Pakistani Muslim artist Mohsin Shafi and I, Andrew Purchin; an American Jew, met by fluke in the digital cloud. It was the line work forming eyes on the toes of Shafi’s feet that caught my attention. Through the cadences of our voices, the gestures of our bodies and the content of our tongues we initiated a collaborative art-making relationship, that contrasts with the conflicts between our cultures and states.
Shafi’s marks create body hair on female dolls and transform them into male dolls and in my mixed media paintings I respond to Shafi with body hair that extends out into the atmosphere. What can form when the flow of Shafi’s text and the wordless dance of marks in my paintings combine?
We plan to continue our collaboration in person and let our lines trace each other in the analogue sphere by creating an installation. This will be in a way, a performance art installation as the gallery would be open as we put the work together in person for the first time. We will mark our relationship over time, using material that we have created through cyberspace and transforming it into reality.
Ultimately the completed installation will be a sanctuary comprised of elements such as audio/video projections, paintings, collages and text. There will be a participatory ritual element which viewers can choose to participate in. Through this, we hope to engage the viewer in the tension and release that can happen when what has been held back explodes.
In two of the images above, a mobile phone photo taken by each of us of our legs was printed out on canvas and mounted on the larger panel. The one that is my self portrait on the right, I painted completely en plein air at the UC Santa Cruz Nature Reserve. The portrait of Shafi on the far left I started painting en plein air at Scott Creek. For the painting in the center, I used a photo reference that Shafi sent me of himself as a child with a fake mustache and a 'cowboy' hat and painted that over a landscape that I painted in Davenport.