Week 10. Contextualisation Justine Kurland & others 03.04.20
Many artists have inspired me this module, and many I have already discussed such as Clare Gallagher here , as well as Tina Barney HERE , Alex Prager HERE , NATALIE LENNARD , JORDI RUIZ CIERRA and Female artists working in absent/self portraiture here .
Over the past few weeks I have been inspired by, and going to Justine Kurland and Elinor Carucci’s work more and more , to inform my own. I received Justine Kurland’s highway kind the other day, and have her Girl pictures (which is due for release in May) on pre order as well.
The book is printed with a wood effect cover, to make you think of life on the road in nature. The title and artist name are not precise and level, and are slightly raised, giving it the feel of a letter press or screen print by hand , again bringing it back to this personal piece of work, in nature. A more ‘simple’ life without the distraction of modern day technology and methods of living and working.
The book, a compilation of two of Kurlands’ previous projects, Leo hsu says of the projects “Commingled, and contrasted, each of these two projects amplifies the effect of the other, deepening the meaning of both. Kurland’s young son, Casper, who appears in both projects, now serves as the thread that ties them together.” (Hsu 2016)
The book opens with an image of Kurland’s son (fig 1) , Casper, playing with his toy trains on the side of a dirt road in America whilst a train rumbles past in the background, the train and casper looking as dwarfed by the American landscape, as Caspers trains are by him on his play table.
This image is connected to my work through it’s use of the parent/child symbiotic relationship , and also the child/educational relationship as well. Kurland showing Casper learning through toys and through real life. Kurland talks of the way they traversed America in their van searching out trains, to ‘feed’ Caspers fascination with them, whether Kuralnd knew or not I am not sure, but this is what is known as autonomous, child led education . Where a child develops naturally their own interests, and follows those interests learning as they go. So for casper for example in this image, he would of learnt about the geography of America, personal skills through the people he met along the way, maths skills through the juxtaposition of the toy train and the real life counterpart, engineering & physics through his exploration of how trains work, history learning about the steam trains of the past with the model day electric ones. He may of drawn pictures of the trains and done art, or learnt to say the word train in different languages, he may of built models of trains, or discovered where else on the map by them there were different train tracks, the possibilities, like education, are endless.
Highway kind is a journey through America, and the sights and people, and education that casper had along the way. Kurland says of this time with casper (the spent 6 years travelling for four months of the year together) “The road cemented our togetherness” It is this togetherness I am dipcting in my images of my own, and other home educating families. Travelling together, living together full time, it creates a different kind of parent child relationship than the standard one we all general experience. This book is illustrating that. The camps in the woods, bathing in rivers, meeting friends, old and young along the way, this is an experience and education you cannot get through school, or college or university, the only way to achieve this kind of education is through living and experiencing, some people go their whole lives never learning these things. It is these things we try to teach our children, the beauty in landscape and nature, in togetherness, in freedom, in total and utter loss of control and the joy that comes from relinquishing that control .
There is one picture, a puzzle on a table in a caravan. I love it. It is slowness. The choice to shun modern day living and it’s traps, to say a puzzle on the road can entertain me for evenings, more than any episode of Eastenders could, that all I have in these tin four walls and rusty roof, is all I would ever need. The photograph on the puzzle if of flowers, and nature, bright and gaudy against the backdrop of the neutral van it is inclosed in, a commentary perhaps on the way society tries to contain us, to contain nature. To keep trapped in it’s four walls the every growing, beauty of what it could be, if it , just, broke, free. Entitled hummingbird for the bird in the centre of the puzzle it becomes a metaphor for life, an animal trapped in the frame, trapped in the van, trapped in the image , and all the traps we are trying to escape.
Kurland, Justine. 2016. Highway kind. New York, Aperture.
Hsu, Leo. 2016. Fraction magazine. Highway kind review.Available at http://www.fractionmagazine.com/highway-kind (Accessed 26.04.2020)
Fig 1,Week 10. Contextualisation Justine Kuralnd 03.04.20
Fig 2, Kurland. Justine. Highway Kind.
fig 3, Kurland Justine.
fig 4, Kurland, justine. hummingbird 2010.jpg