Friday, June 01, 2007

PLANE TEXT: A conversation with Brigham Dimick

1708: Are you a bee keeper? Or do you hangout with Beekeepers?

Brigham Dimick: Waxworks was developed out of a desire to have my body replicated by honeybees (Apis Mellifera). Because I am allergic to all forms of hymenoptera including
honeybees, I wanted to engage in a process of art making and choice of material that would be conceptually and personally meaningful. On one level, Waxworks are effigies, saggital sections of my head that are offered to the bees. On another, they are collaborations with these amazing architects of the animal kingdom.

1708: Wow! Did you create this piece especially for PLANE TEXT?

BD: Yes. Artists often work from traumatic personal experiences. These experiences help
one to consider one’s mortality more frankly, and serve as sources for re-imagining the creation of images. In August of 2003, two stings on my hand led to an episode of anaphylactic shock within ten minutes. Had my wife not returned from shopping within 15 minutes of these stings and injected me with epinephrine, I may not have survived. Since then, I have experienced two more episodes of anaphylaxis in my allergist’s office after being injected with
small amounts of hymenoptera venom (these small doses are intended to slowly build up antibodies that lessen reactions to future stings). Because intervention was more rapid during these two episodes, I remained conscious longer and hence, remembered the experiences more vividly. These experiences, though frightening, have been valuable to me in locating specific metaphors about process and material in relation to self-portraiture.

1708: Will you return the bees to their keepers or let them go free after this exhibition?

BD: A bee has a six week lifespan. How process and material interface with representation has been a central concern in contemporary art. One of the legacies of Minimalist art has been its focus on materiality. That is, that the physical substance of the artwork is central to its meaning. Post minimalist art has adopted a focus on materiality that leans toward a more representational language, with broader narrative and conceptual allusions. For example, in “Lick and Lather”, Janine Antoni made casts of her head and shoulders in chocolate and soap, respectively. She then eroded her own representation via processes of eating and cleaning. These processes of licking and lathering influence the interpretation of her sculptures

Similarly, the construction of my artwork is framed by its material and process. The honey is stored in wax cells that have been built by bees in my likeness. The very insects that place me in mortal danger inhabit the void of my body.

Waxworks 1 was made by casting my head and neck in plaster, then casting the negative space around the head in 1/2” sheets of plastic. Each sheet of plastic represents the space around a saggital section of my head, and served as the boundaries within which bees built their comb and raised their brood. These saggital sections were placed in frames that hung in a hive box in an apiary.

In Waxworks 2, three observation hives are displayed with live bees and images within that represent different stages of process of making Waxworks 1, from the plaster head being encased in plastic (left hive), to a photograph of bees working industriously inside the saggital mid-section of my head’s shape, to a representation of my actual head partially submerged in white liquid (right hive). The images are encased in beeswax to promote the bees in these hives to build comb directly on them and efface these images.

No comments: