N.C.A.D. Diploma in Art & Design

Arte Povera 2 - Project 1


See below for final Arte Povera pieces for this project


See HERE for outline and research for this project

Final Work (Containment & Connections)



I first looked at animals and how we often seek to contain and control both them and the natural environment that we share with them.  I attempted to make a bird out of toothpicks and placed it within a box (with a glass front to the box) in order to mimic the zoo like effect of how we keep these animals contained.



Discovery is an important factor to art work - both for the artist (in their journey to find new ideas, techniques and materials) and also for the audience (in their viewing of the work as they hope to observe something new and interesting).  


Using this idea of discovery, I decided to again use boxes in this project (as I had previously in our Arte Povera studio session) except this time, in order to make the piece more playful and to create a sense of discovery, I would have the boxes closed shut so that the audience would have the opportunity to open them up for themselves in order to discover what lies within. 


This would also create a sense of unknown and apprehension upon the audience and thus it was likely to result in different feelings and reactions from each viewer eg. excitement, playfulness, anxiety, fear, curiosity.  I really like this idea of the audience being able to participate in the art work and have the work act as a type of performance piece


I decided to create a game as part of the art work as this would further increase both the playfulness and the audience participation in the work.  I did this by numbering each of the boxes, making a block like figure and having the audience roll a dice in order to choose which box number to open.  This block figure represented a person who would be confined by whatever number (and thus the symbolic subject of containment within the box for this number) the audience would roll on the die.  The red block figure was kept within their own dark black box.




As the dice may fall on 6 numbers I therefore needed to edit the list of topics that I had previously come up with (as listed in 1(b) of my research notes) to just six subjects based upon the theme of containment.  I chose the below 6 themes:


1. Yourself

2. Gender

3. Address (idea of being tagged)

4. Money

5. Chance

6. Food



One significant factor in how we are confined, and thus miss out on many life experiences and achievements, can actually be due to us ourselves through our own thoughts and fears ie. fear of failure and fear of the unknown.  


For this subject I decided upon the idea of wrapping yourself in cotton wool.  While some people may believe that you are protecting yourself through this act, you can actually be running the risk of smothering yourself from opportunities and hence losing out on so much that life has to offer.


I first placed cotton wool inside of an iphone box.  I then used copper wire to create a figure imitating the form of a person (using black masking tape as part of the clothing).  I used twine to create a noose around the neck of this figure and I had the figure hanging from the top of the box by this noose - this was to act as a symbol of how they are not fully alive as they are sucking the life from themselves through their fear of leaving this cotton wool world.  I again used the overlapping of black wire (similar to how I had previously used this overlapping of thread, lines etc. in other projects stemming from the idea of the containment found in the overlapping of spiderwebs).  This black wire was a symbol of smothering, suffocation and being confined.  Finally, I cut some foam balls in half and stuck them around the interior of the box in order to act as a symbol of a padded cell in which they are contained within.





Gender proves itself as a form of confinement in many aspects of life, for example, pay inequality, access only areas for male/females, male/female only clubs and societies.  We often observe this theme of classifying and separating genders in many mundane tasks, such as, the ticking of a box for 'male' or 'female' which is found on so many forms that we are required to complete.  


I was greatly influenced by pop art for this piece.  Andy Warhol and Donald Roberston were especially strong influences for this work - for example, this can be seen in the strong bold red color that I used for the lips (see below) as I usually stick to black, white and grey colors.  The lips were inspired by the work of Donald Robertson as he often uses lips as a subject matter in his work.  



I used a ladies perfume box as the box for this work.  I then used toothpicks, paper and foam balls.  The foam balls were to symbolize a ball and chain which is tying down and separating these symbols of either male (moustache) or female (strong red lips).  I then used the overlapping of wool and masking tape to seal off the box and thus confine the pieces within it.  This work insinuates that gender must lie either on one or the other side of the box which is not always the case; when people see a symbol such as red lips they tend to immediately think of a female, however, this does not always prove true and we must stop instantly categorizing people into such boxes.


3. ADDRESS (idea of being tagged)



People sometimes instantly judge you based upon where you live/d as there can be a stigma and discrimination against you based upon this location.  Factors such as, your education, character, if you are a city person or a country person (we often hear discriminative terms such as bogger, city slicker, country bumkin/hick etc.) may influence ones opinion of you.  Your location also confines you in matters such as visa requirements to access certain countries, opportunities available to you depending upon where you live/where you were born and even access to certain schools can be dependent upon your address.


In this piece I have again used toothpicks, an iphone box and foam balls.  This time I used the toothpicks to create a stick like figure of a person who is confined within an iphone box and I then had the foam ball chained to their leg by some twine.  This ball and chain are to portray how they are tied down by their address.  I attached an address label to this ball and chain and on the label I stated a different address than to that of the many other address labels that are hanging within the bigger box.  This was to portray how the figure is encaptured and confined by their different label.  



It is also interesting to note the use of the figure contained within an iphone box in this piece as this symbolizes how people have become so contained by their phone that they are thus missing out on so much of the 'real' world.  I used black masking tape to create a cage like enclosure for this box.




Money is an obvious choice in regards to confinement within our lives and it can impact us in many ways.  Not only does it allow us to buy nice things but it also affects our status, our access to a greater number of opportunities and it is an imperative factor to our health (ie. being able to afford food and the best healthcare).  



Hans-Peter Feldmanns use of money in his Hugo Boss prize exhibition (as discussed in my research for this project; see section 3 here) inspired me greatly and I finally integrated the use of money and introduced an olfactory nature to my own work in this piece.


Here the confinement that money creates for us is symbolized by the overlapping of the copper and coil wires around the money within the box.




I chose this subject in order to consider how mere luck may limit and confine you within your life.  Factors that can play a large impact on the outcome of your life may happen by merely just being in the right place at the right time for certain events and opportunities to arise.  The quote 'life is a gamble' symbolizes how much of your life can be down to luck ie. determined by the pack of cards that you are dealt with in life.

Using this idea of life as a gamble, I cut up several playing cards and covered the interior of a handcrafted box with them.  I then created a shamrock (which many believe to be a symbol of luck) from copper wire and sewed green felt on to the leaf section of this shamrock.  I made a base for the shamrock by using a foam ball and gluing it to the edge of the interior of the box.






'your body is a temple'

If 'your body is a temple' then we should thus feed it well.  Our diet can have a huge impact on how we are confined and limited within our lives as our health is a necessity in order for us to have the strength, and hence the capability, to achieve our goals and to live a full and good life.  As in the second piece of work for this project, 'Gender', I was again influenced and inspired by pop art for this piece.  The strong bright colors, the simplicity and the playfulness of the piece acted as a throwback to Pop Art.  

People often say that we are what we eat and I therefore thought it would be funny to use the Tayto crips character as a symbol of this idea.   If we fill our bodies with junk food we therefore become junk.  Again (as in the earlier piece 'Gender') I brought a sense of olfactory to this work through using M&M sweets and popcorn in it.  M&M sweets are also known to be characterized as people - similar to the Tayto man.  I glued each one of the sweets to the interior of box and used material and cardboard paper to create the popcorn box.  I also glued the tayto character and the popcorn to the relevant sections within this box.