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Mohau Modisakeng | Christian Andersson | Mr & Mrs Clark Simon Callery | Marko Mäetamm | EVA International
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I can’t help but make connections... South African artist Mohau Modisakeng draws upon personal and painful narratives, collective national memories and his own spirituality, to make large-scale, still and moving-image works. Ric Bower met Modisakeng, the winner of the 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art, before the opening of his solo show at Tyburn Gallery. Mohau Modisakeng: I started dealing with idea of trauma in my work, whilst at the University of Cape Town. For my final body of work I decided to reflect on some truths, questions and the events surrounding my brother’s passing. I have very little memory of that time, or of my own interactions with my brother.
each element working out its own place within whatever particular narrative you happen to be weaving. MM: All these fragments, these bits and pieces, are re-arranged into meditations on memory and the experience to which they correspond. In my case, the sculpture of the Okapi could not have been made if I had not witnessed my own mother’s process of grieving and coming to terms with the loss of her child. There are certainly conscious decisions that influence the placing of elements within the compositions, but I am not necessarily aware why I am making them. People bring their own associations to the work too, of course, and there are recurring motifs – a certain hat, blinkers, an apron…
Ric Bower: How old were you? MM: Five or six I think. Growing up, I would hear stories about this guy called Sthembiso, but the stories were never quite clear. I remember my mother looking through this old wooden chest we had at home, she would open it once in a while to sort out her papers – the smell of that chest is unforgettable. It contained stacks of yellowed papers, my infant blanket, old photographs, buttons and pins – memories, sealed in by the green felt lining. One day, she had it open and she took out a white cotton sweater that had a small cut in it and a faded brown stain. When I asked what it was, she told me that my brother had been wearing it on the night he died. I asked around to find out more details about that night – like ‘who was involved?’ and ‘what weapon was used?’ Abuti Sthe was killed with an Okapi knife, nicknamed ‘the three star’ after the stainless steel inlay on the wooden handle. It’s an instrument that is iconic in South African township culture. On the streets, the knife is a criminal instrument, but during traditional ceremonies, such as weddings, funerals and mosebetsi ya badimo (a ritual offering to ancestral spirits), it becomes a symbol of ritual sacrifice. It is used when slaughtering animals. In response to all this, I decided to make a huge, scale replica of the Okapi out of mahogany and stainless steel. The object I made was heavy and awkward, but the blade was very sharp, so it could function as a real weapon.
RB: Black and white, colonial and native, image and reality, animal and human; these familiar dichotomies seem to be points of tension that repeatedly draw your attention. MM: I’m trying to explore my own sense of identity – as a black South African, as a black man in general, and also as a citizen of the world. There is a teaching in most South African communities, that you won’t know where you’re heading if you don’t know where you’ve been. So, as an artist, I feel I need to look into the past. But the history of South Africa appears to stop at 1994, you hit a wall if you try to look back earlier than that. People tend to think of South Africa as being two decades old, which is crazy of course. The collective social narrative in South Africa is defined by the era of political transformation that began after the fall of apartheid. In the process of reconstructing the national image, black South Africans were encouraged to move forward, to forgive and forget all the shit that went before. Perhaps this is where the artist should consciously not take
RB: The piecing together in your work as a whole, feels quite intuitive,
part in fictitious constructions of a superficial national identity that negate the struggles of the majority. I feel that South African artists, black artists in particular, should start pointing to other histories, to unconventional knowledge or even to the realm of spirituality and ancient culture. Through such means, the collective narrative can be informed by a plurality of identities – real and imagined, new and old – so that we can tell a more dynamic story: a story that confronts and disrupts. RB: How do other people respond to your work, your family in particular? MM: I don’t really speak to my mother about my work, but I do speak to her about things that preoccupy me when I’m thinking about work. I certainly wouldn’t just drop something like the sculpture of the knife in front of her — for she is not only a viewer, but the subject. There is a level of sensitivity that one has to employ with certain narratives. The viewer is always implicated in the narrative, though they may not be directly represented in the composition. This is why I work on the scale I do, because I want the scale of the work to reflect the viewer’s own physicality. I’m not always sure why some people have said that my photography can be seductive. It might come down to the fact that I am using my own body. RB: The chiaroscuro is seductive; it reminds me of Caravaggio. MM: I don’t know if a South African audience would jump to that association. New representations of the black body, in photography in particular, allow us to recalibrate our expectations though. We live within a visual history of recycled representations of a blackness — as in the photographs of white photographers working with black subjects, or the erasure and omission of the black body in Western traditions of painting. I am seeking the representation of a more assertive black subject, one that is unapologetically present in the frame.
South Africa doesn’t have a long history of black artists putting themselves in their work. In the past, both black and white artists were preoccupied with confronting the nightmare of apartheid. In the postapartheid moment, since the first and second Joburg Biennale, black artists have been focussing on self-representation, representing new and plural identities set against the artists’ own bodies. RB: Theodor Adorno said that art needs to make us unhappy, as it might then potentially show us how far we have fallen short. Does that resonate with you? MM: It might, particularly in relation to how people see the fictitious construct that is the new and shiny nation of South Africa. South Africa picks and chooses from conveniently constructed national identities that negate the legacy of past regimes. It emphasises diversity, non-racialism and multiculturalism for the sake of maintaining social cohesion in, what is actually, a society that is built primarily on inequality. I grew up with my family in Soweto and we are still there now, so I feel a need to take a careful look at these uncomfortable truths. RB: Why do you think that, in South African culture, masculinity is so closely connected to violence? MM: I think there is something inherent in African traditions, even from pre-colonial times, when a male child would eventually go on to become the head of the family. He would need to undergo a rite of passage to prepare him for the challenges of protecting his household, his homestead and the community at large. In Nguni tradition, this rite of passage might coincide with a process of being incorporated into a military regiment. In fact, you find this in parts of the Western world, where young men are conscripted into the military. So it is not uncommon for masculinity to correlate with militarised violence. Some of these ideas, though, are derived from the irrational fear of black men
in the West. In South Africa, apartheid took advantage of that fear by playing on the differences between African peoples. The apartheid colonial state manufactured and engineered ethnic conflict. When men were migrating to work in Johannesburg and other urban centres during apartheid, they were often categorised along ethnic lines. Someone from Mozambique, for instance, might have been stereotyped as being good at drilling rocks in the mining industry; whilst someone else, from another region, would be seen as working well in another section of the industrial system. Zulu men would be recruited into positions of authority, to police other black men; they were militarised for the convenience of white power. This manufactured ethnic conflict shows up in the lead-up to the country’s first free elections. When the black political resistance was at its height, in the ’80s and ’90s, the apartheid government made efforts to derail the inevitable transfer of political power. They aided the – predominantly Zulu – IFP (Inkatha), supplying it with military assistance. So, as for the recent political history of South Africa, race, ethnicity, masculinity and violence have always been entwined. RB: It is not always clear who the weapons, which you are often holding in your work, are directed at. MM: That’s true. The machete is primarily an agricultural tool, it connects the body to the land, but, in conflict, the machete also becomes an instrument of horrific violence. The use of the machete, in this way, is connected to other atrocities of colonialism too, such as those committed in the Belgian Congo. The same company that massproduces and exports machetes in South Africa also manufactures the Okapi knife. RB: Regimes come and go – they can change overnight almost – but people’s hearts take longer to change. What form does prejudice take now in South Africa? MM: It’s predominantly economic.
