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Grace Ndiritu in conversation with Ian White
Grace Ndiritu was born in the UK in 1976. She received her BA (Hons) at WSA and then attended the Postgraduate studio residency De Ateliers in Amsterdam (1998-2000). Her work, which combines advertising, documentary and music video strategies within the framework of performance video art, has been exhibited internationally, including recent installations at the 2005 Venice Biennale and the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. Several of her videos are now distributed by LUX and her first major solo show will be at the Chisenhale Gallery in January 2007.

Ndiritu was awarded UK Studio Award 2004-2006 at Delfina Studios in London, during which she had a show there, TIME, in autumn 2005. Curator and writer Ian White spoke to her about the show and her practice.

Ian White: Conversation seems a very good place to start with your work; in as much as, even though you might be engaging in a political territory, you are not doing so in an explicitly polemical way, so that each of the individual works seem to occupy a kind of space rather than making a sort of polemical point.

Grace Ndiritu: I think of it instead of trying to talk about certain issues that bother me whether political or socio-political, but trying to transcend the normal dogmatic way of talking about them, putting different layers. Through the dance – the dance is a way of talking, expressing things – but also with the text, because some of the text you are used to as well, because we’ve become so used to that kind of statistical information, especially about Africa and stuff like that. But when you put it all together then so many different, new meanings come to it. And through the music, like in Absolute Native it’s quite hypnotic, so then you start to see different ways of joining. The whole show at Delfina is always changing, because if you go to one piece then you’ll see it once and you’ll go, “Okay now I get that bit”. But then if you see it again, you’ll see something else, because of the way I’ve made it. Even I start seeing new things, and that’s why I said that I also like to see the work in the space to understand it again.

IW: I think also with this show in particular the relationship between the three different pieces is really interesting and actually really successful. You move from this big space where you watch Time to a smaller space where you watch Absolute Native, and then a much smaller space where you are watching Desert Storm on a monitor with earphones – I think there’s a really successful passage between the works. What was in your mind in choosing to display the work in that way?

GN: Well first of all I thought it’s good to have a big entrance because Time is a very powerful statement – I mean just graphically, visually, we all know the Time magazine cover. It needs room to breathe, so you need room also because the music is so dramatic and having that big white room, it gives space to bounce off it, lets say. And then you go into Absolute Native and it was really important for me not to put it on a monitor, because normally that’s how we’re used to reading statistical information, at monitor size, let say at home. So I thought if I put it big, you also get the feeling of the feet being really physical. They really feel like they’re bouncing and tramping down and you really get involved in the movement of this piece. And then I think with Desert Storm, it’s really important that it’s on a monitor and ideally with headphones, because it is such an intimate piece. I’m looking straight at you all the time, and when I was making it, it was like… I gave the camera quite a male perspective, a male point of view and so it’s quite important to have that with the headphones and everything, so that you get lost in that world. It’s funny because that’s the piece that people fall out about, like all the men…you know, “She looks like she’s enjoying herself”, and the women are going, “No, she’s being raped”. So that’s really interesting. The point is to make it ambiguous, and I like that, to leave the work open, so people can make up their own minds – there’s not one right answer. So that’s why if you walk in the direction that we talked about, from Time through to Desert Storm, then it’s like you are following a kind of story and also you’re learning something. But then you come back to Time, so then it makes you renegotiate the whole thing that you’ve just seen as well…

IW: And the way in which different things happen with the text and different things happen with the performance, and you are conditioned into looking at those things by an experience of moving into the different spaces, which I think works really well. Maybe we can comeback and talk about the separate pieces of work in a minute. It would be good to talk about the male point of view and the camera. Now, I want to ask you a question while we are still general about ambiguity and how you understand the politics of ambiguity or not. Because I respond to your work as political work and I think it’s quite tricky to locate exactly where the politics are and I also feel often that it’s my assumptions which are being, not exactly exploited, but my assumptions are on the line in the work. And the kind of reading that I start to have about the work, I feel very unsure about. So I feel like I’m simultaneously being encouraged to read assumptions into the work whilst sensing that they are being undermined.

GN: Well I think it’s like a matter of confronting your own prejudice, and stereotypes. Because some of the work, in this show in particular, is more political let’s say, than other work that I make which is less obviously political. But I think also people every day are confronted with stereotypes. With the Time piece especially, you can assume that I must be Muslim to make that piece as an artist, but I’m not. I like the idea that there is no stability, because I really believe that there is no right answer to anything. So that’s why it is hard to locate the politics, because I’m also learning while I’m doing it – because the performances are spontaneous, they are not choreographed and therefore it’s not, lets say, forced in a direction. I think to myself, “Oh, I’m going to do this performance”, and then I make the performance and afterwards I’m working on editing it. And because it’s a single take without any editing in all three pieces, I mean the actual movement is a single take, then I think it has more of a powerful way of transcending the obvious, if you see what I mean, because there are mistakes, these are normal and human…

IW: Yes, well I think this is always a kind of an interesting question, about the relationship between choreography, something which is planned, and chance in the work. Because across all of your work there’s a performative aspect and the performance never feels strictly choreographed, you know there are a number of kind of coincidences that happen. At a certain point in the text an action might happen or an action might coincide with the ending, but the choreography isn’t actually that strict…

GN: … Because it’s not planned, the choreography. Like I don’t rehearse, you know. Its funny, when I’m filming, sometimes I’ll do one take, and then I’ll go, “I better do it again,” but it’s always the first take [that I use], because in the first take there’s always the vulnerability, there’s always these mistakes, and things that later on, when put with other information – like the text, the music – then become something else… become the piece. So I work very intuitively, in that way, and I think that’s why it’s not possible to just have one reading or one political stance on it, because it’s quite complex, the issues are complex, and they are shifting, and I am shifting, everything is shifting, and that’s what’s important. Because you are always allowed to change your mind, aren’t you? That’s why I think it’s important not to be too fixed…

IW: And what then sets the time frame of the separate videos, in terms of working out how long each piece is, is this something that is developed from the performance, or is it pre-set say by already knowing which piece of music you are going to use, or which quotation you might use?

GN: It really depends. When I first started making this series of work called New Global Performance, that’s what I call them as a theme, with the first pieceThe Nightingale, I did a performance to a certain kind of trance music. I do a lot of meditation and yoga and I put myself in some sort of a trance state, lets say, and I did the performance naturally to one set of music. But then I edited it to another set of music, and therefore it became differently animated by that music. But now, with Time I did the performance – I don’t know if I even did it to any music, but later on when I was watching… I think it was a film or something, I knew instantly what music would go with that image. And I’m just listening to music all the time, I listen to a lot of world music and I have the music in my head and then it’s just the two things come together. And then the text, it’s like the twist of the thing, like Absolute Native, I knew I had that text and I knew I had that image, but in the end, it wasn’t until the two things came together – like Absolut Vodka! - and that made the piece.

IW: I think that there’s a really curious relationship between logo and performance or other text in the work, you know, in particular in Time and Absolute Native. Again it probably comes back to ambiguity, but there’s a really quite strange relationship, actually, between looking at something which is incredibly familiar like a brand name or the cover of a magazine…

GN: … yes, so global…

IW: And actually what we’re seeing… The relationship is not simple between them and yet it looks like it should be, which is the peculiar thing.

GN: Exactly, and I think it looks like it should be simple because it’s just a single take, I don’t move the camera. That’s the funny thing with my work, it looks very simple from the outside and straight away you think you can understand it… And the thing about the logos are, is that yeah, we know that logo, but “time”, it means so many different things, and that’s ambiguous. I’m so intimate in my own space doing this performance, for me, and the logo is so global and so about the world out there. So I think that’s why it becomes ambiguous or quite strange.

