Girl Doll (girdle) was a gift from my maternal grandmother . Spool knitting, corking, French knitting or tomboy knitting is a form of knitting that uses a spool with a number of nails around the rim to produce a narrow tube of fabric. The spool knitting devices are called knitting spools, Knitting Nancys, or French knitters.
‘Girdling’ is the destructive practice (in forest management) of removing a section of bark from around a tree to sever the essential connection between leaf and root. In antiquity, a girdle was a belt used to secure a square of fabric around the body, ‘gird’ meaning to encircle.
Kore (Greek: κόρη “maiden”; plural korai)
Ancient Greek column sculptures depicting young female figures. No two figures are the same, individualised by their patterned collared peplos (dress). Korai with certain distinctive emblems such as the ‘tower crown’ may be goddesses – the crown indicating the role of the city as protector of a particular city. Numerous Korai were found buried, many un-broken, at the acropolis in Athens and are thought to have been ceremoniously placed there to mark the start of a new era after the city was invaded and destroyed.
‘Madame Cholet’ is a very kind-hearted but short-tempered female Womble, named after the town of Cholet in France. She affects a French accent, though she is actually no more French than any other Wimbledon Womble and simply likes to think of herself as French. Madame Cholet’s assistant, ‘Alderney‘ appeared in the early books by Elisabeth Beresford, but did not appear on the TV until the second series. She is a pretty and precocious young Womble with a slight disregard for the rules.
image (above) two ekplisso collages re-arranged with painted postcard and photograph of wax/honey filtering with poet, Stephanie Barber
(text – see below) annotated extracts from Robert Greaves ‘The Greek Myths’ and Vincent Cronin’s chapter on the earthquake at Agrigento in ‘The Golden Honeycomb’
‘Reclaiming Medusa : the muse as fragment’ is an attempt to reveal the patriarchal re-construction of the feminine from ‘Queen Bee’ to ‘muse’, of the (masculine) poet
As part of the Instagram @ekplisso conversation with Lucy Gresley I have been thinking about the agency and archaeology of a maze as a means of reclaiming (cyclic) feminine identity, by understanding the relational layers we make as we travel around and re-find ourselves on a familiar path.
Within the maze, horizontal, tentacular layers build vertically as pathways cross over each other (as one might walk over a grave) rather than intersect, because time has passed and we are not only approaching from a different direction but also from a different understanding of the relationships held within (and without) it.
This ‘work’/thinking consists of composite image and text and was made in response to ‘The Muse as Medusa (or Spectacular Tentacular)’, a collage by Lucy Gresley and a reference brought up in our conversation, to Helene Cixous’ ‘The Laugh of the Medusa”
Aphrodite, Queen of the Mountains and of the Heather: Queen Bee, the goddess in her orgiastic midsummer aspect / Medusa, raped in the temple of Athena by Athena’s father Poseidon, punished for her own rape and turned into a gorgon. Any man who looks into her eyes will be turned to stone………………..becoming the mountain within which she dwells and erupts as volcano, erotic fire?
Giants become religious symbols of erotic nightmares, associated with the mountain in which they live, of which Aphrodite is Queen. “These giants are not flesh and blood, but earth-born spirits”, a union of (mother) earth and Tartarus, a specific place for the wicked in the underworld………………the suppressed masculine spirit?
The goddess is consolidated as giant in the colossal sculptures of the ancient world, now known to us only in fragments “the earth heaved,….the giants and their intolerable burden, walls and entablature, ornaments and the partial roof disintegrated, flew apart, fell and lay still”
“The Greeks………describe the Muses sending their bees to a poet’s mouth and producing there a dripping honeycomb”
Elaine Fisher (2019) Black Gold (double sided drawing, ink on paper, 11 x 11 inches) installation view, Flat Files Exhibition, Institute of Contemporary Art, Baltimore
As the lowest value in the plastic elements black is below, dark and solid. Here, by way of its liquidity, black passed through paper to emerge as gold, an earthly element we ascribe a different kind of value to. So the drawing ‘values’ darkness and matter – the feminine – whilst also taking as its subject the feminine connecting principle in the chain-link-fence.
The beauty of standing outside a discipline, peering in from the borderlands, is that you can dip in and out of its terminology as your work connects with it, drawing out only the timely fundamentals the subject has to offer. I paint but I’m not a painter and so much of painting theory is new to me as my work connects with it. I am most interested, not in ‘looking up’ (researching the material theories behind the work I have made) but in ‘stumbling upon’ (or as I like to think of it – being ‘drawn to’), finding theory rise to the surface as I follow a curiosity about something (else entirely?).
Today my train of thought went something like this:
adaptation / of a species (Swallowtail Butterfly) / objects in a new environment / changing (to) function / elasticity – an elastic art / a play on plasticity – a plastic art / what defines a plastic art? / what is the definition of the element ‘value’ ?
