During residency, each day as I passed through the foyer I shared with Britt Salt and Jon Hewitt, I watched Britt’s installation, Neither-Nor, Nearly Not-quite, grow from a few strips of black tape seemingly tossed onto the grubby studio wall into an enormous all consuming work of art. The work filled less than one-quarter of the large warehouse-style studio space’s walls and floor but the hypnotic quality of the rigid and inharmonious patches of black and white stripes did not allow anyone to pass without being drawn in.
Britt Salt, Neither-Nor, Nearly Not-quite, 2011, BG3 Beijing
Work that is methodic in construction becomes meditative in experience (Gyun Hur and Wolfgang Laib come to mind). Encountering the work one feels their eyes loosing focus, becoming swallowed in an optical illusion. White wall and the gray floor, covered with the same black stripes, become an incongruous reflection. The stripes transformed the gray floor into a seeming pool of smooth, shiny, water, reflecting the elegant dissonance above.
I tell you tales of the past only to guide you into the present. When I contacted Britt for the Reunion Series she immediately sent me photos of some projects from the last year. Partially due to nostalgia, I was most enticed by Britt’s installation Puzzlethèque in the group exhibition Symphonic Encounters at Linden Center for Contemporary Arts near Melbourne, Australia. Puzzlethèque shows Britt’s ability to morph between spaces and embrace the surroundings with her distinct aesthetic.
Britt Salt, Puzzlethèque, 2012, Linden Center for Contemporary Arts
Consider the two spaces I’m highlighting: BG3 is a warehouse-like live-in artist studio, a bit suburban with a rustic twist, on the other hand, Linden Center for Contemporary Arts is a pristine art center with modern architecture and clean lines. At Linden, Britt’s stripes crawl up the walls and onto the vaulted ceiling.
Britt’s three-dimensional shapes inserted into a cacophony of stripes reflect the environments in which they exist. At BG3 a tumbleweed-like mesh bundle rolled around grounded to the floor, light and easily moveable. At Linden, Britt installed large, perfectly symmetrical, stripped balls, suspended from the ceiling, refusing to touch down, creating an obstacle for passersby.
Detail of Puzzlethèque
Inline with my interview with Adrienne Romine, I asked Britt what she would do if she had unlimited funds for her art practice, “The prospect of no financial or time constraints seems like a blissful proposal. Though I can’t imagine if it would impact on my practice. I think I’d still be making the same work I am now to be honest. Perhaps I’d be travelling a lot more than I am now. Lots of ‘Self-directed Residencies’. Heading to Morocco, South of Spain, South America, Greenland in search of interesting spaces and architecture. It would be an amazing experience that could definitely influence my practice.”
“I don’t think more time and money would result in me having a better, more fulfilled practice. Only in the sense that I think I develop ideas at quite a slow and bubbling rate, and when you need to make a work, you just have to make it, you find a way, become resourceful.”
She continues, “Needless to say, I like a challenge, and I love the feeling of relaxed contentment when the stresses and deadlines of creating something dissipate once its finished!”
Britt hits a point that is important to many art practices; creativity does not come from unlimited resources. Creativity comes from a ravenous need to make and resourcefulness (for example, Jackson Pollock’s use of house paint). Britt summarizes this sentiment beautifully,
“When I have money, I need to spend it, double it, use it.
When I have no money, all that’s left to do is work.
My practice fits in the later!”
Thank you, Britt!
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To view Britt Salt’s other projects and artwork visit: Britt’s Website
On their way to Red Gate Gallery Residency, Britt and Jon Hewitt, (who is up next in the Reunion Series) curated the Tran-Siberian Art Centre. A fantastic project you should visit.