Carpenter, seamster and strategist, Michael Lisle-Taylor works with sculpture, photography, video, and drawing, and follows elaborate working processes, comparable to life in the army: the architecture of conditioning, its ceremony and manoeuvres, the spit and polish, the uniforms, and drill. In the seminar, he talked about his sculptural work. Often giving the impression of being the relic or remains of an event, be it actual or imagined, Lisle-Taylor's work is brutally honest, layered with meanings and with history.
The artist has himself described his work as being about 'wonder, terror, and something comic too' - and above all, about 'the illogicality of the task’ itself.'
After serving 13 years in the Royal Navy, Michael Lisle-Taylor studied art at Chelsea College of Art and Design, then went on to specialise in sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London.
Jac Saorsa: 'Sometimes I Bleed…'
'Sometimes I bleed…' is a film quote borrowed from The Others (Amenábar, 2001). The film is set in the aftermath of WW2, and this particular line is spoken by a character who is killed at the Front but returns home, not realising he is dead. His body is broken and abandoned on the field, but his 'spirit' is destined to continuously re-live the anguish and the suffering of 'his' war for eternity. He bleeds, a comprehensible physical reaction of an objective body that is long lost, but is perpetuated in his individual subjectivity. The later, collectively defined as 'humanity', was itself shattered by the incomprehensible horrors that he witnessed. In the film, in war, objectivity and subjectivity, as far as the body is concerned, and the differentiation between life and death, become confused.
Jac Saorsa's talk explained how her work addresses the manner in which the suffering body, in both its objective physicality and its subjective 'virtuality', can symbolise and express the experience of war. The confusion between life and death, and the expression of emotional instability, are constant thematic elements that run through her work. Most importantly, just as she does not focus on any particular war, but rather the nature of war itself, her aim is not to represent the suffering body in an illustrative manner, nor to elicit or express what it might feel like to witness suffering; it is rather to visualise suffering itself. In the depiction of violence in relation to the body, and of the suffering brought about by the experience, her paintings and drawings overtly address the theme of human vulnerability both in the face of war, and its corporeal aftermath. They also address a deeper theme, one that relates to how the body in war may be transformed through art in a manner that pushes the Deleuzean concept of the 'Body without Organs' to its visual limits.
Dr Jac Saorsa is a visual artist and writer. She holds an MPhil in Philosophy from Glasgow University, and a PhD in Contemporary Drawing Practice from Loughborough University. For the past decade, she has taught in universities in Costa Rica and in Cyprus, and has presented her work internationally at exhibitions, conferences, and seminars. She is a studio and research advisor for the Transart Institute, and is a member of the advisory board for several contemporary art journals. She has recently returned to the UK, where she now focuses on her own practice and research, and is currently completing a philosophical and visual study of the nature of the creative drawing process, due to be published in 2011 by Intellect.
For details of her visual essay published by the Journal of War and Culture Studies, click here.