Plastic art normally refers to sculpture but is also (less often) used to differentiate visual arts (painting, sculpture, film, photography) from literature and music. So a derivation of plastic – elastic – might be a useful term to describe a situation in which subjective stories weave around functionless (albeit personally symbolic) objects in contrast to a situation where (as viewers to a work of art) we look to identify the certain stories that are enshrined (signed) in ready-made objects?
Value in colour theory speaks of how light or dark something is on a scale of white to black with black having the lowest value. It sets the structure of a realistic painting i.e. if you translated a colour painting into black and white it would retain its realism. In these terms grey areas – gradations of grey – are redefined to denote certain spaces in relation whereas the opposite poles of black and white may serve to create an abstraction, ambiguity, active tension in their arrangement?
But this time I was also ready to write. Not just things of interest – I always carry a notebook with me – but the whole thing, my step-by-step experience of the work. Writing down my observations, of the work, but also of my feeling towards it, my relationship like any new relationship morphed and changed as it grew, as the work answered everything I asked of it.
I wrote a first draft that accurately reflected my notes and emerging conscious experience and waited eagerly to see what my editor thought of it. This was my first review and my first time working with an editor. She appreciated the personal walk-through, the real-time thoughts and feeling, my sensitivity and curiosity, and vivid descriptions. Oh dear, I thought, such praise can only be followed by a very large BUT……
The list of questions and ‘what?’s along the margins was staggering. Is my writing really that intelligible? And of course it is, or it can be, as writing for me is a way of working through something, trying to untangle the knots in a necklace that I know is underneath, I just don’t know what the pendent looks like or how long its chain is – yet.
When I start writing I have no idea where I’m going let alone where I will end up. My notes were really just a stream of consciousness and my writing-up nothing more than a first response to this consciousness, drawing it out, seeing where it might lead.
I reviewed all my editors extremely valid and insightful comments one by one, happily clicking the resolve button. There was nothing to comment on because I agreed with her entirely. But it got me thinking about the response that will be published, because in this editing process my experience of the work changed. My thoughts towards the exhibition become not just clearer but different, in some cases completely turning feelings on their head. And there is something in this transition that seems apt, relevant to the issue of climate change.
We all think we know how we feel about climate change, from both sides of the fence. It is happening/it is not happening, we need to do something/there is nothing to be done. But when we delve beneath the surface the reality and our feelings towards it are not quite so clear. They are subject to change as we find out more. Its like a never-ending jigsaw puzzle where just as the pieces fall into place they change their character and form, creating a new image in pieces for us to sort out, again.
I now feel like this about John Ruppert’s exhibition. It perhaps requires many visits to get the full experience of our relationship to climate change. To get it at once, to come to a conclusion, leads us into a false hope. Climate Change is something we need to keep talking about, working through, if we are to get anywhere close to a resolution.
In an L-shaped gallery on North Avenue, Shannon Collis and Liz Donadio have recreated Miles Stafford Ralph’s 1975 Form Fountain. The original, located at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School is at first glance a fair bit brighter than its virtual copy, more children’s playground than meditative space, and it seems at first that the artists have merely restored an outdated utopian vision. But by inviting us into their meditative work, Collis and Donadio have brought to light what we overlook when we reduce public space to a photograph, framed, concrete and empty, and that is our encounters within it. Their multiple layered physical experience instead exceeds the original’s limited utopian vision, offering Form Fountain a relevant place not just in the present but also securing it a place in the future.
The first encounter with Singular Space appears as if you are approaching it from a distance, perhaps from across a road, a two-dimensionally framed view that hints at the physical space within. The camera twists and turns pulling you in on the crest of a crashing wave, the sound of which turns out to be the flow of traffic in this hard-working city. And this is the beauty of Singular Space, just as the utopian soundscape and drifting images draw you in they quickly spit you out again, back to a physical reality. The message is clear from the outset, this space is real, relevant and its yours.
Step around the corner and you find yourself on the verge of Singular Space. The shift is subtle. Its not immediately clear what has happened until your eye catches shapes, strategically placed to catch images on their surfaces. I find myself looking down, into, and get caught in the motion carried up some steps (or is it down?) through the monument. Spend enough time here and you will notice the change in pace. The movement is calmer, the sound lighter, giving way to bird song and what sounds like a drop of water. An experience once grounded now has the quality of air but always looking towards that certain ground, the shifting plates that encourage you to move on and step in.
Which is what you do in the final act as your body interrupts the last of the five projections, your shadows cast, concrete, into the work. Even if you don’t choose to, you’ll find yourself there because this space is public space and it has been made for you.
Shannon Collis & Liz Donadio
Institute of Contemporary Art
16 West North Avenue, Baltimore, MD
Using the material world as catalyst for the projection of unconscious contents, each work aims to amplify primitive feminine knowledge which is seen as both suppressed and the means by which we can begin to heal the world’s wounds.
