The Eraser of History

Posted in Art Papers by Adele Todd on April 30, 2009

Kwynn Johnson’ thesis catalogue as an artwork, am I part of its history?

Article courtesy of Sexypink

Last week I went to see the work of a young, up and coming Artist, Kwynn Johnson. Her show at Softbox, titled, “Red, appropriated”(sic),was in part fulfillment of her Masters in
Cultural Studies. Looking at her presentation, I could not help but hark back to a long conversation that I had had with the Artist Christopher Cozier many years ago on the work of his wife, Irenee Shaw. He had told me in regard to my own work, Hit! In 2000, where I used red embroidery, that Ms. Shaw had had a show in 1989, where she used red thread on her canvases.

Red thread has also been part of the visual language of the artist Richard ‘Ashraph’ Ramsaran, who in 2001 used a thin red thread through his biographical works titled, de Line at CCA7. The use of red thread has a deep, resounding influence in
contemporary arts of Trinidad over the last twenty years. If it has been pervasive before I would appreciate further information on the topic. It is because of this knowledge that I was saddened when in my reading of Ms Johnson’s catalogue, I found no such historical references to this material that informed all of her work. This is difficult to state because I am somewhat involved as an artist working in embroidery and favoring red thread. One is inclined to assume special interest on my part. But it is because I use thread in my own practice that this observation bears notice. Particularly because of the fact that there is also a very big difference between those who use embroidery and those who use thread.

I also would not be so reactionary if her show was simply one for public viewing.
Her show is a visual academic thesis. It is in fulfillment of a degree and so, it must stand up to the rigors of research and specifically the lack of documented research that is retained in the memories of our older art community who can recall much of the history. I have been extremely fortunate to be the recipient of many small volumes of writing published in the sixties, seventies and eighties on Art, dance and culture. These have been marginally helpful, yet, they too neglect to add certain things that help theoretical discourse because they are largely personal opinion.

I find this concern in writing on my own blog. I enjoy
writing about Art as a practitioner of it, and in my own way, I am very aware that what I write is being read and quoted, and so I want to be faithful to facts as well as recollections. If I am very concerned, and this is just a blog, then by all means, we all must care about the lack of facts in the documents that pass as research, particularly when these facts are used by academia.

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