Emma Siemens (°1991, Halifax, Canada) is an artist who mainly works with contemporary strategies. By putting the viewer on the wrong track, Siemens makes work that generates diverse meanings. Associations and meanings collide. Space becomes time and language becomes image.
Her conceptual artworks are a drawn reflection upon the art of conceptual art itself: thoroughly self-referential, yet no less aesthetically pleasing, and therefore deeply inscribed in the history of modernism – made present most palpably in the artist’s exploration of some of the most hallowed of modernist paradigms. With a conceptual approach, she makes works that can be seen as self-portraits. Sometimes they appear idiosyncratic and quirky, at other times, they seem typical by-products of American superabundance and marketing.
She creates situations in which everyday objects are altered or detached from their natural function. By applying specific combinations and certain manipulations, different functions and/or contexts are created. By studying sign processes, signification and communication, she absorbs the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation.
Her works are given improper functions: significations are inversed and form and content merge. Shapes are dissociated from their original meaning, by which the system in which they normally function is exposed. Initially unambiguous meanings are shattered and disseminate endlessly. With a subtle minimalistic approach, she tries to focus on the activity of presenting. The character, shape or content of the presented artwork is secondary. The essential things are the momentary and the intention of presenting.
Her works question the conditions of appearance of an image in the context of contemporary visual culture in which images, representations and ideas normally function. By replaying the work for each exhibition and pushing the evocative power of the work a little further, she creates work in which a fascination with the clarity of content and an uncompromising attitude towards conceptual and minimal art can be found. The work is aloof and systematic and a cool and neutral imagery is used.
Her works are an investigation of concepts such as authenticity and objectivity by using an encyclopaedic approach and quasi-scientific precision and by referencing documentaries, ‘fact-fiction’ and popular scientific equivalents. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, she tries to create works in which the actual event still has to take place or just has ended: moments evocative of atmosphere and suspense that are not part of a narrative thread. The drama unfolds elsewhere while the build-up of tension is frozen to become the memory of an event that will never take place.
Her collected, altered and own works are being confronted as aesthetically resilient, thematically interrelated material for memory and projection. The possible seems true and the truth exists, but it has many faces, as Hanna Arendt cites from Franz Kafka. With the use of appropriated materials which are borrowed from a day-to-day context, she seduces the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life.
Her works sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, disconcerting beauty emerges. The inherent visual seductiveness, along with the conciseness of the exhibitions, further complicates the reception of their manifold layers of meaning. With Plato’s allegory of the cave in mind, she presents everyday objects as well as references to texts, painting and architecture. Pompous writings and Utopian constructivist designs are juxtaposed with trivial objects. Categories are subtly reversed.
Her works are saturated with obviousness, mental inertia, clichés and bad jokes. They question the coerciveness that is derived from the more profound meaning and the superficial aesthetic appearance of an image. By parodying mass media by exaggerating certain formal aspects inherent to our contemporary society, she makes work that deals with the documentation of events and the question of how they can be presented. The work tries to express this with the help of physics and technology, but not by telling a story or creating a metaphor.
Her works are an investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ages and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in conceptual art. By using an ever-growing archive of found documents to create autonomous artworks, she reflects on the closely related subjects of archive and memory. This often results in an examination of both the human need for ‘conclusive’ stories and the question whether anecdotes ‘fictionalise’ history.
Her practice provides a useful set of allegorical tools for manoeuvring with a pseudo-minimalist approach in the world of conceptual art: these meticulously planned works resound and resonate with images culled from the fantastical realm of imagination. Through a radically singular approach that is nevertheless inscribed in the contemporary debate, she creates with daily, recognizable elements, an unprecedented situation in which the viewer is confronted with the conditioning of his own perception and has to reconsider his biased position.
Her works directly respond to the surrounding environment and uses everyday experiences from the artist as a starting point. Often these are framed instances that would go unnoticed in their original context. By rejecting an objective truth and global cultural narratives, her works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.
Her works demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. By emphasising aesthetics, she uses references and ideas that are so integrated into the process of the composition of the work that they may escape those who do not take the time to explore how and why these images haunt you, like a good film, long after you’ve seen them.
Her work urge us to renegotiate conceptual art as being part of a reactive or – at times – autistic medium, commenting on oppressing themes in our contemporary society. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, she tries to approach a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way, likes to involve the viewer in a way that is sometimes physical and believes in the idea of function following form in a work.
Her works are presented with the aim not to provide an idealistic view but to identify where light and the environment are important. The energy of a place and its emotional and spiritual vibrations are always important. Emma Siemens currently lives and works in Amsterdam.
Wooster Goobs #he Exhibitions, Further Complicates The Reception Of Their Manifold Layers Of Meaning. By Emphasising Aesthetics, He Seduces The Viewer Into A World Of Ongoing Equilibrium And The Interval That Articulates The Stream Of Daily Events. Moments Are Depicted That Only Exist To Punctuate The Human Drama In Order To Clarify Our Existence And To Find Poetic Meaning In Everyday Life.
His Works Are Saturated With Obviousness, Mental Inertia, Clichés And Bad Jokes. They Question The Coerciveness That Is Derived From The More Profound Meaning And The Superficial Aesthetic Appearance Of An Image. By Parodying Mass Media By Exaggerating Certain Formal Aspects Inherent To Our Contemporary Society, He Tries To Create Works In Which The Actual Event Still Has To Take Place Or Just Has Ended: Moments Evocative Of Atmosphere And Suspense That Are Not Part Of A Narrative Thread. The Drama Unfolds Elsewhere While The Build-up Of Tension Is Frozen To Become The Memory Of An Event That Will Never Take Place.
His Works Are Given Improper Functions: Significations Are Inversed And Form And Content Merge. Shapes Are Dissociated From Their Original Meaning, By Which The System In Which They Normally Function Is Exposed. Initially Unambiguous Meanings Are Shattered And Disseminate Endlessly. Goobs Wooster Currently Lives And Works In Solvang.## %# Rosado Mike