Black Dogs presents
The Light (Top Floor), Leeds City Centre. 15th Sept - 1st October, 2011. DIY art collective Black Dogs returns once more to the group show format with an exhibition containing contributions from over thirty individuals and collectives. Advancing Black Dogs’ critique of the institutional artworld, the contributors occupy various positions in relation to the label ‘artist’; raising questions about when something is art, who can make it and what the worth of calling it art is anyway. The exhibition results from a series of collective meetings and conversations around notions of value. What is the radical potential of thrift and an economical approach? When and why is something cheap? What does it mean to be not-for-profit or operate in a non-capitalist fashion? How do we value our time and how does this find expression through the things we do or make? When are we working and when do we play?
The backdrop to these discussions has included state-enforced austerity measures, global financial crises and Marx reading groups appearing across the country alongside instances of rioting and looting. Whilst the exhibition avoids directly addressing or representing such issues, they undoubtedly provide context and resonance for the various works. Projects include: sculpture made from scrap, unmasked secrets of visual merchandising, advice on how to be a good shopper, a freely assembled Arcade Machine, traces of ‘everyday resistance’ at work, a homemade Mellotron, unrealised tattoos, reflections on sustaining an art practice when unpaid, and much more in the way of hand printing, diagrams, photography, objects, video and performance. Next to Nothing takes place in an impressive empty unit in The Light shopping centre in the commercial heart of Leeds, a space and site that is as integral to the exhibition as the works displayed within it. Alongside the exhibition are a programme of events including evenings of music, performance and films held on and offsite. In addition, Black Dogs have used meetings as an opportunity to produce a collaborative fanzine that will be available for free to take away from the exhibition. Both the publication and the exhibition are not intended as end points or conclusions but rather markers of a moment in a collective interrogation of how we value our own and other’s activity and the cost of living. Next To Nothing opens on Thursday 15th September at 5pm. All are welcome and refreshments will be available. There is a post-opening party and gig featuring Picore from Spain amongst other acts from the DIY (not-for-profit) music community held at Wharf Chambers club for members and their guests. The exhibition continues Monday to Friday 4 – 7pm and Saturdays 12 – 6pm until 1st October. Entry is Free. See www.black-dogs.org for details
Notes of a Distracted Old Man I’ve drank in The Wrens in Leeds on and off for a few years now. It’s a bit of a dodgy looking place from the outside, next to a lap-dancing club and Riley’s snooker hall, but it’s pretty nice when you get in there. The staff are friendly, the beer’s alright – even if it sometimes leaves you with a bit of a head - and they play half-decent music. Most of the time I just go for a quiet sit down after work to read my paper and have a drink or two. The back room tends to be quiet. Later on it fills up with Theatre-types from half-time at The Grand down the road. Aside from that I can just keep myself to myself and have a relax. That was until around May this year, when I started noticing groups of students coming in on Tuesdays. In the beginning there’d just be a few of them, sat around a table talking shite, but then as the weeks went on it started getting worse and they’d take up half the bloody room. I just tried to ignore them most of the time, by getting stuck into a crossword or focusing on the tunes on the stereo, but then when they started asking for the music to be turned down I couldn’t help but listen in on what they were talking about.
Most of the time it was your usual student natter about philosophy, art, politics and the like. A few times they’d be talking about Marx and capitalism - like they know what working’s about! After a bit, though, you could tell that it wasn’t just an after-school pint, they were actually plotting something. A ‘show’ at ‘The Light’ – something to do with ‘value’ and ‘doing things on the cheap’. It sounded a bit dodgy so I started taking notes in case it turned out to be another one of those occupations or activist protests that’s been happening lately… May 31st 5.25pm Loads of them this time.. probs about 15… don’t seem to know each other that well.. Some are a bit older.. maybe tutors? One guy doing most of the talking.. “Black Dogs started as a fixed group of 6 artists and has shifted to a notionally more fluid group marked by the group exhibition Eggs, Flour, Milk, Cheese in 2008. Following that exhibition the group has settled back into a regular core of about 10 people based between Leeds, Milton Keynes and London. Recently we decided it would be good to shake-up the group
again…The individuals invited are people that we (Black Dogs) have either worked with before or that we feel might have some affinity with the ethics/politics/outlook of the group… wanted a mix of people with varying distance to the tag ‘artist’ or with different levels of experience in ‘art’.. Proposed title for show is ‘Next to Nothing’. General theme of doing things for cheap or economically and the subsequent shifts in perceptions of ‘value’ also welcomed...Originally had planned for it to be in empty space in The Light (shopping centre) but another option is potentially on the table, Wharf Chambers on the Calls in Leeds. Pros and Cons of both spaces….” Then they had a break and came back round and started talking individually about ‘projects’ and ‘ideas’.. Notions of value…Who benefits from the work that we put into ‘improving’ the two sites? …Cheap Art is a more democratic process. …Cheap on time or cheap on material.. People can do things on the cheap but only until they ‘grow up’… get married, have kids to look after… Is this true? …would be good to highlight at the Light that over-priced is not the only option. Why pay more when you can go & get things cheaper somewhere else? … Proximity of Wharf Chambers to Kirkgate Market & the proposed new ‘Independent Leeds Quarter’ between the Market & the Corn Exchange… Cheap as Chips. 2 for the price of 1 on Venues…Would be good to document all perceived ‘costs’ of involvement /
production of work so that we could make this open to the public.. Museum of Contemporary Rubbish.. growing things in the two spaces.. framing a picture of the making of the picture frame in his workshop…. Timings. Relationship between two shows….Time value…Dirty vs. Clean space…Free arcade game.. Snake of junk mail..Squatting… Takeaway food …a melatron… Different listening experience for each audience member…throw something from one venue to the other…Appropriate things from the workplace..‘FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY’ .. creating something that takes a while to make ‘Demand to do what we chose, fear of abandonment, hatred of dependency… new criteria for Assessment of Employment & Support Allowance. Also said something about a meeting in London for another faction of the group! June 7th 5.30pm Lots of people again.. a few different faces… same person talked again at the start about last week but also.. ”to proceed on the assumption that the exhibition will be based at the Light...to explore some other spaces as possible, but not necessary additions to the show.. uncomfortable about ‘marketing’ as a term..‘ June 14th 7.45pm Less people this time.. seemed like they’d been for a walk somewhere..
The Caretakers House at Barkston House.. could probably negotiate a peppercorn rent in exchange for some general work being done to tidy the place up... The Light.. There is a 100 amp breaker in the room. We would need an electrician to fit a meter and, a distribution box... Kirkgate Market.. If people have ideas about using the market space, we would need to clear it with them early... Wharf Chambers.. No chance of using middle floor but gig to be part of the programme of events. Then there was a bit of a fall out.. the format of going round the table and people presenting their ideas one by one was already a bit too rigid & restrictive to those who haven’t developed their ideas yet... the potential for new processes and practices arising out of working with strangers was one of the most interesting things about getting involved… should try to mix things up a bit more. June 21st 5.18pm Medium amount of people.. new faces again.. The Light to be used as main exhibition space and hub with potential for other satellite events in other spaces like Caretakers House, Gig/Talks at Wharf Chambers etc.. Main issue with The Light is still power.. it only has one plug socket. We can either use this as a restriction or someone could take on making a non-conventional power supply..
Are people feeling restricted by the apparent demand/assumption to make an object/piece for the group show?.. contribution can be anything - an event elsewhere, a piece of writing etc… would be a shame to waste the opportunity of working more collaboratively and in dialogue with the group.. other things to talk about… for those that are not comfortable or not at a stage where they present their own work then could present something that interests them (a film, book, piece of writing, music etc) that might be relevant to the theme of the exhibition…reading group of First Chapter of Capital by Marx… then maybe amore appropriate venue can be thought of… quieter with space for projector/screen/computer for presentations.. July 5th 5.35pm
of playing them.. relationship with tattoos.. considered getting one but never has.. get these never-realised tattoos done in marker pen and maybe photographed.. traditional Blues music and translation of complex music to a one-string guitar.. not having time to make work for the show.. potentially a series of sick notes or excuses.. performance with mellotron.. outdated technology and the right to fix/tinker and share schematics.. as commercial value or status as commodities fades away they again become the preserve of enthusiasts/collectors… idea of producing a publication/fanzine as a way of doing something together between now and the exhibition.. made quickly, photocopied and not agonised over but instead a way of marking the conversations July 19 5.30pm
shows… googling and smartphones altering pub quizzes...removing knowledge from books by burning out individual letters.. gathering, distributing, storing and destroying knowledge.. fetishism of analogue over digital.. sounds like they’re starting to plan the occupation now too.. thoughts about the space in the Light and how it might be used.. a white space or something more industrial… could it be layed out like a supermarket.. how do draw a crowd, paper based flyers and relaying information verbally...letting the staff who work in the Light and its shops know what is going on .. where to put up signs. July 26th 6pm
Same turnout as last week with a few different people.. another ‘ideas’ meeting..
Seven or eight people again.. seen them all before..
