How do you pull somebody out of a particular rhythm, so that they can stand aside to it and have a completely different kind of experience than what they know? I am not changing anything but I am trying to change the viewer's position on something they already know and in doing that, that thing they do already know is gonna be new and echo other kind of reactions... [Nari Ward]
This is Nari Ward, an artist who, with his work, builds up an intimate, ironic, profound and multifaceted portrait of contemporary society.
For me is this idea of really thinking about a poetic approach, finding something I am really passionate about, and feel a deep connection with and then thinking about a material that can help to both echo it but also challenge it. [Nari Ward]
This conversation was recorded on the occasion of the show Iris Hope Keeper at the Galleria Continua, in San Gimignano (Italy). As usual in Ward's work, it was an exhibition grounded in very personal stories, memories and imaginative elements – aspects of Nari's family history and of an unbroken relationship with his land of origin, Jamaica – but then connected to the contexts and perspectives of a much broader community, also exploring the notions of the sense of belonging and of identity.
Nari Ward, BEYOND, balloon, metal, glass bottles, ropes, paper?, 2013, ph. Ela Bialkowska, courtesy Galleria Continua
For me within the work there's always this element of opposition and contradiction: there's always something against something else; whether it is in material form or in conceptual form and that opposition, that tension is a really important part of layering the ideas in the work [but also it is important for] allowing something else to happen.
...I never want my interest or my regard to override the other possibilities for the viewer.
[my practice] is really about creating almost a vessel for the viewer to bring their own experience and have their experience for something else to happen.
So [my work] is about taking the things that I am questioning and then try to figure out how to make them visually dynamic and engaging for somebody who want to take time to bring their own experience to it and leave it open enough for that experience to grow into something else.
I think that that idea of having the work to become a kind of open vessel for meaning to revolve - my meaning, their meaning... - in a discourse, that's really important, that's what i really try to have the work do.
I've been doing a lot more drawing, and i doing the drawings I am always excited about the work not becoming an illustration of the drawing, so in fact I'll start out with this image of what this thing should be and then challenge myself in trying to figure out what needs to happen in the process that have it evolve away from that image and become something else. [Nari Ward]
Nari Ward, Wishing Arena, plastic baskets, wood, candles, cans?, 2013, ph. Ela Bialkowska, courtesy Galleria Continua