03. Remembering the Body


Amy Sillman "Untitled" 2009

Amy Sillman “Untitled” 2009

Amy Sillman created a series of 27 drawings derived from a process of observing couples in intimate situations (at home reading, curled up on the sofa watching television), re-drawing them from memory, and finally transforming them into abstract compositions with particular attention to where bodies touched or intertwined. In the process, the original, ephemeral moment from which the drawings were created is lost; instead, that directness is reinstated through the physicality of the gesture and the heaviness and crudeness of the charcoal lines which ‘dance’ across the surface. We do not only see the drawings, we experience them bodily, too. The drawings have a strong sense of bodily comportment and activity, a goofiness tinged with slight violence as the lines poke, prod, and penetrate one another.

credit and credit 

Many professional artists, from necessity, have had to train themselves in drawing from memory after they leave school, where they have access to figure models. We will be playing with this idea.

What We’re Doing:

We’re going to watch this short documentary on Erwin Wurm’s 1-minute sculptures. Then, everyone will come up with their own 1-minute sculptural poses. Everyone will take turns as the model for everyone else to draw. Each person is drawn on a single index card. Then, we will attempt to draw the poses again, in order, from memory. We will draw until we can’t remember anything else.

Drawing from memory requires long deep looking in order to thoroughly acquaint oneself with the proportions and structure of the pose. In this exercise, we will experience the result of briefly studying a pose (1 minute each) and attempting to draw from memory. Like a game of ‘telephone,’ as the space between initial observation and the drawing gets larger, the proportions and details of the pose will distort. We will embrace these distortions and their playful results by lining up all the iterations for comparison.