Recapping on venue situation.. project about accidental sculptures found/ produced in the work place.. nature of work time as opposed to play time, intention in creating art and artist as ethnographeror participantobserver.. works that have involved either everyday objects or skiving off work.. emotional attachment to video games and the value (monetary and social) these had.. digitisation and free availability of physical format stuff (music)… analogue/ hand-made and digital/machine-aided processes.. legality of downloading and exhibiting games but the illegality
interview homeless people about what they think is the minimum of money to give them..working out how much money he earned in an exhibition week and giving it to exhibition visitors in small units.. travelling with little or no money and the dependence on the generosity of others with money that is needed to do this.. shopping theory... following people around shops/ exhibitions, mystery shoppers, shelf theory and destination items in shops.. University of Incidental Knowledge.. General knowledge and how do you revise for the general rather than the specific. .. pub quizzes and TV game
Couldn’t work out how many of them there were or who was at the meeting this time.. lots of talk about The Light and some pamphlet to distribute.. Date postponed to September… Gig on the 15th(?) was mentioned.. all the events and other things people want to do for this can surround… Proposal to start having meetings in the light from next week at 5 o’clock… many people don’t know what they actually want to show.. something to do with shopping Guilt.. taking out a credit card during the exhibition and spending to the limit… Difference in prices of the same products.. Leeds price map.. exploring differing prices of the item (a bottle of rose) might consist of photography, reviews
& receipts.. Doing something with the shops in the light, not to promote but to engage.. getting stuff off the light for free… relationship of exchange… There must be limits to how much stuff you can get for free before it puts strain on these relationships. FREE TICKETS to the exhibition… People love getting something for free, even if its free already… these conversation with the people, in which you encounter these problems, are quite important… speak with the light about the possibility of extending the exhibition into the courtyard… Putting things in the windows?.. play art enhancing music out of the space.. Deadline for zine is next Tuesday 8th August.
After that I never saw them again. I assume they moved on and started holding their gatherings elsewhere once they managed to get hold of their ‘space’. I had a half a mind to have a look around The Light on Tuesday evenings just to make sure they weren’t getting up to any bother. The Wrens is a bit quieter without them really. At least I can concentrate on my paper and listen to the music at a decent volume now though. Bloody artists.
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Next to Nothing Fanzine The headphones & soundtrack Black Dogs Almanacs 1-4 The J-cloth wall piece The Video The University of Incidental Knowledge The big printed text piece The monument to dead pets The A4 Text piece The framed pictures The big sculptural pieces The yellow square of paint ‘Windhandal’ ‘Make Money’ The letter and postcards ‘The Gift’ The Argos catalogue stacks The displays of cheap goods The cress maze The box files and small filing cabinet The text pieces The magazine and mini-disk The A4 sheets and chapbook The placard and sound piece The black boards The wine bottle drawings The Maps Abbott’s Dream Machine The UV lights The photographic print The desk and performance The A board The series of photographs The watercolour The day-glo posters ‘Destination Goods’ The filing cabinets The billboard posters The stirling board The brown plinth The stack of cans The framed photographs The fake columns The CD sculpture The sculpture with lights
Black Dogs Michael Burkitt Black Dogs Luke Drozd Dave Ronalds Alice Bradshaw Mick Welbourn Jon Slight Patrick Coyle Jonny Hill Sarah Bowker-Jones Michael Burkitt Steven Allbutt Steven Allbutt Eva Rowson Rory Macbeth Luke Drozd Yvonne Carmichael Bryony Pritchard Philip Welding, Rowan Bailey Sarah Bradley Amelia Crouch Adam J. Maynard Amelia Crouch Tom Railton Sheila Mone Conway and Young Andy Abbott No Fixed Abode Dave Ronalds Harriet Bevan Rose Borthwick David Thomas Dan Robinson Craig Barnes Bristow and Lloyd Black Dogs Charlotte A. Morgan Tom Railton Grace Harrison Andy Abbott James Hill Shakeeb Abu Hamdan Peter James Taylor Liz Murphy & Anna Stogeden
Adam J. Maynard
UNIVERSITY OF INCIDENTAL KNOWLEDGE The University of Incidental Knowledge is a collaboration based on a higher education model, incorporating self-directed and peer-to-peer learning, initiated by UK-based artist and curator Alice Bradshaw. Incidental Knowledge is acquired by chance; through the process of doing something else such as a journey, a day job, a holiday, watching a film or overhearing a conversation. It is unexpected, unintentional, extraneous, random, accidental or found, discovered in connection with or resulting from a primary activity. 2011/12 Courses Diploma in Artwank, led by Bob Milner BA (Hons) Avant Garde, led by Debi Holbrook BA (Hons) Comedy, led by Louise Atkinson BA (Hons) Cut ‘n’ Paste, led by Bob Milner BA (Hons) Film, led by Vanessa Haley BA (Hons) Foreign Language, led by Fundada MPhil Mistakes, led by Sparrow+Castice NVQ Pedantics, led by Duncan Lister Bsc Social Media, led by Louise Atkinson 2011/12 Academic Year Autumn Term: October – December 2011 Spring Term: January – March 2012 Summer Term: April – June 2012 End of Year Show: June/July 2012 universityincidentalknowledge.wordpress.com firstname.lastname@example.org Answers to UIK Crossword 0001 ACROSS: 3. Wolfie; 4. rosemary; 5. concert pitch; 7. The Briggait; 9. apple; 11. black; 12. anemia; 14. fathom; 15. chlorophyll; 17. Jardim Gramacho; 19. Carlsberg; 21. Finland; 24. Malpensa; 27. unkindness; 28. sugar cane; 30. column inch DOWN: 1. piastre; 2. prickly pear; 6 coin clipping; 8. gel; 10. hard black; 13. Edinburgh; 16. Thomas Edison; 18. Afrikaans; 20. six; 22. ginnel; 23. país; 25. purple; 26. dray; 29. Doha
Moving around and using steps Cannot walk at all (15 points) Cannot walk more than 50 metres on level ground without repeatedly stopping or severe discomfort (15 points)
Reaching Cannot raise either arm as if to put something in top pocket of a coat or jacket (15 points) Cannot put either arm behind back as if to put on a coat or jacket (15 points)
Cannot walk up or down two steps even with the support of a handrail (15 points)
Cannot raise either arm to top of head as if to put on a hat (9 points)
Cannot walk more than 100 metres on level ground without stopping or severe discomfort (9 points)
None of the above apply (0 points)
Cannot raise either arm above head height as if to reach for something (6 points)
Cannot walk more than 200 metres on level ground without stopping or severe discomfort (6 points)
Picking up and moving things
None of the above apply (0 points)
Cannot pick up and move a 0.5 litre carton full of liquid with either hand (15 points)
Standing and sitting Cannot stand for more than 10 minutes, unassisted by another person, even if free to move around, before needing to sit down (15 points) Cannot sit in a chair with a high back and no arms for more than10 minutes before needing to move from the chair because the degree of discomfort experienced makes it impossible to continue sitting (15 points) Cannot rise to standing from sitting in an upright chair without physical assistance from another person (15 points) Cannot move between one seated position and another seated position located next to one another without receiving physical assistance from another person (15 points) Cannot stand for more than 30 minutes, even if free to move around before needing to sit down (6 points) Cannot sit in a chair with a high back and no arms for more than 30 minutes without needing to move from the chair because the degree of discomfort experienced makes it impossible to continue sitting (6 points) None of the above apply (0 points) Bending or Kneeling Cannot bend to touch knees and straighten up again (15 points) Cannot bend, kneel or squat, as if to pick up a light object, such as a piece of paper, situated 15cm from the floor on a low shelf, to move it and straighten up again without the help of another person (9 points) Cannot bend, kneel or squat, as if to pick up a light object off the floor and straighten up again without the help of another person (6 points) None of the above apply (0 points)
Cannot pick up and move a one litre carton full of liquid with either hand (9 points) Cannot pick up and move a light but bulky object such as an empty cardboard box, requiring the use of both hands together (6 points) None of the above apply (0 points) Manual Dexterity (Using your hands) Cannot turn a ‘star-headed’ sink tap with either hand (15 points) Cannot pick up a £1 coin or equivalent with either hand (15 points) Cannot turn the pages of a book with either hand (15 points) Cannot physically use a pen or pencil (9 points) Cannot physically use a conventional keyboard or mouse (9 points) Cannot do up/ undo small buttons, such as shirt or blouse buttons (9 points) Cannot turn a ‘star-headed’ sink tap with one hand but can with the other (6 points) Cannot pick up a £1 coin or equivalent with one hand but can with the other (6 points) Cannot pour from an open 0.5 litre carton full of liquid (6 points) None of the above apply (0 points)
Lisa Bristow, Christian Lloyd A wall of signs that play with the seduction of a better life as promised through goods, services and a shopping experience located just around the corner. The starting point was our amusement with the ubiquity of the word luxury. Given the context of the exhibition we wanted to play with the materials in a very simple way, contrasting the cheapness of cardboard with the supposed luxury of the messages. Equally the typography has an echo of commercial signage but this has been disrupted through the hand made qualities of the signwriting. See also Are you the best shopper you can be? Next to Nothing, A Fanzine by Black Dogs, 2011 www.bristowlloyd.info
How to Grow a Cress Labyrinth (and keep it alive for as long as possible in a very hot room) After a site visit, design your labyrinth paths. Decide what scale the design will be and calculate the wall length. Purchase plenty of cress seed to grow enough for the design. (There isn’t an awful lot of difference between expensive and cheap cress seed. Just make sure it’s within date.) The best way to grow a cress maze is by simply using lots of plastic trays (with no drainage holes) and adding a layer of tissue or cotton wool in each - no need for compost at all. Moisten the tissue, but don’t get it too wet and sprinkle the seed generously on top. A bit of sunshine is desirable. By the next day (or even sooner) the cress will have started to germinate. Make sure the tissue is kept moist at all times and the cress will grow quickly. In about a week it should be 3cm tall and ready for moving to the site. It’s hard to resist eating bits of it but be warned, if growing lots of it, a powerful cressy smell will take over, which could lead to hallucinations. Singing to the cress is not recommended. When transporting cress be careful not to squash it, although it is fairly resilient. Once in situ, water it. Lots. If the site is particularly dry and hot continue to moisten tissue. If things get particularly bad sprinkle sugar into water or even better, water with lemonade (the cheap stuff is the best). If your cress goes mouldy (which is likely), simply accept defeat. Clean your tray and start again if planning to fill in dead bits with new shoots.