1st spread: Untitled (Frame XIX), Mohau Modisakeng, 2013, inkjet print on Epson UltraSmooth, 200cm x 150cm, copyright the artist, courtesy Tyburn Gallery 2nd spread: Ditaola VIII, Mohau Modisakeng, 2014, inkjet print on Epson UltraSmooth, 200cm x 150 cm, copyright the artist, courtesy Tyburn Gallery opposite: Ga Etsho 5, Mohau Modisakeng, 2015 inkjet print on Epson Ultrasmooth, 112.5cm x 150.2cm, copyright the artist, courtesy Tyburn Gallery 4th spread: Endabeni 9, Mohau Modisakeng, 2015, inkjet print on Epson Hot Press Natural, 200cm x 150cm, copyright the artist, courtesy Tyburn Gallery
There are a tiny minority who have everything, whereas the majority of South Africans today have little more than nothing. Apartheid was a capitalist system at its core, but race was the means and justification for the economic exploitation of that system. In the past, Blacks provided cheap labour in order to extract the country’s mineral wealth – today the wealth is still in the hands of the white minority. The rate at which inequality has been growing, since the first democratic elections, has been described as ‘alarming’. RB: Your mother is a Sangoma and you grew up with a close connection to the spiritual realm. How does this inform your practice now? MM: My mother trained as a spiritual healer in her teens; today she practices a mix of Ubungoma (being a Sangoma) and her Christian faith. She is both gifted and burdened by dreams and visions that come to her even when she is not asleep. When I was growing up she used to share her visions with me. RB: How does that work? So you’re sitting downstairs having breakfast and your mum comes into the room… MM: ...there’s no ‘downstairs’ where I grew up in Soweto, we all lived in the same room. Growing up in that very intimate space, in a room not too much bigger than this
[Modisakeng gestures with his hand to indicate the modest meeting room where we are sitting], you’re basically all living the same life; if somebody is sick, you’re all sick. Ubungoma, or being a Sangoma, is sometimes also described as a sickness. So, my mother would wake up in the morning and might say: “I dreamt about this, or about that person… I don’t know what it means.” She would relate the details of her dream with the people she had been shown. Sometimes she would describe her dreams as images, or fleeting projections, and sometimes as elaborate stories. She would not be well until the dream was reconciled and the message had reached the right ears. I think that’s what informs my approach to working with images and with light. RB: Do you have dreams yourself? MM: Yes, a few years ago, I started having intense dreams that were different from the ones I usually had. I take all these sorts of dreams to my mother, who helps me unpick them and advises on how to deal with them. RB: I’m interested in the difference between Western galleries, white cube spaces, and the way practice is embodied in Africa; it seems you don’t have an artificial separation between practice and the rest of life. It’s a weird thing, that we do in the West, when
you think about it, putting all our cultural expressions in a clinical white box. MM: I see myself dealing with a sacred knowledge that is not derived from academic curiosity or experiment, It is a creative process that calls on the past, a sort of conjuring. There is always an inherent distance or displacement when work enters the white cube. I can’t help but think about African material culture, which has been uprooted from its original context, to fill cabinets in museums across Europe and America: wooden masks, worn during spiritual ceremonies; figures that represent spirits and deities, all now sitting cold on museum floors. RB: Is an academic response to your work at all important then? MM: The academy is important for making certain knowledge concrete, but it also has an unhelpful attitude towards that which it doesn’t understand; it falls back on specifically Western forms of knowledge. When responding to work, in an African context, it’s often more about how you remember meaning, as opposed to needing to refer to a fixed, academic glossary of terms. The body itself is the medium for understanding and dialogue. The struggle for black artists coming into the system is that, when you make your work it is rich and complex, only for it to be reduced to fit into a linear system of academic understanding. Black writers are writing about work now from their own experience; this should lead to a vocabulary for discussing ideas that are not necessarily catered for within conventional Western narrative forms. RB: Can you talk to me about the transition from initial intuition to the construction of a physical work, the process of deciding what formal tools to take up, so to speak?
MM: This story illustrates the process as it sometimes unfolds: I had found this location in Cape Town called Endabeni, an industrial suburb with a history – a history that I was not aware of when I set out to make the work. I had picked the site for its formal qualities alone. It was also a formal decision to wear all white whilst I performed. What I was wearing, apart from that, was largely informed by previous work; but, for some reason, I also decided to wear a mask. Once the work was completed, I did some research into the location. In 1902, there was an outbreak of bubonic plague in Cape Town. The authorities decided they would establish an isolation camp and clinic in order to isolate plague victims to an area on the outskirts of the city. This move also became a convenient way to remove black migrant labourers from certain areas of Cape Town. There were no formal guidelines for how this place was supposed to function; it was a dumping ground. Endabeni became the prototype for future segregated townships in South Africa. I realised that the history of the place linked directly with the work I was making: the mask to protect from disease and the white clothes I had been wearing was like a medical uniform.
in my work a few months earlier; they were like mirror reflections of the work. I can’t help but make connections when things like this happen. RB: You have incorporated the rituals of mourning in your work. MM: When my father passed away, my mother had to wear black all day, every day, for a year, and she wasn’t allowed out at night. It was a very isolating experience for her. I found that interesting, because part of the process of living is coming to terms with death. The way you are treated as a widow is immediately isolating, but it plays itself out in the public context. I am interested in the way mourning is played out in the public social relations that people share. RB: So, in the West, we have the five stages of mourning: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. So long as you go through all them, you’re OK... MM: That’s a very individualistic way of dealing with the process. Even though in South Africa it might not seem fair how you’re treated, everyone takes part in the process; it’s communal; everyone knows you are going through it.
RB: Does this kind of thing happen often? MM: Yes. A few months after I had shot my Frame series, in the latter half of 2012, the Marikana massacres happened. Black miners went on strike, over a wage dispute at the Lonmin mine; it was losing millions every day, so the mine authorities got the government to intervene. The striking workers were encircled with barbed wire fences the next day, and shot by the police. The photojournalism showed images of men gathered on hilltops squatting down, assuming the same stances that I had made
RB: You assume the role of a female mourner in your work, crossing the gender divide; was that difficult for you to do? MM: No. In African spirituality, you don’t possess gender... just spirit—CCQ
Bophirima: Mohau Modisakeng, is at Tyburn Gallery until 17 September 2016 tyburngallery.com
30 September – 31 December 2016
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CCQ issue 10 cover: Untitled (Metamorphosis 7), Mohau Modisakeng, 2015, inkjet print on Epson Hot Press Natural, 120cm x 120 cm, copyright the artist, courtesy Tyburn Gallery
Read, subscribe or buy back issues of CCQ at ccqmagazine.com @CCQmag facebook.com/CCQmag Editors: Emma Geliot and Ric Bower Design, Editorial Assistance, Sales: Rhiannon Lowe Sub Editor: David Sinden Distribution Assistance: Richard Higlett, Joeleen Lynch Ambassadors: Victoria Houselander Cook, Beka Prentice Office dog: Nox
– Contributors– Donald Christie Donald has worked as a commercial photographer since the early 1990s, specialising in reportage initially and then moving into fashion and portraiture. He has worked with a number of voluntary and community groups, and has travelled to East Jerusalem to work with an ophthalmic hospital to develop their picture library. He continues to pursue his own professional practice, whilst he teaches at University of South Wales. Donald has photographed Mr and Mrs Clark for CCQ on p60.
Sharjah Biennial (2007), and the Guangzhou Triennial (2012). He curated the Iraqi Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2013. Jonathan has written extensively on contemporary art; he was the author of the Phaidon monograph on Japanese artist On Kawara. He introduces Kan Xuan on p86. Emma Daman Thomas Emma created a risograph print for PEAK/ COPA’s artist programme with Green Man Festival, as part of Noctule. Each CCQ issue 10 has one of these limited edition prints caught between p78 & 79.
Anny Shaw Anny Shaw is a freelance art writer and editor, and writes for the Telegraph, Guardian, Tatler and Frieze magazine, among others. In 2009 she became a correspondent for The Art Newspaper, and in September she takes on a new role as a commissioning editor. Anny previously worked as a text writer at Tate, as well as in various departments of the Whitechapel Gallery. In this issue she pitches a series of subjects for Kan Xuan to respond to on p87.
John Beynon John is a 55 year old photographer, living in wettest West Wales. He has studied at Carmarthen, Liverpool, Salisbury and Carmarthen again. He enjoys being a student. John is casually interested in photographing the mundane, discarded, accidental, overlooked and unconsidered artefacts of life. He claims to be part-time squeeze of the Editor. John photographed the aftermath of an iron pour for CCQ on p92.
Jonathan Watkins Jonathan Watkins has been Director of Ikon Gallery since 1999. Previously he was the Curator of the Serpentine Gallery (19951997) and Director of Chisenhale Gallery (1990-1995). He has curated a number of international exhibitions including Tate Triennial (2003), Shanghai Biennale (2006),
Paul Avis Paul Avis is a British photographer based in Cologne. He trained in documentary photography at the Newport School of Art. His interests lie in photographing the built environment, travel, portraiture and more recently still life. Paul photographed underwear for CCQ at Art Brussels, p44.