IW: So to what degree are you interested in subverting those kinds of elements like the logos?

GN: I am very interested in it, but in a positive way. Before, years ago, I used to make videos where I would subvert different global brands, like I’d say on the video something like ‘sponsored by Prozac’ or something like that, as a way of disturbing the viewer into changing their mind about things. And so it would all be quite confrontational but not in a negative way, but in a disturbing way. And then I had a big change, where I realised, actually that’s what the media do, they use a lot of information to make us fearful, like the culture of fear. And actually all they are doing is sending subliminal information out, during the news. So through my Yoga and meditation, I learnt about how energy works, like through resonances and different things. And I realised actually, you can send out positive subliminal information and positive energies, so I’m just doing the reverse of what the media do. They use their imagery or pictures in a negative way, and I’m using it in a positive way, but not in a cliché way.

IW: Maybe it’s useful to be more specific about how you understand that to work. I mean, is that a strategy you would say is operating in Desert Storm?

GN: Not strictly and that’s why I find that piece very hard to watch myself…

IW: OK, so maybe a piece of work that does employ that strategy…

GN: The Nightingale, for example, and Absolute Native. In that, I decided to, while performing, give out certain subliminal positive information, so… it’s more a strategy of enlightening people, to change their minds about certain things rather than disturbing them. So that’s what the big change was.

IW: In terms of your private intent…

GN: My own private intent…

IW: …That was a massive change for you as a practitioner

GN: Exactly, so the whole idea of resonance, because we all resonate, that became really important during the performance and that video. What I learnt about video is it’s such a blank canvas, and actually you can you use the energy within the material of video to transcend and transmit different energies, like you can use it to transmit negative energies, or you can transmit positive energies. In The Nightingale it’s more obvious – maybe it’s not obvious to the viewers, but I know that I am doing it and I know from the feedback I get from different people that it’s working in a certain way. I’m not brainwashing people to like the work, it’s… to open the mind. Like in Yoga, the Third Eye, it’s a way of talking about opening up, so people have more lucidity. So that’s what I’m trying to do, cause a reaction of lucidity in people so that they can see a different perspective on certain subjects. Because usually everyone is so fixed on thinking, “I hate this war, I hate this war because of this”, and they start getting ground into their ways of thinking and then they forget to really analyse them again – they just get stuck on this one thing of being anti-war of pro-war, or whatever it is. And so it’s a way of expanding people so that then they can say, “Oh well actually, there is no right answer, both points of view can be right, you can pro-war and that could be right, or you could be anti-war and that could be right”. I’m not the one that’s saying which is right, and I don’t think there is a right answer, and that’s why I am interested in working in an ambiguous way. But Desert Storm is a really really hard piece for me to watch because in it I feel like I look like a victim. Okay, some people have told me, mostly the women, have told me that no, I look powerful. But to see one’s own body moving in that way and because it’s so ambiguous, it looks… it feels like something bad is happening to me. So I don’t like to see myself in that position. But I do think the performances are a way of exorcising different issues, or a way of making me be able to cope with living, because I get very affected by things. Because even though I’m not directly involved in the war or something like that, I am still aware of it and it’s still affecting me, it’s affecting everyone’s consciousness.

IW: Maybe you can say something at this point about the male perspective, or the male point of view, or the male gaze in terms of Desert Storm. To me I think you have a really powerful physicality, physically you look very strong – your limbs look very strong. In Desert Storm there is a very difficult line between something that’s incredibly erotic, something that’s very restless and irritable, and something that’s abusive or imprisoning. And I think you do kind of weave in and out of these different positions through out the tape. But I wonder if you could say something about how you consider it to be constructed from a male perspective.

