Mianam Bashir & Emma Powell
THIS IS NOT A PIPE (a Dada guide to interpretation) | The Hepworth, Wakefield
Our interventions are influenced by Dada, which was concerned with the absurdity of life and culture in the context of war, and took things out of their original context, placing them in new contexts and employing chance to subvert their meaning.
The Hepworth gallery labels are our ready-mades.
Dada also influenced typography, breaking it free from print traditions and incorporating it into fine art by artists such as Picabia and Schwitters. The relationship between the word and the image became foremost and irregular layouts and syntactic elements like capital/lower case, condensed, light/bold were used extensively, which reduced the legibility of the text but emphasised the content, creating a new visual language.
The typographer’s symbol of a pointing hand appeared frequently in Dada art and became an emblem for the movement—making a pointless gesture. Our intervention could be viewed as a pointless gesture, because it is both a celebration and a criticism of the written language used to interpret art.
List of Works
Ground Floor: THIS IS NOT A PIPE I: Artists’ names of Seasonal Plants, Screenprint on glass, 2022
THIS IS NOT A PIPE II: Collaborative Artist Book, Letterpress on paper, badge 2022
Gallery 3: THIS IS NOT A PIPE III: Dada Interpretation; found curatorial language, randomly placed, Letterpress on paper 2022
Gallery 4: THIS IS NOT A PIPE IV: Pull to Open; a memory aid, Digital print on tracing paper 2022
Gallery 5: THIS IS NOT A PIPE V: This is Not a View, Screenprint on wood, Digital print on paper 2022
Artist Statement: Mianam Bashir (pseudonym)
“Context is everything” - a concept summed up by artist Alan Kane when we were discussing a new commission; without a context my work does not exist. As a second-generation immigrant with parents from countries on different sides of the world, I have always felt out of context. How we feel and respond to situations and events, how we are identified by and identify through language, has also been deeply impressed on me with English, German and Urdu heard at home.
As someone diagnosed as Autistic late in life, I have recently understood my deep connection with art as a way to make sense of the world, a way to question it and to try to find a place within it where I feel comfortable. As an Autistic person I tend to see issues in black and white. Recognising and resisting this tendency has enabled me to observe it, such as in the debate around contemporary art interpretation. At times heavily worded labels act as a barrier, at other times they are non-existent, whilst simplifying the language to the lowest common denominator risks losing the joy of discovery and knowledge.
Artist Statement: Emma Powell
My work explores personal issues in a secretive, abstract or indirect way. I use combinations and layers of colour, pattern, letters, and language to create prints. This often stems from my own photographs or lists of words, and I investigate ideas and visual solutions through overflowing and disorderly handmade sketchbooks.
As an artist with Aphantasia (the inability to ‘see’, ‘smell’ or ‘taste’ anything in one’s head) my design process and research are very important to me, as I cannot ‘see’ what it is that I am going to create, and instead have to rely on a ‘gut feeling’ developed from years of experience.
I enjoy working collaboratively. My recent series of screen-prints and ‘Sharpie’ etchings use degrees of transparency to communicate layers of information regarding a variety of ‘lockdown routes’; journeys that have been donated by a range of different people who undertook repetitive activities during the Covid-19 restrictions.
‘Hiding in 3D’ | IKON, Birmingham
Fishwives Revenge | Tate St Ives
Untitled: Why Are You Writing That Down? I Said It’s Untitled | John Hansard Gallery, Southampton
25% (Rectification) | Tate Liverpool