Not Only the City #3, Structure for vacant retail unit, The Light, Leeds, digital design render 2011. Not Only the City #4, billboard support structures, digital photograph 2011. Not only the city is a series of photographed, designed or realised structures which suggest and interrogate supplementary and interlinked functions of display, storage and presentation, whether of images, objects or ideas. These functions often collide in structures designed for the retail industry, where the process of display is bound with the need to store and communicate certain ideologies. #3, structure for vacant retail unit, The Light, Leeds is the third structure I have produced specifically for an empty shop space, and is designed for the area of this specific site that my work was shown in. The structure suggests a possible future for the space, but one which is warped and rendered impossible or ambiguous as the structure becomes labyrinthine and unrealisable. #4, billboard support shows the structures stripped of their communicative function and emphasises their form and placement next to a railway track, where a captive audience gazes out of the window and might consciously read or absently absorb the messages they communicate. The works reference the context of the exhibition venue and the intention behind it's design, acknowledging also the ultimately supportive role artists play in the retail industry by creating publicity and activity around the spaces in question, facilitating continued interest in and use of the spaces and aiding their recovery.
Charlotte A. Morgan
Dan Robinson Holiday #8 (detail), 2011 Watercolour on paper (24 x 24cm)
MANIFESTO FOR MUSIC ST IN THE 21 CENTURY
MUSIC HAS BEEN AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF HUMAN CULTURE FROM ITS ORIGINS AND IS A NATURAL FORM OF SHARED EXPRESSION AND SOCIETAL BONDING. IT HAS RETAINED THIS FUNCTION, YET DURING THE LAST 60 OR SO YEARS IT HAS LARGELY BECOME HIJACKED BY AN INDUSTRY THAT HAS SOUGHT ITS TOTAL COMMODIFICATION BY MEANS OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES. AT THE SAME TIME IT HAS USED THIS INDUSTRIALISED MUSIC AS PART OF ITS ARSENAL OF SEDUCTION AND SET IT TO WORK AS A SALES TOOL TO PERSUADE US TO BUY INTO OTHER COMMODITIES AND INTO VAPID AND HOMOGENISING MATERIALIST LIFESTYLES AND ASPIRATIONS. INSTEAD OF SINGING TOGETHER IN CIRCLES, WE NOW SING TOGETHER IN UNIDIRECTIONAL CROWDS, NOT LOOKING AT EACH OTHER BUT INSTEAD FOCUSSED ON THE SPECTACULAR, DICTATORIAL PERFORMANCE IN THE DISTANCE, SINGING ALONG IN THOUGHTLESS REPETITION IN SOME HELLISH GLASTONBURY OF THE MIND. TECHNOLOGY THOUGH HAS CHANGED AGAIN AND WE NOW HAVE THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION AT OUR DISPOSAL. NO LONGER ARE THE CORPORATIONS IN FULL CONTROL OF THEIR REALM. WE MUST USE THIS TECHNOLOGY TO FINANCIALLY IMPOVERISH MUSIC SO THAT THE IDEA OF A ‘CAREER IN MUSIC’ IS AGAIN UNTHINKABLE AND INSTEAD IT RETURNS TO BEING A NATURAL PART OF DAILY LIFE THAT COSTS NOTHING AND ALLOWS PEOPLE TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES RATHER THAN BEING REPRESENTED AS CONSUMERS OF SHIT.
ACTIVELY RESIST INDUSTRIALISED MUSIC. BOYCOTT ALREADY DWINDLING NON-INDEPENDANT RECORD STORES IN ORDER TO BRING ABOUT THEIR FINAL COLLAPSE. CEASE TO PURCHASE MUSIC PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED AND OWNED BY LARGE SCALE RECORD COMPANIES AND PUBLISHERS. SHAMELESSLY STEAL AND REDISTRIBUTE THE MUSIC RELATED PRODUCTS OF SUCH COMPANIES AND THEIR COMPLICIT ARTISTS AND INCITE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME. DO NOT BUY MUSIC FROM ANYBODY UNLESS THE PROCEEDS ARE USED PURELY TO SUSTAIN THE CONTINUED PRODUCTION OF THEIR MUSIC. MAKE USE OF INTERNET BROADCAST AND FILE SHARING TECHNOLOGY TO ENSURE THAT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY SHRIVELS TO A PROFITLESS ANACHRONISM. ENCOURAGE SELF DISTRIBUTION AND SELF PROMOTION. ASSIST THIS PROCESS BY FURTHER DISTRIBUTING AND PROMOTING MUSIC THAT IS IN LINE WITH THIS MANIFESTO. BOYCOTT LIVE PERFORMANCES BY MUSICIANS WHO SUPPORT MUSICAL INDUSTRIALISATION. FORCE THEM TO EMBRACE THIS MANIFESTO. IN ALL WAYS RESIST THE PROFESSIONALIZATION OF MUSIC. STRIVE TO FOSTER MUSIC THAT IS SHARED IN THE HOME AND COMMUNITY RATHER THAN BROADCAST AND DICTATED AS ALIENATING AND STUPEFYING SPECTACLE. RESIST MUSIC THAT IS RELIANT ON IDEAS OF QUALITY AND SKILL. FAVOUR THE VOICE OF THE AMATEUR. David Thomas
Three pieces of music inspired by pictures from the Harmsworth History of the World:
IDOLS IN A TEMPLE OF JUGGERNAUT DEVIL DANCING BEFORE THE PRINCE OF WALES DEPOSITION OF THE KING OF KANDY BY THE BRITISH
Detail from ‘Devil Dancing Before the Prince of Wales’ (Prince of Wales not shown).
The music was intended to evoke the sound of the evaporation of history and by extension, context; in response both to the destruction by erasure of a particular history of the world and the absence of knowledge of that history. Did any of us know the history that has been erased, and what was its’ value if we did not; if none of us knew, did it ever exist? To what extent can we be sure that any of the events happened? The music is also a joke, in seeking to evoke the sound of the devaluing and destruction of historical knowledge, the sound created is deliberately in a context of nihilism and noise, suggesting perhaps the outer reaches of black metal. ‘Idols in a Temple of Juggernaut’ does indeed sound like a death metal album title, but the picture is of cartoon like deities, could this have been musically conjured by the application of happy hardcore? ‘Devil Dancing before the Prince of Wales’ could have been a cheeky xylophone number and ‘The Deposition of The King of kandy’ and the accompanying picture of a rotund, bearded figure sprawled in gangster hip-hop style could have had a very different musical interpretation. But Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, the King of Kandy who was deposed by the British in 1815, was described at the time as a cruel tyrant, so could this be the score to the final march of an overweight and reviled despot? Is this the truth, or was the Kingdom of Kandy a mythical prelapsarian world of opulence and nascent toothache; if we imagine that it did exist, where was it and how did red coats of this now defeated, wilted, Britain come to be there? Similarly, what esoteric and arcane solace did the Prince of Wales, later George V, seek in this sacrament of faun headed dancers a few years after the death of his Grandmother, Victoria? Where is it that heavy goods vehicles encounter idolatry? All is subjective in the absence of context and connection.
