Explaining the Madness
Before I dive into the next point of reference (or inspiration?), I think that It is about time that I answer some of these questions:
what is the goal of all this?
what am I trying to gain here?
what are the commonalities between these entries?
As I am sure you have noticed, the main theme of this project was not fully defined when I started writing, but it is finally starting to take shape. (Maybe it is a sign that I should be thankful for this practise of writing things down, or perhaps it is thanks to all those conversations I had with my family and friends - or is it all just because I kept going…? Eitherway, I am happy.)
From the very beginning I was interested in 'what it means to know', 'language', 'truth', 'meaning' and 'communication'. I have spend some time exploring these issues/topics in my manifesto . Essentially, I came to the conclusion that we ‘know’ very little, and the things we do ‘know’ are things that we have gained from elsewhere. However, addressing such a topic will require a good amount of psychology, philosophy, and linguistics (perhaps other specialities that I have not come across yet), but I keep gravitating towards the mystery of ‘truth’ and how much we value it even though we cannot always recognize it or define it for ourselves. Maybe it is because even language has it's limits... or is it our mind?
After hearing me out one of my good friends suggested that I could create an exhibition, which was just what I needed to hear. This is when I realized that all this time I have been looking for some kind of a constraint (and a permission) to define this project. Now, the ideas started flowing and I felt a sense of security. I knew that if I wanted to, I could create a series of smaller pieces which make a larger whole - an exhibition or a publication.
I also want to go back to the manifesto because the feedback I recieved from my tutor suggested something very similar - to make the points of the manifesto into physical objects which people can interact with. So guys, this is what we are working with...
This project is (probably) not going to be something ground-breaking (not saving any lives, not solving any problems, not showing any business potential,...) and It might seem like more of a conceptual art project, but I think that it has it's value. (Especially these days with the media having so much power over us and when people are taking sides without understanding what they are signing up for... It just leads me to think that it is a worthwhile thing to pursue, showcase, and expose, ...)
I would like to emphasize that the goal is not to explain or define 'what the absolute truth is' (definitions create limitations) rather it is an attempt to make people think a little bit more critically about the information they are fed, about the two opposing sides - not everything is black&white or is it?
(Disclaimer: I am not here to provide the answers because I do not have them - I just hope to start a conversation and make people think.)
So why am I looking at the work of Ibghy&Lemmens, Jenny Holzer (and others)? Because I am observing how they are using physical objects, language, symbols, and the exhibition space to highlight current issues and ideas in a way that is accessible for others. Essentially, how do they make ideas visible.
Back to our scheduled programme...
Okay. Now that we have this out of the way, we can return back to our ‘points of reference’.
I found Kunel Gaur by chance (thanks to one of those random Instagram algorithms). At first, I thought he is one of those self-sustaining artists who share their (conceptual) work online. My assumptions were wrong...
Figure 1. Kunel Guar IG Screenshot
Gaur, from New Delhi India, is the Founder & Creative Director of Animal (a non-traditional ad agency).
Figures 2-3. WeAreAnimalco
He is also the Founder & Curator of Indianama (Project documenting the journey of the independent India.). His career is supported by his extremely diverse skillset (photography, illustration, graphic and product design, social media, advertising and Film). I have to say that for me Guar has managed to blur the lines between Art and Advertising.
However, with such a though-provoking portfolio it is fair to expect an equally provocative personality, right? Well, Kunel does not disappoint. The brief introduction used in an interview for the desicreative (2012) paints quite the picture,
“He is a non-drinker, non-smoker and hence very non-advertising, which is why at times he thinks he should just stick to becoming a film maker. That’s because he’s ok with coke overdose (He also owns a t-shirt brand called Cocaine – for which he directed his first film titled “This is cocaine”). While some may think he has lost it, he believes he hasn’t even found it yet.”
Well, Kunel has undeniably found something, whether he likes it or not. Just to prove a point, here are a few samples.
Figures 4-9. Kunel Gaur IG Samples
In some instances Guar relies purely on the power of language - keeping everything else minimal (looks like it could be a collaboration with Off-White, but it is not) he let's the words speak for thewselves, which reminds me of Jenny Holzer and her 'Truisms' - can you see the similarities?
What is different about Guar? The way he 'frames' his work - using different mediums ranging from literal frames, to walls, mirrors or packaging. He also emphasizes certain words, and as a bonus there is a little bit of an anti-adverstising vibe to some pieces.
Ellery is an English Designer, Publisher, Conceptual Artist and a Co-Founder of the design studio Browns. In 2005 he began his solo-artist career with '136 Points of Reference', an exhibition and a self-published art title.
Figure 10. 136 Points of Reference
In his work, Ellery balances a wide variety of mediums (performance, film, photography, sculptures, crumpled paper, tape, fonts, brass, space, light, sound…) to create tactile objects of art (with a certain theatrical quality).
Figure 11-17. Jonathan Ellery Exhibitions
All projects follow a similar recipe – it seems like the combination of an exhibition and a book publication is the preferred formula for Ellery.
Figures 18-26. Jonathan Ellery Print
A little bit of wisdom from Jonathan Ellery on the topic of References,
“…while reference points are important, there comes a time when you have to leave them behind to find your own voice. If you are constantly swimming with the same points of reference you become a shadow of someone else.”
(TYPO Talks, 2011)
Use of the exhibition space - ligths emphasize objects and create a certain atmosphere. Experimenting with a wide range of materials (from paper to stone), projecting images, suspending sculptures in the air, and once again - type, symbols, language and communication as the common thread.
(See you soon!)
List of Illustrations
Figure 1. Instagram. (2021) ‘Kunel Guar IG Screenshot'. At: https://www.instagram.com/kunelgaur/?hl=en
Figure 2-3. Instagram. (2021) 'WeAreAnimalco'. At: https://www.instagram.com/p/CKdoDlmJLDN/
Figure 4-9. Instagram. (2021) 'Kunel Guar IG Samples'. At: https://www.instagram.com/kunelgaur/?hl=en
Figure 10. Ellery, J. (2005) 136 Points of reference. At: https://brownseditions.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Browns-Editions-136-Points-Of-Reference-Jonathan-Ellery-Spread-02.jpg
Figure 11-17. Ellery, J. (s.d.) 'Jonathan Ellery Exhibitions'. At: https://www.jonathanellery.com/works.html
Figure 18-26. Ellery, J. (s.d.) 'Jonathan Ellery Print'. At: https://www.jonathanellery.com/works.html
About me -.kunel gaur (s.d.) At: https://cargocollective.com/kunel/About-me (Accessed 19/02/2021).
Browns Design (s.d.) At: https://www.brownsdesign.com/ (Accessed 19/02/2021).
desicreative (2012) At: http://www.desicreative.com/kunel-gaur-interview/ (Accessed 18/02/2021).
TYPO Talks (2011) At: https://www.typotalks.com/news/2011/10/21/jonathan-ellery-the-here-and-now/ (Accessed 19/02/2021).
Works - Jonathan Ellery (s.d.) At: https://www.jonathanellery.com/works.html (Accessed 19/02/2021).