Exploring Artist and Non-Artist Collaborations

I found this catalogue of the exhibition ‘We were trying to make sense…’ at 1 Shanthiroad in Bangalore, India. The exhibition curated by Magda Fabianczyk and coordinated by Sophie Hoyle, provided an opportunity to discuss the texts in relation to collaborative works with non-artsts in an Indian context.

(Notes from the text)


-Non-artists participation in art institutions after post war 20th century (formalist criticism)

-Fluxus group(1960s)’s work provided a heightened experience of everyday, in which the viewers were formally fused with the space-time of performance and thereby lost identity as ‘audience’

Contemporary concerns:

-Both ‘audience participation’ and new technologies has tended towards hyperbole…they share certain vocabularies of connecting people, sharing knowledge,  and somehow bringing light to the world.

-Ideas of ‘interactivity’ and ‘connectivity’ with the live-feed and net art indicate and immediacy and liveness of connection

Work by Magda Fabianczyk

-Walking Press was developed on the Grey Leopold Estate, east London over two years, building cross-generateional and cross-cultural relationships with neighbouring families. She explores the limits of collaboration , what happens then the professional becomes personal and attachments form, and when the artist subsequently leaves the estate.

Work by Erica Scourti

-Reality Life(2009) is a video work nude through recruiting teenage girls in  the UK to read a script written by the artist, comprised form unscripted reality TV shows and documentaries. Between them they narrate the TV portrayal of girls’ issues and everyday life through the language of TV.

Participant: Petra Bryant

-She saw the message online, didn’t know what to expect during the process, but trusted the artist (Petra looked up artist’s name online)

-“It wasn’t ‘work’ as such, it was a bit of fun, I had no expectation because I didn’t know what the outcome would be, I just said few sentences, creating an art work wasn’t important to me

-She doesn’t feel like being collaborated, as artist edited the video.

-Communication through email, but interviews made her feel more involved

‘We Were Trying to Make Sense’ BY Sophie Hoyle

-Many of the difficulties of collaborative artworks are essentially the difficulties of interpersonal communication and relationality.

-Some people viewing practices catering for a general audience makes them less legitimate or less credible works

-Involving non-artist take more time in discussion and consultation, thus less efficient.

-A lot of the interesting and meaningful work in art takes place in asking questions rather than teacher a given body of knowledge.

-Collaboration: open-ended nature, fluid process, may not be a measurable outcome

-Artist engagement may not take direct impact but may start a chain of knock-on effects.

The flow of concepts – table trace

1. Inspired by Dieter Roth, I found table as a really important object to document artist’s life, thus I picked my table in the studio to make a start. I used a A1 tracing paper to trace all the marks left on this table, including knife cuts, paint splash, graffiti…though these are not marks from me, they are interesting for me to see as artistic vestige.

my table


process of tracing

finished painting


Then I traced a dining table from school canteen, with knife cuts left on like line drawings. Chinese ink is used instead of oil as the straight lines may look more fluent, though it eventually doesn’t work very well on the canvas.

the dining table in canteen

2. After these two paintings were made, I received a few comments from my friends, they assumed these are loose abstract paintings. Inversely, the marks were traced bit by bit with tension. The contradiction between the surface and actual painting process kind of became the second concept of them.

3. Then I started thinking about the term of ‘value’. What is the value of a piece of artwork? Is it the cost of material? Or is it the effort that you put in? Or does it depends on how great your idea is? These questions can cause too many debates, so I am going to keep it simple.

For me, the act of translating random marks on a table raises the value of the marks themselves. They used to be unnoticed, almost invisible objects in this world, by putting them through the medium of painting and be shown in the gallery, I would like viewers to discover the beauty of the table marks as what they are. I asked myself ‘Does the medium changed the value of art?’ Perhaps it could be referred to Duchamp’s Fountain in the museum, though Duchamp tried to address ‘What is art?’

4. For my exhibition, I planed to show the first table trace I made with it being framed and attached to four legs to be a table, and it would be shown with the original table, I intended to question ‘Which has more value as a piece of art? Is it the objecthood of the original table? Or is it the replication of the object through a medium?’. My tutor Jeff questioned me if it is necessary to do that, it made me realize the frame is not necessary; and the second painting is more powerful as the pictorial elements were reduced to address the main concept.

5. What is more interesting to show in the exhibition? I guess it’s the works that gain more questions and debates from the spectators. I found the piece of painting quite plain to show as a piece of painting, that’s where the idea of ‘table painting’ come from.

I made this table in the workshop (84x60x80cm), and found it quite strange with a canvas attached to the wooden legs. So I wrapped the table legs with canvas to enable the table itself be part of the ‘painting’.


Painting Now-Five contemporary artists


I went to this painting exhibition at Tate, it is interesting to see as five artists showed various sides and interpretation of painting in the contemporary world, it is clear that five of them are strongly different from each other using the same medium—Painting.

