The last leg of our filming is now taking place, under the sunny skies of Los Angeles! Being able to shoot footage here is a great opportunity for us, and should show how Zakii’s work and ideas have truly global importance.
There’s a lot we’ll be keeping back for the film itself, but we can reveal a few bits of information, and give you something to look forward to. We’re shooting some footage of Zakii working on his art: this should be suitably dramatic and provide a rare insight into how he works. We’re also be shooting at the Baik Art Gallery, seeing Zakii and his work as both are showcased. And of course, we’re out and about in LA as well, adding some much-needed local colour to our epic journey.
But LA isn’t just an ending for our project: it’s one ending for Zakii too. It coincides with the end of a residency Zakii and some of his fellow artists have embarked upon. Supported by the Baik Art Gallery in Los Angeles, Zakii has travelled to some beautiful areas of America, including Yosemite National Park and Half-Moon Bay. This culminates in an open studios event on Thursday 24 September at 18th Street Arts Center, CA, where Zakii displays his new pieces inspired by his recent travels.
Zakii’s residency raises some interesting questions about inspiration in artists… or rather, where it comes from. It can be a tricky thing to pin down, especially as a work of art’s inspiration isn’t always apparent. We see this in works by Zakii such as Profane (2008), and Through a Glass, Looking (2000): their true meaning is deeply hidden and teasing out their message (or motivation) is difficult.
Sometimes, our job is easy: artists like Roy Lichtenstein, for instance, have created knowing tributes to early work, and at least on the surface we can see what the artist was inspired by. It can also be helpful to get information straight from the horse’s mouth on an artist’s inspiration. In On Writing, Stephen King explains how Carrie was, quite by chance, the child of two memories intersecting: cleaning a women’s bathroom, and reading an article on poltergeists. Art draws from life, but this is only part of an artist’s inspiration.
The work that Zakii has previously created reinforces the idea art is a reflection of the artist’s worldview: their experiences, but also- crucially- the way they interpret them. It’s a singular picture of the world as the artist sees it… or a desire expressed of how it ought to be. Lichtenstein’s picture demonstrates art is about interpretation, by both artist and audience. So, as in life, the act of interpretation yields a diversity of experiences which can have their own validity and reality… and outcomes. Zakii’s work isn’t just far-reaching- it’s democratic. His oeuvre represents a wide range of subjects always invested with profound humanity and a deliberate integrity of form, and as it does so it shows they all have value, and are worthy of respect. If art (as John Yorke suggested) is an argument with reality, then it’s an argument we hope Zakii is winning. Zakii’s art is an argument in favour of a welcoming and open-minded worldview.
Zakii’s no stranger to drawing upon a range of influences in his work: his Jeju Island works are an obvious example, and we look at some more of his work in the coming weeks. America, meanwhile, is perhaps a fitting place for our filming to come to an end. It’s a fabled land of opportunity, whilst having its own share of demons and dark chapters in its history. Zakii’s work mirrors that idea to an extent: while it is certainly beautiful and technically accomplished, it’s also a window into humanity’s darker impulses… some of which we’re urged to keep hidden. How Zakii will draw on modern-day America is something we can’t wait to see.
We know our LA footage will be a fine addition to our film- it marks the end of a long process of filming that’s taken us around the world. But that doesn’t mean our work is over! Next we take our footage and beginning the long process of editing. We hope to have something packaged for you by next spring! Keep an eye on our social channels for more information and video sneak peeks: