Uprising Art is media partner of the first edition of the BIAC, Biennale Internationale d’Art Contemporain de Martinique, that takes place between November 22, 2013 and January 15, 2014 and which theme is « On the Resonance of the Literary Outcry in the Visual Arts ». For this need, Uprising travels to the Martinique from November 19 to 26 to report on the event and conduct a series of interviews of the organizing team, the invited curators, the artists in residency and the artists from the International and Martinican Pavilions.
Follow us to know more on the backstage of the event and its main outcomes.
Exclusively an interview of
John Beadle, Bahamian artist
This is the first edition of the BIAC in Martinique, FWI. What is the importance of such an event?
It’s important for regional cultural organizations to come into being, and then to draw attention to the work being created in their specific region and to make connections with like minded institutions who may be doing the same in other locals.
The creation of BIAC in Martinique has the potential to offer another way of seeing, and another way of understanding… a means of looking inward first to understand, then outward to share that knowledge of self.
Are you presenting new artworks in the International Pavilion?
Does literature influence your practice ?
I was invited by of the curators to present a piece of work I had previously completed. Yet we had a few problems getting the actual piece to Martinique. So when we realized it would not arrive on time, and because I was already on site, I decided to make a sister piece using items collected from that space (Martinique). This piece is not as ample as the original, but, I believe it is no less imposing.
Yes, literature does influence my practice as much as anything else. I would say any interesting stimuli have the potential to move me to make work or colour the work I may be in the midst of producing. Imagery and narrative from the many outlets we have today influence us far more than we care to admit, but the reality is, we have no idea how much or how often the intersection occur. Sometime in our not realizing, we give it another name… inspiration.
You use material as a “storytelling medium”, as you once have said. Both in your paintings and sculptures, you are innovative and are not afraid of breaking conventions: wood, glass, cobalt, machetes, iron, cardboard… Tell us more about it.
I tend to use material that are a part of the everyday experiences or have been. I see it as a song one knows some of the words to… this part knowing/ familiarity allows one to sing along…allows partial access which, I think, may lead to a more meaning engagement with the work. Material… the found, already weathered stuff carries with it a fragmented narrative that makes for very interesting placement possibilities.
Often shadows, space or movement are integrant part of your artworks. They create a special atmosphere which opens space for the public’s reactions. The tactile aspect of your sculptures is also instrumental in establishing a contact with the visitor. How are you searching to involve the viewer?
The how, depends on the work… but in all of my work I tend to want the viewer to have enough to experience, to be drawn to the object or the thinking. With the work for the show Natures lines, I wanted the physical material and the ephemeral shadow to have equal importance… to have the shadow seem to occupy the space just as prominently as the solid forms as if in a dance of equals with the same grace and elegance.
Space is an important part of our experience… we are granted move of it at times and at others it’s stripped for up, so to use this as working material is very interesting for me… even in the close confines of a sculpture or an installation. The idea of head space, body space and out of space is material of one’s life time.
You play with duality, especially about the object used / represented and its (assumed) meaning – and sometimes you get that play with the confusion it provokes too. This enables you to touch issues as wide as violence, racism, migration / immigration, or identity while suggesting new ways of better understanding between people.
Could you explain to us how you resort to that tool?
The Caribbean is the space of dualism, where Obeah and Christianity occupies the same bench and sip from the same container of rum at Junkanoo.
For me it’s interesting to consciously experience this and then, to exercise it as a device.
Who are your artistic influences?
I have always found this question interesting and at times, I’ve looked upon it as a sort of Rorschach test.
My truest answer to this question would have to be; all of my experiences to date.
Yes, I find myself drawing from the materials and manners of the history of art, as well as the personality that people that history. I’ve also been influenced by nature and science, personal experiences as well as secondhand experiences all in the production of my art and the experiencing of others art.
I’ve come across some things I know will influence my work by artist I’ve had the briefest of encounters with, or the artwork of artist I know nothing about, but have experience a single object to theirs. How do you know? At what point is that switch turned on and off again?
Where would you say you are standing as to your artistic career?
I would say I am standing in the beginning of the middle of my artistic career.
What are your upcoming projects?
Nothing is concrete just now…except for the work I am producing for the upcoming Junkanoo Festival. We are bending wire, forming cardboard and carving polystyrene.
By Clelia Coussonnet
Headline picture’s credits : © 2012, John Beadle