Spirit Lake/Kirk Wall video installation
SLUICE: Exchange Berlin, November 2018
“Elaine Fisher explores archetypal questions about femininity, soul and nature in her installation, ‘Spirit Lake’. Reduced video works of a falling leaf and a crow in flight presented on two monitors on an upper and a lower level, a conscious and a subconscious level, draw the viewer into the dream”
“The atmosphere of the sinister ice lake is impressively evoked by the artist’s reduced, dominating white……a deliberately disturbing sound installation in which you can hear the sound of a crow in slow motion…….the two works are mutually dependent……The installation calms and troubles at the same time.”
The (re)making of Spirit Lake highlighted a significantly expanded role for the primitive right hemisphere as both pre-conscious originator (the impulse to video a tree in the wind and the unknown ‘gift’ of a falling leaf), ambiguous collector (the pre-conscious association of flying crow and falling leaf) and active responder to the limitations of consciousness (creative solutions emerged in response to failed attempts to solidify a messy background; a mis-click added the unknown ‘gift’ of a panning function). In neuro-science the left hemisphere is a (noisy?) processor, constantly referring data back to (agitating a response from?) the right hemisphere for further creative output. In these terms we can perhaps more hopefully view the role of Trickster (Crow/Raven) in the world (through Kirk Wall) as an opportunity for renewed and focussed creative action.
Spirit Lake/Kirk Wall forms part of a wider body of work, Creation Myths, completed at Aside Gallery and Studios, 1501 Guilford Avenue, aka The CopyCat Building. 1501 Guilford Avenue has come to be synonymous with the owner of its former roof top billboard (The Copycat Printing Company) despite being home to many different manufacturing industries at that time. Part of Baltimore’s artistic community since the 1980s, the Copycat Building continues to struggle to recognise its inner life, caught as it is between a desire to legitimise artist live/work studios and a legal black hole that is not able to facilitate a zoning change.
Kirk Wall was filmed on the ruined site of the Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall, Orkney. In the early 1600s Lord Orkney decided that the existing Bishop’s Palace was inadequate for his needs. He extended the complex by building a new Earl’s Palace on the adjoining Land which he acquired by fabricating charges and trying and executing the current owner for theft.
Spirit Lake was filmed on the shores of Grand Lake, Colorado. Given the name batan-naache (meaning Holy Lake or Spirit Lake) by the Arapaho Indians, Grand Lake is also the site of The Legend of the Buffalo, a supernatural beast seen emerging from a hole of open water at the centre of the ice-covered lake in winter. In Ute Indian tradition the lake is “bad medicine”. During an attack by an Arapahoe/Cheyenne Indian war party, women and children found refuge on a raft cast out into the lake. A curiously strong wind raised a monstrous wave which capsized the raft and all were drowned. When the lake freezes over in the winter, it is said that one can hear the urgent cries of the women and children beneath the surface.
psychological geography is a term used by Marie Louise Von Franz in her book Creation Myths to describe certain constellations of the landscape that serve to catalyze the projection of inherited archetypal patterns of representation. Thus we find in landscape ‘fitting places’ for certain deeds, fantasies and ideas (1972 revised 1995 Shambhala Publications p317). In contrast to Von Franz’s phenomenal (and feminine?) psychological geography, Psychogeography, a term coined by Guy Debord in 1955, has developed into a (masculine?) cause and effect pathology where geochemical profiles, geomagnetic variations and tectonic stresses are identified as causes of schizophrenia, epidemics of unusual behaviours and psychosis.
a weekend of exhibitions, performances, talks & screenings16 – 18 November Kühlhaus, Luckenwalder Straße 3, 10963 Berlin
Sluice Exchange is a biennial expo bringing together galleries and projects that share similar foundational ideologies of independence and artistic engagement. I will be showing work as part of OSR ProjectsWeather Station with Simon Lee Dicker, Laura Hopes and Alexander Stevenson.
EXCHANGE is broadly themed around the local as transnational ideas battle re-emergent nationalistic tendencies. The artist/curator-led scene is often tied to the local (usually influenced by funding parameters or lack of funding altogether). But there is often an awareness that if the local isn’t positioned within a broader inter/national context that it risks becoming parochial. EXCHANGE BERIN focuses on the importance of solidarity, inclusion and collaboration. Is there a way to square internationalism with the destructive nature of globalisation? As nationalism rears its head around the world what response does art have?
Open Studio Tour is an annual city-wide event organised by School 33 Art Centre. Each year, collectors and art lovers have the opportunity to visit artists in their studios, see their work, and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their working processes.
On Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14, visit the studios of more than 100 artists located throughout Baltimore City to view and purchase their original works of art, including paintings, sculptures and photographs during this self-guided tour.