For many reasons that I will not go into I have not been able to include any work in this exhibition. As I was not able to contribute work to the exhibition I decided to write a statement that described what I would have done and include this in the Next to Nothing fanzine publication that accompanies the exhibition. As you will see if you look carefully through the publication I was not able to write that statement. If I had been able to write the above mentioned statement I would have begun by writing a short introduction explaining that I had not been able to contribute to the Next to Nothing exhibition for various reasons. I would have gone on to explain that if I had been able to include work in the exhibition that it would have been a number of live art performances. I would have then explained that these performances would have taken place every day of the exhibition but have left little or no trace that anything had happened, or to put it another way they would have left next to nothing behind after the events took place. I would have continued the statement by including a paragraph that explained the first of the performances. I would have written about how I would have brought a bicycle into the exhibition space and on every other day of the exhibition I would have cycled as slowly as possible around the space following a repeated route pattern. I would have further explained that while slowly following this route I would have rung the bicycleâ€™s bell at regular intervals on each revolution around the space. My statement would have gone on to describe how I would have continued to cycle this route while ringing the bell until I was exhausted or the exhibition venue closed for the day. I think I may have also included a note about how from my past experiences of this performance that the exhaustion in this performance does not come from repetitive riding but from the repetitive bell ringing, which is quite uncomfortable and continues to cause discomfort for many days afterwards. I think I would also have included a final sentence in the paragraph explaining that I am not sure what I would have worn for this performance but that I think it may have been a fairly standard cycling outfit of high visibility jacket with t-shirt and cycling shorts. As the statement continued I would also have included a further paragraph explaining that I would also have made a series of works on the alternate days to the above-mentioned cycling performances. I would have gone on to explain that I would have borrowed a number of balls of string and passed the time each day of the exhibition that I was not cycling by wrapping a column in the exhibition space as neatly and precisely as possible with the string. Furthermore I would have explained how, after completing this wrapping process, I would have then unwrapped the string and rolled it back up as carefully as possible so that it could be used again or returned to where it was borrowed from. I would have concluded this paragraph by explaining that I have never done this type of performance before and would therefore have developed it through a series of rehearsals if I had the time. The statement of what I was planning to do that I would have written if I had the time, and included in the Next to Nothing fanzine publication would have continued with a further paragraph with some clarification of how I would have been able to spend time doing the performances I proposed because I was due to take annual leave from a salaried full time job. I would have then explained how, through the process of developing the Next to Nothing exhibition, it was decided that the dates that the exhibition happened on would have to be changed. Furthermore I would have explained that sadly the new dates for the exhibition coincided with days that I would have to work in my salaried job. This writing would have continued with a further piece of explanation stating that obviously I would not be able to do the proposed performances and continued by stating that having a salaried job gives me the financial stability to be involved in making art without having to worry about making money from that art. The final sentence in this paragraph of the statement would have said that the obvious problem with this is that I often do not have time to make art because of my commitments to the job that I have to do to make it possible for me to have the freedom to make art in the way that I want to. The statement I was going to write would then, if I had been able to find the time to do it, gone on to explain the main reasons why I did not have the time to make work for the Next to Nothing exhibition. I would have explained that if I had not spent many hours making drawings that use similar methods of repetition and precision as my proposals for the exhibition then I would have had some work to show in the Next to Nothing exhibition. Furthermore the final paragraph would have explained that If I had not attended all the regular meetings and discussions that were an important part of the development of the Next to Nothing exhibition and extremely useful in developing my own work for the exhibition then I would have been able to include my work in the exhibition. I would have concluded the statement by explaining that I could not possibly have found the time to write the statement that would have explained my work and also given reasons as to why I was not able to do that work because I had to work in my salaried job to earn the money that I need to support having an art practice free of the need to earn money from that art practice.
Rather than produce work for this publication, I asked two people who had read the text from the Next to Nothing exhibition for different responses.
Version edited by reader 1 Clare Wiggins:
Feedback from reader 1 Clare Wiggins:
I have not been able to include any work in this exhibition. As I was not able to contribute work to the exhibition I decided to write a statement that described what I would have done. As you will see if you look carefully through the publication I was not able to write that statement. If I had been able to include work in the exhibition it would have been a number of live art performances. These performances would have taken place every day of the exhibition but have left little or no trace that anything had happened, or they would have left next to nothing behind after the events took place. I would have brought a bicycle into the exhibition space and on every other day of the exhibition I would have cycled as slowly as possible around the space following a repeated route pattern. While slowly following this route I would have rung the bicycle’s bell at regular intervals on each revolution around the space. I would have continued to cycle this route while ringing the bell until I was exhausted or the exhibition venue closed for the day. I would have also included a note about how from my past experiences of this performance that the exhaustion in this performance does not come from repetitive riding but from the repetitive bell ringing, which is quite uncomfortable and continues to cause discomfort for many days afterwards. I am not sure what I would have worn for this performance but that I think it may have been a fairly standard cycling outfit of high visibility jacket with t-shirt and cycling shorts.
What you need to do with this piece of writing is simplify and pare down your sentences. Currently they are too long and convoluted. Be ruthless and edit down any unnecessary words and phrases and you will improve the writing's readability. Additionally if you have a long rambling sentence, see if you can break it down into smaller sentences. For further advice about this I would recommend William Zissner's book 'On Writing Well' which should be available in the library. Response from Reader 2 Megan Owen: The Tour de France is approximately 2000 miles long. If I were to enter, this is what I would do: I would get up in the morning, eat a (considerable) bowl of porridge, dress myself in figure-hugging lycra, kiss my mother goodbye and leave the house with my bicycle. On leaving the house, I would free wheel down the hill, turn right at the junction and head south until I reached France. I would then catch my breath, mount my bicycle, and, with my stomach full of porridge and my mother’s kiss, pedal for 2000 miles before stopping. 2000 miles is a long way. A very long way. In fact, it is approximately 16,000 laps of the exhibition space. If I were to cycle 16,000 laps of the exhibition space, this is what I would do: I would get up in the morning, eat a (considerable) bowl of porridge, dress myself in figure-hugging lycra, kiss my mother goodbye and leave the house with my bicycle. On leaving the house, I would free wheel down the hill, turn right at the junction and head south until I reached the exhibition space. I would then catch my breath, mount my bicycle and, with a stomach full of porridge and my mother’s kiss, pedal for 2000 miles before stopping. The Tour de France passes through villages, churches and mountains; woods and lakes; streets, schools, factories – prisons. Legs would turn feet, feet pedals, pedals cranks and cranks wheels. Failure to continue would result in failure. To pedal is to be. 2000 miles is a very long way and no doubt I’d be tired. My brain would be empty, a void, a nothing. Cycling around the exhibition space, my legs would also turn my feet, my feet the pedals, the pedals the cranks, the cranks the wheels. Failure to continue would result in failure. To pedal is to be. 2000 miles is a very long way and no doubt I’d be tired. My brain would be empty, a void, a nothing. After I had cycled 2000 miles I would stop. Probably I would have a baguette, maybe some cheese and some water to quench my thirst. Then I would return home to seek my bed. On completion of my ride, I would catch my breath, re-mount my bicycle and head north, finally turning left at the junction and climbing the hill to home. The cycle finished, I would put my bicycle away until the next day and the next journey.
What happens if I stop pedaling? What then? What is next to nothing?
I would have borrowed a number of balls of string and passed the time each day of the exhibition that I was not cycling by wrapping a column in the exhibition space as neatly and precisely as possible with the string. Furthermore, after completing this wrapping process, I would have then unwrapped the string and rolled it back up as carefully as possible so that it could be used again or returned to where it was borrowed from. I have never done this type of performance before and would therefore have developed it through a series of rehearsals if I had the time The dates for the exhibition coincided with days that I would have to work in my salaried job. Obviously I would not be able to do the proposed performances and having a salaried job gives me the financial stability to be involved in making art without having to worry about making money from that art. The obvious problem with this is that I often do not have time to make art because of my commitments to the job that I have to do to make it possible for me to have the freedom to make art in the way that I want to. If I had not spent many hours making drawings that use similar methods of repetition and precision as my proposals for the exhibition then I would have had some work to show in the Next to Nothing exhibition. If I had not attended all the regular meetings and discussions that were an important part of the development of the Next to Nothing exhibition and extremely useful in developing my own work for the exhibition then I would have been able to include my work in the exhibition. I could not possibly have found the time to write the statement that would have explained my work and also given reasons as to why I was not able to do that work because I had to work in my salaried job to earn the money that I need to support having an art practice free of the need to earn money from that art practice.
