But today I’m interviewing Isabel Winson-Sagan about our video installation What We Wrote On The Water:
1. The piece WHAT WE WROTE is collaborative, but it seems to derive from your vision. Can you say something about suminagashi, your relationship to the ink?
I definitely consider myself an “ink artist”- ink has always been more meaningful for me than paint. As a teenager I would hang out in tattoo parlors just because I was so attracted to the smell of the ink. There is of course a stronger relationship in the arts to the medium of ink in East Asian countries, which is where suminagashi comes from, but artists like Rembrandt and Matisse used ink as well. I find ink to be much more alive than paint- it has a mind of its own, and perfection is always out of reach. It’s easier for me to enter a dialogue with whatever I’m creating.
2. Usually the ink is then printed on paper. But that never happens in this piece. Where does the ink “go” or imprint itself?
That is a huge element in this piece! Like a Tibetan sand painting, the work itself is not “kept,” instead of being frozen in one moment in time it keeps moving. This is also highlighted by the fact that the video is on a loop- although the water and the ink go through stages of stillness, there is no end to the movement. Of course, in a practical sense the ink eventually dissolves into the water. Time is an important element here.
3. Music and text change/add to the meaning. How do you work with others? Who is in charge?
I recently heard a theory that collaboration is a hallmark of feminist art. Instead of elevating the individual, feminist art is more likely to focus on connection and community. Of course, that doesn’t mean that collaboration is easy! The video was made first, so the poet (Miriam Sagan) and the drummer (Tim Brown) had to work together to align the beats to the organic and random movements in the video. They also had to create work that had a non-traditional narrative structure, no easy feat! I love creating with both of these people, but the nature of collaboration with each of them is very different. It can help if there is a leader- one person with the primary vision. But there still needs to be a lot of communication throughout the process.
Check it out:
Video on youtube- https://youtu.be/i4YKpXgEp-I