Althea Georgelas is the latest artist here on Life, the Universe and Art. Althea is a multimedia artist who utilizes new technologies in her work including video and digital prints. Currently, she resides in Richmond Virginia. Her work has been on view at the Kunst Museum, Kristiansand, Norway, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond Virginia, the Collaborative Public Arts Festival in Richmond, Va, as well as numerous other venues.
१. Your work frequently, deals with the current events, such as the war, feminist issues, or the use of media communication. How do you position your ideas about current events in your work, and how important is that for you as an artist?
Artists, like all people (whether they are aware of it or not), are just responding the world from their vantage point.
Artists learn how to communicate their views to others effectively and this makes them sensitive to the editing and manipulations of mass media. Who better to step into the same arena as big business advertising and be heard among the flooding but those who understand its jargon? The key is making your reply decipherable to the rest of the world and not just elite academia. I am not saying that any one act or piece of artwork should start its process with then intent of fixing the world… but if something pisses you off or stirs a great tornado in your gut… RESPOND in earnest. When people stop responding to their lives… the music stops.
Every person has the right to speak. All points of view are valid and maybe artists (who mostly call themselves so) are just people driven to make artifacts, objects, ideas or situations to archive their views of the world, their street … their minds. Like moving, breathing time capsules… we are all astronauts for the future. My own history calls for attention to the things overlooked… to respond to the onslaught of information and emotional movement whirling about in the ether.
It is hard not to look into the fire, my friends. So, as I tell my students as I have been told myself… speak damn it. Holding all that smoke in makes for more bullshit later on in the world and shit, we ain’t got time for that.
2. Your work has a distinct collage aesthetic, how did you develop this sensibility?
Using collage is a way to replicate the overwhelming nature of emotion and information I feel buzzing around. Life and memory are layered… so too are the things representative of it.
When I was a kid I use to spend hours collaging images on the walls of my room and sewn to table clothes. I was a pain in the ass to my poor mother who bought gallon after gallon of Killz paint to one day, hopefully someday, paint that room dubbed the cage back into some form of farmhouse normalcy. Assembling those images made a lot of sense to me and I guess that evolution is still with me in all forms of artmaking and thinking.
There was and still is something about sitting alone, possibly looking very lazy while clipping away at an idea. Later on I was introduced to the darkroom and damn, I really loved all that black and quiet while bringing images together. Better than therapy. Truth.
3. A lot of your current pieces use the imagery of power lines. What do they represent for you and do they communicate?
My Mother, a gardener of color and Father, an architect, taught me how to design and look at buildings when I was very young. Watching the tall spindly trees of Virginia… I spent hours looking up in to those skies imaging towering structures being built into the clouds. We use to take road trips to Pennsylvania where I spent summers chasing dairy cows and climbing haystacks with kittens in my pockets to the hit the zip line out the silos at my grandparent’s farm. During the long truck ride north, I was usually bored and bellyaching. To combat this my Mother told me to watch the power lines “jump” in the sky as they whipped by… something she used to love to do. After a while I started seeing shapes and architecture grow out of their movement and I felt an affinity towards them.
When I moved to Richmond, Virginia the clean rhythmic construction of power lines fed over the countryside was nonexistent. Richmond’s hovering sculptures were and still are in chaos. They seem organic, like the spines of ivy crawling over brick, grown out of the city’s residents shear desire and need for that powerful juice to fill their homes and industry.
In my recent video/sound piece, Powerlines (2007) this need for power is addressed. These cables and towering poles are the physical extruder of our energy desire. They are the physical representation of our movement in to the virtual. They are the necessary link to feeding into our lives, our homes and our heads the unphysical media spaces (the electricity to fuel television, the internet etc) that we are increasingly living our lives out in. We view and interact with the physical world through a window, maybe many panes removed from the actual action or touch. How is this creating tension between the physical and the unphysical? The piece was experienced as about a 15 foot across projection and two channel speaker system. You can check out a very small, very compressed version of the video here: www.meltmixpair.com/powerlines.html (or scroll down and click play on the small compressed version.). Please use headphones… and maybe a magnifying glass. Enjoy.