G. N: Actually, when I started to make the piece last year, it was around the time of Ken Bigley [a British engineer kidnapped and executed in Iraq] and a lot of information about women getting raped in Iraq in prisons and stuff. And a lot of the imagery that I would see would be framed in a certain way and a lot of the writers would be male. So then I started to think, “Actually, this whole war is being put about in a male perspective – what is the other side, a woman’s perspective?” Actually, what happens when these things happen to a woman? And with rape, it’s such an ambiguous thing, anyway. If it’s not totally violently done, like in The Accused or something, and out there and obvious, then was it rape, is it rape? You know, there are all these different arguments within women themselves and with society as well. And I was disturbed and also amazed that all those countries that are listed along the bottom of the picture, they are all countries where rape is being used as a weapon. So someone has sat down and systematically said, “We are going to use rape as a weapon during this conflict”. And I found that actually mind boggling that anyone actually had that conversation. And the fact it’s not just obvious places where, you know, like in Rwanda or Kosovo…

IW: Well I think, it’s not even just a contemporary strategy, in fact sex has been a weapon probably in more wars than what I would even mention now – in World War II, for example, there were explicit propaganda campaigns which were specifically targeting German or British troops via the vulnerability of their women at home being abused by the enemy soldiers. And whether they were or they weren’t, it’s a use of propaganda in this way as a weapon.

GN: Exactly. But also the fact that all these countries are countries that the UN has listed, so they are recent. They are from the 1970s onwards, all those conflicts. And that’s what really disturbed me because that’s obviously my time, I wasn’t alive in the Second World War. But I just found it really fascinating actually, because all these situations, all these conflicts are going on and most of them are still shifting. You know, like the problems in Sri Lanka, none of it is resolved, and that’s what happens a lot with women as well, that certain issues never get resolved. I thought it would be really interesting to use this way of framing, you know, and by giving the camera a male perspective, it is like I am a tabloid picture. So at the beginning I am still and then I’m animated, it’s like the picture and then the story behind the picture. Because it says at the beginning 21st October 2004, then there’s a still and then I become animated. So if it was just the still, that’s how we would get it in the newspaper, then we would have to make up our own stories about it. But because I become animated, you have to read into (imagine) what the journalist would have written.

IW: And is there something specific in the framing or in how you were using the camera, that you would be able to identify as being male?

GN: Just the fact that when I was performing I was thinking that it is a man looking at me.

IW: Okay, it’s a private thing for you.

GN: Yes, that’s why it’s so intimate and that’s why it’s so disturbing for me myself to watch. Because really, I’m looking at the camera thinking, “That’s a man looking at me”. So he can be looking at me in different ways, like we said erotic or because sometimes in the movement you don’t know if I’m being dragged off camera, you know, so is there something happening to me? I don’t blink, or I just look straight all the time, and then it feels like, am I moving off camera because I want to? It’s all ambiguous because I’m looking dead straight, but my eyes don’t really give anything away.

IW: Yes, I mean your eyes are amazing. And also in the The Nightingale your eyes actually seem very distinct from your mouth – they seem to be conveying something, and, for me, when your mouth is revealed it’s so stern and unforgiving. Your eyes may look like they are smiling when you can’t see your mouth, and then you reveal your mouth and your mouth isn’t smiling.

GN: It’s just straight all the time. That’s the thing about when you put yourself in certain states of mind, and that’s what I did before Desert Storm too. And then afterwards I looked at the material and I was like, (gasp) “It’s really powerful”. Personally, I don’t want to watch myself like that. But now I’ve come to terms with it, the more that I see it, I’m coming to terms with that part of myself. Because the way I see myself as an artist is more of on a Shamanistic path. You know in non-Western cultures that the Shaman is actually the healer, the medicine person for the community, the guide for the community. And I’m trying to balance these two worlds, because obviously I live in the west, I grew up here and stuff, but my heritage is from Kenya. So I have these two different things, I don’t feel I’m totally English and I don’t feel totally African. So I’m in that middle space, which means that I can live everywhere, and live nowhere, because I don’t belong anywhere. So I think that’s why my work can be ambiguous or shifting because that’s the way I am.

