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’
-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.
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
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
“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 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’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.
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
After the tutor meeting last week, Jeff suggested some artists for me
Dieter Roth works with variable media:painting, sculpture, installation, assemblage… almost everything! For him, art and life flow readily into each other, his everyday experience is the artwork itself.
Work Tables & Tischmatten
From 1980s, Roth decided to place cardboard mats on working tables in his studios and apartments: doodles, sketches, phone numbers, ink blots start taking their own places on those mats, they eventually become the assemblage of progression of shifting arrangements through time. His son, Bjorn Roth worked with him during later years, Bjorn described his father’s studio work as:
“Everything was nevertheless handled precisely and with respect — whether it was leftover paper or oil paint, a paintbrush or a canvas. The studio was at once a workplace and an apartment. There things flowed together or became isolated. It was a kind of laboratory, to search for beauty in nothing, and a workshop for assembling findings.”
I was fascinated by Roth’s approach of using tables as ‘diaries’ of his work progression, they are not kept in fine files with order, but being put at different working locations, thus you have no predictions for the output, progress, accidents, documentation form the work itself. I have similar intention behind my work: methods of preserving time and documenting experience which are instant but special.
Tischmatte, St. Johanns-Vorstadt (detail), 1995-2007
Matte vom Bürotisch Hegenheimerstrasse, Basel, 1996-1997
Bürotisch-Matte, Bali-Mosfellssveit, 1994-1996
Daniel Spoerri is famous for his snare pictures, which is a kind of assemblage art. He used found objects like left over meals, cutlery or cups and mounted them on the table, usually restoring the original position when they were found, they would be hung on wall, therefore creating an aerial view of the tables. Soperri didn’t composite or choose the objects randomly, they are from specific moments at particular location, which evokes artist’s own memories about them.
To me, the objects in his work are like the characters in fictions, they include elements like identification, time and location, which means they won’t exist at anywhere else as any other beings at another time, they have been fixed on the table, and they are there.
Portion of map of objects on table Topographie Anécdotée du Hasard
Prieto tries to stay himself away from traditional or historical way of making art, his use of material and method of working always change, you can’t find any limitation in his works. One of my favourite is THE MORE YOU ADD, THE LESS YOU SEE, it is part of the project called ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes” The work consists of a ball of transparent cling film, the more layers you added, the less transparent sphere became. Another piece called PAN CON PAN (BREAD WITH BREAD) is also a playful one relevant to the words. He is partial to such elegant paradoxes, and contributes to the tradition of Conceptual art in which objects rely on artist-bestrowed titles to grant them meaning.
Prieto’s approach of using title to define the meaning of a piece is purely conceptual, he usually reduce/simplify the form to an extreme, by using ready-made object to give straight-forward idea to the viewers, thus the viewers could only focus on the object itself without any distraction from frame or shape or pictorial elements.
The artist uses pre-existing material taken from her family’s archives, and reassembles these archives to bring contemporary context as well as to remain the intention behind original collection. “My work involving the external world has become saturated to such an extent that I decided to focus on material already accumulated.” She revisited the playground in her father’s photos in 2010 and took a series of photos, there is a quality of sensitiveness of emotion, alongside with private family archive. Her images are usually snapshots glorifying the narrative of photography but not the technical aspects.
Freriancova uses series of photos to recall certain memories, often personal, in her life. The difference between her work and tourists’ photos are the sensitive meanings she gave behind those pictures, she see them as the medium to reflect the world that she is living in, the place/view itself is less significant than the experience of her visiting.
Susan Hillerstudied film & photography in college, then she went on doing anthropology in uni which has a great impact on her work later; but she became uncomfortable with the academic anthropology’s claim to objectivity so went on to be an artist. Well, she wrote that she did not wish her research to be part of anthropology’s “objectification of the contrariness of lived events”.
She makes variety of works from painting to installation, writing to sound piece, film to photography.
Monument1980–1 marks a continuation of Hiller’s interest in lost or forgotten identities. The work was prompted by her discovery of a neglected Victorian monument to civilian heroes in a little-known park in the City of London. The artist photographed and enlarged the park’s memorial plaques and arranged a selection corresponding to each year of her own life. She situated a park bench in front of the photographs, inviting viewers to become an element in the work while listening to its soundtrack.