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School of Fine Art & Photography
Fine Art Sue Williams Tim Davies Craig Wood Catrin Webster Marilyn Allen Sarah Tombs
Photography Hamish Gane Paul Duerinckx Paul Jeff Ryan L. Moule Sian Addicott Eva Bartussek Holly Davey
Image: Benjaminâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s christening 1979, Hamish Gane
—Inside— p2 I can’t help but make connections... South African artist, Mohau Modisakeng, talks about trauma, spirituality and personal narrative
p66 Short Messages from Life Marko Mäetamm talks about a very personal practice and using family as subject matter
p16 The Barbarians are Here EVA International’s 37th edition, curated by Koyo Kouoh, uncovers some uncomfortable truths about colonialism
p74 Very Metal Stefhan Caddick exploits archive footage to create new material. He shared work in progress at a multi-faceted, multi art form celebration of steel for Ebbwferric
p24 The Present in its Proper Context Steph Goodger and Julian Rowe are artists who work together, remotely. They discuss re-staging history in a new context and a mature shared practice
p80 Noctule An audio-visual project, involving tiny bats and one of the largest cave systems in Europe as part of Green Man Festival
p36 Urban Field Notes Simon Callery’s residency at DOLPH Projects saw him take to the streets of Streatham
p82 Landscape, Portrait Rebecca Chesney translates the Brecon Beacons National Park into a colour chart with meaning
p46 A Visionary Iranian-German Underpants Trade Relationship Anahita Razmi’s subversive idea to take underwear to the art market is realised at Art Brussels
p88 Grasshoppers and Rice Milk Artist Kan Xuan reflects on life in China and the contemporary art market
p50 Scanners and Ghosts Christian Andersson’s dialogues on the Theory of Relativity, Rorschach inkblots, living fossils and Mies van der Rohe
p94 Castaways Photographer John Beynon has made still life compositions from the residue of iron pours
p62 Smashing it Up Performance duo Mr and Mrs Clark talk about destruction and the changing city
p96 Out of Season Mark Haven photographs a vanishing world of neon lights and faded glory
The Barbarians are Here EVA International in Limerick, curated by Koyo Kouoh, took the centenary of the Irish Easter Rising as a starting point for an examination of a post-colonial condition. Emma Geliot makes a journey through some difficult, thought-provoking terrain. The city of Limerick, in the West of Ireland, has all the hallmarks of the Celtic Tiger economic boom â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a glossy shopping district, filled with the usual global chains, smart hotels and a regenerated river front, beside the River Shannon, snaking through the town, under fine ancient bridges. It has its historic
pedigree, including a castle and the buildings erected during the long period of the British dominance. But walk for just five minutes from the city centre and more modern deprivation and decline are immediately evident, with the symptoms of recession â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the bargain and charity shops â&#x20AC;&#x201C; creeping in to replace failed
swankier boutiques. Every other window has a sticker for Limerick 2020 in it, supporting the bid for European Capital of Culture, freighted with all the attendant regenerative hopes that a successful bid might bring. EVA International, originally E+VA (Exhibition plus Visual Art), has been running
as a biennial celebration of contemporary art for nearly four decades. It was instigated by artists and academics and has an impressive roster of internationally acclaimed artist and curators to its credit, and this year’s crop is no exception. I asked EVA International director and CEO, Woodrow Kernohan, why biennials are important to places, often perceived as being outside the usual centres for contemporary art activity, or away from market place? “Biennials and periodic exhibitions create very particular opportunities for artists and curators to experiment, challenge and develop new work. These opportunities are greatest where artists and curators are freest, and the usual centres are no longer where artists and curators are most free. “EVA International was originally founded in 1977 – the same year as Skulptur Projekte Münster – to bring contemporary artistic practices to audiences in the west of Ireland. Alongside this exposure to contemporary and international art, artists and curators from all over the world are invited to come to Limerick to make new work, engaging
with the city, and building bridges to other personal, social, political and environmental contexts. “Outside of the centre, or on the periphery, is often becoming the frontier, where the most experimentation and innovation can take place. EVA International is on the north-western edge of Europe, away from the centre, away from the market, and artists and curators are free to experiment outside of their normal constraints. “As with biennials and periodic exhibitions, this is also becoming the case with institutions, where many of the most interesting, experimental and innovative programmes are taking place outside of the centre. In the UK you only have to think of the Liverpool Biennial, Glasgow International, Folkestone Triennial, and spaces like Mostyn, Nottingham Contemporary, and Eastside Projects. “As well as being important for bringing audiences to locations – like the biennials in Liverpool, Sharjah, Marrakech, or Documenta in Kassel, Sculptur Projekte in Münster, Rencontres in
1st spread: Thousands Are Sailing, Mary Evans, Courtesy the Artist, Tiwani Contemporary and EVA International, photo: Miriam Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor above: The Conquest of the Happy Islands A Colonial Opera, Ulrike Ottinger, courtesy the artist following spread, left: Fabrications, Jeremy Hutchison, 2013 to 2016, Lithographic print, 27 x 21 cm, courtesy the artist and Delfina Foundation following spread, right: The Cloud, Alfredo Jaar, courtesy the artist and EVA International, photo: Deirdre Power following spread, bottom left: Finding Fanon 1, Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, courtesy the artists, Photo: Claire Barrett
Arles – these projects also define places to audiences. Biennials and periodic exhibitions are often cited in terms of regeneration and economic impact, however the social and psychological legacy within communities and local populations is far more important. Through a biennial you are able to explore the possibility of how to engage with public space, how to use institutions, what shape education can take, what protest can be, take ownership of the city etc.” The invitation to Cameroon-born and Senegal-based curator, Koyo Kouoh, to examine the idea of post-colonialism, for the 37th edition of EVA International, developed a fascinating, multi-faceted offering. Thoughtful, with endless subtle but powerful connections between works, her exhibition covered numerous sites and contexts. From St John’s Castle to Cleeves, a former condensed milk factory, to the near derelict former Sailor’s Home, to the beautiful City Gallery and the Museum and many other temporary venues and interventions besides, Still [The] Barbarians doesn’t flinch in its examination of the consequences of colonisation, exploitation, subjugation, discrimination and oppression. But, while some works mine archival material, many more are oblique distillations of this idea. It never feels as if didacticism eclipses aesthetic and artistic ambition. Kouoh has become a champion for contemporary art practice and the dialogues around it, in Senegal. She is the founding artistic director of RAW Material Company, a centre for art, knowledge and society in Dakar and, through her curatorial practice, strives to subvert the received narratives around African culture, as told by the once-colonising European powers. Ireland, to a certain extent, mirrors those African narratives. As Kouoh says, “Ireland, which I consider the first and foremost laboratory of the British colonial enterprise, has always been a fixture in my thinking on the psychological and political effects a system designed to humiliate and alienate can have on peoples’ souls.” Contemporary Ireland has evolved from a moment of revolution, a throwing off of colonial oppression, but, as with other postcolonial nations, its future is inevitably bound up with its past. The ambition of Still (the) Barbarians is articulated by EVA International as, “to draw a concentric artistic and political cartography, mapping the conflations and confines of the global post-colonial typology with Ireland as its central starting point”, as it coincided with the centenary of the Easter Rising, in 1916. For UK visitors, seeing an early British colonial project within a wider framework of subjugation and racism is a real
education, particularly as the EU Referendum began to throw up some ugly national characteristics and rhetoric back home. Kouoh’s skill as curator is to offer multiple perspectives and points of view, bringing together disparate narrative versions of world history. It would take a very dull mind not to grasp the connection between the enforced adoption of a European language in a colonised African country and the suppression of Irish Gaelic. As a visitor from Wales, this issue is still raw for a nation whose culture is so bound to a language, which only a small percentage of the population speak as their mother tongue. These complex perspectives are illustrated by the works of, amongst many others, Larry Achaiampong and David Blandy (in Finding Fanon 1 & Finding Fanon 2), Kader Attia’s Reason’s Oxymorons (2015), Journal Rappé and Naheem Mohaiemen’s Abu Ammar is Coming, (2015). Notions of exploitation and commodification in relation to historical narrative are also explored in many of the works, including: A History of Stone, Origin and Myth (2016), by Tom Flanagan and Megs Morley; Godfried Donkor’s Rebel Madonna Lace Collection (2016) and Jeremy Hutchison’s Fabrications (2013-16), where indigo plays a central role in a fictional history of Palestine. Other works are more ambiguous and could be read differently in another context but here, for example, Alfredo Jaar’s The Cloud (2015), becomes more than a symbol of temporality – it hovers darkly, threatening a hard rain to come – while Criodhna Costello’s Murmuration (2014), can’t help but invoke the current refugee crisis and anxiety around economic migration. Mary Evans’ The Bronze Collection (2014) humanises what is often seen as a homogenous mass of humanity, fleeing persecution, in a series of featureless but characterful cutouts. The work shares a room in the City Gallery with Hera Büyüktașciyan’s Destroy your house, build up a boat, save life (2015), in one of many beautiful curatorial connections. While there was work that was painfully moving, including the stories of individuals affected by the Northern Ireland Troubles, in Jonathan Cummins’ When I Leave These Landings (2004-09), Go Home (2010-13) and Out the Road (2012-16), there are also works with a lighter touch, with no less a strong message. Ulrike Ottinger’s die Eroberung der Glückseligen Insel, Fuerteventura (1983), is one such – an elaborately staged opera, wonderfully illustrating the misguided intentions of those colonists, who saw
themselves as benign educators rather than subjugators. There was much more to absorb. A riot of information to take in on a two-day visit and I got ready to leave, convinced that somehow this work should be enshrined in school curricula everywhere. What, I wondered, did EVA International mean to the city of Limerick? Kernohan considers this, as he sets his sights on the 38th edition. “EVA International is part of the cultural fabric of Limerick, contributing to how the city understands itself and imagines its future. Through the Biennial exhibitions, EVA can be an opportunity to explore the city’s histories – like the divisions of Irish Town / English Town, Limerick Lace, or the 1919 Limerick Soviet – or
uncover sites of architectural interest – like the Cleeve’s Condensed Milk Factory, first used as an EVA venue in 2014, that was subsequently purchased by the city and was an EVA venue again in 2016. “Limerick is a city with some economic and social difficulties, but it is also a city with passionate, engaged communities and incredible opportunities. Artists and curators are embraced by the city and its people, so that extraordinary things take place in all corners; from installations by high profile international artists in local pubs, huge architectural installations in public spaces, discreet interventions in city museums, to life-changing workshop series where artists engage with young participants. EVA
International is pleased to be part of the process of place-making in Limerick – not in terms of transformation, but in terms of reflection, consolidation and deepening relationships with location, communities and histories.” As I left Ireland, to race home and fill in my ballot for the EU Referendum, with the words “please vote to stay”, ringing in my ears, I was more conscious than ever of the interconnectedness of national (his)stories, and of the challenges, for nations evolving away from their colonial pasts – to fix a narrative that has meaning, while healing the scars of collective suffering and cultural dispossession. The EU Leave campaign had been employing a lot of disturbing rhetoric around British
supremacy, while denying Britain’s role in undermining those very notions in its former colonies. In dismissing its debt of gratitude to the cultural impact of so many incoming settlers (invaders and migrants), there was no recognition of the contribution or influence of those incomers. So, I leave you with some lines from Constantine P. Cafavy’s poem, Waiting for the Barbarians, from which this year’s project draws its title: Now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? They, were, those people, a kind of solution.
