Translations is a series of works in Japanese paper, shellac, and gold leaf begun in 2017.
I can say "Thank You" in about 20 languages. In some of them, this expression means "You have my gratitude." In others, "I am obligated." In others, the term is so old that even at its etymological root it just means "Thanks." Translating even the simple expression of gratitude between languages opens many avenues of expression and interpretation, and involves many puzzles and hurdles. How to translate a "Thanks you" that bears no gratitude or obligation?
This series began as an experiment in process based artwork. My intention was to translate the works of other process-based collections of artworks, such as the ‘Dot Paintings’ of Damien Hirst, into new materials. The idea was to learn from these artists by, first of all, exploring their work in my own media: and, second, by placing stresses on their systems of production to learn from those systems as they fell apart, or accommodated the change, or both. At some points, just like translating a poem, tensions inevitably arise - between meter and rhymn, for instance. I finished a few Hirsts, and got midway through some Pollocks and so forth, before returning to the dot paintings. The stresses on Hirst’s system of production had been so creatively fruitful that I decided to stay with it for some time. For example: how to tessellate the dots in such a way as to account for the paper’s translucency and two-sidedness? How to ensure that each dot is a different colour?
This series is an exercise in interpretation, invention, and shifting perspective. It is ongoing and more documentation will be available soon.
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photos by Fabrice Strippoli