Congregation

Debora Alanna

Congregation

Congregation was made in 2008 at an invitational residency in Almaty Kazakhstan. The exhibition in the A. Kasteev National Museum was curated by Yuliya Sorokina.

Some thoughts: In my opinion, artists create self portraits, no matter what the original intention — the outcome of the work reveals self. Try as we might, we reveal our identity, our uniqueness, a signature of our soul. This is how I view one aspect of my recent installation. I did not consciously set out to do this. Once the work was presented, I was struck by several levels of interpretation the work may be subject to or clarification the sculpture would explain, and especially, how it revealed who I am and how I think of myself.

First I realized at least one archetype was dominant in each figure. Some figures could be construed to reveal more than one archetype — or if I think about it some more, maybe more than two… Even the spiral in the central configuration was an archetypal symbol… And further, the shapes that each figure was composed of were abstracted primal symbols — triangular, circular and square. I even began to see some hieroglyphics, pictograms, marks representing sacred iconography in the lines of the figures.

After digesting that revelation, I realized I was describing life stages. Simplification of life stages – but surely they were there. And more, the stages were equal to the next, none more prominent, as if there was a balance. Each was interconnected with the other, and each was blatantly important as the next. –Interestingly, I did not order them sequentially. What did that mean?

Now my questions for myself…
So what does this say about me, how does it portray my character, my personality?

Why did I call the work Congregation, when none of the figures actually meet? Why do the figures only connect by the spiral, the whirling…?

Then I need to understand and explain the shrouding, the emptiness within the figures, the broken fragility of the sculpture, the facelessness.

So what does this say about me, how does it portray my character, my personality?

Why did I call the work Congregation, when none of the figures actually meet? Why do the figures only connect by the spiral, the whirling…?

Then I need to understand and explain the shrouding, the emptiness within the figures, the broken fragility of the sculpture, the facelessness.

And finally, the cluster of apple branches placed in the middle of the spiral centre must be clarified, which can be described as the only congregated gathering of any kind in this show.

 

My artist statement is about my growing impressions of Kazakhstan, which began in Venice while hearing Kazak music and watching the videos produced by the Kazakhstan artists. When I arrived in Almaty, I was welcomed to the museum with a tour of the facility by a docent, Gudrun, who kindly walked me through all the exhibits at the museum. Again, my impressions of the Kazakhstan people through artists’ understanding of life here were strong. My work here is about finding monumental expression that is embodied in over-life sized abstracted figures. Congregation is a meeting of people, and because the faces are not distinct, they could be from any nation. We are living in a global society, and I felt that is was important to describe this international phenomenon, as well as simultaneously comment on how the Kazakhstan communities convene, and create an impression of being substantially effective in their interactions with each other, and with others. Essentially, this is what I describe in my artist’s statement.