Claire Prosser: 17.8.16 – 3.9.16 Rhiannon Lowe: 7.9.16 – 24.9.16 Cinzia Mutigli: 28.9.16 – 15.10.16 Dan Griffiths: 17.10.16 – 22.10.16 Genetic Moo: 24.10.16 – 29.10.16 Richard Bowers & Ric Bower: 31.10.16 – 5.11.16 BEEP ‘This must be the place I never wanted to leave’: 16.11.16 – 23.12.16 For further details on projects_Am fwy o fanylion am brosiectau: arcadecardiff.co.uk facebook: Arcadecardiff @Arcadecardiff Dydd Mercher - Dydd Sadwrn_Wednesday - Saturday: 12.30-17.30 Arcadecardiff, Queens Arcade, Queen Street, Cardiff, CF10 2BY
– The Editors– Thumping my Tub
Validating the Validators
We’re in a mess. Some of this chaos can be attributed to education, or the lack of it. Information is muddled, messages are mixed, fudged or glossed to cause further confusion, and the ugly rhetoric, more usually heard shouted by the evangelical maniacs, brandishing homemade placards on their High Street soap boxes, is seeping into the mainstream British media and out of the mouths of babes. Life is complicated and sometimes an oblique approach to the knottier issues makes them easier to digest or process. At EVA International, in Limerick, curator Koyo Kouoh managed to pull off a multi-artist, multi-issue, multi-site exhibition with such intelligent connections and expositions of incredibly complex problems, which no visitor could leave without having their worldview juddered into a sharper focus. If our political and education systems can’t disseminate a sense of global citizenship and responsibility, then hand it over to the artists, I say. This issue, our tenth, (yes, here we still are and nuts to austerity) brings you ideas about land, landscape, mental geography, the changing city, personal and global narratives and, um, underpants as a means to challenge the commercial art world. It ranges from China to Newport, to Malmö, to Ebbw Vale, to Streatham, to Cape Town, to Talinn, to Swansea, to New Jersey, to Tehran, to Limerick and ends in the Black Mountains, where we give a bit of well-deserved attention to the new PEAK/ COPA initiative, with three features and a free print. As expensively-educated, but apparently short-sighted UK politicians try to devalue the arts in education, I am amazed that no one has made the connection between the downgrading of the plastic and expressive arts and the disconnect between life and fairly significant political decisions (*cough, Brexit, cough*). Because, if not for their own sake, and for making well-rounded, thoughtful human beings, an arts education creates questioning children, who grow up to ask questions, look for solutions, walk around an issue or problem until they’ve had a 360 degree survey of it, before casting a single vote. But maybe that’s the point. As a magazine editor and conscientious fact-checker, I’ve absorbed enough information from this issue alone to make me a pub quiz winner for the rest of my life (I can’t wait for Theresa May to get her hands on my browsing history). Oh, and today’s word is coprolite – a fossilised turd. That one didn’t make the cut, so I’m sharing here. Obviously, the education system hasn’t failed everyone, for here you are, our intelligent and highly appreciated reader (well, I hope that there’s more than one of you), preparing to dive in to our beautiful pages, subtly imbued with the scent of sweat and tears. Thank you, from all of us at CCQ.
In her response to prompts from writer Anny Shaw, the Chinese artist, Kan Xuan, says of her work: “...if they don’t sell …I don’t really care...” She clearly doesn’t seek her validation as an artist from sales figures. Mohau Modisakeng (also in this issue), describes the negative effect that academic language can have when it is inappropriately yoked to the complex artistic practices of young African artists, saying that academia has “an unhelpful attitude towards that which it doesn’t understand”. I have been struck by the readiness that many of the practitioners, we come across, have to question the structures and hierarchies on which their practices are supposedly dependent. My own stance, as a writer, (with the preceding thoughts very much in mind), has been to seek an anti-Cartesian approach. That is, not to treat art practice as an object for us, the knowing subjects, to act upon; instead, I believe we find ourselves ‘thrown’ into the ‘worldhood-of-the-world’ of art. And the vehicles of validation we are seeking, in whatever form they might take, must therefore come from ‘being-in’ that world. I spent an evening with the artist Christian Andersson in a bar, in downtown Malmö; I asked him what an article might look like, if it were to manifest his practice, rather than representing it. The following morning, we continued talking in his studio – an air raid bunker in the bowels of a concrete, pre-war, industrial complex. Andersson offered objects from drawers, drawings from plan chests and books from shelves, to feed a transaction that was, in some ways, becoming an end in itself. What this mode of interaction is exactly, whether it can be regarded as a different approach to arts journalism, or a form of collaborative practice in its own right, seems neither here nor there. The only certainty we can perhaps have, is that we need to recalibrate our approaches to assessing art practice; and that we should call into question the processes by which the current validators of art practice, (be they the art market, academia or the art media), themselves achieve validation. Ric Bower
Entrance to Christian Andersson’s studio bunker, Fagot Koroviev for CCQ, Malmö 2016
The Present in its Proper Context Artists Steph Goodger and Julian Rowe have been collaborating for over ten years. They tell Rhiannon Lowe about the intensive research that lies behind their painting and assemblage installations, and the potential and strengths of working together whilst miles apart. Rhiannon Lowe: When did your collaboration begin? Julian Rowe: We first met when Steph was looking for a studio space. She had been making work in response to Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa and asked me to make her a model of the raft. I made 15 little rafts with a variety of miniature tableaux on them, but never delivered the piece asked for! After that we put on some shows together in France, and then embarked on more closely collaborative projects. Steph Goodger: I went to the opening of an exhibition of Julian’s and was confronted with a monumental piece of sculpture: vast forms, like old industrial mechanisms, in a massive display case, lit to cast shadows across the gallery space. It reminded me of a painting I’d made; so I emailed it to him afterwards and from there the dialogue began. We did three exhibitions over a year in a donated space in France, at St Emilion, which was a really
hands on, intense way of discovering how we wanted to work together. We had free rein to do whatever we wanted in there. It was a great experience. RL: Did you try to establish a structure for the joint practice and working relationship? SG: In the early days we tried to force a joint theme into existence, but that never worked. Simply through sharing things, which we find of interest and talking about them, ideas form and build. JR: I’ve worked collaboratively with other artists, and each working relationship operates differently. Steph and I work best as individuals, but drawing on common themes. The modus operandi is something that develops by trial and error. RL: How has the relationship changed over the years? Has the focus of your collaboration shifted?