1. Tomma Abts: The act of painting is ‘a concrete experience anchored in the material I am handling’.

2. Simon Ling: The act of painting being an event about time and emotional connection and response.

3. Lucy McKenzie: Painting is a tool, or a means to an end.

4. Catherine Story: The subject of paintings can be located in the strangeness of looking at things and what happens when this is translated through painting.

5. Gillian Carnegie:’I prefer to consider the painting as a thing in the world rather than the painting as a picture of things in the world’

I especially like Gillian Carnegie’s paintings, as her paintings seems to have undeclared meaning behind that evokes my personal emotions, the ambiguous feeling of looking at familiar subject presented in an unfamiliar way (use of colour and cropped picture)


-Medium scale, non abstract or figurative, texture on the surface creates interesting visual effect



-Depiction of urban scenes, cropped images which look like random photo shots or the view you can see while in a moving car, use of fluorescent colour highlights the whole image, make the urban scenes not so ‘dull’



-Paintings pined on boards like how they present in artist’s studio/super-realist painting of pined boards, connection with interior design, painted architecture


-Solid forms, still life but kind of indicates another form



-Choice of subject are from everyday life, strong mysterious atmosphere in terms of black, white, grey colour and cat figures

Table White from Nov.5th to Nov.11th

The ongoing project of Table White passing around the school

I left it with a Lee Kye Sung in CG11(BA Fine Art 1st Year), as he basically works with painting, the table has been used as a palette tester. Before Lee starting applying paints to the canvas, he tests colours on this table. Different from last week’s experience, it is used as a tool here instead of part of someone’s work.

Lee tests colours before painting

Colour mixing in a bowl







Table in the studio

Except colours which has been splashed or tested on the table, some words(poem?)has been written on the table, Lee says it’s done by someone else in the studio, thus the table has been treated as a normal table for graffiti too. Not only a palette tester, or a planting pot.

Words written on the table:                                                                                Nothing, nothing, nothing, I have nothing to say. I get ? to ? on this table XXXX



More research on Dieter Roth

“It is the Tischmatten that lie, or rather hang-simply, in the time mentioned closest to my heart.”

I found this book in the library about Dieter Roth’s Tischmatten (Edited by Barry Rosen), the comment on both Roth’s work as well as the 20th century trend of ready-made art is very valuable to read

“Artists of 20th century, discovered the artistic value of the most simple by-products our civilization. Newspaper cutting, tickets, bottle dryers and toilet towels were organized as art works. All these trends became movements toward the end of the fifties and the beginning of sixties.

Dieter’s work forms the core of his self-conception and his principle of art. Through constant self-reference the artist gives the presence of his own existence precedence over his work.He forces the observer into a state of constant uncertainty, intangibility alienation and speechlessness.

Roth subject his work to a process of obstruction and blurring, which is linked to favouritism towards the personal and autobiographical presence, he concentrates on the redefinition of materiality.”

About Tischmatten

-About collage and DADA /the “trap pictures “of Roth’s friend Damel Spoerri /friendship and family /art and life /Pollock and painting /recurrence of printmaking in Roth’s lace work in the form of coffee stain

-The grey cardboard means to protect the table becomes the support for a picture, a canvas and for the dirt

-At first they only presented traces of his domestic activities, in that they have captured various drips and spills, they functions as pads of cooking, eating, painting… he then took those pads from the dining table into the painting and pasting dept, where they automatically became heavily soiled and covered with spots.

Ana Mendieta —Traces

Ana Mendieta’s exhibition—Traces at Hayward Galllery was very impressive for me, the artist uses her own body and elemental materials to create performance and earth-body sculptures.

The first part of the exhibition is quite violent, but powerful in vision. Many of these works respond to the violent crimes happened in society, mostly about women under violence. She used real ox blood in her drawing, or in the performance, audience may not get the intention behind instantly, but they can feel the idea of brutality straight forward by the bloody scenes

Despite her metaphors of life, death, spiritual things…I am very fascinated by her drawings, which for the first glance, has a primitive quality (and kind of Matisse like). The paper she used is called amate, a type of bark paper made in Mexico, the brownish texture enables strong, dark line drawing to stand out. The images are related to labyrinths, goddess but are reduced to an extreme in terms of colour and lineation.


Ana also used real leaves to make drawings, the leaves are from a species of tree called clusia rosea, the copey, with thick, leathery leaves that you can write on. The shape of leaf certainly has a relation to her early drawings and later sculptures. The presentation of these leaves are interesting, they are displayed in framed canvases, which echoes the nature and texture on the leaves.

Untitled by Ana Mendieta, incised leaf

Untitled by Ana Mendieta, incised leaf

Ana’s three stages of making work:conception, realisation and documentation. It was particularly important to make a permanent record of actions and performances that only existed for a brief time. Ana learnt this lesson during her student time, but used it throughout her whole life. Thus, the documentation section in the exhibition is interesting to see, films that record her performances and postcards that review her exhibitions and trips are especially impressive for me.

