Blindfold was an exhibition and is an artist’s book that includes 176 drawings made by the artist while blindfolded as a performance of/coming to terms with his personal experience of grieving.  The drawings were first exhibited at the Red Head Gallery in 2017. The book is free to download from Blindfold Press.

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Drawing blindfold at the service of grieving.

Jack Butler exhibits 176 small intimate drawings made to come to terms with his personal experience of grieving. As an unedited visual journal, the drawings are arranged by date in a continuous line throughout the gallery.

“I move the marking pen over a surface that I cannot see. I am drawing in a synaesthetic response to haptic impulses – speed, pressure, gestures, unfolding patterns, often words, sometimes symbols. These images, visible only to the mind’s eye, play across an imaginary space (a space that often feels much larger than the physical paper could possibly contain). I am clear about where marks should go in this not-visible picture.

What am I not doing? I am not recording what sight could see. I am not organizing the representation of space according to pictorial conventions. I am not making decisions in response to aesthetic judgements. My attention is focused entirely on process. So I do not look at what I have “drawn” for several days, often a week, separating intention from outcome.

When I remove my blindfold, I see surprising pictures that speak directly to me about my experience of grieving, all-be-it in a foreign but strangely familiar pictorial language.

Haptic in the making, visual in the receiving, the two blindfold drawing phases remain entwined for me, learning, as we all eventually must learn, how to live with grief.”

Jack Butler

Artist’s Statement

I draw. Drawing-as-process has taken me into diverse media for the realization of my ideas – extended into sculptural modelling, computer animation, video installation and performances. I use the means and methods of visual art to produce hybrid research in two domains – medical science (primary research in human embryogenesis) and collaborations with Inuit artists (the current project, ‘Art & Cold Cash’). These two life practices, dominating my exhibition history and my public presence, have been progressively generating a third ‘space’ in between: an internal dialogue – intimate, body-centered, hesitant, sexual.

One strong cultural and professional context for my research and production is my collaborations, since 1969, with Inuit artists in Nunavut. Currently (2003-12) this collaboration takes the form of art-based research in Baker Lake (Qamanituaq), and exhibitions as a member of the five-person collective Art & Cold Cash. A print record of these researches and exhibitions, the book Art and Cold Cash, was published by YYZ Books in January 2010 and in FUSE MAGAZINE, Money, Aesthetics and Double Difference (issue 35-2, NORTH, Spring 2012).

I have since 1976 participated as a visual artist in medical research projects focusing on human embryological development; work published in scientific contexts. Parallel with these projects, I produce studio based installations that deconstruct my scientifically focused research and attempt to reify the creative processes at work in my trans-disciplinary practice. The video projection installations, Genesis of Breath, and Fatemap: Would you like to know what will happen? are current examples. And the third ‘space’, the intimate bodily spaces in between, is motivating Dark Body, a small, highly focused exhibition drawn from five projects at the intersection of art and medical research.

These drawings instantiate the question: Could the body stand in the place of the limen between two historically defined solitudes? Can the body be represented as an ontologically transparent layer through which art and science are mutually visible?

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