JR: Steph’s influenced my work quite a bit. I was something of a formalist when we met, but she made me bolder about tackling actual subject matter. Our projects are, in a broad sense, attempts to address the genre of history painting and, although we work individually and several hundred miles apart, we share a lot of research. Much of this is conversational and has no tangible form, and only a small proportion of this effort ever finds its way into the eventual work. SG: I think that, over the years, our way of developing projects has become more honed and at the same time more relaxed. There’s a growing maturity to the collaboration, in seeing what has mileage and what doesn’t. RL: What’s the drive behind your collaborative project at Elysium [Gallery, in Swansea}? SG: The starting point was a particular photograph, taken by Eugène Disdéri, of twelve dead men in their coffins, each
opposite page: Les Non-réclamés (The Unclaimed), (diptych), Steph Goodger, 2015, oil paint on canvas, 120 x 360cm (John Moores Painting Prize 2016). Courtesy the artist this page: The Album, Steph Goodger, 2016, oil on canvas, 4 of 6 panels each 50 x 26cm. Courtesy the artist
having a white placard with a handwritten number on it laid on his chest. They had obviously met violent deaths in some conflict. Standing vertically in their coffins, which are propped upright, they did not, however, resemble soldiers. The photograph, I found out from the title, was apparently of insurgents, taken during the Paris Commune. This was a shortlived uprising against the French government, lasting only two months, following the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War. The war had laid the groundwork for civil unrest in Paris, after France’s resounding defeat. The photographs taken at the time are very early examples of photojournalism and morgue photography. They’re fascinatingly problematic – nothing is as it appears. There is evidence of extensive posing and staging; many images were manipulated; information such as identities, times and places were changed or falsified. The history, image and mythology of the Commune have been partly set through these photographs.
JR: The photograph by Disdéri is memorable because it’s so horrific, but also because it is so very odd. The coffins are lined up in tiers. Some of the corpses inside them display terrible injuries. The men are dressed strangely and fit awkwardly into their poorlymade, wooden boxes...
SG: The Commune’s influence greatly exceeded its concrete achievements. For Marxists it became a precursor to events in Russia and a crucial moment in the progress of world revolution. Its brutal suppression only added to the Commune’s aura of tragic heroism.
SG: ...and it’s full of contradictions. It has been composed so carefully and yet there is no continuity; and there appears to be a lot of last minute improvisation: shirts draped over torsos and around head wounds, a lone wreath over a missing lower torso... It’s this oddness combined with the shockingly violent nature of the image, which first attracted me.
RL: What information appeared with the photo?
JR: The events of 1870-71 were also very important in the greater scheme of things. They were a key moment in the history of Europe, arguably leading to two world wars and the Russian Revolution, yet I’m sure a lot of people know nothing about them.
SG: It was widely published, usually captioned with a title along the lines of: Dead Communards Killed during Bloody Week, or Communards shot by firing squad by the Versailles Army. Many of the dead Communards were shot on sight, or executed by firing squad in the days following the end of the Commune. It’s easy not to question a title. I didn’t at first. The photograph includes such horrendous detail, yet the subjects are anonymous, and there is no clear indication of its origin. As it turns out, it probably isn’t an image of dead Communards at all, but of the volunteer National Guard who
previous spread: Barricade Parade (triptych), Steph Goodger, 2016, oil paint on canvas, 220 x 420cm. Courtesy the artist
left: Unter den Linden 201 Preparatory photomontages for Temps des Cérises boiteen-valise, Julian Rowe, 2015, digital image. © Julian Rowe (original image of Unter den Linden ©the Berlin Photographic Co.)
fell during the Battle of Buzenval – the last attempt to break out from Paris, when it was besieged by the Prussians earlier in 1870. JR: It might originally have been taken for a practical purpose, such as identifying the dead, or it may have been taken with some political end in mind. The intention would change the meaning, though in this case the intention is unknown. SG: Interestingly the photo was also used as propaganda seventy years later, in 1943, with the claim it represented victims of the Spanish Civil War! The title was: The cadavers of Spanish Nationalists executed by the reds during the Civil War (1936-37). RL: Steph, you’ve made immense paintings from Disdéri’s Commune photograph and other photos of the time. SG: Yes, a diptych painting is currently at the John Moores Painting Prize. There will be a smaller version at Elysium. I used the Disdéri image and another very similar one, anonymous, though presumably by Disdéri, as a compositional jumping-off point for the paintings. They attempt to depict how I feel about the photographs’ contradictions: the detail, yet the emptiness of meaning; the blatant horror but, most of all, the poignancy of the unclaimed dead. I have also made a parallel series of work based on the Paris Commune’s makeshift barricades, using images by another photographer at the time, Bernard Braquehais. I’ve made a paper peepshow, and spin off works from it.
this page: Photographic view through the ‘peep-hole’ into The Peepshow. Steph Goodger, 2016. (The Peepshow: a photograph taken during the Paris Commune of 1871, transformed into a 3-dimensional paper peepshow theatre, through digital collage methods. Overall size 15 x 29 x 50cm) Courtesy the artist. Original photograph used: Barricade rue des Amandiers, 1871, Bibliothèque historique de la Ville de Paris, author unknown but probably Bruno Braquehais.)
RL: Why a peepshow specifically? SG: Peepshows were optical toys, small paper theatres, very popular in the nineteenth century. They offered a form of staging, or restaging, of events and narratives – just as a painting can offer another form of staging. The process of making a peepshow was a strange mix of forensic reconstruction and theatrical re-enactment. Using a photograph by Braquehais of Communards posing on a barricade, I manipulated it digitally, restructuring it into four, separate, photocollage layers. These were then printed, cut out and presented in the paper theatre format. Viewed through a small peephole in the front, the peepshow restores three-dimensionality to the flat surface of the photograph. I am really interested in the potential of this new medium in my practice, not just as a means to an end for making paintings. With Braquehais’ image, I’d made an artificial return to the moment of his taking of the photograph: a fake moment in an isolated and artificial world. As it turned out, though, the peepshow did provide the solution for a large triptych painting I had been struggling with, based on the same Braquehais photograph. The painting had attempted far too real a representation of Braquehais’ panoramic composition. It needed to be more confined, more model-like, with the sense of a bleak, pale, artificial light illuminating it from behind. RL: Am I right in that you’re both originally painters? Is that important and something which the research naturally returns to?