IW: Do you understand your work to have a social function? I mean there’s no reason why it should have, I’m just curious in light of that.

GN: It does, I like to think so. It’s the same way as any other job in the sense that it’s contributing something to society. You know, there’s no difference between being a doctor or an engineer or whatever – a policeman. I also contribute something to society. And because contemporary art is so, let’s say, removed from the spiritual aspect of the world, I’m interested in making those links, but not in a clichéd and corny kind or evangelical way. I just think that the Shamanistic path gives me a way of being my own person but also it’s like you are a guide to the community because you can see other things that other people can’t see. But it’s not like you are a politician therefore and you say you should do it this way and these are the laws – it’s not like that, it’s offering a different angle. Like with a Shaman, it’s through a different world, so that one can be healed, but with art…

IW: Just explain to me how you understand Shamanism?

GN: In terms of art, well because in the non-West, art is with a small ‘a’ because it’s just part of the everyday language of life, and only in Western culture is it with a capital ‘A’, because then it’s removed from everyday life and put in a white gallery and then it’s ‘Art’. Which doesn’t actually make sense really as a function of creativity, creativity is just something you do. Everybody does it, don’t they? They cook, they play, it’s just a natural phenomenon. But in here, in a Western country you put it with a big ‘A’ and then you put it in a gallery and then it becomes this whole other thing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s two ways. Obviously I’m taking part in the big ‘A’, capital ‘A’ stuff, you know, but I’m interested in bringing in the other element, as every part of life, because actually that’s how it was before Western civilisation.

IW: In part at least, if not entirely, capitalised ‘Art’ is more to do with an economy, a commodification of something, a profession from which you earn money and in order to invest the art object with value, its removal from the everyday becomes necessary. It needs this to accrue value.

GN: And there’s nothing wrong with that, I just think that there’s a place for both in the world. Now it’s a hierarchy in which capital ‘A’ art is so much more important and better, but it’s not – it’s only in this society that it needs to be like that, in other societies it’s the other way round.

IW: I wonder if you could say something about ritual in your work. Because it seems to me that often it’s as if we are looking at something which seems to be incredibly ritualistic. Whether that’s say in Time with your circle of candles and sand or in Arrested Development with the fire, most of them appear to have a very ritualistic mise-en-scene.

GN: What do you mean by ritual?

IW: By ritual I mean that they look as if there is something ceremonial about them, pre-planned, that there’s an investment in the action occurring which we might not immediately understand. And that’s combined with a mystery, rather than a decoding of an action or making something clear. We are watching a set of mysterious actions which suggest a kind of transcendence. But I actually think at the same time that those things are unravelled and become undone as you watch the piece, so what you end up watching is something much more casual than a ritual. And to me this connects with the ways in which I understand you to be playing with an idea of ethnicity. And that’s where I feel that my assumptions are on really slippery ground because actually you’re the one who’s playing with this idea of ethnicity. As a black woman, as a black body performing these movements in this way, I immediately start to think about ritual or I immediately start to think about tribal dance – and it’s like actually, no, it may be none of those things. And we’ve spoken abot this a little bit before, how these dances may just be made up. It may not have any cultural heritage.

GN: It’s funny because I can see how completely you could read it that way. But for me just making the work, I’ll be honest, with Arrested Development it was a ritual in the sense of the stuff in the middle, the food or the string or whatever you want to think it is, you know, the material that gets burnt away and then has to be renewed. In a sense, that’s why it’s ‘arrested development’ – because it stops. Because everyday you have to start again, you get this much aid, and then okay, it’s gone, now what? It’s not sustainable. Okay so in that sense I’m coveting the object, I’m making it special by dancing around it, and in that sense it is a ritual. You infuse them with potency, by moving around them. And you do that in different religions. I wouldn’t like to say which ones but different religions, and that’s the sense in Time as well, I’m mourning – I start off with a specific prayer movement which a Muslim friend showed me, but then it becomes my own movement, you know I’m not Muslim. And I just think of myself as a blank canvas and that I’m making work for everyone, not specifically for the black community or for the non-white community. I think of myself as making work that is universal. And I happen to be black – I could be Chinese, I could be white, I could be anything and I think I would still end up with the same… I could end up, I’m not going to say “I would end up”, I could end up with the same strategy.

