This fortnight, Lightbox is pleased to present the work of Christian Dimick and the writing of Olivia Deakin and curated by Melina Payne. Both running until September 11th, Olivia writes in response to "Slow Warnings", creating a dialogue between image and text.
Artist Christian Dimick explains:
"Using imagery inspired by the ever changing forms of the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland, as well as the Sanchi oil tanker collision that occurred in 2018 "Slow Warnings" is a product of the erratic and unstable nature of the earth currently. This instability is a product of humans ignorant use of the planet's resources and our flaws in the way we use, transport and value them. Using malleable materials such as ink and oil paint, the movement of warmer ocean currents seem to be in motion through the work. Along with this, the heat and toxicity of the industrial world (seen in the bottom right) bleeds into the purity of the sea -- eating into the surface.
The earth reacts and responds to the ways in which we treat it. By reading the signs and warnings it gives us, we may find ways in which we can develop a positive relationship with our volatile home."
In response to "Slow Warnings", Olivia Deakin writes:
“You like abstract art! So, you’ll like this!” I was told, and they weren’t wrong. I love it, I'm making my bias aware to you straight away. But should this be considered abstract? I recently read that abstract art is the portrayal of things in which the visible world plays no part. The charcoal bleeds down the canvas. Visually reminding us of the aerial perspective of our coastline. The patterns formed by water moving back and forth over sand and soil. That alone is the portrayal of something in our visible world. So, what category can Slow Warnings be placed into? Not abstract under the definition I've given you. The debate on whether I should even try to catalogue and define and place art into a nice neat box is for another very long day. This work stands for something bigger. It fits within Christian’s current inspiration of coastal erosion, continuing on from its initial inspiration of the forever changing Jakobshavn glacier. Simple imagery which embodies larger issues at hand. There is a social phenomenon known as having your head in the sand which we see every day in the discussions and warnings about climate change. People become overwhelmed by what they see, read, hear, and react by rejecting and ignoring the warnings. We must provide an aesthetically pleasing message that can slowly coax their head out and re-inspire them to make an impact. These slow warnings act as alarm bells for oncoming environmental issues. In an attempt to place Slow Warnings in that nice neat box I mentioned, I think I need to wrap it with a hemp string bow. Placing it within the long and active history of environmental art, or ecological art. Art that highlights our relationship with nature and also highlights the current state of our natural environment. Art that educates, that is socially and politically active, art the challenges big corporations and governments, art that seeks change. Artists such as Betty Beaumont, Agnes Denes, Chris Jordan, the group Ephemeral Coast, and even our own Joyce Campbell. This is just a small handful of artists like Christian Dimick who seek to discuss and educate viewers about the environmental concerns of today. I would say this nice neat box has more at stake than the abstract box. A work like Slow Warnings challenges your understanding of the world but so beautifully pushes you towards making a change. Listen to the slow warnings that our environment gives us and listen to the artists who depict this.
I’ve included below a short interview with Christian Dimick (Instagram: @christaiirr). To provide an insight into the work of this second-year art student who already seems to be placing himself within a long and important art historical discourse.
Q: You are in your second year of a BFA at Massey, how are you finding this year? What is your favourite class?
A: I am enjoying my second year so much more than the first. Having my own studio space is a big luxury and I feel really privileged to have a space to myself where I can really put my head down and get into my work. My favourite class would probably be my studio class. Where we have the freedom to take on making through any medium but are prompted on different topics.
Q: What influences your work?
A: A lot of different places, people, and histories definitely come into play when I’m making. I’m mostly focused on shoreline erosion on the coasts of Aotearoa and more specifically the Kapiti coast. Taking inspiration from places and their textures
Q: Where do you look for new influences?
A: Definitely other artists that work with layering/texture and utilize the natural world in their work. An artist who comes to mind would be Antoni Tàpies. I’m unashamedly obsessed with him at the moment.
Q: You haven't always been working in Wellington, how do other cities influence your work?
A: I was living in Sydney last year where I did the first year of my degree. I’d say my work has become more about the people and places around me rather than myself. I enjoy looking back to my older drawings and paintings because they are kind of naive but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I’ll probably look back at the work I’ve done this year and think it was naive as well. It’s all part of growing!
Q: How has your work developed since beginning your BFA?
A: I’m more focused on layering and textures now in my work. Everything is less literal and less figurative.
Q: Describe the process you used in creating this work. What materials did you use?
Q: Does the work have a title?
A: The work is called ‘Slow Warnings’
Q: What does your work aim to say?
A: The ideas that the work is projecting are always changing a little bit. I feel like the overarching idea is the imminent. There is pressure all around us on the planet at the moment. And pressure always reaches a breaking point.
Q: What's next for your artistic practice?
A: I’m not sure yet. I’m in a good place at the moment and I’m still feeling inspired by the themes of erosion and excavation that I’m looking at when I go to paint/draw. I’ve been working with field recording a lot at the moment so that may transform into a new body of work.
Q: Do you find time to make work not intended for your BFA?
A: Yeah for sure. When I am feeling stuck with a painting I always love to go back to figurative painting or drawing. Especially large scale. I can let myself go and it doesn’t seem so serious.
Olivia Deakin, born in Sydney, Australia but grew up on a farm in Nelson, is a current student at Victoria University of Wellington completing her Honours in Art History. Along with a background in Sociology, she is interested in how people view and interact with art in art spaces. She is passionate about ceramics and their treatment within the art world.