“Which path are you going to take,” asked the wolf,
“the path of needles or the path of pins?”
No. 6: Andrea Baker
How do everyday objects influence your artwork?
A couple friends of mine were talking to me about the PBS Show Market Warriors. Basically, art/antique professionals are challenged to find a particular category of item at a particular flea market, and then sell it at a separate, but also particular auction. Taken by their enthusiasm, I expected to love the show, but I found it all wrong. I’m in the art/antique trade and find mysticism in the profession. To me, it’s all about the openness of receptivity to whatever is encountered, and having an understanding of objects without reliance on their context.
When it comes to making poems or art it’s the same thing: I have no interest aside from what’s already there, or what evolves once I play with what’s there. The packing tape is from shipping antiques—it’s cool. You can use it to make boxes out of cardboard flats. It’s stronger than plastic tape, has a classic look, and can be used to cover commercial adds on recycled boxes. How could I not love it?
What role does absence play? The absence of color. The cut-out images.
About 10 years ago a friend worked at Palgrave and I was able to score some free books through her. I asked for Indian Philosophy A-Z. The first entry is so good that I never finished the book. I’ll just share it with you:
“Abhava (absence): considered a basic constituent of reality (padartha) by the Nyaya-Vaisheshikas, who hold that absences are perceptible. It is always the absence of something known to be real, which is technically termed the pratiyogin (counter-positive). That there is no jar on the table translated as, ‘there is absence of jar on the table’. This is a true negative fact. If true propositions have actual, objective truth-makers, absences must be realities, although not actualities. The absence of, say, an obstruction, is just as much a reality as the presence of one. Although the hole in the bucket is not a positive entity (bhava), being just the absence of some material, it’s real enough.
The Nyaya-Vaisheshika realists classify absence into four sorts:
Prag-abhava (prior absence) has an end but no beginning. It is the non-existence of any product prior to its origination: for example, the non-existence in curds in milk prior to their formation.
Pradhvamsa-abhava (destruction) has a beginning but no end: the non-existence of milk once the curds have formed.
Atyanta-abhava (unlimited absence): understood as holding in the past, present and future, this mean impossibilities both logical and physical, for example, the son of a barren woman and the hare’s horn.
Anyonya-abhava (mutual absence) is difference: the denial of identity between two things such as the pot and the cloth and the assertions that fire differed from water and the table is not the pot. This need not involve perception.”
That was a longer answer than you want, but all I can tell you is that the whole thing makes my eyes water and a lump in my throat.
Which thematic connection between your artwork and fairy tales do you like best?
I think about the The Wizard of Oz a lot. And I do like getting lost in my imagination. I trust imagination to sort things out. I don’t trust the facts.
Excerpts from Andrea Baker’s artwork The Incredibly True Adventures of Me appear in The Emerald Issue of Fairy Tale Review.