Blind Ambition: Interview with Virginia Mallon and Anne Murray

Image by Anne Murray

On September 4th, Artificial Retirement will host Blind Ambition, a workshop led by artists Virginia Mallon and Anne Murray. Blind Ambition is part of a larger curatorial project by Murray called Cloud Conversations, a project “bringing together the voices, thoughts, and artistic manifestations of artists, writers, and performers around the world.” Jung In and I included this workshop because of the discussion it would facilitate about destruction and failure, not only concerning digital processes but also within artistic practice.

Anne Murray is an artist and curator who has exhibited her work in London, Paris, Shanghai, Istanbul, Los Angeles, New York, Belgrade, and Budapest. Her work can be found in the White House Permanent Collection and the Collection of Prints and Photographs at the Main Branch of the New York Public Library. She was the recipient of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Scholarship for Pratt in Venice and the China Unlimited Creative Contest Award for Photography.

Virginia Mallon is a painter, photographer, and blogger with a focus on both human and environmental subjects including urban landscapes, nautical spaces, and personal histories. Recent projects in photography include Chasing Saturn, which folds Greek and Roman mythology into contemporary dreams and memories. Wake of the Dutchman, images of a rich purgatory of old wooden ships waiting for rebirth. Wilderness of Salt is a series of paintings on burlap depicting historic and mythological women who are paralleled against contemporary counterparts.

Mallon and Murray will be running their workshop, Blind Ambition this Sunday at 2pm at Flux Factory. Admission is free. Please RSVP here.

Both of you use photography and mixed media in your art practices. In the context of the exhibition, do you often embrace friction with/against malfunctioning devices?

Virginia Mallon: Because I work in various mediums (painting, photography, and mixed media) I tend to not have a purist mentality for any of them. I am more focused on the work than mechanicals. I often find myself taking advantage of what would be considered malfunctions or mishaps in my work if it can be incorporated and enhance the theme.

My strongest draw is towards painting and although I work more, lately, with a camera it is with a painterly mindset that I move through a project. The camera can be manipulated in so many ways that at times it is the perfect tool for experimenting with different effects and captures. Commercial and other fine art photographers may have different priorities of clear, sharp, exacting images whereas my work embraces the smudge and smears to the point that I actually recreate them to enhance and strengthen the spirit of the image. Of course many would see this as malfunction, but as with anything one man’s malfunction is another’s masterpiece.

Anne Murray: I always leave my mind open to possibility, it makes the process of taking in information more interesting and allows for more diverse outcomes in my art. I work mainly with video, both poetic and documentary styles, and photography. I often save images that are out of focus or too dark or light for my films opting to interpret the poetic realities that they may conjure up when placed in context or in juxtaposition with other works. I am a poet and an artist, so poetry is always on the same par with my visual imagery. I see poetry, I feel art.

Virginia and Anne, how did you start collaborating together?

Murray: We met because of Arte Studio Ginestrelle, an artist residency on Mount Subasio, above Assisi, Italy in the Umbria Region. I was there for two months and I was introduced to Virginia’s work by Marina Merli, the director, who had a book of her photographs with poetic texts interspersed amongst the images. Marina told me that Virginia was creating the catalogue for the annual exhibit and that she saw my photo in the catalogue and wanted to get in touch because she was interested in my work.

Virginia contacted me and we corresponded. I invited Virginia to become a part of the group of artists, which I had curated for Cloud Conversations. Blind Ambition comes as a result of discussions we have had about rejection, mistakes, and inspiration.

Mallon: I was introduced to Anne’s work when she was a fellow at an Italian residency. I was working pro bono with the Director creating their catalogue for an annual exhibit hosted by the City of Assisi and was taken with the poetic quality of her work. I met her in person the following year and was immediately impressed with her complete immersion in her art and global sojourner life. I am drawn to both the global and extremely personal quality of her work and was very happy to join her in this Cloud Conversation project that gathers artists from across the planet for a worldwide collaboration of talent. Blind Ambition is a conversation about overcoming obstacles and using a different sort of “malfunction” to strengthen our work and our resolve as artists.

Blind Ambition is part of a larger project Cloud Conversations. Can you tell us about that project?

Murray: Cloud Conversations is a curatorial project, which I started after meeting artists in various residencies around the world. I noticed that some of the artists felt isolated and later I saw connections in their work and wanted to draw them together, to create a dialogue between them to inspire new works, so that the congruence in their works could foster growth and encouragement. I wanted to gather artists that were willing to work hard for their goals, that wanted to truly use art to make a difference in our global society, through directed focus and production of art.

What should participants expect during the workshop?

Mallon: An honest and frank discussion between artists on their work, the obstacles faced today by emerging artists, as well as the amazing opportunities available to us on a global platform.

Murray: Participants will learn to be inspired by their own mistakes and failures and see them as stepping stones, a necessary means to discover the unseen and the unknown elements in art and its production. They will learn about methods and resources for artists, websites, and opportunities for exhibiting.

Mallon and Murray will be running their workshop, Blind Ambition this Sunday at 2pm at Flux Factory. Admission is free. Please RSVP here.

Gallery Hours: August 19 until September 11, 2016, Thursday through Sunday 1pm — 6pm or by appointment.

Contact: artificialretirement@fluxfactory.org

Artificial Retirement is one of Flux Factory’s 2016 major exhibitions curated by Jung In Jung and Joelle Fleurantin.

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