Table White from Oct.29th to Nov.4th

As the Table White project started last week, the table has finished its journey for one week in the first MA studio from Oct 29th to Nov.5th, it was taken care by MA student Sutin Hong.

I was very very surprised to see the changes on it this week, as four panels were added to the sides, the supporting stick across the middle has been chopped off. I could almost not recognize it’s the table I made!

table White in MA studio


So I asked Sutin about the changes she made, she replied:

“….because I make sculptures, I wanted to plant a tree in the middle…”

She then drew me this sculpture plan: the table is put in a reversed way, four panels are added for keeping earth for planting, as well as the chopped off stick. She told me she give up the idea eventually since the “table pot” is not steady enough to hold the tree upright and found something else to plant in.

Sutin’s drawing for her planting sculpture

After all, this starting point is very inspiring for me, especially the things happened out of my expectation. As I told people to ‘do whatever you want to this table’ and  expected them to use the table as a tool, but Sutin actually used it as part of her work in process, which gives the table more content as a background and enables it to gain more variation in short term.


Resin and Preservation of Instant

Resin is a material that I always wanted to try with, because of its transparency and stillness. I got one pot from the school shop and followed the basic resin tutorial on YouTube.

The following is my experiment piece, one step to mention is the mistake that I made while inserting the object into resin. As I charged the time wrongly, I couldn’t fit the whole flower in, thus I used a stick to insert petals in while it’s concreting, which resulted in cracks for the final outcome.

The intention behind this practice is the idea of preservation of instant moments or things happened. The first object that I chose is a flower that I received on my birthday on Oct.19th, it started to droop after few days and would eventually end its ‘life’, by preserving it in resin, the time of this flower stops on that day.

* An interesting thing to mention is: the flower went to droop faster after being put in resin, which is right against my original intention.

The flower received on Oct.19th

The problem of air bubbles was solved by putting resin into warm water


Following the same concept, I took some water from the Thames river at 11:45 am on Nov.2nd, therefore it is the amount of water that you can never find anywhere else. The act of keeping ordinary, almost non-significant objects in resin, raises the value and content of those objects. The object itself here is less important than the process and method of preservation.

Water from Thames on Nov.2nd


Using a tube to infuse the river water into resin

The following photos are final output of resins

A flower received on my 21st birthday, Oct.19th

A flower received on my 21st birthday, Oct.19th

A flower received on my 21st birthday, Oct.19th

A flower received on my 21st birthday, Oct.19th

10ml water from Thames River under Vauxhall Bridge on 11:45 A.M of Nov.2nd


10ml water from Thames River under Vauxhall Bridge on 11:45 A.M of Nov.2nd

10ml water from Thames River under Vauxhall Bridge on 11:45 A.M of Nov.2nd










Art and Objecthood BY Michael Fried

I borrowed this book by Michael Fried from library after a lecture, the essay Art and Objecthood is very inspiring for me, Judd’s claim of having definite whole view of a work and discarding visual, pictorial element; or Greenburg’s claim of non-art materials to be art; or the concept of value and quality…though this essay was written 60 years ago, the world of art has already been changed, some ideas are still interesting to see.

Here are my notes on the essay:

-Literalist art belongs rather to the natural history, it is an expression of general and pervasive condition

-Literalist case against painting

①ubiquitousness, relational character of almost all paintings

②virtual inescapability of pictorial illusion

-Donald Judd thinks you should have a definite whole and maybe not parts, not a vague whole with definite parts on a canvas

-elements inside the rectangle correspond closely to the rectangle, which is a definite form but no longer a neutral limit

-actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface

-Judd’s term of anthropomorphism: sculptures with specific elements separate from the whole, thus sets relationship within the work.

-the gestalt simply is the constant, known shape

-Greenburg claims that the borderline between art and non-art sought to be 3D, like sculpture, and where everything material that was not art also was.

-the literalist espousal of objecthood is a plea for a new genre of theatre, and theatre is now the negation of art

–the awareness of scale is a function of the comparison made between that constant, one’s body size, and the object. Physical participation becomes necessary

-Tony Smith’s conviction that painting were finished, “there is no way you can frame it, you just have to experience it.”→no way to make sense of it in terms of art, to make art of it; but as its happens, as it merely is

-War between theatrical and pictorial, is not a matter of program and ideology but of experience, conviction and sensibility

-Anthony Caro→an emphasis on abstractness, on radical unlikeness to nature

-Use of colour in sculpture:Jules Olitski→simply to translate his paintings into sculpture, to use painting as a medium of sculpture

-Claim of war between modernist and theatricality:

①the success of arts has come increasingly to depend on their ability to defeat theatre

②art degenerates as it approaches the condition of theatre

③the concept of quality and value

-materials do not represent, signify, or allude to anything, they are just what they are