Kim Schoen’s work with photography, video, and text takes on the rhetorics of display in consumer culture. Recent exhibitions of her work include Komma, (Kunstverein Springhornhof) Have You Never Let Someone Else Be Strong, (MMoCA), duh? Art & Stupidity (Focal Point Gallery, UK), Imitation Game (Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah, UAE), Remembering Forward: (LAXART, L.A.), Objective Considerations of Contemporary Phenomena (MOTInternational Projects, London), and Stupidious (South London Gallery, London). Schoen’s work has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, and her essays on repetition and photography (“The Serial Attitude Redux”, “The Expansion of the Instant”) have been published in X-TRA Quarterly for Contemporary Art. She is the co-founder and editor of MATERIAL Press.
My perspective on the necessity of critical thinking in regards to image-making comes from my previous history as an art director. This background in commercial image making has fueled my own criticality and my artistic practice, with its focus on rhetoric both visual and verbal.
Photographs are ubiquitous. There are billions of photographs and millions of photographers in the world. Vilem Flusser suggests that the majority of people are ‘illiterate’ image producers; they make images with little knowledge of an existing lexicon, or investment in the structures and stakes of what it might mean to make an image in the world, producing images with a speed, lust and enjoyment that has an equivalent in sound, the joy of babbling. I do not mean this in a pejorative sense, but in the sense that babbling is a child’s delight in experimenting with sound not necessarily linked to meaning. To be an artist working with images today means that we must engage with the myriad repetitions that are occurring, and work through them to understand their significance. My areas of interest and research are repetition, language and its intersection or rupture with visual work, finitude and its relationship to ‘finish’ (the hypothetical autonomy of the work of art) nonsense, and the absurd.
Aesthetically and philosophically, I find questions more productive than answers, and hence a sense of openness and possibility in teaching is important to cultivate. But this does not mean that ideas cannot be thoroughly interrogated, mused upon, or argued within one’s determined line of thought. As Roland Barthes has written, the “corrections, translations, openings and negations are more useful than an unformulated absence of system — one may then avoid the immobility of prattle and connect to the historical chain of discourses…”* As an educator I hope to facilitate access to lines of thought (and their corrections, translations etc.) that might help artists connect more deeply with their own practices.