memory. language, art. wittgenstein. books. ceramics.

all sorts of thinkings on memory, language, art, wittgenstein, books, etc, while I am getting on with my MA

Sunday 17 October 2010

Frieze 2010: very visual Seb Patane

I had never come across Seb Patane before. Strange, that is. I really like his work. To the extent where I wish his work was mine. Hm.

Why this fixation throughout your work with erasing identities: hiding heads, obliterating faces or eyes, using masks?

I am interested in performance and in performers, but not so concerned with their personalities or in portraying anyone. What is important to my work is the choreography and composition of things. I consider my pieces more abstract than figurative. And when I started working with found images, I guess the natural gesture for me was to obliterate the face, to remove that sense of identity, which makes everything quite confusing for the viewer, who is used to attach a face to a narrative, to a attach to a type of behaviour or personality to a type of face, say physiognomy. So it is like giving something to the viewer and then taking it away, like a game of contradictions. And that just grew and became more complex, more organic. And, finally, I think I am also reacting culturally, and probably unconsciously, against the whole cult of the celebrities, of the ego.

You often rescue images from the past and re-introduce them in the present tense, which often charges them with a nostalgic-symbolic element that they lacked when they were originally produced. Why do you think this time warp, taking them out of their context, produces that shift?

I operate in the present, and so do the viewers of my work who are faced with the images I chose with their baggage according to their age, their knowledge of things and their personal understanding of history and culture, whatever level that may be. But we are all inevitably challenged when faced with past, faded imagery; I think it must be because our mind tries to fill the gap between our present life and the one that is depicted in those pictures; this void, and I hope my visual interventions on those pictures, create a blurred feeling of confusion and wonder that I find interesting.

So this show is about war, or uses images of the war, rather. And the one at Tate took as a premise the whole idea of protest songs. However, even if these themes are heavily political, you have always justified your interest in them as the product of an aesthetic infatuation, rather than a desire to make a political statement.

Exactly, my work it is not that charged with political meaning, and I don’t pretend that it is. The thing is that, eventually, I will research these issues and learn about them, but I rather use their aesthetics. I am very visual person and that is what I am interested in. I am not saying it is devoid of content, I am saying that it comes with it, eventually. It is impossible not to engage with it. But also I am very interested in the way we look at images and we can detach ourselves from their content.

These are sippets of his interview to the Celeste magazine. His work does look like it should be politically charged: war, obliterated faces, etc. There are all sorts of assumptions and presumptions appearing. However, however, however - he is not interested in that. Great! He is interested in aesthetics. He is interested in interpretation. Uh - my new best friend!

So is it aesthetics or content first? Chicken or egg?