An Interview with Gillian Dykeman

Forest City Gallery Intern, Emily Simpson, sat down with emerging, local, video-artist Gillian Dykeman to discuss her work which was on exhibition at Forest City Gallery from September 6th to October 18, 2013. Emily Simpson provided us with an article highlighting Gillian’s process, motivations, and future projects.

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London artist Gillian Dykeman recently exhibited in Forest City Gallery’s show Activation which was on display from  September 6th to October 18, 2013.

Activation is an exhibition that takes place every other year at FCG. The aim of Activation is to cultivate local emerging artists by pairing an exhibition opportunity with workshops led by local art professionals that build expertise in portfolio development, exhibition design, installation, lighting, and professional practice. With knowledge gained through these one-to-one workshops, FCG hopes to foster a stronger community of local artists, enhance the quality of an emerging exhibition at a nationally recognized venue, and better prepare new-generation artists for a professional career in the arts.

Dykeman’s film entitled Blue Crushed, inspired by the 2002 Stockwell film Blue Crush, is exemplary of the artist’s interest in the position of females in spaces oriented towards status quo patriarchal norms.  The original movie Blue Crush deals with male-thought dominance in “macho” sports such as surfing.  In Blue Crushed Dykeman removes scenes of patriarchal norms and gender-based dominances as a part of her Feminist Film Project series.

Artist, Gillian Dykeman watched the movie Blue Crush for the first time with her sister and initially thought it was going to be really dumb.  Contrary to her expectations, she was inspired by movie and found many interesting qualities about the story line, script and characters.  In particular Dykeman was interested in the instances of female solidarity and various inklings of feminist ideas.  In the past 4 years, Dykeman has confessed to watching the movie an estimated 5 times per year.  Watching the movie, she found instances where the movie was stereotypically Hollywood and this raised the inclination to make the movie the way she wanted it.  With Blue Crushed, the artist opens up a space for feminism discussion– a space that is not anti-woman and non- patriarchal.

Dykeman also removed portions of the movie that she felt depicted female relationships as being conflict-centered.  As a stereotype that exists today, Dykeman spoke of the oppressive myth that women cannot succeed unless they are against each other. In the original movie, the protagonist and her best friends have many conflicts with many revolving around jealousy.  Some moral support is evident between the female characters but the conflict-centered relations remain prominent and at the forefront.  Dykeman commented on her own experiences stating that she has had many amazingly positive female friends and she gets frustrated when she encounters situations and/or people who carry on the idea that females need always be in conflict with each other.

Dykeman presently works a 9 – 5 job 4 days a week, leaving her 1 day of personal/leisurely activities and 2 days of studio work.  In studio, she splits her time between writing various applications including residencies and making new works.  Currently, she is preparing funding and promotional materials for a Banff residency application.  There she will focus on performance-based works.  Dykeman prefers to work in places with other artists.  In Banff she will be with the same group of people for 6 weeks and benefit from mentoring.  Dykeman is also on the board for London Fuse.  This is a recent position, relative for the last few months, but she says that it is nice to feel connected to what is going on in London.

In the future, Gillian aims to modify more films to add to her Feminist film project.  For her next film installment, Dykeman wants to take on something from the opposite spectrum like The Fast and The Furious.  She questions whether the movie would be able to sustain a plot.  The artist wants to dissect the way that the ideas that are central to films are constructed and reinforced in mainstream media.  Eventually, she may publish the parameters of her project and make it an open project allowing others to apply her concepts to different movies.  She will probably publish her mandate along with the series that she personally comes up with.

The information from this editorial was obtained through an interview with artist Gillian Dykeman.

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