TS14: Dominique Knowles
CONCEPT DESCRIPTION for TS2014
The idea is to depict an internal state that performers and audiences might be in during Darren Aronofksy’s film Black Swan.
In my paintings, The Swan Queen is the water. I used momentous water as a metaphor for the dance. Meaning, I just painted the essence or how it must have felt to dance that way. My reaction to the dance rather than the dance itself might have been more important to me.
The idea is to depict an internal state that performers and audiences might be in during Darren Aronofksy’s film Black Swan. In my paintings, The Swan Queen is the water. I used momentous water as a metaphor for the dance. Meaning, I just painted the essence or how it must have felt to dance that way. My reaction to the dance rather than the dance itself might have been more important to me.
1. What was the inspiration behind your water-themed artwork for Transforming Spaces 2014?
In September 2013 I experimented with painting on raw cotton as a response to my Gravity, Water and Space painting that I did on a primed and stretched canvas in August 2013. What came of this is the painting Fluid Earth.
About a month or two later I named it ‘Fluid Earth’ because during a studio discussion, my former acting professor challenged us to think critically and talk about our own identity in relation to our characters that we were playing. I believe I was playing Andy from The Breakfast Club (Hughes, John. 1985). We could not really answer him adequately, because we were so complex and by not justifying who we were would be treating ourselves like shallow beings.
Nonetheless, I would have said among other things, ‘I am a film major. I know that acting is apart of film and I would like to be one for as long as it takes to fulfill my objective or to understand them. This institution and prescribed curriculum makes me feel like I am in a ditch, so I might have to defy a few instructions to create what I want.’ He agreed with us and told us to view our characters in the same manner that we think of ourselves, as complex human beings who are constantly changing.
This then grew into a deeper connection that I have with Nina Sayers who plays the Swan Queen in Darren Aronofsky’s film Black Swan (2010), which is Aronofsky’s rendition of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake. Characters have superior objectives and they have to go through a journey to arrive or to become this new normal. There are many things at state during these heightened experiences. In this instance, Sayers has to dance The White Swan and The Black Swan, but she needs to be more aggressive like The Black Swan in order to be The Swan Queen. The Dying Swan and her alternate are fighting for this principal role as well.
That’s how it was when I was in the acting studio. If anyone of us did not research our characters and rehearse it showed. Thus, his or her time to perform would be placed at the bottom of the imaginary list. Sometimes, scene partners did not even get to perform, because the promising stars, or true actors deserved the time more. In order to overcome the politics one had to push through internal barriers, lose control and captivate the audience.
This is when the internal environment oddities became pivotal. When I rode a horse, or act I did not know what I was physically doing. I felt everything and it naturally happened, so that is what losing yourself or being effortlessly captivating might have been about for me. Of course there were volumes to this feeling with every experience.
I felt this perfection on a horse, but the point of acting was to transcend as well. During a great performance, it feels like the audience and I, are underwater being held by the arms of the sea, except my eyes are closed and they are watching me.
2. What was your biggest challenge, joy or learning experience in creating your piece for this project?
I learned how to build the stretchers to fit the painting, which was like making a film with a time limit. The paintings barely fit into the studio.
Thankfully, Heino Schmid and John Cox helped me with cutting wood and stretching the canvas. It was always a joy to be at Popop during the break. Everyone visited me when I was painting and I would go to his or her space to have a conversation about art.
Special note: Finding a space to exhibit the work was a challenge and I thank curator Dylan Rapillard for including me in this show at Popopstduios.
3. Words of wisdom… a motto, favorite quote?
Gaul Sheehy’s quote, ‘‘If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security’’ might sum everything up.
Dominique Knowles was born in Nassau, Bahamas in 1996. Knowles is exploring Cinematic Arts at Columbia College Chicago in Chicago, Illinois where he is expected to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in 2017.
His primary medium is Painting, but he is experimenting with Performance Art and Avant-garde Cinema.
Knowles’ practice is an exploration of his internal environment, regarding pure emotion during his past experiences in equestrian and theatre acting.
Photos courtesy of the artist