Redundant Artists ReCreation Asso
h the curator of The Long Avant-Gar
Beec Email from No Fixed Abode to Dave Gallery 06/07/2011. Hi Dave,
No Fixed Abode
gies for dragging our . Hope all is moving on nicely. Apolo Really looking forward to the show has been diﬃcult to it so ing chang nually conti has been heels a little on this, our approach on. Although still you te upda to thing some we now have update you on anything really. But occur in the next will what and from g comin where we are not absolutely speciﬁc, you’ll see week or so. ndant Architects up residence of sorts at the Redu of In the last few weeks we have taken ), and are going to conduct a series exists place a such (yes iation labor (the Recreation Assoc with a real ambivalence between ruct const sting intere an It’s . experiments there (which is always the cultural practitioners) and recreation current users of RARA are freelance nally), which asks questions of our notio and lly litera both this to ic thing which is antagonist s’ but to formally feel lves at RARA, not to produce ‘work labor there. In the positioning of ourse we hope to interweave into The Long that tions condi the lay n, itutio our way through its const Avant-Garde. of conducting discussing with RARA our idea As it stands, we have been discussion. We have been and ation elucid tial poten of s experiments/interventions as point ongoing constellation of ow space’ within RARA, where an talking about the notion of a ‘shad e moments of labor deﬁn to come can ge, slippa of ents happenings, which provide mom space’ to act as just ow ‘shad the like would we s stand it outside the logic of the market. As but cannot be directly , RARA gh throu exists that space that, a specter or impression of a could not be pinpointed notional alterity we aim to diverge perceived as such. In this way the suggested. through a single object as such, only iation’ (and we like a ‘Redundant Artists ReCreation Assoc We have spoken about the idea of being the guiding as too) ation re/cre into can be read the dual possibly triple meaning that - we would like to is RARA at time labor ing about what thought for our process. For us - think be a means of and space the of that get into the ﬁbers conduct a series of experiments possibility of that we would like to imagine the here is It e. outsid and n withi communication ry. Galle l Carte rds towa value of w projecting this shado in the gallery. We are g into ways we can actualize this As it stands we have been lookin sarily be found, or are purposely neces t canno but d behin leave labor interested in the marks what is reﬂecting in the notionality of the shadow, and obscured. We have become divested into ways we can illuminate a g lookin been have we result a the light in such a case. As periphery and reﬂect that.
Our initial experiment will be a UV illumi nation of a room, in which the residu e of vinyl lettering of a company that once used the industrial lot where RARA is now situated. There will doubtless be many other surrounding traces of human activity on the walls around the sign and on the surrounding features of the room, which would also show up. We would then ﬁt a UV light (either free standing or into one of the existing ﬁttings) conne cted to a light sensor (the ones you ﬁnd on street lamps) so that at night, when everyone leaves and the lights are switched oﬀ, an iteration of the spaces history will be activated. Concurrent to this, we would like to install the same UV light system in Carte l so that when daylight fades (inevitably when the gallery is not in use) the light will come on expos ing the traces of labor within the exhibition space. We see this purposeful curtailing of our labor towards an audience as a playful means of resisting co-option. Like we say, this would be the begin ning of our formal engagement with RARA and with The Long Avant Garde, so there will be furthe r formal iterations of this through the duration of both and beyond.
Email from Terry Slater to Robert Quirk No Fixed Abode collaborators conce rning Studio 54 show 28/07/2011. I like the idea that having Joe at the opening for example might provide us with something like an institution-in-critique-in-progress. The continued discussion between Joe and us are ways in which the space-in-between are sensitized. This intangible space within RARA (if you were cynical you might say in order to co-opt the critique into RARA ’s program) is in action. The placing of the bulbs in each place marks a beginning. A beginning of how we then nurture this critique-in-action. I quite like this notion, as it seems to explain to me the mutu al space for critique that we have had to labor to develop (as has Joe). I feel as though we are – or shoul d be – being critiqued also. What are we actually doing within the construct of RARA? I also like the idea of mutual-critique-i n-action, as it feels completely fragile . It is this fragility, which demands a greater sensitivity in comm unication and the formation of langu age. In this sense this rather immaterial space in between that we are developing is charged simultaneously by the ambivalence of the huge potential to produce at RARA, coupled with the ‘mate riality’ of the decision not to. To then tether this to The Long Avant-Garde is to relay an ethic of labor. This is something that we are trying not to assign to other institu tions and practitioners but to approach with others.
Peter James Taylor
Philip Welding and Rowan Bailey
Report into the effects of Involuntary Thinking within the Workplace The results of the study undertaken between March and September 2011, through focus group an in-depth interview analysis with 10 severely affected employees, indicates that the underlying trauma of the incident that took place on January 7 th 2011 has produced a unique form of estrangement with utilitarian objects. The workplace environment within which this estrangement persists, has cultivated an obscure desire in its workers to fixate on the trace of plastic residues in all things. When prompted, the respondents in the study articulate their relationship to obsolete objects in unusual and unpredictable ways. This has affected their work performance and ability to carry out simple tasks considerably. The results of the study show that a condition called ‘involuntary thinking’ has taken over work production. A detailed summary of the underlying issues of this condition will be accounted for in this report, with suggested strategies for coping with involuntary thinking behaviour. Although these strategies are by no means a solution for the problem, they may provide management with short-term safeguards to limit further involuntary conflicts within the workplace.
On closer examination of the plastic spoon [exhibit b], the group seemed to focus on the varying types of spoon in existence, and appeared to categorise the utilitarian function of spoons to these types. The responses were more detailed and erratic than the pen lid discussion and seemed to trigger memories and experiences: ‘When you see the spoon, what does it make you think about?’ The group agreed unanimously that ‘TYPE’ was the fundamental characteristic trigger. ‘Absinthe spoon’ [discussion of the merits of taking absinthe the traditional way] ‘Bouillon spoon’ [discussion of different kinds of soup, in particular, the flavours and smells of broth] ‘Caviar spoon’ [discussion of how to make blini and how best to identify a good roe substitute] ‘Demitasse spoon’ [discussion of halfcup etiquette in French coffee culture] ‘Egg spoon’ [discussion of the first egg and spoon race in Sweden in 1902]
Excerpt: 3. Findings 3.I Focus Group analysis
‘Runcible spoon’ [discussion of Edward Lear’s invention of the spoon and its use by the Owl and the Pussycat] This was the longest discussion [3:32:45] within the focus group, due to each participant issuing an unusual encyclopaedic knowledge about each of the spoon types. All participants were surprised and confused as to the depth and breadth of knowledge they seemed to have of the types and could not give any explanation as to how they had acquired this information.
The Gift, Rory Macbeth Bronze and marble, 2005. The Gift is a small bronze and marble statuette that I found in a skip in Switzerland that was being filled with the rubbish from the refurbishment of a Bank. It probably sat on a Bank Managerâ€™s desk - a little symbol of the generosity and benevolence of the banking system. It consists of two hands. One hand (the top one) is offering a coin to the lower hand, which is outstretched in a pose of supplication. My first thought on finding it in the skip was not of art, but rather â€˜that must be worth somethingâ€™. It was only later when I realized that the pose of the two hands could be read (not so benevolently) as the top hand taking the coin away from the lower hand that I thought it could be an interesting bit of art. It also occurred to me that, as the hands were a left and a right hand, they could belong to the same person, which seemed to open up a whole load more possibilities. I called it The Gift , and put it in a few exhibitions. The last time it was shown was three years ago in France, and the curator called me to say that her husband, who turned out to be a high-level investment banker, wanted to buy the piece. Amused by the fact that it was now worth something, and by the irony of who wanted to buy it, I sent out a price. I never heard back, and all my calls, e-mails, and texts have been studiously ignored. I have never received either the money or had the work returned. The Gift seems to back in its natural habitat with no money exchanging hands. Annoying though that is, it has become a much better piece of work.
M ic r o M e gas * Polythene, curling ribbon, acrylic paint, PVA, water, tape, wood, heat, process debris, screws, nuts and washers
sarah Bowker-Jones ponders on... ...micromegas, next to nothing and the value of art
(recorded on the keyboard, after work on Wednesday – oh, it has now become Thursday 20th October 2011 – 01:09)
“Micromegas was something pretty big out of next to nothing... I mean, it expanded out from a very condensed flat pack of materials, becoming 5 meters tall and around 3.5 meters wide and deep (made of 3 elements plotted in the space).” “I did spent a fair bit of money in terms of production time, site visits and, believe it or not, materials. However, comparing the amount of money I have spent since beginning my independent life as an artist, in 1997, this is a drop in the ocean. For me, the value of art is not measured in money. This is a good job as I have been told, throughout my art education, that I probably “wo n’t m a k e an y m on ey wit h art li k e t h i s ” (...). Well, that’s a bit annoying, but I figured out a long time ago I do it for a different reason.” “I hope not to sound too dramatic, or cheesy, but I make art, or try to make art, because it enriches my life. Sometimes, I think without out it I may chill out a bit more (you know, concentrate on one thing instead of juggling everything)... but it’s too late, my senses have been squeegeed, I got the bug. Art allows me to think in ways I wouldn’t otherwise, through play, curiosity, looking, doing, learning – let’s face it, if you get into art, then you shouldn’t really suffer from inertia. You might get angry, melancholy, even a bit depressed, but that’s okay – you would be dead not to. Ha!” “My art is an ever growing, tangling, web of learnings, experiments, responses to my previous work; being inspired by contemporary and historical artists – and, importantly, life.” “I’m here right now, doing some weird stuff called art which I feel, in some intangible way connects me back to sitting in a cave. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I long for the good old days of captain caveman, but I am totally mad about the enigmatic language of art. I wonder about it. The making, marking, doing, thinking. They did it, and we do it and I can’t get over how beautiful something drawn on a cave 25,000 years ago is. I’m not sure how to improve on it.” “I have a layman’s knowledge of anthropology, and good old Desmond Morris wrote in The Human Zoo about art being used by humans as a tool for the stimulus struggle – keeping ones mind active, keeping interested in life, and ultimately in staying alive. I get that. In this case art must be invaluable.” www.bowker-jones.com * Thank you Voltaire for this excellent title and fantastic story.
