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Gesture as the Fluid of Life - A Talk with Melissa Gordon

Melissa Gordon is teaching at the Summer Academy for the second time. I've noticed that her students are the most covered in color compared to others. Hardly a surprise, since what they are doing is exploring gesture in all of its forms.

 

Melissa Gordon with her class

 

In this class, you will explore gesture in all of its forms. Your Tuesday talk was named “The Gesture is a Fluid”.

 

Yes, in the talk I was talking a lot about theory, about how the gesture functions in painting. But then also I was trying to think through where we locate the gesture and that it’s not necessarily a mark on a canvas. It’s rather an attempt or the link between the action and the thing you see.

 

How do you plan to present this idea to your class?

 

In the class, I’m hoping the students not approach making work as putting something onto a surface, but rather think about what their intention is and what kind of attempt they went through to get left with an object. So, to me, it doesn’t matter if they do performance or sculptural objects or painting. Whatever they are making is more about thinking where the gesture lies.

 

What do you think can a gesture be in physical and conceptual terms?

 

I think when you’re looking at artworks, it’s the thing that is exciting. It’s the thing that’s being affected or transformed or adjusted. I often say to my students: “Show me what you’re thinking!” When looking at art I like to see what the artist has been thinking, to get the view into their thought process through the object, and get a sense of their person, their interests and their attempt in a way.

 

Melissa explaining the silkscreen technique to students

 

What does your teaching process look like?

 

We started off with some readings than we engaged in an interesting conversation. They were asking questions what’s the difference between the gesture and the trace. They are trying to think outside of normative terms about what they are trying to do. We have done some contemplative exercises, but now I am showing them some techniques and letting them go - it’s time to make stuff.

 

You taught a course here in 2016 as well. Do you have any hopes regarding the course this year?

 

Last year we did performance events and the students were really interested in thinking about the theatricality of painting. So now I will ask the students to think about the sight of painting, but I would like them to come up with their own idea. We will do something active, explore new mediums and ways of thinking. We can make a book together in the end. I hope I will be giving the students a tool they will leave here with.

 

Do you think there could be art without gesture?

 

I actually don’t think so. I think the gesture is the thing that brings something to life. I also think in art history, the artists’ gestures are what we look at, not their personalities. I don’t care what Duchamp was like as a person, I’m only interested in the gestures that he made and those gestures that changed art.

 

Traces of a gesture

 

***

 

Today, I am finally going to see the printmakers in action! Cannot wait!

 

Read you later!

 

Ana

20/07/17 11:43 Summer Academy 2017

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