Lorna Simpson uses combinations of image and text to examine the processes through which meaning and understanding take place.
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird -
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
“The Messenger” by Mary Oliver (2004)
“This, then, is the central paradox: wilderness embodies a dualistic vision in which the human is entirely
outside the natural. If we allow ourselves to believe that nature, to be true, must also be wild, then our very presence in nature represents its fall. The place where we are is the place where nature is not. If this is so—if by definition wilderness leaves no place for human beings, save perhaps as contemplative sojourners enjoying their leisurely reverie in God's natural cathedral—then also by definition it can offer no solution to the environmental and other problems that confront us. To the extent that we celebrate wilderness as the measure
with which we judge civilization, we reproduce the dualism that sets humanity and nature at opposite poles. We thereby leave ourselves little hope of discovering what an ethical, sustainable, honorable human place in nature might actually look like.”
“Calling a place home inevitably means that we will use the nature we find in it, for there can be no escape
from manipulating and working and even killing some parts of nature to make our home. But if we
acknowledge the autonomy and otherness of the things and creatures around us--an autonomy our culture has
taught us to label with the word 'wild'—then we will at least think carefully about the uses to which we put
them, and even ask if we should use them at all.”
“If wildness can stop being (just) out there and start being (also) in here, if it can start being as humane as it is
natural, then perhaps we can get on with the unending task of struggling to live rightly in the world—not just
in the garden, not just in the wilderness, but in the home that encompasses them both.”
From: “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature” by William Cronon.
Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, William Cronon, editor. 1995
“‘No art is neutral, it is either transforming or upholding the status quo.’
Thanks to writer, activist, and WCCW fave adrienne maree brown for this language. Overheard at Allied Media Conference in 2018.”
FORMATION designs expressive systems.
It is a reflective practice
It is concerned with systems of orientation and information
It seeks clarity and beauty
It is particular but not precious about it
It listens and observes
It has a bias towards imagination
It is resourceful and intentional
It can be turned on/off every day
It is here to help you
(❛ ◡ ❛)♡
Founded in 2008 by Oliver Knight & Rory McGrath, the studio is a collaborative design studio engaged in ongoing partnerships with artists, curators, editors, architects, designers and institutions.
For us, design is a conversation. Our art direction aims to engage clients, commissioners and collaborators in a process that not only communicates who they are but clarifies what they are. Whether it’s a book, space or a visual identity, our designs seek to reflect a set of core values. This way of working often leads to ongoing relationships that track the evolution of a brand or body of work.
Torkwase Dyson considers spatial relations an urgent question both historically and in the present day. Through abstract paintings, Dyson grapples with ways space is perceived and negotiated particularly by black and brown bodies. Explorations of how the body unifies, balances, and arranges itself to move through natural and built environments become both expressive and discursive structures within the work.
Dyson builds the paintings slowly, accumulating washes and configuring minimal geometric elements through a process of improvisation and reflection. The paint-handling producing various surfaces using brushwork and other tools is made poetic by a juxtaposition of dense marks and scored, diagrammatic lines. This compositional rigor imbues the works with an architectural presence and optical gravity.
In Dyson’s work the residue of grids and the evidence of hand moving in space creates a productive tension. This precarious arrangement along with subtle use of atmospheric color, contour lines, scale shifts in the paintings invite the eye to consider the conceptual and corporeal knowledge of space in real time.
➨ From the scale of living bodies, to landmasses, and even on a planetary one – our world is saturated with processes and relations that are exhausting. This exhaustion is consequential; we glamorise producing but overlook the exhaustion and even fatigue that might follow it. The social and political pressure on maintaining a constant production comes at a price: perpetual work, overproduction, and as a result, consuming precarious bodies and other planetary resources.
➧ In addition to this perpetual exhaustion as a result of (over)productivity, exhaustion comes as a consequence of unjust sociopolitical and economic orders that prioritise it. It is for these reasons that ideas and practices of ‘comfort’ are crucial in imagining a different future world. We feel the need to investigate comfort in a way that goes beyond constructed and capitalist ideas; comfort is more than just the process of rejuvenation for the purpose of maintaining a certain level of productivity. Therefore, imagining other conceptions of comfort means imagining different sociopolitical orders and ways of performing in the world; it is a practice with political urgency.
➠ Both exhaustion and ‘comfort’ can be understood as states, performances, landscapes, and conditions that constantly shape our understandings of the world around us – they all influence the ways in which we inhabit, and make space in it.
➟ Within this world, ‘home’ is a locus of various dimensions of living practices. On the one hand home is a space of production of work, experiencing exhaustion and fatigue, and resting of the (tired) bodies. On the other hand home stands for ideas and forms of inhabiting the world. In short, home can be seen as a landscape where exhaustion and comfort are entangled together.
➞ The collective project Fictioning Comfort includes works that take an urgent socio-political stance by fictioning ideas and practices of ‘comfort’. This is done by way of spatial installation, body performance, historical research, science fiction, image making, resource redistribution, extending kinships, and humor.
➛ ➜ ➔ ➝ ➞ ➟ ➠ ➧ ➨ The offline part of Fictioning Comfort is on view at MAMA's Showroom until 13 September, 2020.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Marge Piercy, "To Be of Use"
"...men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object—and most particularly an object of vision: a sight." (Berger 47)
“A culture is not a collection of relics or ornaments, but a practical necessity, and its corruption invokes
calamity. A healthy culture is a communal order of memory, insight, value, work, conviviality, reverence,
aspiration. It reveals the human necessities and the human limits. It clarifies our inescapable bonds to the earth and to each other. It assures that the necessary restraints are observed, that the necessary work is done, and that it is done well.”
From: The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, Chapter 4, "The Agricultural Crisis as a
Crisis of Culture" by Wendell Berry.
Zak Group is an award-winning international design practice that gives shape to contemporary visual culture. Our focus is on creating identities and digital platforms for clients who value the transformative power of design.