Shakeeb Abu Hamdan
‘Have it your way’, Tom Railton, 2011. Oriented Strand Board.
Tom Railton 2: A straightforward algebraic equation for calculating the total production cost (Y), followed by some details of how parts of the production cost calculation can is put into formal mathematical language. Also: a linear equation attempting to model the differing cost of individual art pieces depending on the size of the edition (N).
1: Definitions of the notation for the parameters: the unknown quantities (X,Y,Z) to be calculated from the known quantities (others). Our first equation expresses X in terms of Y and Z (and R). Our aim is to produce equations expressing the unknowns Y,Z in terms of the knowns. Some of our parameters are not naturally numbers. We call these the 'secondary factors' and show a rudimentary way to attribute numerical values to these using suitably defined scales.
The Valuation of Artwork as an Exact Science â€“ Findings and Conclusion.
Drafts Feedback Bibliography Unrealised ideas Filed in lockers taken from the former premises of Confetti (now bankrupt)
Deinstall / Crit Present: Amelia Crouch, Rose Borthwick, Mick Welbourn, James Hill, Grace Harisson, Alice Bradshaw, David Thomas, Yvonne Carmichael. I really enjoyed this meeting as it felt like a worthwhile exercise to hear about peoples thought process when making their own work. It also acted as an opportunity for people to fully explain their thoughts / motivations as well evaluate them. It’s often the intention to put time into evaluating projects but then gets forgotten about and I think with this particular exhibition, setting aside some meetings discussing the failures / successes will help to highlight that exhibition was about the discussion more than putting on an exhibition.
A Critique of Next to Nothing Minutes of meetings and email correspondence
Christians questions were very useful in helping to give the pub-proceedings some structure. We tried to work our way round the group answering this one... In what ways do you think the notion of value was explored in yours and other people’s work? Perhaps a brief reflection on how your own work was informed by the theme. What did you think about how other people tackled the notion of value in their work? David T noted that the discussions leading up to the show got sidetracked from discussing the theme of value to more pragmatic ones about how the exhibition would work. But it was noted that the Marx reading group was an alternative space for this to take place.
David’s photos were printed for free (to fit in with the original ‘Cheap-Art’ idea) - so the type of print and size was decided for him. It might be good to experiment with different sizes / matt paper, collecting more photographs, using a book as a format. Also it might be interesting to evidence places which are outside his role at the council. Alice Alice (University of Incidental Knowledge) wanted to look at the value of knowledge in a time when education is completing a massive change. The original idea was to present her project the Museum of Contemporary Rubbish but when the show was pushed back from July to September she decided to use this time to work on something similar. It was inspired by her experience of The Free University of Liverpool as well as pub quizzes (which can help you realise the things you don’t know more than the things that you do know.)
David David was pleased with the siting of his work. And talked about the photos documenting ‘traces of work’. Perhaps there could have been titles detailing the site of the photos (eg Unit 9, Springfield Rd) to give an indication that there are places of work / out of town semiindustrial units.
Audiences enjoyed the light-hearted tone of project and that reflect well on the exhibition illustrating that wasn’t taking itself too seriously. Though on the flipside, some visitors were unsure if its was just a
piss-take & how much engagement/effort enrolling on a course (eg ‘Art-wank’/ ‘Cut and Paste’) would entail. When reading the course descriptors it made sense but perhaps from a distance it might seem a little self referential (ie artists running courses about art for other artists) and maybe some courses in other subjects eg gardening / science might help open it out.
Grace felt as though she was successful in procrastinating in the lead up to the exhibition with regards to making her work. She felt satisfied through the discussions and didn’t really see the need to contribute something as an individual. Though she felt that her contribution (making bespoke calendars for visitors to the opening) helped open up this conversation we’d been having as a group - about how people spend their time.
James felt that his framed pictures of him making frames were a mini version of him wanting to learn about how to be a technician / how to install exhibitions. He wondered how many people got that the frames were frames he had made and that the pictures showed stages in the process of that making. Also was the passage of time (James’ spare time during the month of August) evident? It was felt that if the pictures were in a line (instead of on four sides of a pillar) it would illustrate that there was a beginning and end. And also if more the shit versions of the frames had been on display to show how he learnt through doing it. Perhaps the work James did as a Technician could have been evidenced as part of the show (making Yvonne’s Plinths, making stands for and installing the lights, shelving etc) - maybe this could be evidenced in the zine. James’ thinking was that ‘If it doesn’t matter how long it takes me, I know it will be good / If you are prepared to put time into something then it will cost less/ nothing.”
to produce the screen print. The flip chart mode of display helped link it back to work. Rose felt slightly nervous about discussing her ideas in the run-up meetings. There was a lot of information contained in the diagram - perhaps a handout might have been a good addition - for people to consider it outside of the exhibition.
Amelia Amelia wanted to look at people and their value - to try and quibble that idea that value isn’t just to do with the economy. The placard and the sound piece which were conceived for the exhibition directly commented / critiqued some of the recent changes in disability allowance / benefits implemented by Labour and continued by the Conservative government. A while ago Amelia spent some time on crutches and through this she realised how arcane / unhelpful the criteria are. Although the work attempted to open out from specific descriptors of Employment Support Allowance to be about people’s value and individualism vs. supporting others more broadly - not just being about disability.
It was nice to have a number of small “performances” happen on the opening night and the everyday item of a calendar was an entrance point into a discussion of valuing time, Though during the fortnight the show, the more static version of the work (the brown plinth with Graces own calendars on top) was perhaps not as successful in provoking this. (Also noted that Grace perhaps worried a bit too much about her contribution, moving the show back three months perhaps took some of the intended spontaneity/experimentation out of the exercise of putting together a group exhibition.) Rose Rose was pleased to have an opportunity to make some artwork. Teaching art full time can make it difficult to actually (have time to) do it yourself. The meetings helped push the idea forward. Perhaps her job influenced the diagrammatic approach to the notion of value. Very literal/ sincere response to the notion of value. Rose used work-materials and work-time
Amelia hasn’t made work on this topic before and was perhaps slightly nervous exploring new territory with her work. As she was worried about ‘using’ this topic within an exhibition / art context. Perhaps the hand-painted text on the placard was a little too neat or maybe not neat enough. The text on the placard is quite long and could perhaps be broken down into a number of messages. The pound coin
stuck to the floor and the two chairs facing the placard were both in reference to tasks which are referred to in the criteria / sound piece (can you pick up a coin / move from one chair to another). It might have been too literal/piss-takey to have ‘props’ relating to everyone of the criteria but at the same time its hard to know if the reference was a bit too subtle for viewers to pick up on? Due to the issue with power there were only a few durational / AV works, which overall a positive thing, however this perhaps meant that not all visitors picked up the headphones. Will be interesting to thin about this work transfers to N2N Zine Part II. We’d run out steam by this point so Mick and Yvonne to kick off next weeks meet and anyone else who can make it.
intellectual property. He liked the sense of event when playing it within the exhibition space. It seemed that quite a lot of visitors to the exhibition had a play on it. Though there is room to make it look more appealing. Andy wanted it to look thrown together but perhaps it could have communicated to people approaching it what it was (ie the logo on the outside / a bit more like a arcade machine) whilst retaining a lo-fi aesthetic. Also noted the the joy stick was too high for younger kids to play it. Placing of it could help with this too - ie in Glasgow could it be in the bar area as opposed to the exhibition space. Would have been could to have it with the other machine in the Light instead of stucked away.
Meeting Minutes Tuesday 11th October The Light / The Vic Present: Andy, James, David T, Yvonne, Mick, Rose, Alice
The music event worked well in getting people to spend time with the show perhaps something we need to bear in mind for future openings - 6-8pm isn’t enough time. This is something that will be address in Glasgow as the exhibition will be open til late while the event is happening.
Apologies for being tardy with last weeks crit minutes.... Andy - Dream Machine Similar approach to Andy’s Table Footballl table. Made from Scrap materials (which were found in the empty shop unit) as well as open software / linux. All free apart from the surprisingly expensive joystick (£190). It turned out that using free software meant the project took much longer than it would have done using windows or mac. He did want to do some kind of tournament / competition / event in order to raise the money to pay for the joy stick - this didn’t happen during the exhibition but could be something which happens in Glasgow. Link to the theme of value: Video games were as a child a form of currency between friends. Andy compiled all the games he played as a child. And also that the nostalgia of playing those games has a value to it. Also as the games were downloaded the piece looked at the idea of
In a show with lots of different piece it seemed to work well - people seemed to identify with the sentiment and get the joke. But then perhaps due to the placing there were people who missed it.
Mick Pleased with the process. His idea / thought process went round in circles and he wanted his piece to reflect that. The work was a double pun / ironic / a contradiction in itself - an explanation of why he hadn’t made anything which was screenprinted (using materials / equipment / time from work). But this is perhaps not obvious to those who don’t know about the process of screen printing - perhaps another version where the text is meticulously drawn or if the layout itself communicates how much time has been spent producing it to those without that specialist knowledge.
