11.5.12 Featured Artist: Mark Lawrence Stafford

“TABLE OF CONTENTS,” SLAG Gallery, October 19 to November 12, 2012

Please destroy before reading.

Before you ask: Is this is a group show? A collaborative? No. Is this a retrospective? No, but relative to that, it is a prospective – one that is a self-aware creation myth within its own evolutionary process. This collection of work embodies a “table of contents” in which the chapters and their sequence are most accurately represented as undefined variables suspended in context. Each of the works presented is a documentation of a semi-private performance of a process I call “the context:conundrum.”

If further pressed to give my impressions of the contents I present to you, I would have to do so with some uncertainty. My feelings lead me to thoughts related to The Architecture of Knowledge, The Consistency of Time, and the Ruins of Sensation.

I do not consider this work to be a series, nor a cycle. If necessary to confine it, my best attempt would be a synchronization (although I am also drawn to a constellation). So for the purpose of this string of words, I say that the work in this exhibition is a synchronization of Data Visualizations of my thoughts and feelings constructed in dialog with the Muse, through the context:conundrum process. This process is similar to my understanding of Jung’s “collective unconscious” notion, but with a fundamentally different focus: I do not characterize the muse to decode archetypes, entities where one can find answers or questions, but instead, I resist any recognizable structures to conjure the unknown, which I assimilate into the forms generated.

These forms, I believe are the pure data of this process. I possess no ownership of them from the recognizable self until I reach the moment of incision in which I try to communicate it utilizing linguistic symbols. This act brings them to a new but not final level of the context:conundrum, where one has to ask if the context enriches the native or raw data of the process, or whether it confines not only your ability to decode the work—which would be a splintering of the form as seen through the lens of your personal contextual architecture, but also my ability to encode the work, which quite likely would lead you in the wrong direction to begin with.

To me, the significance of this research relies on the ability to suspend the context – from my point of view this suspension occurs during my creative process, and from yours only if you choose not to read this text. Our regular mode of operating dictates that we first contextualize temporal relationships, and subsequently the subject and object of its focus in order to communicate our ideas. This mode relies heavily and continuously on contextualization, and in doing so, it is not our ideas that are shared, but our words. These words are the abstractions that construct the scale and dimensionality of humanity’s reality. In the present that we exist, Knowledge, Sensation and Time are unsynchronized. I propose using our mind’s relentless ability to abstract as a means to create, instead of confine, our experience of reality.

Tragedy can produce the illusions of beauty and meaning, but that very fact is the biggest tragedy of all.

Mark Lawrence Stafford was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1978. He received a BFA from the School of Art, University of Arizona in 2002 and a MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 2005 in New Media, Installation and Performance Arts. In 2008, he became a fellow of the AIM program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Recent fellowships, grants and residencies include: Franconia Sculpture Park (2011), The Puffin Foundation (2010), Socrates Sculpture Park, NY (2010), Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (2010), and chashama Visual Arts studio residency (2009). International exhibitions include Songzhuang Art Museum, Beijing, China, the 7thVerkliets Biennal in Germany, Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporaneo- Centro De Investigaciones Esteticas, Merida, Venezuela, VIVID, Birmingham, United Kingdom, Zentral Bibliothek, Zurich, Switzerland, Biblioteca Nacional de Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the 10th OPENART International Performance Art Festival, Beijing, China.

Slag Gallery

Artist website: marklawrencestafford.com


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