In my final major project I have been intently looking at the idea of Escapism. I now want to explore the different ways that this is portrayed in art.
According to The Free Dictionary, Escapism is an inclination to or habit of retreating from unpleasant or unacceptable reality, as through diversion or fantasy. I am trying to convey this idea in my piece through the creation of the illusion wall at the back of my shipping container.
Creativity itself is a form of Escapism. For an artist or writer, a way to retract ourselves from the day or day activities is to create and transport ourselves from reality. This is particularly prominent in Surrealism where artists would reject reality and conceive their own alternate. Magritte shows this in many of his works but in particular The Human Condition which is a “canvas” stretched across a window frame but the window frame has easel legs. The idea of the piece is to create a Trompe de l’oeil for the viewer and make them question the difference between illusion and reality.
Ideology is also related to Escapism. During many poignant events of the 20th Century such as the World Wars and The Cold War, Propaganda was used to create an idealistic concept of how reality should be. Most propaganda was relayed through posters. The Emancipated Women is building Socialism is a Russian Revolutionary poster by Adolf Strakhov-Braslavsky. (1926) This poster shows a woman leading the way into the future whilst supporting Socialism encouraged by the Communists and their leader Lenin. The idea was to convey solidarity and power through the liberation of women. This created an idealistic concept for the women who before had come second in laws that favoured male privilege.
Dismaland is an example of Escapism in a different form. For me the creation of Banky’s Dismaland is to open peoples eyes to what actually is happening in the world and from there enable people to want to escape from this reality. This is also brought forward by using a play on words of Disneyland, somewhere people usually relate with escapism by going into a world completely fantasy based. In someways Disneyland is so far off reality that it becomes a surrealistic place.
An Escapist piece of Art I have come across whilst researching is Khao Ho (Mythical Escapism) by Sanitas Studio (2013). Khao Ho is a reflective sculpture that allows city dwellers to escape from their daily lives. It is based on a Chinese Garden with the smell of earth, moisture and vapour. It is currently being exhibited in Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre.
The theme of Escapism can also be seen though architecture. In the late 60’s The Barbican Estate was built in London. The aim of The Barbican was to create a space where people could live that was isolated from central London and to rebuild what had been lost during the war. The Barbican employs Brutalist Architecture. What amazed me about the Barbican is the need for places to Escape, within this centre the residents have a water feature which is dyed to the same colour as the Mediterranean sea. This has pods in the middle that can only be accessed by residents and the water would cover the sounds of the city. Alongside this there is a Conservatory which is a giant greenhouse, home to some birds insects and fish and another place of calm and escape for those who lived there. The Barbican also highlights an apocalyptic theme being situated higher than most of London and the walkways being higher than ground level. It was meant to be able to be self contained with no real need to leave.
10000 years of Art (2007) Phaidon, Phaidon Press Ltd, London