Saturday, 28 May 2022

Re-Thinking the Trace

Drawing Experiment in the East London Gallery

    In 1952 an art critic Harold Rosenberg coined the term action painting to describe the process of using expressive bodily movement in the way of creating the artwork. Pioneered by Jackson Pollock, the technique was enthusiastically applied by other performers who manipulated it and came up with their approach.

Jackson Pollock creating an action painting

    One of the recondite followers of Pollock's method was Carolee Schneemann. I have to admit I knew very little about her art up until now and was intrigued to discover her oeuvre. Influenced by the new approach to painting, she added a feminist twist to it by exploring her own body it in the context of cultural norms. In her Up To & Including Her Limits performance presented several times between 1971-76, she drew disorderly, tumultuous lines on expansive sheets of paper placed on the walls and floor of a corner of a room, hanging naked in a leather harness suspended a few meters above it. Not able to touch the ground or stay in one position for longer than a couple of seconds, she was using her movements and muscle strength in the exhaustive and dedicated process of creation.

Carol Schneemann performing Up To & Including Her Limits

    This evocative and daring artist influenced the Re-Thinking the Trace show in The Stone Space gallery in East London. During the preview event on 20.05.2022, large sheets of paper were placed on the walls in a corner of the exhibition room. One by one, eight participants who did not know each other before and met for the first time during the performance, were asked to come up to the wall and draw a continuous black line on the paper, using all of the available space.

    After the first participant timidly drew the initial black line on a limitless, open white background, the following contributors became more confident and expressive. Several sequences later, you could observe their work forming into a convoluted explosion of traces. Interacting and clashing with each other, the lines became a tangled eruption of connections.

    It was a great honour for me to speak directly to the person standing behind this captivating show - conceptual and abstract thinker M. Lohrum. The artist explores the questions of ownership and authenticity, inviting audiences to participate in group drawing sessions guided by a set of specified rules. 

   Among the contributors was an illustrator Cherry Cheuk Hei Kwan, book artist Titus Barker, the Stone Space gallery volunteer Maureen and a conceptual artist Iz Elliott, who was particularly enthusiastic about Lohrum's work and came from Bournemouth to join the project. They answered an advert on social media, inviting them to take part in a drawing experiment. 

Artwork produced during M. Lohrum's performance

    The powerful artwork created during the performance is available for viewing till 12.06.2022.

Agnes Prygiel / 28.05.2022 / London