"CONText is haLf The WOrK"
Exploring the language of sculpture and installation Karen Turner uses a range of materials from everyday objects to ready-mades. Her interdisciplinary practice places a strong emphasis on our relationships and interventions with the ‘stuff’ we keep and that hold sentimental and nostalgic meaning.
Interested in ideas and questions around obsession, destruction, memory and attachments she pushes herself to an acceptance or rejection around the manipulation of her chosen things. Always sourced from her personal collections or the collections of friends and family, attempting to take a non-sentimental approach to a sensitive material and treating it as that, ‘a material’…
Karen’s material choices and her manipulation of them also raise questions around value, consumerism, environment and even decoration… Are her objects worth more because of their sentimental value or through the destruction of the object the sentimental value disappears? Leaving just decoration…
Encouraging her audience to question their own perception and the value they place on these objects once they have been crafted into something that is unrecognizable as a thing but still recognizable as a material that speaks a language, appearing on one hand familiar, but equally abstract.
In her attempt to create installations that spontaneously work within a space. She manages to demand critical discussion but also creates an ambiguous aesthetic and natural lucidity. In other words you are encouraged to question BUT as importantly admire the work solely for its beauty.
Karen manipulates and de-constructs her chosen materials in an attempt to create new relationships and meaning. Adding mirrors, movement, sound and video works she opens up the audience reading allowing reflection and personal interpretation throughout the experience, encouraging the viewer to negotiate the installation making links and narratives between the individual works and themselves.
Key elements within her work are location and positioning with audience participation fundamental to bringing the installation together. Sound and movement created through natural resources for example wind, touch and light means that the work is in a constant state of flux. Objects may suggest a meaning in one location/position, and then something very different in another within a single work or installation.
“As an artist, the intention of creating is to present works to which the viewer responds on a visceral level; a context within which they are transported to a place somewhere within their own past, and which visually and poetically unsettles perceptions of time and place” Sutapa Biswas
Karen’s recent work ‘Re-absorption of objects into the fabric of Life’ utilizing her family’s (pre-digital) photo and music collection has initiated an intense line of thought around peoples response to the destruction of what people see as a memory, not an object. Even when the object is no longer useful, they still hold a memory/trace of time. When used within an art practise Karen believes they become more relevant in society’s history as a means of creating both an individual and collective narrative.
The use of mirrors within the work deals with issues around how people deal with their own image. Like a photograph that has caught you in bad light or at an unappealing angle that in today’s digital age quickly gets deleted or in the past was ripped up.
“When I was a child, there was a charity called Sunny Smiles. At school, around the age of eight or nine, we were given their tiny little books, containing hundreds of images of orphaned children. The idea was each page could be torn out and sold for a penny. All the money was then sent to orphanages around the UK. The sad thing was that all the cute babies and toddlers would sell in a flash. Then we were left with the not-so-attractive older unwanted children” Tracey Emin.
She finds interest in peoples ease at destroying or dismissing the offending object if it does not please the viewer aesthetically.
Karen’s intention with her material choices deliberately creates work that is familiar to all while also tapping in to our individual sense of self. They are chosen for their cultural, universal and recognisable nature.
Always reflecting on her own upbringing and status within her family and community Karen’s work holds a very personal feel with all elements of her installations having honesty within their making. Obsessive repetitive acts and a representation to a loved one usually expressed through numbers, un-noticeable to an audience but clear within the artists psyche.
Her influences range from Nam Jun Paiks ‘Exposition of Music’ 1963 to discussing happiness as a subject with Jonas Mikas, inspired by the Avant garde, fluxus and the situationalist.
Karen describes herself as agnostic in her approach to all art forms, movements, histories and research. Her aim is to develop a practice that evolves, bringing together and engaging with her audience, community, family and friends. Working within a social practice with the intention of attempting to close the gap between galleries, institutions, community based projects and alternative art scenes.
BRINGING THE OUSIDE IN AND THE INSIDE OUT…
Talk and Feed are part of an on-going body of work revolving around the theme of attachments. Emotional, physical and material attachments.
This project started with me looking at the attachment formed through communication.
My initial research was an exploration of materials, leftovers from previous projects, found objects and my long term mission to excavate the vast collection of “I will do something with that one day” stuff that has accumulated in my back cupboard.
