By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu
Spanish Artist, Alicia Framis, had an important artwork that was created in the Netherlands around the turn of the century. As a former, brief artist assistant to Ms. Framis, I was exposed to her, “Wax Maquette.” “The Wax Maquette” was a kind of conduit where she instructed participants to place their hands within it and envision their ideal life. The idea was to use an architectural “objet d’art,” as a catalyst that once touched would provoke architectural feelings which would lead the participant to an ideal vision of their preferred surroundings. It was a kind of “New Performance Art” that she created while resident at the Rijksakademie in the Netherlands around 1995.
One may use cultural theory where popular cultures magazines like “Veranda,” or “Architectural Digest” present a second vision of ideal or perhaps even taste master ideas. When one looks to make credible advancements, it is interesting to view a direct method such as Ms. Framis’ “Wax Maquette,” versus the power of a magazine to address this type of human desire. It is as if they exist in two different regions of the brain, where one (“The Wax Maquette”) taps the imagination and conjures, the other may cultivate or assimilate.
The use of cultural theory allows one to begin to draw parallels between popular culture and art that may have significant results for a viewer to engage deeply with a work of art. One may begin to make relationships and assess the impact that different media may have on them.
I think it is like the old “Ouija Board Game” of the 70’s, where you are meant to be inspired and then conjure your own related imagery. It is as if you were to touch something and let it guide your thought. It responds to complacency, desire for change, inadequacies, or disparities in housing. With today’s youth, that are technology and social media driven, it may seem abstract, but could still be effective. This particular artist had a lot of alternative or unconventional methods for solving social problems. It is interesting when you compare the viability of different media or objects to accomplish similar things using cultural theory. The artwork may be a response or spin from the popular French fiction novel by Anais Nin, “Cities of the Interior.”
Framis, Alicia, “Wax Maquette.” Spain, 1995