Aleksandra Mir

Drawing and the Collective Spirit

By Aleksandra Mir
Drawing Now, Albertina, Vienna
From the exhibition catalogue

Drawing is the earliest recorded and most immediate form of art, generally understood as the coordination between the mind, eye, hand and tool, united in a gesture that leaves the imprint of its making as the signature style of one creator – the artist. For the past decade I have worked on expanding this notion and the medium of drawing by bringing in other people—art professionals, friends in various other disciplines, students and amateurs—to work alongside me. This process is challenging because it requires not only the alignment of all of our minds, eyes, hands and tools but also the coordination of all the institutional frameworks, physical spaces, schedules, budgets, mealtimes, background music and audience dynamics that assert direct influence over the final work.

My objectives are to push drawing beyond the limits of the small-scale, manageable sheet of paper into a larger unruly reality; simultaneously a stage set, a choreographed dance and an improvisational performance act. The work blends many art forms into one continuous process and activity where a lot is determined beforehand, but even more that is left to the energies and personalities of the people who are enmeshed in the process.

As my primary drawing tool, I have chosen the common Sharpie marker. Invented in 1963, it is most contemporary to my and my collaborators lifetime. It is a fast, democratic and unpretentious tool to use, representative of the ways in which we move through the world today. As a new popular medium it gives us tremendous freedom to explore and to refine into a fine art that for now may still be a little unexpected. Just as ready mixed paint in commercially available tubes was a novelty that spurred the impressionists to bring their easels out of the studio to paint relatively quick sketches of changing light and so to manifest how they viewed their world in the 18th century, so do I hope to create and adequate rendition of my time.

While my drawings are always black on white, they acquire an enormous richness and vibrancy due to the energy and coexistence of the different hands that create them. As each drawing grows slowly over time, the team and individuals explore their potential by pushing the pen to the extreme, from the most delicate of strokes to the violent destruction of the marker, creating a whole repertoire of lines, patterns and tonalities in the process. If I drew this alone, it would look completely uniform. Working with a collective spirit is one way of giving up control in order to diversify the palette and end up all the richer for it.