Artist Statement

Ruth Jones

Artist Statements

January 2015

I am preoccupied with the concept of equality and the nature of art: its function, its purpose. The main question that fuels my practice is how can art empower equality? To explore this I try to develop ways of making that allow the audience ‘space’ (whether that space be physical, mental or emotional) for reflection, for dialogue. I don’t want to make works that obliterate any sense of the viewers ‘self’.

I am exploring the possibility that participatory art, particularly art that offers a ‘space’ that the viewer constructs for himself or herself, is a way of offering equality. An individual can leave aside their prescribed societal role in order to be the architect of the meaning of the artwork – just as the next person can do the same.

In order to do this I prefer to confine myself to materials that convey an ephemeral quality; have muted colours; have ambiguous surfaces; define or obscure spaces.

Mirrors in darkness, light on light, transparent materials, layers, paper and pencil, and geometric shapes are common themes.

Greys, whites, transparencies, reflections, washes – these all reinforce the quality I want to convey in my work: something difficult to grasp; something that requires the viewer to participate; something in which it is worth participating.

October 2014

“You are not ashamed to care for the acquisition of wealth and for reputation and honour, but you do not concern yourselves with yourselves, that is, with wisdom, truth and perfection of the soul.”[1]

In my work I seek to establish a theoretical link between ‘care’ for the self with the notion of ‘free play’. I try to put forward that art can be seen as a method of allowing an audience to ‘care’ for their ‘self’ through ‘free play’.

I consider an artwork to be separate and complete in its alterity; indifferent to the view it is subjected to. The indifferency of the art object allows the viewer to play freely with its appearance [2]– it promotes an attitude in the viewer that allows them to take part in an activity of ‘self care’: to discover and consider one’s beliefs and how they align with the art object and what that art object purports. Its indifferency allows the viewer a full, thorough, and most importantly, “objective” focal point to test their internal truths against. It encourages the viewer to turn their “aletheia” into “ethos”.[3]

I am also interested in the democracy I believe is offered by art – that all who submit themselves to a lack of knowledge when viewing a new art work, become equal. This notion is rooted in my research of Jacques Ranciere’s “The Emancipated Spectator”. It is this understanding of art and its ability to ‘equalise’ people of different classes, genders, ages, races etc. that has lead me to consider how politics in art does not necessarily have to be as obvious as Ranciere suggests it should be. I believe it is possible to construct an argument that uses free play and ‘self care’ to prove that the political power of art does not require political subject matter.

These two theories have provided me with a critical baseline from which I attempt to make artworks. I try to look at ways of engaging an audience more fully – attempting to create a dialogue with the audience. In particular I aim to create works that allowed the audience a quiet space for reflection; works that encouraged a state of free play either by physically consuming them or by being so ephemeral you are unsure they are there.

[1] Plato’s Apology, Page 20, lines14, Michel Foucault in Technologies of the Self, The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.

[2] “Schillers Juno Ludovisi…does nothing, wants nothing and offers no model for imitation…”Page 69, line 4, Jacques Ranciere, The emancipated Spectator, Verso, 2009,

[3] “…a set of practices by which one can acquire, assimilate, and transform truth into a permanent principle of action. Aletheia becomes ethos…” Page 35, line 28, Michel Foucault in Technologies of the Self, The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.

July 2012

My recent work has explored the dialogue between the viewer and an artwork. I am interested in the nature of the Gaze and how people are confronted, held and changed by it.

The interplay of the viewer’s gaze and the artwork creates a dialogue and offers an opportunity for self-reflection, confrontation and voyeurism. It is this interplay that I am interested in and seek to explore in varying ways through my own practice.

In the Gaze Series I interpreted methods of using materials to play on the subtle nuances of seeing and being seen. At present I am developing my use of materials and the juxtapositions between them that enhance or minimise those nuances.

May 2011

I am interested in audience perceptions of art. My work explores different methods of connecting with an audience and I try to reconcile my idealistic beliefs about humanity and art with the reality of social situations and the reception of contemporary art in a contemporary society. The dichotomy of these beliefs and reality is juxtaposed in often apparently arbitrary ways in my art works.

Much of the art theory and philosophy that has shaped my thinking is political in nature. Appropriating ideas of free play from both Schiller and Ranciere has led me to highly value the way that art can help reconnect people with their humanity, turning them from passive to active spectators. However people’s willingness to interact with an artwork can be limited by the nature of the work. It is not my belief that art should be easy to understand as this can debase the value of a work, and I understand that true democracy (which I value as highly as art) means that people can choose not to enter a state of free play.

It is from this point that I try to make works that everyone could gain something of value from, be it experientially or intellectually. Regardless of the impossibility of this task, and the apparent gap between the success and the actual result of the work, I believe the value of the work lies in trying to accomplish these tasks.

My work varies from interactive sculptures to artist books and appropriation of arbitrary scientific information to engage with my audience.


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