Samuel Ross

I am dyslexic. I am awkward. I don’t understand what’s happening in social situations. I am bullied. I am judged. I am rejected. I fear others.

This is the basis of my practice, which has been a journey of self-discovery throughout my time as an artist. My practice is an evolving self-portrait; a therapy.

My work is performance. My practical outcomes are a visual and physical response to my personal experiences; using emotional, traumatic and personal relevance. What is it like living in constant fear of other people? My work has been about coping and confronting; to finally overcome my fear of other people. I use performance as a way to situate; using the relationship between the individual (artist) and the social (audience) in a personal and often intimate confrontation. The audience is the witness, problem and solution and through my performances I hope to eventually overcome my fears. By using performance, I can not only confront my own issues, but also understand the wider issues of alienation, rejection and isolation that many people feel.

 

“The Other and the Anxious Self” examines and interrogates myself as a social being; trying to understand other people (what Jean-Paul Sartre calls The Other). Using performance and the relationship between the individual and The Other (artist and audience / me and you), I confront my fear. Situated in a neutral space, interaction with the audience will depend on my feelings towards individuals or groups and how they interact with me, not based on pre-determined factors, but a stream of consciousness, depending on the nature of the interaction, flowing as people enter and leave the space.

My work uses influences from philosophy, psychology and sociology that primarily explore human nature, the self and the other. Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra talks about addressing internal fear, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave explores the wider understanding of the perception of our existence in relation to the self and the other, Jung’s Individuation Process looks at the relationship between the self to the other and vice versa, and Sartre’s No Exit play which deals with becoming aware of oneself through the eyes of other people.

I reference artists from cross disciplines; Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present and Rhythm 0, reflect on how I use the relationship between the artist and the audience. Olivier De Sagazan’s Transfiguration uses aggressive and repetitious actions to show emotive and unnatural states of the self, which I adopt to communicate my relationship with other people. Anselm Kiefer uses a construction, deconstruction and reconstruction process which, I use in my performances to show discomfort and fear of other people. Carolee Schneemann’s use of her body to communicate concepts and ideas allowed me to begin to use my own body as a catalyst for ideas, and Paul McCarthy’s work explores hypocrisy and society, which are themes I use to understand my relationship with The Other.