Marie-Claire Lacey (she/her)
Essay Prize for Fine Art
I’ve always seen art as a way of questioning standards, and communicating things differently.
I like making experiential work – I think creating space for people to feel things, as opposed to cognitively understanding them, is valuable. I’m interested in how art can help us gain things we’re lacking in life.
I’m politically oriented but I’m trying to move my work away a bit from looking overtly at political and social issues, towards a more internal focus. I’m interested in hegemony and I’d like to use art to expose the more internalised aspects of oppression. I’ve started creating space for other people to engage internally, but what I really want to do, or perhaps what I want to do alongside that, is to create space for myself.
I love Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Mary Kelly, Rafael Lozano Hemmer, Suzanne Lacy, Laurie Anderson, Nina Katchadourian, Ursula Le Guin.
Since I realised I could be a multimedia artist, I have been. I love working in so many media – programming, video, performance, social media.
My work always starts with concept and I use media that make sense to me to communicate what I’m trying to say. Ultimately, I love learning new things – all the time.
I love working collaboratively, which means learning not just new things, but new people. I want to make work that converses – that evolves with interaction.
This Too Shall Pass
Experiential Installation – dual-channel audio, video, grass.
A work about the value of stillness, about the difficulty of embracing it, and about the necessity of balance.
…Dark Envelops Light, How Quickly Light Breaks Dark
Interactive/Experiential Installation – heart sensor, speaker, sand, video.
The viewer’s heartbeat disrupts the sand mandala: the faster the heartbeat, the more violent the destruction. The only way out is to relax, but the harder you try, the harder it is.
Eventually the drawing will be destroyed anyway – we always exit the maze.
I trained in Social Research before becoming an artist, and the two are inseparable to me – my art is sociology – it looks at the mechanics of the social world and how we exist in relation to them.
The work I make seeks to reflect social realities by creating self-contained worlds that act as magnifying glasses, that allow audiences to experience emphasised elements of the world. I do this through installation and interactive technology, often using the body to access feelings…
I live under a cloud of pervasive ALIENATION: oppression, social and financial inequality, gender roles, depression, childhood trauma, exploitation, disconnection, capitalism, climate change, individualism, consumerism.
Art, as IMAGINATION, allows me to think beyond these experiences, to see things differently from the way they are, to embrace the difference I can already see and to dream of even more. Art is the process of seeing a ‘reality’ and offering its opposite: answering limitation with freedom. This process allows an understanding of reality as flexible rather than concrete.
For me, creative answers to these challenges involve connection, presence, embodiment, the unconscious, slowness, community, stillness, mayhem, unpredictability, multi-facetedness, intangibility, joy: these are all components of ACTUALISATION, which is the opposite of ALIENATION.
Living in the world means that these ideals of ACTUALISATION can be sought, and glimpsed, but not held on to. One example of this is COMMUNICATION – speaking about the ideals I seek and about how they contrast with the status quo involves engaging with both poles – bringing them into confrontation with one another. Producing ART that speaks beyond myself involves engaging with society, and with the very oppressive structures I’m trying to resist.
In this way, ALIENATION becomes inherent to ART too – it’s work: it involves playing by the rules, professionalism, getting stressed, being underpaid, producing things for consumption.
For me, art is all of these things, and the space between them, at the same time. It is tension, flux, contradiction, opposition. It is, at it’s core, indefinable, un-state-able.