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“Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are.” — Susan Sontag
I used this idea as a way to highlight the symbolic value of the traditional European canvas by separating each material of its composition with a sheet of plexiglass. A canvas, of any style, is a platform for creation. it servers as a foundation for perspective, and is thus symbolic of the foundation of a given cultures perspective.
Similarly to the “White Cube” discourse that is in reaction to the popular style of many museums and galleries which dominate in any given culture that is of European dissent, the white surface of this canvas is a symbol of white hegemony. This canvas represents how our basic understanding of the world (as Americans) was created by and partial to white / hetero / male ideals (the demographic of its origin). It is a testament to the subconscious prejudice of Americans and many others.
The second layer containing the raw fabric represents interconnectedness and unity. Many fibers come together to produce the weave. It is a democratic symbol that alludes to the true equality, value, and singular consciousness of mankind. It has a neutral tone. Its many parts have strength when brought together, and it is imperfect. This layer acts as the middle ground to the duality created by the white gesso and the black ink.
The ink layer represents the back side of the canvas. Cast in shadow, and rarely seen. However, it is equally as important, because without it the canvas cannot exist. Thus, this layer represents the underrepresented and marginalized. It is a testament to the inner workings that support the exterior; emotional / intellectual depth, and inner strength. This layer has diversity and femininity, but falls into the background almost every time.
The wooden stretcher bars are the framework that holds the piece together. It is the only material that maintains the perfect randomness of nature (knots / patterns / variations in tone) as it is only cut, and not deconstructed and reconstructed material. It supports the piece in its place on the wall as nature supports our existence in the Universe. Another neutral tone, the wood is the equalizing variable in the work, reminding the viewer of impermanence and relativity.
~ Daniel Nielsen
(Photos in this archive were taken after the deinstallation of the installation.)
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Nielsen, Daniel Louis, "ABRA: The Canvas, and the evil that men do." (2017). Senior Projects Spring 2017. 190.