Lisa Cooper is a florist, artist, author, and doctor of philosophy. She holds a doctorate of philosophy in fine art from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales and is a permanent artist resident of Carriageworks in Sydney, Australia. Doctor Cooper Studio is her commercial flower business spanning major installations to hand delivered flower gestures. Dr. Cooper’s work has been featured in many Australian and international books, magazines, journals and television programs. While her distinctive flower work has been commissioned by some of the most celebrated in the business and arts world including, the National Gallery of Australia, the Prime Minister’s Office, Mastercard, the Australian Ballet, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tiffany &Co. Deutsche Bank, Aesop, Omega, Prada, Toni Maticevski, Romance Was Born and the Sydney Theatre Company. Murdoch books published her book, The Flowers, in November 2015. In 2016, Cooper received the NSW Department of Industry’s, Emerging Creative Talent Award.
is In Wild Air
British artist, K R Buxey’s Requiem (2002) is a self-portrait framing the head and shoulders of the artist in the manner of a traditional bust portrait. That the subject is receiving cunnilingus is revealed to the viewer by progressive, overt and nuanced, sexual responses described through the expressions of the face. The footage is accompanied by Faure’s Requiem, which serves to underscore these expressions and conjure the potency of non-verbalised experience.
Faure’s Requiem in D minor has 7 movements, distinctively ending In Paradisum, or ‘into paradise’ from the Latin version of the Roman Catholic burial service. Buxey’s title succeeds in shifting the emphasis of the portrait from its origins (base human sexuality) — to ecstatic revelation (the image is reminiscent of the religious ecstasies). And revelation comes in the final moments of the work — who is the artist acknowledging? Her lover? A collaborator? This acknowledgment has the impact of ‘puncturing’ the projected image — whereby her profane ‘ecstasy’ is abruptly contextualised. The abstracted image of the artist in an ecstatic state is exposed as a sexual reaction that is profoundly rooted in ordinary human experience.
The margins of the portrait, that is, its scope of representation, has essential links to betrayal and erasure. Through a subtle and nuanced tilt of her eye line and a distinctly altered gaze, another ‘body’ is introduced (though not visibly) and, in the final moments of the work, Buxey explodes the parameters of the established frame.
I first saw Bill Viola’s Tristan’s Ascension at it’s opening in Sydney. Projected onto a vertically oriented 19 x 10.7ft screen above the main alter at St Saviour’s Church, the work dominated the physical space. It suggested supreme authority — not unlike the iconographic positioning of Christ in most cathedrals. It was shown in the evening at 6pm, at a time of the year when it gets dark early, engendering a sense of authenticity to the projected image and linking it with notions of apparition and vision. The time of day and its appropriateness for the content, the site and installation of Viola’s work, was in contrast to the manipulated environs we usually associate with video installations in galleries where we are accustomed to viewing projections in artificially darkened rooms, during opening-hours.
Architecturally, the complex associations of both art museums and churches affects the capacity of image to dissolve into metaphorical space — these are sites where the distinctions between inner and outer experience dissolve and are made indistinguishable. In its installation at St Saviours Church, Tristan’s Ascension extended the material and philosophical limits of projection. Through the contingent and explicit act of viewing, the ascension of Tristan was truly, actually, enacted. In merging the secular and the religious within the consecrated architecture of the church, Bill Viola’s work encapsulated — epitomised ‘projection’.
Bill Viola spoke briefly that evening, thanking everyone who had made this context for his work possible; the only words he spoke about the work were borrowed: "The wound is the place where the light enters you" — Rumi.
Holy Cross Catholic Church
The morning of my first holy communion, wearing the garb of a bride, in miniature. I had been prepared in a series of lessons to be ceremoniously initiated. I understood that this orientation was the first day in a lifetime of days in union with God. I understood that through ritual and attention I must be so ‘emptied’ that I may be ‘filled’. Crushed by the gravity of this notional (and actual) communion I implored my father through copious tears to release me from the vow.
In order to gain my continued compliance my father tried to convince me that this rite was a type of analogy, that communion is an abstract concept, it was not literal (my perception of my actual marriage to God) and finally, that it was aesthetic, that ‘we’ were creating an image of beauty that would gladden my grandmother’s.
I was unconvinced — and remain unconvinced — that the notional is less than the material, the analogy less than its equivalent. I recall the struggle to fathom how nonchalantly the other ‘brides’ approached this union between God and man.
I was seven.
The Everleigh Bottling Co.
I don’t drink.
But I think it’s fancy to offer guests a cocktail. So I always have a few bottles of their Manhattan and Negroni in my cabinet. The bottle and the label are so exact, all you need is ice.
I don’t drink.
But, they have this incredible bar in Fitzroy and I like to go there and act like I drink whiskey – neat.
Theatre of Cruelty
‘If I wanted to tell the whole world the story of my life, and to live it again here in actions or in deeds for some [of you], it’s not because of everything abnormal, unusual, disconcerting, let alone particularly outrageous in my life, (like a drama too demanding for an actor) but because I think that others besides me will have felt the same beast stirring within them, the same wild, untamed beast, champing at the bit, growling and waiting to pounce.’
The aesthetics of Antonin Artaud’s opus and his metaphysical life are indivisible — he constitutes a complete poetic metaphor for ‘cruelty’. His central philosophy of cruelty assimilates all art and performance at which the body is the centre. Between 1931 and 1937 Artaud wrote the key texts that defined his theatre of cruelty; these were first published together as Le Théâtre et son Double / The Theatre and its Double in 1938.
The correlative aspects of Artaud’s thought and my work are non-academic. There is something both profoundly intangible and absolutely vital about the impact of his thought upon my practice — his method of apprehending his own personal experience is for me extraordinary — for Antonin Artaud there was nothing unremarkable about the experience of living. The image of his death — depicts the determination of his life…
On the 4th March 1948, Antonin Artaud was found dead, sitting upright at the foot of his bed.
Praying Hands (1508) by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) is the study of an apostles hands. A work defiled by its popularity as a ‘devotional object’, having been ‘copied’ and ‘reproduced’ in many forms in its capacity as an object of veneration. The image remains however, a concise depiction of the human action of prayer. A skillful portrayal of clasped hands in what is the most expressive gesture of the act of prayer. Within the pictorial scope the hands and ‘cuffs’ remain the only element of the subject that is present/ed — the ‘body’ is omitted, leaving the pictorial scene ‘empty’, implying the metaphysical space of prayer.