4. The digital print series also is very much about appropriation and issues of authorship. How do you approach the idea of artistic authority, and how does that process affect the work?
Appropriating images or materials from other sources is just another to way to examine the world around us through the points of view of other people. Collecting and arranging these elements then creates a new story out of the thoughts and ideas of others that I feel an immediate affinity towards. It is a way to examine myself and what ideas, object and situations etc that I am currently attracted to. The new arrangement comes to be after I have gnawed, chewed and swallowed the original… it comes forth as it’s own entity. I do cite my sources (when available) much like writing a research paper to pay tribute to their origination. Hopefully this will inspire others to seek out the sources creating a network of thought and discourse among people. I am a fan of sharing ideas… not hording them so that only the few may partake in their existence. Art should not succumb to dusty gallery walls as pillars of untouchable magic. To the street! If you want to dance you are going to through some sweat on the people around you. Get used to it.
५. Your video piece uses a very sophisticated use of sound as rhythm for the image, how has this developed?
Video, like paintings or piano playing, has a rhythm unique to itself that is created by the triggering idea. There is no blank canvas and no real silence as the (illustrious!) creator of this blog and John Cage might grinningly say. When I come to the point where the idea is ready to take a shape it has long since been thumping a rhythm into my head and that cadence demands representation. Whatever it calls for. The idea chooses its mode of transportation… its medium and tempo.
6. Top Ten List of Influences
This is a hard one…wonderfully High Fidelity. How about seven loose categories? Give me an inch and I’ll demand, well, you know…
The GRL (www.graffitiresearchlab.com)
The Storker (www.xmarkjenkinsx.com)
TXTual Healing (www.txtualhealing.com)
The good, the bad and the ugly of: art, television, advertising, and gov. conferences
Slowpoke comics by Jen Sorenson
Columbia Journalism Review
Oh golly, the news!
Not the Nihilists… and yet the nihilists
The good stories told in bars, cars and while dancing
Drawing on napkins with comrades
The big tree over the river of my childhood
My porous memory
Traveling (not so much the destination)
Running to exhaustion and dreaming
Drifting 100 feet below the surface with the sharks
Walking through Bangkok
Walking through America
Random acts of art in public space
Epic battle songs and the quiet ones too… Pink Floyd, Sole, Dj Spooky, God Speed You Black Emperor etc. etc.
Some more people:
7. Current ventures?
There are two ideas on the horizon and one involves portraits of those energy extruders and a dive into the growth of the Richmond landscape by tracking its power needs. The other, more dominant idea, involves my working through reactions and feelings surrounding violence and women. During the spring/summer of 2007 I worked with Bob Paris (a comrade, VCU prof. and creator of www.surfingthespectacle.com) to create a web image essay about women. Dubbed “The Measure of Women” it speaks, through appropriated images, about the past, present and possible futures of violence towards women being attributed to physical limitations and psychological reaction. Violence towards women is the only epidemic that has span the length of human history within all regions, ethnicities and creeds.
I feel it is time to give it full attention as painful as that may be and give it the focus it regularly demands. It is fair to call it an epidemic simply because it is. It is one that remains silent for a multitude of reasons… lack of support, acknowledgement and/or discrimination etc. Many people just think it’s “old news” and that it really isn’t a problem anymore. How about this: EVERY woman I know (friends, mothers, grandmothers… young and old) have their own story to tell about a violent situation they themselves have experienced. It has been a shocking realization, over the past few months, while conversing about the subject of domestic violence and assault, with the women I am surrounded by.
Part of me believes that the increase in aggression towards women is caught in a cyclic reaction and creation of media involving violence toward women as background fodder (rape, beatings, submission as background textures in films and television etc is more disturbing than giving it the forefront focus it deserves)… which is representative to the way our culture and all cultures seem to deem the subject… as a background hiss.
At this point I am in the process of planning the collection of stories. It is possible that these stories may become sound pieces but I won’t know until I have begun interviewing. This is a journey to understand myself as well possibly being cathartic to others. We will see where this takes us.