JR: Steph is very much a painter; it’s her natural medium. I’m more oriented to working in three dimensions, but I’ll use whatever medium seems appropriate. I think we’d both hold the view that painting is a kind of creative paradigm that informs all other practices. I suppose most people get into art in the first place because they like to draw, even if half a decade of art education turns them into conceptualists. At the same time, painting brings a lot of baggage with it – it’s usually hand-made, it generally provides unique objects and so on. It’s a slightly archaic process, which every now and then has to justify itself, but always bounces back. RL: Julian, can you tell me about your work for the show? JR: I’ve been working on the stories of two royal palaces that sit at either end of the cycle of history, which began in Paris in 1870 and ended in Berlin in 1945. The Tuileries Palace in Paris stood at the head of the Champs Elysées and was burnt by the Communards; the Stadtschloss, at the end of Unter den Linden, in Berlin was badly damaged by incendiary bombs in 1945. Both were subsequently demolished for their political symbolism; both have been the subject of campaigns to reconstruct them. I am interested in the identity of great buildings, what it means when they are destroyed. The systematic preservation of valued buildings and artefacts because of their historical and aesthetic significance is quite a modern obsession in the West. To us now, they embody meaning and represent
continuity and are, in that sense, at the heart of our culture. It’s shocking to us when an ideology like ISIS, for example, deliberately destroys things we place so much value on. Our culture’s desire to preserve sits alongside a morbid sense of loss. Once, the loss of a great building or artefact would be simply regretted, but now it must be healed, reconstructed. Already there is discussion about rebuilding the ISIS-destroyed triumphal arch at Palmyra using 3D technology. My contribution to the Elysium show is an installation in two parts, each consisting of a large wall-mounted triptych, hanging above a table supporting two boÎtes-envalises. The pair of triptychs, which resemble museum displays, refer respectively to the Tuileries and the Stadtschloss. The boÎtes work like footnotes, elaborating upon themes and images from the triptychs. A couple of them make deliberate reference to Steph’s peepshows and her smaller portraits of Communards. I’ve mainly made use of photographs, especially of the palaces, manipulating the repetitive fragments of the baroque facades into buildings of potentially endless extent. RL: What is it that draws you to specific moments in history and how does it translate into your work? JR: My notion of history is quite wide. I am drawn to subjects that contain ambiguities and obscurities, usually starting from a single image, a sentence, or a line of poetry. My work is best described as assemblage presented in the style of scruffy museum cabinets – there is an
right Le Temps des Cérises: Tuileries, Julian Rowe, 2015, photomontage, acrylic on board, wire, artificial cherry blossom, glass, wood, Perspex, 120 x 180 x 12cm. ©Julian Rowe left Le Temps des Cérises: Stadtschloss, Julian Rowe, 2015, photomontage, acrylic on board, wire, artificial cherries, glass, wood, Perspex, 120 x 180 x 12cm, ©Julian Rowe
ambivalence in my artworks pretending to be non-art. Their content is cryptic; symbols and objects extracted from the subject matter in a magpie-like way, that might give the impression of adding up to a narrative without actually doing so. I often enter into a subject quite innocently, only to discover the illusions and coincidences as I research it. In the case of the Commune, the event was so politically contentious, the competing narratives so compromised, that the documentary certainties of photography and even buildings are undermined. That’s how I came to make some little visionary paintings in the style of Étienne-Louis Boullée, the great French architect of the impossible. He and Albert Speer both play a part in my assemblages as architectural fantasists associated with Paris and Berlin. RL: Is the intent to highlight the questioning of history? JR: More to wallow in its ambiguities, to share the fascination of uncertainty; I prefer to regard history as the deep present, the present in its proper context. SG: I love that! “The present in its proper context”. I try to use history as a source for ideas and images, creating a platform from
which to make work. My interest in staging and restaging is central. A painting for me is a form of staging, so what other forms are out there? That’s how the peepshow attracted me. RL: The paintings and assemblages are bound up tightly within the intense research you do. You have mentioned that you need text for people to get an ‘in’ to your work when it’s on show. Can the one exist without the other? JR: Research and creating work kind of resemble each other, to the extent that they are both journeys, and I suppose the work is a trace of the research journey. There’s a journey for the audience too, especially for the ones who want to find out more; and over-explaining can risk depriving them of that journey. SG: I don’t think the work needs explaining. Supporting texts accompany the work in different ways, and research is a vital process in the making of work. I’d say that it enables us both to engage imaginatively, emotionally and intellectually with a subject. Out of the ever expanding research, ideas come, are sorted, accepted or rejected, and then distilled down, in order to get to the heart of what is pertinent.
I wanted to know the provenance of the Communard photograph, so I could put the image in its rightful context, to better extrapolate its significance. All this influences how I paint. The research often goes way beyond what is necessary for making the work, and yet it all goes in, in small ways. We’ve both got a desire to share our findings. We get so immersed in a subject. I can research a subject for up to a year before I’m ready to make any work about it. Yet, our results are so very different. RL: You both produce work individually – do you work on the same actual pieces? And, can you tell me about producing and showing work as individuals rather than as a collaboration? JR: Steph did once invite me to alter one of her paintings, when I pointed out a weak passage – but I chickened out. We’ve never attempted to work on the same piece since then. SG: We think very similarly in many ways, sharing certain key values and interests, yet our productions are entirely different, separate and independent. Can I quote Julian from an earlier email to you: “For all the specificity of our ostensible subject matter, it’s really a jumping-off point and I
think we’re aiming for something a bit more universal about the human condition, about the poignancy of people being crushed by the weight of events...” This is exactly how I feel too about the work we both make, and I couldn’t have put it any better. JR: Even when not collaborating we do keep each other up to speed on what we are doing and offer mutual critiques; so, in a way, we are always present in each other’s work. It keeps us on our toes. There is also the matter of moral support when the going gets difficult. SG: There are certain opportunities more suited to Julian’s work or to mine, which we take up individually. I tend to go for group painting exhibitions, such as the John Moores. Julian has other collaborators, with whom he has done many funded, site-specific projects, both public and private.
SG: That first intensive year of exhibitions in France was like a crash course in working together. We are meticulous about planning. After ten years, there is a natural way that our work seems to inhabit a space together. JR: We can’t physically work together as we live so far apart, and, while our work is very different, there’s also a kind of shared sensibility as well. Somehow, that’s a strength and I think our work sits well together in an exhibition context. The actual process of working together is largely a matter of shared research and long telephone conversations, and of course we send each other images of things we are working on. We know each other’s work very well, and both our practices are project-based – I don’t think that either of us could work jointly if we weren’t both heavily committed to a project. We tend to go at an idea like a dog with a bone—CCQ
RL: How does it work when hanging a show, are you aware of what work the other is doing to the point of reaching a consensus on what to show, how, and where?
Steph Goodger and Julian Rowe’s exhibition Cherry Time will be at Elysium Gallery, Swansea from 09 September to 08 October 2016
JR: We’ve known each other a long time and cooperate pretty well. We always plan ridiculously far in advance.
elysiumgallery.com stephgoodger.com julianrowe.co.uk
above, left to right: Boullée’s Platonic Solids: I: Tetrahedron, Julian Rowe, 2015, acrylic on calico on panel, 19.5 x 23cm ©Julian Rowe IV: Icosahedron, Julian Rowe, 2015, acrylic on calico on panel, 19.5 x 23cm, ©Julian Rowe V: Dodecahedron, Julian Rowe, 2015, acrylic on calico on panel, 19.5 x 23cm, ©Julian Rowe II: Cube, Julian Rowe, 2015, acrylic on calico on panel, 19.5 x 23cm, ©Julian Rowe
STICKY INTIMACY SYMPOSIUM: 17.09.16
Chapter www.chapter.org 34
Urban Field Recordings Painter Simon Callery’s works emphasise the physicality of paintings, informed by collaborations with archaeologists. Earlier this summer, he was artist in residence at DOLPH projects in Streatham. Emma Geliot went to see his new, site-responsive work and talked to DOLPH co-founders, Tash Kahn and Paul Cole, about their innovative residency programme. I first met Simon Callery some thirty years ago, at Cardiff School of Art & Design, a few years before he was spotted and included in the seminal Sensation show. Our paths diverged, and it was an unusual confluence of events which brought us back to together again. Firstly, I had an invitation to his solo exhibition at Fold Gallery last autumn, where he was showing Flat Paintings. Then, out of the blue, I had a phone call from artist Stefan Gant to tell me that he had been collaborating with Callery and a team of archaeologists at Moel y Gear in Denbighshire. Finally, as if the universe wasn’t sending me enough signals, I met Tash Kahn and Paul Cole from DOLPH Projects, who told me Callery was going to be artist in residence in May. Too many signs and signals to ignore, so I went to Streatham in South London... Callery’s temporary studio space was filled with canvases, torn, coloured, or waiting to be fixed in the hastily rigged up washing machine which whirred as we talked about the work and the residency project. The large swathes of cloth, dyed in earth colours, made the space feel more like a tannery than a studio. Several phases of making were evident, although the first, the direct working of canvas on the local streetscape, had already been completed to the bemusement of local residents. Before launching in to questions about Callery’s paintings, I wanted to know more about DOLPH. Paul Cole explained that he and Tash Kahn had met when they were both working out of the same studios in Streatham Hill. “We’d been meeting up at private views with mutual friends and chatting afterwards in pubs about the shows we had seen and such, which led to ideas about how we might put on exhibitions.” Kahn picks up the thread, “We were wondering if we could do something in the project space at our studios, but we didn’t just want to put on a series of themed exhibitions with wordy titles. We wanted to do something different. We’ve always been interested in how and why artists do what they do, and the idea for DOLPH was born out of this curiosity. We want to find out what makes artists tick.” They found a laboratory to put their ideas into practice in Streatham, which, until they set up DOLPH, had no contemporary art provision. “We have a project space in the front of our block and we began to wonder if we could use it in a more interesting way”, Cole tells me. “The space was essentially another studio within a block of 40 in an old warehouse. It’s hardly a white cube gallery: it’s a functional space. These ‘limitations’ almost dictated what DOLPH was to become. There are
plenty of spaces in London better suited to host formal exhibitions, and in better locations. We were clear from the beginning that would not be our remit. We wanted to do something that would engage both the studio artists and local community alike, and would be an intriguing challenge that would entice artists.” Their ethos clearly appealed to Simon Callery: “DOLPH are ambitious to reveal the complete process of art making and not just focus on the end results. As an artist-run project they care about why artworks take the form they do, and as an artist I do too.” Kahn describes the DOLPH residency programme: “We came up with the idea of setting artists a brief that drew all this together. We’ve always said that they can do anything in the space as long as it answers the brief and I think that that gives them a certain freedom that they don’t get in the traditional gallery environment.” Cole expands on this, “As artists ourselves, we’re interested in how and why others go about their craft. Where do their ideas come from and what processes the ideas are put through before they come out the other end as finished things? It seemed logical that this same question could be asked of everybody and so we decided to write one brief for all. Their task is to tell the story of what drives them; to share their inspirations and influences, and present them in an intriguing, cohesive exhibition. How the artist does this is up to them. They set their own terms. They are their own curators.” “Exposing all the elements embodied in a work make for a more intimate and direct experience,” Callery believes. “DOLPH’s call for clarity in the process connected with my need to make work that revealed all evidence of its making as an ambition of the work. There are no clearer signs of what shapes an artwork than the revealing of all the marks made by the artist, the assistants, and all the intentional or unintentional signs of contact with the physical location during the making process.” But how did Callery begin to think his way into the residency? “I set out to design a way of working in the streets around the DOLPH studio that would record everything that happened to the material during the making of the painting. Whereas a traditional oil painting arrives at a perfect and impenetrable final surface, I aim to fend that moment off and retain a sense of flux or change. This is closer to my sense of reality and I think it is true about landscape itself, urban or rural, as well as our relationship to it.” “For Simon, it was logical to use the space as his studio for the month because he was going to use the local area of Streatham as his subject”, Cole
previous spread: Wallspine (Leaf), Simon Callery, 2015, canvas, distemper, thread, aluminium, and steel brackets, 206 x 236 x 84cm. Courtesy the artist and FOLD Gallery, London. Photo: Noah da Costa opposite: (left) Stepped Wallspine Dark Top (Streatham), Simon Callery, 2016, Canvas, distemper, cord, thread, and wood, 255 x 60 x 75 cm; (right) Streatham Wallspine Blue/Brown, Simon Callery, 2016, pigment, distemper, canvas, thread and steel brackets, 90 x 60 x 23cm. Courtesy the artist and DOLPH, London following spread: Pigment stained canvas drying during Simon Callery’s DOLPH residency 2016. Courtesy the artist and DOLPH, London.
