My artistic process is deeply influenced by my surroundings; rather than being defined by a particular medium, many of my projects are linked by the platform of re-construction: A concept that draws from all the available resources around us, re-positioned, and very much inspired by the buildings and people living on the islands in the Seto Inland Sea, Japan, where I also live. This understanding of the need to form arrangements in relation to what can be freely obtained underscores my practice. This approach is incorporated as a form of inventive improvisation which presents change as a permanent state arising from the chaotic and fragmentary nature of the everyday. These inquiries have led me to explore my own origins and to collaborate with family and friends in a very personal form of research that results in a constant process of learning: About materials, landscape, people, and myself.
Through sculpture, painting, drawing, installation, and photography I reveal a close and constant engagement with the material world, immersing myself in the ongoing re-construction and transformation of personal and collective identities. Using a wide range of collected objects, my approach challenges the traditional conceptions of art making; while my paintings and drawings are marked by a keen depiction of repetition and a strong sense of elapsed time —instilled in me from my early training as a house painter, landscaper and gold digger. Parallel to my artistic production, I have cultivated writing as an investigative tool of self-analysis that merges history, criticism, and fiction. My texts about art, politics, and culture are a layer to be added to my aesthetic practice.
All my work is an attempt at unlearning, there is the apparent reality and there is the ultimate truth. I am interested in accepting things for what they are and the need to locate the essential information. It can often resemble a problem with a set amount of combinations and in this game the goal is to understand. By accepting the flow of this reality I let it take me somewhere. This act of engaging with reality, as real and defined, presents certain possibilities – the problem and the solution, cause and effect, an understanding of the forces of light and dark, constant change. These are the pieces on my board.
By gathering physical material, from local sites, I can compare myself to an archaeologist or a material anthropologist. I dig. My methodology involves the slow or immediate collation of things, objects, images or cultural artifacts. They are not accumulated by chance because there is no chance. These things are from our physical and conceptual environments; remnants of cloth, pieces of wood, weathered paint, scrap metal, chunks of stone, rusted nails, forgotten stories and other re-purposed items; all of which are part of an ongoing inquiry into the life of materials over time. Where things come from, where they are going, how they fade and what it all means.
These pieces are contemplative arrangements (of islands; islands within islands) that reflect the lifestyle of living on an island in the Seto Inland Sea, Japan. Human life can be presented through its very absence, and the Japanese notion of ‘mono no aware’ or ‘the pathos of things’ is revealed. I am reflecting on our own individual condition while salvaging, reshaping, reconstructing and revealing the poetic encounter.
Ultimately, my work reveals itself in the very process of making and those processes are displayed in their unfolding. There are no final conclusions. It’s a meditative process; reconsidering and restructuring what we acquire over time, the metaphorical acts of searching, excavating and unearthing these material and immaterial things. All is represented as reconstructed and re-purposed future relics. Morgan Veness is a Sydney and Japan based artist with an MFA from UNSW College of Art and Design.