It is true that when you begin to look for links you find them everywhere. When I thought about the different talks given over the MFA seminar I realised there were a number of different threads that linked back to themes I am interested in, and considering how it all fit together reinforced the idea of pattern recognition which first came up in Anthony Byrt’s presentation on the first day.
Anthony put forward that that there is a contemporary craving for myth, and pointed out that archetypes are still appearing in art and popular culture today. I think when you start looking, you can find archetypes everywhere, and indeed many well known archetypal characters were mentioned throughout the seminar, neatly bracketed by the Trickster in the form of the Harlequin in Anthony’s talk at the beginning (such as in the paintings of contemporary artists Ryan Mosely and Peter Linde Busk), and at the end with Bepen Bhana’s talk Boom! Boom! Deluxe in the form of Basil Brush (a fox), who, wearing his stylish new luxury brand clothing, spoke of the emptiness of these brands that are no longer symbols of the notion of quality workmanship, but are shallow billboards to a pretence at wealth and status. The idea that the Trickster is a character who reveals uncomfortable truths could be held up as one of the more worthy approaches to contemporary art… can artists themselves be seen in this trickster role?
I agree that there is a craving for myth in contemporary society, maybe as an antidote for the overwhelming confusion of increasing globalisation. In a world where technology has the ability to bring us all closer together there is also an instinctive reaction against the discomfort of being exposed to a world that is perhaps not yet used to speaking the more subtle languages of culture. A return to familiar archetypal notions reminds us that we all have common understandings as humans, that sometimes the communication of basic ideas goes beyond language or culture. I think archetypes have always been of interest to people as part of various forms for storytelling, but are perhaps becoming even more relevant in a world devoid of black and white, where there are no longer clear villains and heroes.
This talk resonated with me because my interest in storytelling and fairytales has lead me to an interest in archetypes and why they continue to be so appealing. Storytelling hasn’t changed much over the centuries, we are still interested in stories that have a hero and a villain (or protagonist and antagonist) and even when these characters are built to be more complex there seems to be a need to recognise the overriding drive of a character as being good or bad, as though it is easier to process a story in terms of its tricksters, heroes, mothers, martyrs.
Anthony’s talk also got me thinking about my own practice and how I could tap into this idea of archetypes to allow some access to the audience. One of the problematic aspects of my work is that it can be seen as being quite autobiographical as the territory I am interested in is memory and I prefer to draw people I know. I think perhaps I could look at my work more in terms of what archetypes they might touch on that could be recognised and resonate with the viewer.