CANCERIAN TALENT: BIANCA WEEKO MARTIN
CANCERIAN TALENT: BIANCA WEEKO MARTIN
Painter, drawer, intern architect.
What is your ruling sign (fire, earth, water, air)? What does this element mean to you?
I’m a water sign, and water is a pretty important concept to me. This guy I really liked had a tattoo on his ribs that said, "Panta rhei", which translates to the Greek proverb: everything flows. No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. Isn't that beautiful? One of the best things you can be is adaptive, in my opinion. To new places, to new situations, to whatever a set of circumstances demands. The element of water reminds us that the only unchanging principle is that everything changes.
What is your star sign's strengths and weaknesses? Do you see similarities within yourself?
Cancers are intuitive, sentimental, sensitive, emotional, creative, and invested in the people they keep close. But they are also moody, resentful, unforgiving, uncommunicative when hurt, a homebody. There absolutely are traits that I see within myself, and I think that many of them can be interpreted as both strength and weakness. The homebody one is pretty interesting to me though - on one hand, I am literally never home; I've spent the past two or three years living between Toronto, Cambridge, Bali, Melbourne, Prague, Berlin, now I'm in New York... and yet still, when I do go out into the world and situate myself in these foreign places, I always try to make a home out of them, staying months at a time and finding ways I can learn from and give back to the people in my immediate surroundings.
You work with a variety of mediums. Do you think your confidence in each medium is translated or do you feel more comfortable in a specific medium and why?
I’m trying to be more confident in my architectural work. That’s a medium, but there are so many mediums within that medium, whether it's line drawing and rendering and whatever. Grappling with space comes less naturally to me than getting pigment and ink on a flat surface. But I do embrace a wide range of mediums, so I get excited about challenges like that. My favourite medium to work with is actually oil paint, it can be an arduous process but it just feels so natural to manipulate those colours and oils; I also enjoy using pencil crayons. I've done a bunch of installations too, out of things like OSB wood and film projections and sail fabric and lights, I like chalk pastel, I've sort of half-built a chair. The next step for me might be something very heavy and sculptural. Or maybe photo transfer.
What is the thing you love most about your medium?
Opening myself up to a variety of medium means that I can find ways to relate to a huge range of people. That is probably the thing I love most about the mediums that I choose to work with. Fine art can be a vast and intuitive thing wherein somebody I may or may not know can project their feelings and inner dialogue onto an image I have created, out of paint or pencil, crayon or ink. Architecture, on the other hand, sets up stricter parameters around whom you are relating to, but it involves a more specialized collaboration process, including people with expertise in construction, or information technology, engineering, clients from the domestic realm. It's kind of funny and interesting and satisfying to be able to reach out to either the brawly contractor dude on site, and the highbrow academic who geeks out about trusses. I'm still trying to work out which of these mediums offers me the most valuable kinds of dialogue and exchange.
How does your work reflect your star sign?
Being sentimental and sensitive is a part of my character that provides inspiration for my artwork, helps me build meaningful relationships, and allows me to forge a strong sense of cohesiveness within my 'life arc'. I think that the events that have taken place in my life, the stories and people with whom I've collided, have some sort of underlying cosmic logic to them. And my work is simply my own way of grappling with, interpreting, and sharing this personal matrix. Also, sometimes you need to experience a mood swing or two in order to be incited to make intense and provocative art. And... funny enough, the very first oil painting that I did which I genuinely felt expressed my personal style - was a painting of myself drowning in water, titled "Aquaphobia".
What does architecture represent to you and how is it important?
Architecture is the best story teller in the world. I'm not trying to sound like one of those architect snobs I hate... but I believe that architecture does tell this one big story about humankind and our journey to civilisation (and maybe now also our apprehension towards it), but it also tells a million little spin-off stories all varying by country, region, climate, topography. Like in one part of the world people were collecting the local clay and doing some opus latericium shit while in a whole other part of the world people with very similar goals had bamboo and straw growing around them and so constructed things out of that instead. I think Alvar Aalto said that painting is like a branch coming out of the tree of architecture. “There’s so much more that goes into a building than into a work of art” - that’s something a woman architect told me, but I can’t say I agree with the hierarchy that implies. I’m just a mad story teller, I’m sure my friends keep me around mainly for my stories, and through my work I am just trying to broaden the scope and the delivery of my stories. Architecture is just like one really grand story on loop forever. With the help of preservationists, of course.
You talk about how you maintain a traditional approach in your 'effort to invoke emotion as a shared common denominator’. What do you mean by this? And what about traditionalism helps share emotion?
I think art that looks conventionally beautiful is traditional. I love contemporary art, but I know that the things I produce at this time and place are not subversive in that way. I express myself through strokes and textures, things that perhaps don't fit into the context of the digital age. Maybe I do it ironically. Or maybe I've just stuck with what I'm good at. And I think that at the root of "traditionalism" lies the principle of inclusivity - at the end of the day I just want my family "back home" in less developed countries to be able to get my art. "Emotion as a shared common denominator" - I want my art to be something that can be shared, and to touch people intimately but also widely. I want to build off of what I am trained in, and be sensitive to my personal, cultural and regional context. I feel like when you pass the threshold of academia you can unknowingly block out a chunk of your audience who may not have had the same training in the fine arts, or the time to be well versed in trends - these are all things that have an implication on the way anyone’s artwork is received. I don't know. It's too much to unpack. I just want to be loved by everyone.
What is one of the most interesting aspects of femininity that you have discovered?
Being feminine is awesome! In elementary school I used to get stressed about not being feminine enough; I was never included in those 'popular' 'girly gangs' or whatever. But thankfully I now have a much better grasp on what femininity is. I think that one of the most interesting things it encapsulates is intangibility. Our most positive attributes - empathy, devotion, passion, capacity for emotional labour and our propensity to care - are things that can’t be summarized numerically, or pitted against one another in a competition. They’re infinite, they just are. I feel like traits that traditionally have had more masculine connotations attached to them, like physical strength or even personal income, can be measured much more easily. I guess that’s where much of the discrimination we face stems from as well, since people have a hard time understanding and showing gratitude for things that they can't see or touch. But I hope I will always be able to see it for what it is. I love the magic, the sublime, and the hope of something out there in the world that we can never comprehend and numerate. God is in the feminine!
What is the most empowering characteristic of your artistic lens?
My art is pretty uplifting. Or it tries to be. I've had people tell me that I can bring out colours they didn't think were there, which in some sense serves as a reflection of my philosophy towards life. This world can be so so unfair, but I think it's important to remain grounded in it, and have faith in the little moments of empathy, connection, understanding... they colour our world. Remember these. Forget the regimes. I want to be inspiring for people who have less of a support system to lean back on, and this goes beyond my artwork to the places I visit, the spaces I occupy and function within. I don't always know how to translate this optimism into my work, and I of course have moments of self-doubt and depression, but in everything I do I just hope to assert a lens that is optimistic, full of quiet faith, and very rose-coloured.
What’s a piece of advice you’d want to give your future self?
I know we think we get smarter every year, but there are so many ways to gauge intelligence and I get this feeling that in some ways, me right now or maybe even me last year was the smartest person ever. This me is free, still kind of existing outside this stable civil grown up money making pension saving system, I have room in my brain to think about love and friendship and instinct and collective memory and other, very beautiful things. So I just want to tell my future self to stay in her place, and remember how smart she was at twenty one.