This summer, Whitney McVeigh presents new work at prestigious locations in Italy. A multimedia artist, McVeigh works with monoprints, fine drawings, film and sculpture. Themes of cultural identity are addressed using found objects as McVeigh dismantles, reconstructs and transforms existing material. Starting with the deconstruction of medical texts in China in 2007, McVeigh has worked with pages of old books, ledgers and encyclopaedias, exploring how texture and meaning can be altered through handling. Line and oil applied to an isolated page opens discourse on identity, decay and existence.
Icastica 2013 Glocal Women will see the celebrated town of Arezzo once again become a 'melting pot of contemporaneity' Arezzo's first edition of ICASTICA will highlight women's art in an international art exhibition under the direction of curator Fabio Migliorati. The event is being held under the auspices of the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Arezzo, in collaboration with the Guido d'Arezzo Foundation, the Arezzo Chamber of Commerce, and PaiviProArte, and takes place from 7 June to 1 September 2013 in Arezzo's historic city centre. Over 30 venues along a 4 km route will celebrate the power and expressiveness of contemporary art. The exhibition will be augmented by events focusing on architecture, theatre, dance, and music. All the venues - indoor and open air - are historic sites or newly opened venues in the heart of the historic city. Through the piazzas and streets of the city centre, ICASTICA will offer a dramatic juxtaposition of the sacred and the civic, the historical and the contemporary. Exhibitions, performances, lectures, and conferences will illustrate the link between the past and present as seen through the commitment, revival, and vitality of women. Inspired by the word icastica, meaning 'the art of representing reality', this year's show specifically focuses on the condition of women as 'glocalised' and the increasingly standardised ways in which women are to present themselves: 'now role is style'. Icastica showcases work from over 30 influential female artists, from five continents, including Yoko Ono, Marina Abramovic, Federica Marangoni and, representing the UK, Whitney McVeigh.
Exploring the psychological and physical aspects that underlie and define us as humans, McVeigh places travel at the centre of much of her work, subverting notions of time and place to explore identity and a universal subconscious, and so is a natural fit for this landmark event. Attempting to address the aesthetics of belonging in our globalised environment, McVeigh presents a number of monoprints in Arezzo. As critic JJ Charlesworth says, "It's a way of working that stops us from being too preoccupied with the 'touch' of the artist - of the sense that what one is looking at is a form of 'writing', in which the movement of the brush is the equivalent of the gesture of the artist's hand; and, by implication, a sort of extension and expression of their emotional state or their personality".
The artist is also debuting her first film, Sight of Memory, which documents her extended stay in Syria in 2009. Created using a hand held camera, the film is a personal response to human life and the everyday details that define who we are. An accumulative set of images, a silent film made as a poem.
"I have filmed my travels for the last five years on a hand-held camera. The editing of the film took place after the war began in Syria and naturally I was influenced by the events of 2011-13" explains McVeigh.
"The film looks at humans and individual and cultural identity. It is presented as a poem in its recurring images of people and objects taken over a number of days in Damascus. It is a personal response to an accumulative set of images. As humans we are vessels and carriers of memory and each individual in this film carries something of us. Meaning is in the smallest actions; a child walking, a person shouting, a man's hands, leaves, a woman crying. The American sculptor Siah Armajani says, "everything becomes a matter of the experience of time, nothing before and nothing after". The film traces my own existential experience of both place and time."
McVeigh also exhibits in Venice as part of the 55th Biennale, throughout the summer until November. Her installation at Hotel Metropole comprises a 19th Century chest containing the possessions of an imagined female guest who visited the hotel in a past era. I'll walk beside you is the title of a song on an old record that McVeigh has included in the installation along with other found objects. It relates to the notion that objects are receptacles for memory and their tangibility has an ontological significance. It also proposes that their inherent histories can transfer a sense of universality to the viewer. This is part of Hotel Metropole's ongoing series of Biennale projects curated by James Putnam that celebrate that Sigmund Freud stayed here when he visited Venice in the 1890s.
McVeigh has a further installation entitled Hunting Song at The Gervasuti Foundation, in Venice, which sees an existing shop transformed into an installation housing her own work and collection of objects, tackling both individual and cultural identity and memory. A powerful installation, solitude a breath away, addressing motherhood and the earlier years of McVeigh's children's lives, is also included in White Light/White Heat, Glasstress at the stunning Palazzo Franchetti, alongside that of Tracey Emin, Miroslaw Balka, Cornelia Parker, Eli Saab and Thomas Schutte.
Icastica 2013 Glocal Women 1°
Arezzo International Art, Italy, curated by Fabio Migliorati
Until 18th August 2013
Hunting Song Solo Show
Gervasuti Foundation, curated by James Putnam
Until 7th July 2013 (and then by appointment until 24th November)
Via Garibaldi, Fontamenta, Sant' Ana, Castello 995, 30122, Venice
I'll Walk Beside You
Riva degli Schiavoni, 4149
Glasstress - White Light/White Heat
at the 55th Venice Biennale, curated by James Putnam
Until 24th November 2013
Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti,
S. Marco, 2842 30124 Venice