Hiller’s own voice plays through the headphones and her flowing and associative commentary addresses the nature of heroism as well as the themes of death, memory and representation.
10 Months During her pregnancy in 1976–7, Hiller took photographs of her body and kept a journal to record both the external and internal changes she experienced. In the resulting work, 10 Months1977–9 groups of photographs of her pregnant belly correspond to lunar months. The images are accompanied by journal excerpts from the same period. Arranged within a symmetrical organising structure, the starkness of the imagery and typewritten texts is in contrast to the sentimentality associated with the subject and the explicit allusions to fertility and the landscape. The artist herself is at once a participant and an observer.
Delicated to the Unknown Artists
From 1972 to 1976, she collected 305 postcards, sea charts and map to make this huge piece of work called Delicate to the Unknown Artists. The story began with her trip to Brighton in 1972 where she found the first rough sea postcard (no.77). Then she found another one in weston super mare in the same year, Hiller became aware of the existence of this popular set of pictorial formats designated by a precise phrase, and this set appear to have continuity for over 70 years,
These postcards are presented as a visual display of the cards themselves, as Hiller believes the work speak for themselves with no claim to Objectivity. Because of her background as an artist includes anthropological training, she used systematic grid structure researching, classifying and indexing.
So she basically made the system according to linguistic side and visual side. Under linguistic fact, she divides classified location, caption, legend and commentary on the postcard, you may find sentimental comments at the back like ‘we went on a holiday and this is what it was like every day.” On the other hand, under visual fact, she divided them according to medium, format, colour, presentation, signature and type. The interesting one to mention is the column of Type, Hiller defined the pictorial constituents that occur in the same constructional pattern, like sea and coast, sea and ship, sea and pier or jetty, sea and building and sea and promenade, their relationships define the convention of each type.
The first reason I like about this work is the relationship between linguistic description and visual depiction. For example, “rough sea” sometimes does not describe the sea as shown which may not appear to be particularly rough. No. 217 is a good example; or, one of the postcards has a fake wave which was airbrushed in, because the caption, the words rough sea overrides the image. This remind me of the artist talk we had last week from Neil Cannings, the archive collection and bicentenary video he made for V&A, I am not judging which one is better, but I am more fund of this piece because it has got vision, and there is conflict between language and vision that would make you stand there and think it over.
The title Delicate to the Unknown Artists identifies the work as a tribute to the forgotten artists who painted, photographed or hand-tinted the images. Hiller draws attention to this unrecognised labour, here, her role is not only an artist but also a curator who collected these cultural materials, typical British weather postcards, and collaborated with these artists to present this exhibition. I think it’s a sensitive, mystic way of memorizing these artists and the view, while also arising to a cultural level cos it’s a typical British scene.
This is the second reason I chose this work, because of my own background of living in Brighton for two years, as I have seen the similar huge wave, the same pier, I was immediately drawn to this piece, so it’s a very personal reason. And I am very keen on how the experience of different people makes a difference in looking at the same thing.
The third I like about the piece is lack of difference between photography and painting. Some paintings are in fact photographic reproductions, produced mechanically in great quantity/ the pictorial elements on these paintings are almost identical, suggests that these works are not so much result of subjective rendering of special impression, but part of the artist’s convention who ‘crafted’ it.
On the other hand, many of the monochrome photographs have been painted, which means hand-coloured or tinted. In the text, Hiller discussed the individualized choice and creative effort from different people. Some of rough sea set are framed, this emphasizes one way that a photograph entitled rough sea can be art, in the sense of being seen as the precise equivalent of a painting. Interestingly, there is only one framed painting in the set, while all the other framed examples are photos.
So this ambiguous relationship between painting and photography, linguistic and visual, cultural experience, along with the romantic content of rough sea, makes this piece so interesting to me.
1.Susan Hiller, The Provisional Texture of Reality, 160 pps, 20 illus b/w, ed. & intro by Alexandra Kokoli. JRP Ringier, Zurich.
