Saturday, March 08, 2008

Art Space Talk: Bonnie Lane

Bonnie Lane is an emerging artist originally from Melbourne, Australia. Bonnie's practice currently takes the physical form of installation, photography, video, text and object based works. By constructing interactive spaces she translates memories of intimacy from her own life, inviting the viewer to physically and emotionally engage with the work.

Bonnie spent her childhood growing up in a world packed full of the arts. Growing up in a family where her mother is a nationally recognized comedian, her father a clown/street performer turned festival events coordinator and her brother an up and coming musician, she is certainly no stranger to the role of the artist and the dedication and determination it entails to become one.

Every Time You Sleep You Leave Me, Digital print on fabric, sound, lights, speakers, CD player, This work involves a sound component, which is the sound of breathing/sleeping, Print: 183cm x 148cm, 2007

Brian Sherwin: Bonnie, tell us about your early years. I understand that you grew up in a creatively energetic family...

Bonnie Lane: Well my parents met in a circus where they were both clowns. My mum had quit her short lived career as a teacher and was looking for work and my dad had dropped out of his 3rd year at medical school to become a street performer so I guess that's when they both started doing what they really wanted to do.
From then on my mum has become a comedian and my dad organises festivals (and dresses up in weird costumes and plays ukulele...) and my brother is full time musician. So there was a lot of space to be creative in my family.

BS: How is your upbringing reflected in your work? Are there traces of your youth to be found within the context of the work you create at present?

BL: My family are all story tellers and I think my work is often about story telling too. My mother has always said if your work is not honest people are going to see right through it and it isn't going to work. I think I have carried this through into my practice. In our own different fields we all seem to be almost overly confessional and we all try to (as corny as it sounds) speck from our hearts.

Are You Awake?, Wood, photocopies, lights, bedding, 160cm x 220cm x 120cm, 2006
BS: I understand that you are studying Fine Art at Victorian College of the Arts where you are currently completing your degree. Can you tell us about your studies there? Who are your instructors? What is the program like?

BL: Well I have just completed my degree there actually. It was such an amazing course but I think they have me taught so well about the Art industry that I know a fair bit of what I'm entering into. The painting department was such a great place to be, we had heaps of great artists as our lecturers such as Janine Eaton, John Campbell, Matt Griffin and Kate Just, all at different stages in their careers and with completely different opinions.
We never had any formal practical "art classes", but were really told from day one to go to our studios and make what we wanted to make in any medium or form we wish. The freedom was really challenging but I think it was the best way to learn. We were able to have regular one on one and group discussions about our work which has helped a great deal.
As Though I was Watching (see video preview), Video Installation, TV, video, crate, large scale photocopy, 150cm x 40cm x 120cm, 2007

BS: Bonnie, your work has been compared to the work of Bill Henson and Tracey Emin. Do you rank them as one of your influences? What else has influenced you?

BL: Tracey Emin was kind of my first introduction to contemporary art and my first real artist crush. I love her honesty and and how personal her work is. I find her installation works most inspiring. I love the aesthetics of Bill Henson's work but I think conceptually my work has veered away from that. I am most influenced by things around me that I see, probably more so than artists or artworks.
The times that I am most inspired are probably when I see or hear something that gets me when I am walking, or on public transport, in the city or at home or other peoples homes. Other than that I am really into Illya and Emiliya Kabakov (especially 'The House of Dreams'), Bruce Nauman, Gary Hill, Fischli & Weiss, Sophie Calle and my new love is Andrea Zittel!

Be Mine, Glow in the dark stickers, UV light, Dimensions variable, 2007

BS: Bonnie, what are the social implications of your work? Have any specific world events inspired or haunted you?

BL: My work is mainly inspired by things close to me. My work took a huge shift when I entered into a serious "romantic" relationship. This has made me consider the idea of intimacy and brought it into my work. I am also really interested in the idea of connection, between both objects and people. I think my work is more subconsciously inspired by the world around such as the Western focus on the "Ideal", this is reflected in my work through exploring personal experiences of love, home, want and need.
My work is often attempting to show the beauty in simple things and an appreciation of smaller things often over looked in our society. I see people in their suits running around the city so frantically, obviously thinking about where they need to be next and I just wish people would take more time to look around and acknowledge what is already there.
BS: Bonnie, can you give us some more insight into your work? What are the motives and themes that you deal with within the context of your art?