IW: I agree, I think that it gets into quite tricky territory – I mean, I agree that you could employ a similar strategy you know, but actually you are black and that to me figures. You know, I’m gay – that figures too…

GN: Yes, but the reason why I don’t like to read my own work like that is that I know I’m black and I have no problem with being black, I’m just making my work because I’m making my work. But the reason why I don’t like to put it within these categories is because forever I will be pigeonholed by other people and not necessary through seeing the work. If they were to just see the work and see what they want to see and understand it from their perspective or change their perspective, that would be one thing, but it isn’t that, it’s actually within the system of art with a capital ‘A’ and I will forever be segregated and that is the problem. And that’s why I don’t like to talk about it from that perspective. Because still nowadays you know, I’m always getting bloody e-mails from people, “We are looking for ethnic minorities artists, blah blah” – and I’m like, “I haven’t got a disease!” There’s nothing wrong with me, you know, and I find it really insulting. I’m just making work. Some black artists, they do like to promote black art and I say good for them, everyone’s got to do what everyone’s got to do. But me personally, I think it’s better to say, no I’m an artist who happens to be black, I could be white, I could be gay, I could be like disabled, I mean, yeah I could be anything you know and make work and that’s actually how you should want to see it.

IW: Of course, absolutely, I think in terms of people asking you to be in shows or not to be in shows dependant on colour is nonsense. Nevertheless the content of your work is on some level about ethnicity, I think, which may be an abstraction from your…

GN: On some level yes, because I’m always interested in it. Funnily enough, after what I’ve just said, I’m very interested in people who lack power. And the people that lack power in the world are mostly non-white people. So I’m interested in issues about that. So whether that’s tribal issues or black issues or whatever kind of issues, it’s about the lack of power. And by talking about things, about issues that affect people who lack power, I’m trying to give back dignity, to either the people, or to the issue.

IW: So why in making the work do you choose to perform yourself rather than asking somebody else to perform – what determines that for you?

GN: Years ago I used to make videos, video installations. And once or twice I used someone else in them. It was interesting but I think when I was just getting into my own spiritual practices, Yoga and meditation and stuff, it just came to a point where I was confronted with myself and all the different elements of myself. And I think actually it makes the work much more powerful if I am in it because it’s not a self-portrait, it’s a human portrait, but I just think it’s fascinating because I learn something about myself in the process and I think that’s part of it as well, rather than directing other people. And I think also because I edit it myself, I direct it, I perform in it, I do everything, then it has the same sort of energy within it – it’s quite potent, because there’s no interference, or no, how can I say, distancing or disconnection, within the process and within me making it. I really believe in that idea of hand-crafted video, you know, rather than high production video, which is a very different way of thinking.

IW: Does this connect with how prevalent the veil is in the work in terms of it being you but it not being a self-portrait, you’re often covering your face, or covering your body, or naked but covering your eyes, or the shot is just of your feet which is a different kind of veiling I think – the veil figures across the work.

GN: I see what you mean. I never really thought about it as a veil, specifically, because in the work that you saw before…

IW: Which is your new work which will be shown next year at the Chisenhale…

GN: … I use textiles so I don’t think of it as a veil, but I can see how you’ve read it as a veil. And I guess yeah it is in a way…

IW: But it’s a veil in the sense of, forgive me if I’m not remembering it entirely, but your arm appears from behind the cloth. And then does more of your body appear?

GN: No, it’s just my arm.

