Arts Of The Working Class Logo

Ima(ge/in)ing through HOLDs

  • Commentary
  • Nov 18 2019
  • Loren Britton
    1, artist, 3, curator, 5, class, 7, pedagogy, 9, intersectionality, 11, trans*feminism, 13, playing, 15, materiality, 17, embodiment, 19, translation, 21, on/offline, 23, holding, 25



Ima(ge/in)ing evaporation, as a squeezing and a pressure creating a hold, processing one path into space for another.

The wet pulp is: uncomfortably heavy, two wet organs flopped on top of each other in tight force, dread. Holding breath. 

Getting out of asking questions and working towards an answer - posing questions to answer and learn from - hold(ing) ambivalence as a way of externalizing the flop of dread - leaning back, legs aching, heavy worry, will it fall.  

(write/wrote/write) about . the burlap pointed wrapped wedge shoes . The sprained ankle from trying to fit (my foot), the pressure to be a girl, the shame of wet slimy organs pressed against each other - external |made internal| pressure - mind made. 

In the studio - pushing - with my mind off (on), I am resistant to prompts. There is something in me, that doesn’t want to do what the teacher asks. I never learned representational drawing. 

I’ve been thinking about air, but actually, the pulp is flop . ping . With/out clarity to make the work clearer - and the gesture to layer the languages on top of one another - is this a suffocation of image? It is a series of drafts, a series of refining that allows you to get closer; closer to what? I’m getting closer to dissolving - the works are less and less stable; the frame that holds them is becoming more and more like a rectangular painting - there is a form, and the image is dissolving within the form. 


Is a suffocation of language a translation of it? 


I am aware of the expectation to perform in this situation - and in this room with this window and the tree outside but I am exhausted and I would rather like to think about justice - the word feels big and I’m certain there needs to be more imagining to know what or how to say – let’s imagine now. I am not accepting the terms and conditions. I don’t want to understand - I feel the resistance. 

When someone refers to ‘the poetic’ and the idea of ‘poetic’ justice. I wonder if we could define that, what does it mean to define poetic justice. Who says what justice means - who is justice a reality for? 

The work is digested, thrown back up, the viewers look at it and engage or don’t they like it or they don’t, taste plays in or intellect rides over, what does a generous look for this work look like? How can you be generous with your look? In my take, its how I was talking to Hank about it. It’s an intra-action, in the way that Karen Barad thinks about this, each body (the artwork, my body, the viewer’s body) is unstable (undefined, porous, malleable) and it is through our engagement that we transform one another. It is in the best situation that an artwork transforms its beholder. 

In the studio when I’m making the work, the shreds of paper from my partner’s office, from the UAE embassy, from my failed drawings, from my collected scraps of paper from my freelance job where I couldn’t bear to throw out the misprints (they don’t recycle), are churned in the blender, the literal blender, ink is added to the mix. They mix. They churn. They become wet, mushy, play-dough, colorful, they leave a bleed of ink on my hands when I touch them, the small crevices between the folds of my skin become alive with this color, the palm lines become activated like the branches of a tree. Then, the pulp is poured over a series of screens. Fine, thin, coarse, thick, plastic, metal, synthetic and woven mesh. The mesh holds the pulp, the pulp bulges into the mesh like a plump stomach pressing up against tight sweaty clothing, straining to fall over into a muffin top, yet held. Then, form, color, abstract marks, mistakes of the placement of the different colors of pulp on the screen with the wet plump mesh, form is created by pouring more on top or creating rivers in the mass and feathering pours of pulp into the fibers in-between. By engaging this wet plump pulp, an abstraction emerges.


The water begins to dry.


I pat the work, gently, with yellow neon quick dry towels that quickly become soaked. Gently patting the wet baby’s bottom of my new abstraction. 

I point a black round fan, on speed three, highest of highest, at the WORK. 

And I wait for the molecules to replace (transform/cure), air for water, wet for dry, thick in this way for thick in that way.  

soft, beautiful, pleasant, trans*formation

Material and process, and their associative dimensions, are my main concerns. It is the same material in three different configurations; as a ‘base unit’ |blank pages|, as an ‘activated unit’ |my drawings|, and as a 'reconfigured unit’ |the paper pulp works|. I started making these paper pulp works because I was interested in the idea of pulping community, the scraps that are the material for this work are literally the thoughts of friends and colleagues re-constituted anew. I am finding a way to make the letter/drawings feel more sincere and hold more room for association. The paper pulp works are an evolution, of the drawings, and they hold a more specific relation to my feminist abstract painting history. The paper pulp is a digested letter. How can you say something “from the gut”?  I wish through this digestion to become open to different names for the same thing, or for us to find ways to always question how we name things in adulthood, so that we can be less caught in language. 


The object holds the language, and is quiet and emotive. 

I’m not that moved by Caravaggio, however his painting called The Incredulity of Saint Thomas from 1601-02, Oil on Canvas is important to me. In the painting, Saint Thomas’s stomach on the right side below his breast, is flayed open, an onlooker’s finger pulls up on the skin to see the organs below, they hold open the flap of skin to see the red world inside. Holding onto the upper lip of the wound with a tightly extended index finger, exclamatory yet non-fearful human contact, tension is held.



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