Genesis 3: 6-10

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

The biblical narrative surrounding my chosen piece ‘Eve’ by Auguste Rodin, is an integral part of the reading of the piece, this passage from Genesis, the first book of the Bible, has been a significant reference point when exploring the context of the sculpture. Although this piece resonates with me from a place of personal belief, I do not necessarily wish to take the biblical narrative as my sole focus. I want to explore the idea of Eve as an embodiment of the rejection of God, and perhaps in modern, secular context as the rejection of the entire notion of God – particularly focusing on the idea of how the rejection of an overarching ‘grand’ narrative opens up the question ‘Where do I find meaning and purpose in life?’. I am interested in exploring the narratives that people adopt to make sense of the ‘chaos of life’, and how people frame existence to understand it –  particularly perhaps examining the more extreme narratives and obsessions that people find meaning in.

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Eve – Auguste Rodin

I have been experimenting with the use of organic, instinctive and free mark making contrasted with controlled, linear framing. I am especially interested in the idea of the ‘frame’ as a way of exploring the notion of narrative.Exploring the tension and contrast between the marks, as a sort of metaphor for life and the narrative we attach to it. Its been interesting to consider how to translate my conceptual intentions into a visual language, and I’ve been interested in using abstract forms to first broach this.

Bill Viola

“His works focus on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness—and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. Using the inner language of subjective thoughts and collective memories, his videos communicate to a wide audience, allowing viewers to experience the work directly, and in their own personal way.”

http://www.blainsouthern.com/

I have been interested in the way that Viola approaches the human experience, and am particularly interested in how this is dealt with from a spiritual perspective. Researching for this project has started me thinking about the relationship between religion and the spiritual and contemporary art practice. I have been exploring the relationship between art and religion as a brief introduction into themes arching off of the piece ‘Eve’. Considering the writings of James Elkins in his book ‘On the strange place of religion in contemporary art’, I have been looking at how art has historically served religion but has now moved to a place of almost complete exclusion from the contemporary art world – if religion is referenced at all in work then it is done so in an ironic and critical way. Work not overtly containing themes of religion but of spirituality, work carrying a spiritual charge is less uncommon.

 

‘Regarding Rodin’

What I have found most interesting about the piece ‘Eve’ is the intensity of the emotion that Rodin captures – it speaks into vulnerability, shame and despair. Aside from its biblical narrative, it captures a state of such strong dejection and distress. The height at which the sculpture stands in the gallery brings it down to a human level, and offers a relate-able and recognisable  state of emotion.

Artist Rachel Kneebone responds to the work of Rodin, although not specific to the piece ‘Eve’, I have found her perspective and approach to be beneficial in bridging the gap between a contemporary context and the work of nineteenth century Rodin. Her work displayed alongside Rodin’s sculptures for a Brooklyn Museum exhibition ‘Regarding Rodin’  highlights the shared themes of both artists – themes core to the shared human experience such as the vitality of life and by contrast the grief of death and mourning.

Interview with Catherine Morris:

http://whitecube.com/channel/in_the_museum/rachel_kneebone_regarding_rodin_the_brooklyn_museum_2012/

A selection of pieces from the ‘Regarding Rodin’ exhibition

A selection of other works by Rachel Kneebone

Eve – Auguste Rodin

Having visited a number of galleries, I have found myself considering the sculpure ‘Eve’ by Auguste Rodin (1881) as a starting point for this brief. I had intended to look for a contemporary piece to make reference to, however have found myself quite taken by this piece – engaging with a number of narratives and themes present within it. I find this to be a particularly striking and emotive sculpture, and like many of Rodins other pieces, it speaks quite loudly and personally into the midst of human experience, with its biblical narrative serving as a distinct point of reference for how the piece is read.
Another compelling element of this piece is its incompleteness, whilst sculpting ‘Eve’ Rodin was finding difficulty establishing the contours of the lower abdomen and pelvis region – later discovering this was because his model was pregnant. Although initially this served the nature of the sculpture quite well, the conditions of the studio were too difficult for the pregnant model and she stopped returning – rendering the sculpture incomplete. I see this as feeding significantly into the nature of the sculpture itself – its real life narrative lending itself quite appropriately into the expression of the human condition represented in this piece.