BL: I am interested in the relationship and link between people, places and objects. The idea of the Home being a nest keeps coming back to me and I am interested to show what goes on behind closed doors. My work is all about showing what I have experienced or known personally but I aim for the audience to be able to relate to it on their own level and somehow put a bit of themselves into the work and create their own story.
A Single Gesture, Cardboard boxes, videos, Dimensions variable, 2008

BS: I'm very interested in your installation titled 'A Single Gesture'. Can you tell us more about the installation and what it represents for you?

BL: Well this work was really an experiment, the gallery 'plateau 589' were really open and said I could basically do anything I wanted to. The video's used to make this piece were all shot on my little still digital camera over the past year. They had been building up on my computer, but I hadn't really shown them to anyone or considered them to be works as such. They are all spontaneous things I have seen whilst being out and have stumbled across. I wanted to show these quiet moments and leave space for contemplation.
The cardboard box idea came along quite late, I guess it represents the everyday or the ordinary. The videos are like beautiful single moments existing within this discarded and overlooked object. This work is really about looking and taking the time to observe.
A Home For Us, Digital prints on vinyl, wood, household objects, sound, light, 250 cm x 250 cm x 200 cm, 2007

BS: Can you tell us more about your thought process as it pertains to your art? For example, are you more likely to be hit with an idea while going about your daily activities? Or is the 'light bulb' more likely to flash while you are in your studio, so to speak?

BL: I found that when I was on holiday recently and relaxing and away from the studio and the opportunity to actually produce work the ideas were just coming like crazy. When you are producing so much there isn't a lot of time to contemplate new ideas.
I go through huge fazes, one month my brain is going crazy and I'll get 3 huge ideas in one day and the next week I'll have absolutely nothing and get really mopey about it. Sometimes I think I'll never have a good idea again but I have to remember they just come in waves.

BS: Bonnie, some people define success as the amount of wealth that you procure... others define it as the number of people you can inspire with your art. In your opinion, what makes an artist successful?

BL: Different types of art have completely different intentions so the definition of success is very subjective. I think for for me to feel I have been successful as an artist I need to firstly feel I am making the work that I want to make, and that it is honest and meaningful.
But really my main aim is that the audience will have some sort of emotional response or connection with my work, I want them to become a part of an experience and really become physically and emotionally involved in the work. This is the type of artwork that inspires me and any artist that can truly make me feel something I define as successful.

Cardboard Home, Cardboard, video, fabric, 150 x 150 x 60 cm, 2008

BS: What are you working on at this time? Also, will you be exhibiting in 2008?

BL: I am currently working on an upcoming exhibition at Seventh gallery in Melbourne. The work is a video installation titled: "Sleepless" and involves sound, projection, myself, a bed and glow in the dark stickers. I don't want to give everything anyway yet but the show opens in two weeks so I'm am quite frantically working on it. Otherwise I really want to get into some new sculpture techniques and video works.
Later on in the year I will have a show at Bus Galley and then Blindside (both in Melbourne) which will involve more video, sculpture and photography. I am also hopefully building a lounge room (with no walls) in a park for the "Moreland Sculpture Festival" if all the boring health and safety stuff goes through.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

BL: Well I am still really into experimenting and have not settled into one particular thing yet. so I will continue to keep trying out new things and keep at really trying to make some connection between myself, my work and the audience.
Bonnie Lane is a member of the community-- search for Bonnie Lane or Bonniemay. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


paul said...
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Anonymous said...

Bonnie's work gives off an energy. I sense great emotion when I view her work. If you can't grasp her choice of materials and themes I would think that maybe you need to go beyond your idea of what art can be. My guess is that you are some type of traditional elitist who thinks that only painting, drawing, and some types of sculpting can be considered art. It is easy to say that you do not consider her work art. Tell us why?

paul said...
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Anonymous said...

How can you possibably say that a "real work of art" is a piece produced to sell? Thats a complete contradiction, you can not make an emotional, meaningful work of art if your initial intention is just to sell. Of course tv's in cardboard boxes have been done before, everything has, but maybe the artist was not trying to make something original and new. the world is changing so rapidly with new technologies... art could not make a statement if it does not continue to evolve. These days people want more, they want more stimulation and this is what installation brings: a multisensory experience.

paul said...
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Unknown said...

It saddens me to see this type of closed mindedness surfacing here. Prolfes (paul) if you have begun this invective in order to spark genuine discussion on this subject, you should start by substantially defending your own position before belittling other peoples endeavors. After you have put the legitimacy of painting on canvass (apparently only in oil!) through even the most superficial round of (honest) questioning you will find you are standing on very thin ice indeed.

paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.