IW: So we know that then, you know, the fabric is hiding the rest your body, and you reveal an arm. So it is a veil. You know, you are behind the fabric.

GN: I suppose in a sense, that it is actually, I’m not wanting to expose my full self in the sense of that because then it would be a self-portrait. You see what I mean? And I am interested in learning something about me as a person in the work, but I’m not interested in dissecting myself in that sense. So that’s why I guess there’s always like a veil, between me and the audience in that way. In a new work that I am working on, I use make-up as a veil, or a disguise, I’m disguising myself in some sort of way.

IW: I also feel like your work is very formal. It’s really quite astute, I think, in its economy of means. It has a certain elegance that’s connected to formalism. I wonder whether you are consciously making work within some kind of formal tradition. Or even, how you perceive your work in relationship to historical work. In terms of artist film or artist video or performance work, or maybe you don’t but I’m curious whether you do position it in relationship to other kinds of practice.

GN: Okay, well that’s asking a few questions at once. In terms of positioning, in terms of the integrity of the work, that definitely comes from sixties performance artists like Marina Abramovic, and people like Chris Burden and Ana Mendieta, people who just go for it. And I really think that actually connects to my Shamanistic beliefs, because when Shamans are in a trance they’re not talking or deconstructing being in the trance, they are actually just doing their thing. And I really like that idea, but in terms of lets say the single take or the framing of it, where the camera doesn’t move, that came from using the camera more as a mirror when I’m performing, because I’m doing it myself, keeping the camera in one position and I’m having this kind of dialogue. I remember seeing a Vito Acconci piece where he’s lying down and he’s talking to the audience and he’s saying all these things – “Hey girl you’re so pretty”, you know – and he’s so close to the camera, and it’s just really like, “Ooh Vito!” It’s like he’s talking to you, it’s like he’s coming on to you and you feel so… ooh, you know. And I kind of like that. But in terms of also references, I really like painting too – I’m not a painter, I can’t paint and I can’t draw, but I really like the way it’s still. And you go away from a painting, you come back and you see new things. Rather than narrative, you know, so I’m interested in more that kind of perspective and maybe that’s why it’s quite traditional, my work, or quite formal, because it has that painterly element…

IW: In terms of composition maybe…

GN: Exactly, and because it’s just a still camera. In the Chisenhale stuff I was very interested in Matisse, and Matisse’s use of textiles. Because I went to West Africa and that’s where I got textiles from, and then I started thinking, oh yeah, look at Matisse, this is a hundred years ago, he’s looking at textiles, isn’t that funny, coming from completely different worlds. I think that’s really interesting . I’ve purposefully called it Still Life, because they are more like moving paintings in that way.

IW: Maybe just as a final question, do you want to change the world? In the sense of you talk about unresolved conflicts and the number of unresolved conflicts. Do you think that anyone, or you, or we, or you and your viewers, can be in any way responsible for change?

GN: We are all responsible for it because all these conflicts are going on, whether you pretend they are not going on or not, we’re all responsible for it because we are alive and walking around. But you can’t feel guilty about it all the time because that isn’t going to help either you know. You can’t beat yourself up because you are not in Palestine helping – not everyone can do that. I think you just have to be able to do what you can do, and I am able to this. I have always felt very guilty about not being able to do something very practical, like I should be working in medicine. When I was in art school, I was thinking, “I should just be there in Africa handing out medicine” – doing a real thing, instead of this weird art thing pretending it’s real. But now I’ve found a way of balancing both. And I’m not saying that the art will change the world, or something like that, I mean I’m not that naïve or idealistic. But I do think it helps people to see different perspectives which then eventually change the world. It’s like a slow process, in that way, and it filters down doesn’t it? Because the work keeps working…That’s why I am interested in the subliminal because the work keeps working after you have left the gallery…..

IW: Good, great. Thank you very much indeed. 

GN: Thank you.

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