Yvonne Was pleased with the outcome. Enjoyed the process of being in the space and making the work. Though felt a little premature/rushed the idea needs to be explored further. Main thing to resolve is how to communicate the rules of Visual Merchandising without having to have them spelled out on a clip board.
Good that it was sculptural / free standing in the space. Like the idea of the worth of products changing depending on how they are displayed. Also quite literally a lot of the products had the word value written on them. YC was concerned that it would like as though she was taking the piss out of those bottom shelf products but this was hopefully avoided through the three displays. Felt as though it lost a bit of its potential impact in such a large non-gallery space - would work better if the bright lighting rule could be kept to. Interesting to look further at the connections between Visual Merchandising and Curation. What if VM/ commercial rules were used to curate a/the exhibition as a whole - how would having a commercial imperative as opposed to a gallery based one. Will for the zine take some commercial/ bright images in studio of the displays along with the VM certificate from the course. Perhaps the work needs to be redone in Glasgow. using Scottish products how will the geographical location change the reading of the work - Scots are traditionally more thrifty. Things to consider.
The dates for Glasgow in case you missed them are: Wednesday 9th November (evening) Loading work in the Light - taking van up to Glasgow Thursday 10th November Install Friday 11th November Install Opening 6-8pm Event / Gig 8pm til 11.30pm. Sunday 13th November Yvonne (Van) / James travelling back to Leeds
Meeting Minutes 18th October Nation of Shopkeepers Present: Andy, David, James, Yvonne, Alice, Rose, Christian, Mick, Michael Michael He liked the title Next to Nothing and worked backwards from that. Taking it as an instruction to do as little as possible and to be thrifty with his time and resources. So he contributed two works - one a CD player with the track Left Bank 2 (soundtrack to Tony Hart Art programmes for gallery / group show segments) which the audience was invited to listen to whilst navigating the exhibition. He thought it would be nice to have a soundtrack to the group exhibition. Galvanising the different works in the show. He paid 79p for the track from iTunes. The second work was a tester pot of a Dulux trademarked colour ‘Wild Primrose’ which he painted onto the wall in a rectangle shape. It referred to an older piece of work where he tried to get Dulux to sponsor one of his exhibitions. That was unsuccessful and a lot of wasted effort. This was a quick, easy and cheap way of realising that work. In the publication there will be instructions on how to recreate the work. Which takes into account the variables. Rose commented on its placement as it had a another patch of blue paint that was already there. Michael thought it highlighted
that the space had never been let. David Thomas said it was interesting how such a subtle piece effected the installation of the show - as it took up a large bit of wall. Michael thought this reflected the first come first served aspect of the curation. In terms of the show and other pieces of work - he liked Tom Railton’s work. He is interested in how group shows are an attention contest. Yvonne said that other people had taken the group show to mean they could contribute more minimal or stripped down works knowing it would be one of many works. Michael similarly didn’t want to contribute anything bold brash and massive. Process: Michael had been less involved in the meetings and so had just been skimming emails. but still felt that the invitation to be involved was there. This is in distinction to other group shows he has been involved in - where you turn up to the opening and don’t really know anything about the show. In general this felt generous, democratic and accessible online and in person. Michael had interpreted the theme of the exhibition to be tight with his time and James had responded in the opposite way and spent more time that he would otherwise. Andy commented that if everyone in the exhibition had taken the same approach then it would have been a politically dubious exhibition. Michael second guessed that other people would have interpreted the theme differently this allowed him the space to do something quite slight with a recycled ideas and recycled and materials. David T commented it was ultra minimal remembering earlier conversations (ie just headphones and no signage). Michael’s thinking was that he didn’t want to dictate to people how they engage with the work. But the invigilators commented that the visitors did pick it up even without instructions.
Dave Ronalds What are your thoughts / feelings about the collective approach to organising the show? Did the working process of weekly meetings, reading groups, conversations, etc. work for you? What were your expectations of the process? Did you learn anything new by working in this way? As with most of these responses, I am giving them with the value of retrospect – whilst I felt a bit lost with this one while it was coming together I don’t think I’d have been able to articulate it much at the time. It found it pretty hard to engage collectively with this show largely due to the amount of time I had available leading up to the show. I think that in another instance I’d have sat this project out, but historically it seems that the future memberships of the group are set around these types of group show and I’m really keen to remain as involved as possible so felt that I had to do something. Geographical distance was also a factor – of course it would have been possible for me to attend a London meeting (and I thought it was great that Eva took the lead in organizing them), but for one reason or another (not anybody else’s fault) they ended up being hard for me to attend. The collective process felt quite different to previous projects... obviously there were a whole bunch of new people involved (and this is a good thing – but for obvious reasons made it different), but it felt like the discussion process was, perhaps necessarily, more face to face than before, when previously it seemed that we could achieve quite a lot by email and email discussion. Minutes were sent out and they were really good and did a good job of summarizing the discussion – but I felt that they were a bit after-the-fact (I guess they were minutes after all) rather than being part of an ongoing process that one could actively engage with – by email at least. It probably goes without saying that my distance and relative isolation from the process would have exacerbated all the above perceptions – and if I had to advise somebody else in my position I would simply advise them to engage more – but nevertheless I did feel pretty alienated from
the process. To be honest, its been the first project since I moved away where I really missed being in Leeds and found it pretty hard not being there. I find it hard, and always have to a greater or lesser degree, to make work alone and really prefer to collaborate – so this whole process was a bit weird for me.
In what ways do you think the notion of value was explored in yours and other people’s work? Perhaps a brief reflection on how your own work was informed by the theme. What did you think about how other people tackled the notion of value in their work? In my own work – Before I made it, the video piece set out to do something about old-school blues and folk music as a genre that required no expensive equipment, sometimes very little skill, was often taught and passed on by word of mouth rather than broadcast and wasn’t really bought and sold. I was thinking about how the big-time recording era and music industry is such a tiny blip on the time line of music and how music that was in one way or another ‘folk’ music has pretty much been part of human culture since we can imagine it beginning. I think that one of the symptoms of spectacle society is that peoples default position is to be entertained and consume that entertainment rather than having an economy of exchanging entertainment
as part of a domestic and community experience. I wanted to do something very simple about the way I make music at home and how it’s a very usual part of family life.... A very simple piece about a very simple thing really. In the end, I don’t really think it communicated much of this... its one dimensionality made it just a video of me playing guitar – and whilst it depicted the kind of act that I’m thinking of, it did nothing to solve the problems about music that I wanted to identify. Maybe it would have been better to do a mini fest of domestic music – or do a series of house visit gigs or something. .... Maybe for another project eh? The photo piece was a bit of a disaster really – I think it could have been quite good but quite simply I left it way too late and a process that I thought would be quite quick and easy was anything but. In the end I had to put something together which was a gesture towards the idea rather than the idea itself. In retrospect, and probably in 9 out of ten other situations I would have pulled it from the show – but I think because my other input had been so minimal and I felt so out of things I felt compelled to finish what I started and make sure the idea was represented somehow. It would have been better to leave it out I think. In both cases I would definitely have benefitted from pre-exhibition crit work. Now this show is done I’m in no rush to set about making any more work like this. I was pretty happy with my bits in the fanzine though. There was so much other work there that its pretty hard to comment really – but I’d say that (in my view) there were a good spread of successful works as well as a few unsuccessful ones. I don’t really want to name names in either case as I don’t really feel like making ‘good’ work was really the point (see comment below) – mentioning ‘good’ work or ‘not so good’ work is only going to inflate / deflate egos and I don’t think that’s appropriate given the social task of the project.
What was your thoughts on the exhibition as a whole? As a viewer, what were the highlights? What did the venue / context bring to the show and to your own work? Really I find it a bit hard to comment – as if I’d wanted things different then I should have been there for the discussions.... Nevertheless... There did seem to be a general ‘refuse’ aesthetic which I guess is embedded in the brief in many ways. Despite my bad feeling towards formal art in formal settings, paradoxically I prefer things to be a bit slicker, so in many ways it wasn’t really for me. Despite this, I thought that the citing of the works was good and curatorially it was put together very well. I felt that the opening was a great success and there was a good vibe to it. Thought the fanzine was ace as well. I have mixed feelings about the context.... It’s definitely a great space but its not without challenges. On one side I really like the fact that there was a big unit in a shopping centre that pretends to be swanky which is full of scrappy sorts of artworks of little or no value. On the other, I think that maybe that space – which is pretty gritty in isolation really – requires more polished works to balance it out really. I’m not sure. I guess I’d like to know if visitors got the gesture about this sort of work being in a shopping centre or whether the connection was missed. At the end of the day though I cant help feeling that, whilst all this does of course matter, art exhibitions aren’t really what we do and the object of the exercise was something quite different – ie. to spark an interesting set of conversations and make good alliances. In this regard, whilst it wasn’t so good for me personally, it does seem like it was a great exercise for Black Dogs and I hope that the ‘new’ people who worked on this will continue to want to be involved. I’ll look forward to working on other stuff with the new bigger group in the future.
