Artist
Statement

Paul Donald, 2017

My practice to date has been one of sculpture informed by painting, with a consistent focus on the "performativity" of craft and the relationship between my process and future viewers or interpreters.

In my more recent work—expanding to include aspects of explicit performance, video recording, woodworking, and carpentry—I have put emphasis on what is necessary for structural integrity, both in the sense of an object maintaining cohesion in space and a painting maintaining an "aesthetic structure,” but also in the sense of what might be considered structurally necessary to perform or sustain an integrity of "identity" (whether for an object or for a person). Pushing materials to their limits, I produce objects and situations that physically manifest my processes of making: corporeal effort changes materials into deliberately confusing hybrid objects.

In this way, my current practice uses specific kinds of media and aspects of mediation, which are usually considered conceptually distinct, together in the same work. I do this in order to broaden and open out the interpretive possibilities. By signaling a relationship between different components of a work—the built, the performed, the recorded—I try to allow audience members to take their own roles in an economy of meaning and value (artist/artwork/audience/gallery).

I seek to engage audience members in projections and identifications to encourage them to acknowledge their own role in the art encounter through the materiality of the work, which draws them in through a phenomenological (sensorial but also potentially desiring) relation. I play on and play out a certain idea of the artist in making these encounters as rich as possible. The artist represents a specificity of performed identity, a point of identification that provides a kind of cognitive navigation marker; the artist produces (in my case) a materialization of his actions or labor; in turn, this materialization becomes an anchor point for the spectator.

Part of my goal with these projects is to revivify art through performance but also to enliven performance through materiality. I seek to go beyond what has been considered in recent years as “relationality.” My work thus aims to foreground this collapse of labor/performance/artifact and broaden that scope to include the audience and gallery as also engaging in their own specific iterations of these relationships.