TXST FL3X Space Fall 2020
Throughout October, I will host a series of discussions with artists and art historians covering questions and ideas that contributed to the work in Cat’s Cradle. This blog will serve as a reservoir for thoughts related to our discussions. I invite Texas State Students, faculty, and anyone else who like like to participate to share their responses to our conversation as comments. I encourage not only written responses, but also artwork in any form. All responses will be compiled as a zine at the close of the show.
Discussion 1-The White Spatial Imaginary
George Lipsitz writes about how architecture and social organization contribute to the creation of the “white spatial imaginary”. I think images do this as well. Lipsitz describes the white spatial imaginary as a fantasy of order and regularity, where people move and behave predictably in structured space. However, I think there is room in the dreamscape of whiteness for the kind of aesthetic chaos Cat Marnell cultivates in her writings and artist persona.
Cat Marnell’s imagined space is the undoing and defilement of the ideal white space. It could be viewed as the loss of this space or its non-function. I think this approach comes out of a punk tradition for Marnell.
But ultimately I think the space Marnell creates upholds and reinforces the ideal. It adds to it, creating another possibility for transcendent whiteness. Cat’s writing contributes “the beauty in the ugly” as well as a redemption narrative to the pristine beauty of the undefiled white space.
If Marnell’s art ends up augmenting the white spatial imaginary through an act of defilement, what do paintings of Cat’s body do? Is the “visceral treatment” of the paint a deconstruction of what she presents, or is it more of a mirroring and repetition of the idea of defilement she created?
I chose to paint my surroundings not only as a traditional exercise of observation in painting, but with the explicit intent of recording my environment with the knowledge of its whiteness–its complicity in the construction of the white spatial imaginary. This was an act of observation with intent beyond the standard mental organization of the painting process. In addition to white space, I contemplated the problem of my own subjectivity and its construction…the seemingly inescapable tendency to fall into or align with the readily available cultural avatars of “fucked up weird white girl artist” or even just “white woman painter”. I wasn’t necessarily trying to create images of my physical space that directly undermined that construct. I felt I had to understand it better (beyond the limitations of easy tropes) before I could move on to the use of visual tactics for its deconstruction. I wanted to start with a more minute approach, simply to observe myself observing these spaces slowly and deliberately and with constant consciousness of what exactly I was rendering as I painted, where exactly I stood, both physically and socially.
I am interested in this: if we analyze these images using Lipsitz’s text as a guide, what emerges?