Christian Lloyd & Lisa Bristow We enjoy working directly with a theme, so it suited us. The starting point of our piece was our shared amusement with the ubiquity of the word luxury. A bit of research into consumer theory and some dabbling with sign writing and we were off. This is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to work at such a scale which was good fun.
talking to each other. I thought working with such a large group would be unwieldy, but the core team at the centre of Black Dogs did a great job of balancing getting people involving while keeping the show on the road.
In what ways do you think the notion of value was explored in yours and other people’s work? Lisa: I enjoyed how contributors responded to the N2N theme and the outcome was varied, diverse and innovative. I can’t think of a better venue for that exhibition either, despite the ‘20p a pee’ levy. Christian: The notion of value was dealt with in a very diverse way, which was great. Perhaps there was room to group some of the ideas together within the show, or at least give viewers an overview of some of the Marx reading group’s insight: use value / labour value / etc to help the uninitiated unpick some of the ideas. What are your thoughts / feelings about the collective approach to organising the show? Lisa: Being part of the Black Dogs Collective has been a really positive experience and I’m impressed what shared knowledge, expertise, and mutual support can achieve. My collaborator attended most of the meetings as that was deemed the best use of our time (plus someone needs to make tea! Christian: I thought the collective approach to the meetings and exhibition construction worked very well and there were enough flexibility / trust in the process to get more involved if you wished to. The minutes were really useful, though the email correspondence could get a bit confusing, with everybody
What was your thoughts on the exhibition as a whole? Christian & Lisa: We were really pleased with how the whole show came together. Our only criticism was from a viewer’s perspective – perhaps it could have been more accessible for those who had no idea who did what, what the work was about or the working process behind the work. Interestingly, the Glasgow show has made this much more evident and the second fanzine is addressing these issues. Charlotte Morgan Perhaps a brief reflection on how your own work was informed by the theme. Much of my work is specific to the social, economic and political context in which it is produced. (see my description for details.) In what ways do you think the notion of value was explored in yours and other people’s work?
Value is a core assumption of our economic system into which most activity, including the creation and exhibition of art, is integrated. Since the theme was so wide most works relate to it in some way, some developed specifically with the theme in mind and some using the opportunity to develop their ongoing practice and not be guided by a certain curatorial theme.
I think the strengths of the project are in the connections it made between artists locally and nationally and the peer critique it facilitated. Hopefully a sustainable model of support could be developed from this. It also created a space for discussion around the economic context we work within and wide issues relating to the idea of value, and a context to create work for in response to or in parallel to these discussions.
What are your thoughts / feelings about the collective approach to organising the show? Perhaps it is fitting that my critique of the collaborative process and the exhibition itself is formed around individual perspectives voiced separately through the framework of certain questions where group dialogue might be more productive, and this is only possible for those who are geographically linked. I don’t feel that I was able to fully participate in the Black Dogs extended membership opened up to me because of this geographical distance and it’s financial implications and therefore don’t feel I have a complete grasp of the social dynamic or much of the intention behind the exhibition. Information provided through minutes of group discussions was hard to follow and reaffirmed a slight sense of isolation. I am interested to know how the collective decisions were made as part of such a large group, or whether core members steered the project; the model itself is an interesting proposal for exploration and perhaps it can be developed. In this, the significance of physical proximity and explicit shared aims and concerns within a collaboration could be explored. I think that opening up the membership of Black Dogs is a good opportunity for Black Dogs to consider what Black Dogs is and will be, but implies that new members are then part of the Black Dogs history and set ethos which they might have varying knowledge or experience of. I am not sure whether I can consider myself to be part of Black Dogs or not without having a more in depth understanding of the intentions and collective beliefs of the group and of this exhibition. However I assume the invitation was intentionally loose!
What was your thoughts on the exhibition as a whole? The emphasis of the exhibition didn’t seem to be on producing an exhibition where different practices would work in relation to each other and to the space, but rather to bring together artists who might share certain concerns or interests in their research and practice to core members of the Black Dogs group and therefore to each other, however loosely or tightly this was manifest in the invitations extended. In this way, the exhibition seemed more of a gesture towards a sense of collectivity, community and representation of a certain set of themes or concerns endorsed by the group than a curated exhibition which might support the work and communicate with the audience in a different way, but perhaps challenging the curatorial process was part of the intention. While the first Zine will have provided some context, I’m not sure how well the exhibition illustrated the thematic concern (and this curatorial approach is problematic), or appeared coherent, even formally. Perhaps audience comments would be better here! More contextual information could have been beneficial.
I think that considering how many artists were presenting work in the show, most of the work had enough space for audiences to engage with it and nice unplanned connections and links were drawn between individual works on navigating the space. Although the venue was relatively hidden in The Light, the space leant itself to showing work. There was a great turn out to the exhibition opening which demonstrated the strength of the local art contemporary community in Leeds and that Black Dogs play a key role in it. I wonder whether exhibiting individual works around a theme is the best use of a large, active and nationally based group brought together for critical rather than practice-based reasons or, if practice was a key concern, perhaps those who invited us could have asserted more curatorial input. The need to stand back and let the group speak and make decisions can sometimes be a empowering but often, especially where a premise has been set even through the invitation process and decision to produce an exhibition and group members aren’t sure of their position in the group, it can be a red herring or a utopian ideal which can detract from criticality in the outcome. I’m raising this as a point of discussion...this is not my conclusion! But perhaps it can’t start a discussion, as I am absent from the forum where this might take place. Jon Slight What did you think about how other people tackled the notion of value in their work? The DIY and anti-consumerist ethos resonated throughout the show. Everywhere you looked you where being asked to consider how and why you ascribe value in your everyday life. What was your thoughts on the exhibition as a whole? I really liked the location. The bare, dust filled unit, in the swanky shopping centre was the perfect contrast of high-end and basic. This immediately brought to mind thoughts about value.
Black Dogs meeting Wednesday 12 October 2011 The Anchor Tap, London Attendees: Steven Allbutt, Luke Drozd, Terry No Fixed Abode, Eva Rowson We talked generally about our feelings about the N2N exhibition, and used Christian’s questions more as a guide. And the below are more our ponderings throughout the night. The conversation mainly circled round our thoughts about the collective approach to organising the exhibition – and reflecting on our contribution from London. SA asked about the wider audience of the exhibition. As our attendance at the exhibition was limited to the opening night (Steve and Terry), the initial installation weekend and the quiet music night (Eva), or not at all (Luke) it was hard to gauge the reaction to the exhibition – how many people did ‘happen’ upon it? How did it really engage with the wider public of the visitors to the Light and Leeds city centre? We all discussed the strangeness of being involved in the collective discussions in Leeds in the lead up to the exhibition and feeling quite alienated from this process – not being in Leeds, missing out on the wider group crits and discussions there on the theme of the show and people’s ideas for their contributions. But, through our meetings in London, it has been interesting to meet new people and hold our own discussions about the exhibition and our work – although these conversations were, in a way, once removed from the ideas and themes of the show being discussed in the Leeds talks. The end result, the exhibition, felt like a group of works brought together through a range of engagement with the space and ideas – from being right at the centre of it all in Leeds, to distanced conversations in London, and to the other extreme of not attending any meetings and picking out the relevant information from email. So,
rather than this being a ‘group’ show it felt more like a collection of responses, some very considered and made in relation to the space and some warped, through not seeing the space beforehand and interpreting the theme and meeting minutes via email – but this has made it more of an interesting exhibition to be a part of and reflect on! Could the process of bringing this exhibition ever have been more inclusive due to the space and time continuum (I like this phrase – thank you Steve Allbutt)? A disjointed exhibition but an interesting way, now reflecting back, to have pulled an exhibition together. Did we ‘fail’ at the collective approach? Or has this failure to fully connect actually been quite uniting? What would have happened if we had used skype?! Maybe this process should have been communicated to the visitors? How were people aware of how the show had been brought together? Would this have made a difference to people’s perceptions and understanding of the show? Or was this even important to how people interpreted the show? Good to now discuss this further and make this process more transparent for the Glasgow show. Perhaps there could there have been a North and South exhibition responding to the same theme with visits between the two – with a zine in the exhibition from the other venue? Bringing together a group of people in London, connected through the exhibition, has been a positive thing and it’s been nice to get to know some new people. Black Dogs London to continue!
Glasgow Who will curate the show again in Glasgow? Should we hand over the curation to the guys who run the space there? And on what criteria? It would be interesting to push this exhibition through another stage. A neutral selection process combined with our personal, collective discussions/reflections on the Leeds show in the zine. Do we take all the works up to Glasgow or let them select from images – creating another kind of distance from the exhibition. Or, is there another neutral criteria we could consider? Like, what you can fit in a car goes to Glasgow? Could some of the unrealised ideas, like Dave’s festival of domestic music be tested in Glasgow (maybe not this as Dave can’t be there!)?
Black Dogs We are aware that this mail out is getting a tad spammy and that the exhibition everyone was invited to contribute to has run it’s course. So if after Glasgow, you would like to continue to contribute to future projects & receive emails which may or may not be related to Next to Nothing, let us know.