Setting myself up with some rules and systems of making helped me understand how materials can be manipulated and constructed.
Working out structures through experimentation, the materials took on a whole new meaning, leading me away from my initial concept and changing my positioning towards using systems.
Through a mixture of personal choice and sticking to a fixed set of rules the materials suggested options, introducing me to an artwork that would never have arisen had I not allowed myself this form of structure in my making. The assembling of the materials did not always have the aesthetic preference that I usually commit to in my work but the resulting lessons I learnt about my materials gave me an insight into how setting up systems and rules can influence a projects outcome.
Through observation and experimentation I started thinking about the deconstruction of the construction with the use of photography and light, while exploring further my interest in video and performance. I feel the results are a stronger visual image than the sculptures themselves.
My work is always heavily influenced by my emotions and having had a term tainted with issues of a personal nature and questioning the politics of art school has given this project a dark side not usually visible in previous projects. The resulting installations created a dialogue amongst my peers that has helped me understand and see things in my work and myself that I was not aware of.
The outcome being me communicating with myself…
A Conversation appendix
K: Hey babes, have been thinking about our conversation b4 U left and I don't think U understand my thoughts behind the apron performance...The reason for wanting to do the two pieces is all about maintaining identity... The fact that I have asked U to direct me in some way is what makes it interesting.... I feel that U are not getting that about me or that you don't feel supportive towards the project? It is important that you feel it? U don't have to like it!!! Hopefully this explains things a little clearer? Your opinion means a lot to me.... See u tomorrow, sweet dreams. K.x
ART: I think that my opinion is always looking through aspects of your projects that unfortunately you cannot see or refuse for some reason to see. Don't give me bullshit give me evidence that you do take seriously your art. By eliminating the value of art inside you instantly eliminates you as an artist! Take your art seriously in order to become serious artist that values and considers every aspects and come up with inventive ideas! Don't follow others! Make your own path but always remember to take seriously what you are doing! All the above is pure interest in you as a friend! My intentions are always true and good. I can only speak the truth! nothing than that!
ART: I do apologise if I sound too hard! I do believe that you are the next Ceal Floyer but that takes work! See you tomorrow for filming! Xxx
K: Your response to my text is exactly what I am getting at! I take my art seriously but it will never consume me! What makes us unique is the fact that we think and feel differently about where we want to place ourselves... I follow my own path but I am very aware that I am learning from all that surrounds me and if by taking this on board, I walk along someone else’s path for a while well this is fine by me... Art school for me is about enhancing what is already there; I am not here for a life change, just a life experience! Our differences are what attracted me to you, and our differences will be there at the end of this experience... But for me more importantly than anything is friendships and achievements... I will never conform but will always be your friend! PS... I see myself as the next Bobby Baker... K.x
ART: Fair enough! Xxx
My drawings are part of an on-going body of work revolving around the theme of attachments. Emotional, physical and material attachments. Inspired by The writings and works of Louise bougeous this series of 45 drawings was created with the attitude of “what will be, will be”.
Using stitch as a drawing tool to create the images and only allowing myself the exact amount of paper to start meant that any “mistakes” that occurred became part of the work. The irregularities in the stitch made the outcome more interesting. Using this method helped me overcome my overwhelming obsession with erasing…
My aim is to develop a practise that evolves. Bringing together and engaging with family, friends and communities. (Making them as important as the piece itself). A series of installations that use many craft forms, manipulating the transformative quality of crafting to create ephemeral, playful, extraordinary sculptural patterns and objects. I want to celebrate women’s creativity. Re-contextualising craft activities traditionally associated with domestic space.
This project started with me looking at the attachment formed through feeding, starting my research initially throughout the realms of breastfeeding and there effects on attachment. Culturally, physically and mentally. In doing this research I found the topic becoming too heavy and felt I was leaning towards making a statement for breastfeeding that I did not believe in. I started thinking along the lines of, ‘an attachment will be made however you feed as long as you feed’….
Wanting to lighten the concept and taking note of the reactions of amusement I was getting from my experimental sculptures I started looking at the idea of a machine that went everywhere but nowhere, wasn’t capable of anything but connected me to everything.
This project has taken me down a direction that came solely from experimentation.
The outcome being the machine is feeding me...