explains. “Simon was here six days a week, for four weeks, working in the space and local area. He had several students from the Wimbledon UAL painting course assisting him, mixing and applying pigments, drawing and shaping the canvas out on the streets. “I particularly like it when responding to the brief provokes the making of a new work. For Simon, it was essentially what he’s been doing for years – developing ways to expose the evidence of the making process in the work itself, only this time he was working in a DOLPH goldfish bowl.” I remember my phone conversation with Stefan Gant and ask how Callery’s work relates to archaeology? “I’ve worked with archaeologists on excavation sites since 1996”, he tells me. ”What’s important to point out is that the works that have resulted from collaborations don’t take archaeology as their subject. It is the impact of the excavated landscapes, the tangible sense of temporality and the experience of landscape as material that has shaped the work. Being a witness to excavation led me to recognise the limits of image-based works to communicate the experience of landscape. This led to subsequent development of paintings that aim to involve viewers in a broader sensory experience. It is worth remembering that the development of western painting is entirely bound to the development of image. It should be no surprise that painting is well placed to critique our image-saturated culture and perhaps now it can offer an alternative. “Recently, I’ve been working at Moel y Gear with Stefan [Gant]. The Institute of Archaeology have been excavating an Iron Age hill fort in the Clwydian Hills. I was able to lay my canvasses out on the surface of excavated trenches and run my hand over the fabric and mark the points where I could feel contact with features and surface loose of the trench underneath. These marked cloths were then cut into, pierced and torn. I took all
the material back to my studio where I could assemble the parts into large-scale paintings. “They refer to landscape but do not depict it. I have called them ‘flat paintings’ as they have a different formal character to preceding circular and elliptical works I call ‘pit paintings’. I am aware that this work is being made in a part of the world where the relationship to landscape is particularly deeply embedded in the culture: this is an ongoing project.” I’m getting a better idea of what he’s been up to on the streets of Streatham. “I like the idea that a painting starts out as a form of field recording”, Callery says, “…albeit, in the context of Streatham, an urban field recording. I want signs of this initial contact to remain evident and to characterize the work. Recently, I have made a number of works in the landscape and when DOLPH invited me to work with them I was keen to confront the urban environment again. Working in the urban environment is entirely different from a remote landscape. You are forced to lower your guard, lift your head and look around you and take the work onto the streets. Inevitably, there were a couple of interesting moments with a disgruntled drunk and a suspicious shop owner, as well as some genuine interest from fellow pedestrians. “Finding the right place where we [Callery and his student assistants] could lay out the canvasses and cut, mark and puncture them wasn’t so easy. We had 50 metres of coloured canvas, which we would transport from place to place. In this part of the city there are very few overlooked or neglected places left. We did find a spot at a major traffic junction with Streatham Hill and Brixton Hill. There were some steps that led up to an area of level ground and other steps that simply led down again. Canvases were laid out over the steps and adjacent walls for marking. This stepping was an element incorporated later into the
physical form of the paintings. Another usable location was behind some shops off the Streatham High Street. On a practical level, and many decisions are based on practicality, the best places were the ones where we would get an hour or half an hour of intense activity without attracting too much attention.” The pigment, soaked into the canvasses which are draped like pelts around us in the DOLPH studio, adds an incredible textual quality to the marked, cut and gouged cloth. I want to know how Callery makes decisions about colour. “I tend to choose colour for its material quality”, he says. “Different pigments have different sized particles and some are better for the process of embedding into the fabric of the canvas, to be caught and held in place by the cotton fibres. I soak the coloured distemper into washed and dampened canvases. I’ve worked a lot with Cadmium Red Deep and Chromium Oxide. Both these pigments have tiny particles and form compelling matt surfaces. More recently, I’ve been using specific local colour from the places where I have been working. In North Wales, I have been using Mars Yellow and Lamp Black in combination, producing a range of greens. The yellow is an iron-based pigment and Lamp Black derives from burnt oil. It is one of the earliest know pigments. In the Streatham paintings I used Mars Red, an iron oxide similar to the colour found in the local architecture of Leigham Court Estate, and a blue; a ubiquitous colour used for street furniture in town planning.” Then I point to works that are more advanced. They are obviously threedimensional, as they protrude into space, but they are also absolutely painting, not sculpture, aren’t they? “I am a painter so everything I do is within the context of painting,” Callery is emphatic. “Since these paintings don’t operate in the same way as image-based paintings,
I try to make works that encourage a viewer to move around, to navigate from side to side and to avoid the passive nature of looking at pictures... When we move, we use all our senses and this creates the balanced and unmediated experience I value over a single point and solely visual encounter with painting.” I wonder if this project has influenced DOLPH’s future residency programme in any way? Kahn thinks it has. “The main thing is that Simon got as much out of it as we did. By doing our project he returned to a subject that he had been away from for a while with fresh perspective, one I hope he continues to explore. And DOLPH did that. It’s amazing to think that our project has supported an artist’s practice in that way. And if we can keep doing that, even in the smallest way, it’ll have all been worth it.” Cole agrees, “Yes, we learn from each one we do. Though the residency format is not for everyone, it’s a really good way for the public to see what goes on and to chat informally with the artist at work. I love the fact that artists will come and make work here under these circumstances, it’s very brave and incredibly generous, but equally it doesn’t suit every artist to answer the brief in the form of a residency. I think the beauty of this project is that we never know how the next artist will respond. Each will answer the brief in their own inimitable way – and each time it is different.”—CCQ
Simon Callery’s work can be seen in: “Diverses sont les lignes de la vie…” Hölderlin, at Galerie Bernard Ceysson. Luxembourg, 10 September – 29 October 2016; Imperfect Reverse, Curated by Lawrence Noga, Camberwell Project Space, University of the Arts London, 18 October – 18 November 2016; Vienna Contemporary with Fold Gallery London, 22 – 25 September 2016; Artissima Simon Callery & Finbar Ward with Annex14. Zurich & Fold Gallery London, 4 – 6 November Simon Callery is represented by Fold Gallery London and Annex14 Zurich foldgallery.com annex14.com The next artist at DOLPH will be: Phillip Allen, 22 September – 02 October 2016 PV 21 Sept 6-9pm Artist’s Talk 29 September 7pm dolphprojects.com
LLAWN04 PENWYTHNOS CELFYDDYDAU LLANDUDNO #4 LLANDUDNO ARTS WEEKEND #4
MEDI / SEPTEMBER 23â&#x20AC;&#x201C;25 #LLAWN
Liz West, Your Colour Perception, 2015. Photo ÂŠ Stephen Iles
Festival of Art & Ideas 2-10 September 2016 Across the City #inotherworlds
A Visionary Iranian-German Underpants Trade Relationship Since 2013, Art Brussels has given selected non-profit spaces carte blanche to develop experimental projects. Ric Bower spoke to Anahita Razmi about her 2016 presentation, which involved selling Iranian underwear in a Western art-space. CCQ, in collaboration with Razmi, commissioned Paul Avis to photograph meticulously-crafted, Iranian-made smalls, during the Art Brussels 2016 weekend.