In ‘Positions’ series.
2.THE REVENANTS OF TIME, Jean Fisher (65 pp. cat. of Susan Hiller’s time-based works; illus. colour) Matt’s Gallery London with Mappin Gallery Sheffield and Third Eye Centre Glasgow
3.Rough Sea (The book was produced in conjunction with the exhibition in 1976)
“A gallery is constructed along laws as those for building a medieval church. The outside world must not come in, so windows are usually sealed off. Walls are painted white. The ceiling become source of light. The wooden floor is polished so that you click along clinically, pr carpeted so that you pad sound-free, as the saying used to go, ‘to take on its own life’.”
—-Inside The White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, Brian O’Doherty
I found this essay in the school library the day before our Cultural Orienteering, O’ Doherty discusses the idea of white cube(art gallery) becoming part of the artwork itself, as well as the relationship between artists, spectators and the space. He thinks a modernist space redefines the spectator’s status, tinkers with his self-image; and the artists should think about their works in relation to the space.
The galleries that we went to are in East London, mislead by the wrong tube station on Google Map, we started off quite late in the morning.
①Laura Bartlett is located on a little street near Bethnal Green Park, with residence houses and scrap metal place around, the gallery is not obvious with its appearance, which almost turns out to be part of the residence houses nearby.
The inside space of Laura Bartlett forms a huge contrast with its exterior, with spiral stairs leading to the first floor, a narrow corridor leads to a big open space, with one column, two flexible panels and five windows.
The most interesting part for me is the source of lighting in the space, with a combination of natural light from five windows and fluorescent lamps, the richness of light seems to enlarge the room and allows audience to focus on the colourful paintings on wall. Allison Katz is the artist who is on show, the paintings’ interaction with the gallery space impressed me a lot. For example, The Opening shows a lady with an umbrella looking towards her right, but in the real space there is a window beside her; my photo kind of frames a new image for this story-telling scene. Also, The Thick Pink Square is just below a window, a new ‘lighting square’ is formed on the surface when sunlight projects in. Another painting called Shower’s Head is hung against a panel, the painted bathroom wall almost become part of the panel!
The Opening, 2013
The Thick Pink Square, 2013
Shower’s Head, 2013
②The second gallery we visited is Chisenhale Gallery near Regent’s Canal, the place was built in 80s based on a factory, which can be known by the heavy shutter door. Different from Laura Bartlett, Chisenhale is on a quite street with residential surroundings. With artists’ studio and dance studio nearby, though they are not from the same organization.
The exhibition space at Chisenhale is enormous, with no natural light at all but only five rows of lighting source. The huge contrast between space and works by Nick Relph, the idiosyncratic, homespum quality of his work echoes the rough, heavy environment in the gallery. Audience’s interaction with the space is also interesting, since the gallery is so big, they need to walk a long way from piece to piece, which gives them a practical sense of experiencing the place than the others can offer. As the introduction said “For audiences, Chisenhale Gallery provides an opportunity to experience the process of art production intimately – this is a place where art is not collected for presentation but where it is made.”
③Walking along the Regent’s Canal is a wonderful experience!
④Wilkinson is located on Vyner Street, one of the main East London art streets. The big heavy black door gives no significant impression for the first glance, but as you entered the space, walking up the stairs, the richness of light makes a huge contrast with the dull exterior.
My favourite part in the gallery must be the staircase between ground and first floor. Huge sheet of glass becomes the ceiling, blue sky is company with white wall and black stairs, geometric shapes and lines harmonize the colours to give a simple but modern appearance. The space is filled with natural and artificial lights, unlike Laura Bartlett, they limit the amount of natural light (with windows on only one side) so that the place is either not too bright or not too dull. The gentleness quality in Phoebe Unwin‘s paintings matches the atmosphere around.
⑤Our last stop is a little gallery at the corner on Vyner Street, Cultivate. Unlike the others we went, it is tiny, with works hung or laid everywhere in a ten square metre space. The owner is very passionate and friendly to each one who steps into his place. Maybe this is the start of every single great gallery?