BRINGING “UNCANNY” TO ART MAKING

ARTISTIC EXPRESSION COMES FROM OUR TRUE INNER SELF

In many people’s minds, art is for those who are creative and gifted. Even if we live in a world where ‘everyone can make art’, Artmaking is apotheosized. Many believe only a few chosen ones can reach the sublimity of art.

However, this form of human expression is merely a process of exploring what is extraordinary in an ordinary world whilst evoking imaginative thoughts about the world of reality. Revolutionary movements in modern times renounced the bond with material objects and rendered art products of the mind. Making art, in this sense, is not creating new objects but eliciting an inner experience we have never had before.

The term uncanny, is closely connected to Sigmud Freud, and describes a feeling of strangeness or anxiety, associated with familiar surroundings or objects.

It is the ‘uncanny’ of artwork that detaches viewers from their habitual environment and enables them to return to their spiritual, natural core.

Living in a habitual environment we grow used to our surroundings. Calloused and insentient the sparkle of passion to life gradually dimmed. We stop listening to the deep yearning from our hearts and know no more of ourselves rather than how we have already been.

Art therefore exists as a key that opens the door to our inner heart. After all, many artists are said to have brilliant minds, but it is the heart that has lead their output. The key, the ‘uncanny’. Only when people alienate themselves from the familiar environment are they able to return back to the beginning of their cognition–to know the world and themselves anew.


MACKAYAN: UNCANNY ART

THE ACT OF ALIENATION IS ODDLY WHERE A PERSON CAN FIND THEIRSELVES, AND WHERE ARTISTIC EXPRESSION IS AT ITS MOST ACUTE

We can understand the idea of alienation through looking at a contemporary work The Artist is Present (2017). performed in the MoMa museum in 2017, the Serbian performance artist, known for her philanthropy and film making, Marina Abramović invited viewers to seat in the opposite direction and fix eyes with her. We encounter this scenario in restaurants and other public places. However, it has never appeared to us in museums. This is how the ‘uncanny’ emerges. Abramović moves a familiar scenario into a museum and changes how the audiences experience this familiar situation.

Viewers feel themselves involuntarily alienated from their familiar environment and experience the familiarity in a strangely unfamiliar way. The sense of alienation is highlighted also through the setting of this performance. Indeed, the wooden table placed between the artist and viewers physically separates the artist from the audience. It resembles a measurement of the distance that resonates with the idea of alienation. However, the distance enables a connection that through gazing directly into the artist’s eyes viewers seem to capture the image of themselves.

The gaze becomes reflective, mirroring viewers’ self, enabling them to launch a deep conversation with another aspect of themselves. The aspect of spirit withered in our lives is brought to life again via the magic of ‘uncanny’. This is what renders art inscrutable yet appealing. ‘Everyone can make art’ suggests ‘the return to the spirit’.


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