above: DO FARD sales illustration opposite: DO FARD shop, central bazaar of Tehran, Anahita Razmi, 2013, photograph 2nd and 3rd spreads: Untitled (Anahita Razmi: DO FARD/ Underwear Tehran Berlin), Paul Avis for CCQ at Art Brussels 2016, photographs
Ric Bower: Selling underwear at an art fair is a provocation to the art world; selling Iranian underwear in the West, however, seems to invite a more complex dialogue…
refer to them as a typically oriental products – they’re not carpets or pistachios, after all – they subvert expectation. For 75 years, the original DO FARD shop has been located in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar; it has rows of old shelves stacked right up to the ceiling with underwear and other artefacts, which date from both before and after the Iranian Islamic revolution. I exported the underwear from Iran before the signing of the nuclear deal; strict trade sanctions were imposed on the country then and there was no legal way to transfer money to Iranian bank accounts.
Anahita Razmi: I like that the underwear is both familiar, in one sense, and strange, in another. The Iranian brand DO FARD [‘two individuals’ in English] is superficially similar to Schiesser underwear, or American Apparel: it has beautiful pastel, candy colours and is made of good quality cotton. If you see the designs, I guess no one would ever
By opening a DO FARD franchise, with [non-profit gallery] State of Concept at Art Brussels, I hoped to highlight the difficulties of this macro-political situation by presenting it on a micro level. I had to go to Tehran in person, pay DO FARD in cash for the underwear, and then bring five suitcases of underwear back with me on the plane. Of course, this doesn’t make sense from a trade and sales perspective, or from the point of view of a genuinely globalised market. It does, however, invite further questions like: Where are present day oriental products actually exported from and to? What does ‘Made in Iran’ actually mean? And
what are we expecting from the nuclear deal and its promise of better relations between the West and Iran? I loved selling inexpensive pants and vests, complete with price tags, alongside what is commonly regarded as high art. As an act, it seemed to question the fundamental validity of the art marketplace, a space that seems to value mystery and speculation over practical mundane realities. RB: What is your own relationship with Iran?
AR: My father is from Iran and I still have relatives living in Tehran. I was born in Germany and grew up there; my father never went back after he left. I have always had a deep interest in what is happening there, maybe because there has always been this sense of having a close relationship with the place, but which, at the same time, due to the circumstances, was also quite abstract and remote. In my early twenties, I began going there regularly. I made very good friends in Tehran, and began collaborating and initiating art projects there. Iranian culture is rich, diverse and complex; but it is also deeply
conflicted â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s political system, the Islamic Republic, is peculiar and interesting, but it is also very sad. We are speaking of a country with no freedom of expression, no compliance to human rights, absurd restrictions of peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lives, and, furthermore, there are grave economic problems in the country. My projects, in general, are an attempt to work within these contradictions, without being didactic. I make connections between different contexts and the stereotypes related to them, pulling things together from different sources. The DO FARD project is not trying to recreate the shop in Tehran; it
is making a version of it – a western-style, artcontext franchise, which is taking advantage of all the possibilities that this relocation offers; and an advertising campaign, with sexy models wearing the underwear and a hip shop interior, for instance. And then, there is the confusion about what this shop actually is. Is it an artwork and an installation, or a functioning shop and a way to make money?
Is it a visionary Iranian-German underpants trade relationship, or an open discussion space for all the above? The customers don’t have to bother with any of these apparent dichotomies though. It’s perfectly possible for them just to buy their underpants, and then they can just walk away and wear them—CCQ
anahitarazmi.de dofard.com stateofconcept.org The 35th Art Brussels runs 21 - 23 April 2017 artbrussels.com
Scanners and Ghosts Christian Andersson’s practice draws from both history and cultural myth to uncover dormant perspectives on existence and the ways we position ourselves within a broader context. Ric Bower met Andersson at his Malmö studio, before the opening of his one man show at von Bartha, BASEL. The artist presents his ideas for CCQ, in a series of four dialogues.
It was a ghost house... even before the ghosts moved in... The Barcelona Pavilion was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the German contribution to the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. As Andersson states it was “...a jewel in the crown of early modernism; but it was not made for people. Nobody lives or works there – it was a ghost house, even before the ghosts moved in”. The artist seeks to conflate the cultural significance of the structure and the mythology surrounding it with the Rorschach inkblot test, another phenomenon of the time and a tool that was being adopted to assess psychiatric patients by the psychoanalytic community. Over a number of visits to the pavilion, and through the making of a series of physical works, Andersson explores the unintended significances of these cultural phenomena.
RB: The early and mid 20th century was a pivotal time in Europe, with paradigmatic shifts in understanding being shadowed closely by a rise in fascism. How do you see Rorschach and Mies van der Rohe fitting within this darker picture? CA: Mies was right in the midst of it, when things were starting to get ugly in the 1930s in Germany. The Barcelona Pavilion embodies the rise of the Weimar Republic. He placed a Georg Kolbe sculpture in a water feature in the pavilion, renaming it Morgen (Dawn) – the dawn of Germany. It was undeniably a very progressive time in Germany culturally, but alongside that progressiveness, as you have already alluded, ran the sinister undercurrents that led to the rise of the Third Reich.
Ric Bower: So, you’re making connections between Rorschach and Mies van der Rohe?
RB: What happened to the pavilion during the war?
Christian Andersson: Well, both The Barcelona Pavilion and the inkblot test embody a specific streak within modernity. It was a time when all structure was up for scrutiny: Gertrude Stein was analysing language; Niels Bohr was looking at atomic structure and quantum theory; then, of course, there was Freud dismantling the psyche. Increasingly there was no longer any ‘deep forest’ in which to hide that freaking werewolf. Mies’ pavilion represents that process of epistemological deforestation; it has no hidden corners, it is partly constructed with glass. After all, when the romantic forest, where the dark things lurk, is rendered transparent, where do the werewolves have left to go? That is when we have to take a long look in the mirror and face the fact that it is we who are fucked up, that the werewolves are within us. As Alan Moore, the writer of Watchmen, said, when you remove the myths from society, what you are left with is even more terrifying. The Rorschach test was, in some ways, an attempt to contain that werewolf, to trap our darkness within an index.
CA: It was torn down after the International Exposition; it was just a temporary structure, built specifically for the fair. I have been trying for years to find out what happened to those original materials. One story is that it was all crated and put on a boat to take it back to Germany, but the ship capsized somewhere off France. I love the idea of a deconstructed Atlantis of modernism lying on the bottom of the sea somewhere. The pavilion, as we see it now, is a 1986 recreation of the original, put together by enthusiasts. I made drawings from the mirrored marble patterns on the walls, which are themselves, of course, second generation simulacra of the 1929 originals. It is as almost as though the building itself is pretending that the difficult period in between 1930, when it was demolished, and 1986 when it was recreated, never happened. RB: If you were to hold up the mirrored marbles in Mies’ pavilion for the German nation in the 1920s, as if they were Rorschach Inkblot test cards, might you have caught a glimpse of something festering?
CA: Who says that didn’t happen? What if the pavilion was a collaboration between Rohe and Rorschach; a perfectly shaped space, using its radical beauty to lure people in for a thorough the scanning of their minds? RB: How have you pursued the connection you perceive between the Rorschach test and the walls of the re-created Barcelona pavilion? CA: For my work are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era (2009), I made a large, high-resolution photograph of the marble wall in the pavilion; then I placed carefully-shaped opaque vinyl stickers (based on the drawings I had made previously from the marble wall patterns) on the back of the photograph, precisely behind the Rorschach-esque patterns in the marble. Then, I stood photographic flashes behind the photograph; they were programmed to go off every eight seconds. The stickers were invisible from in front of the image, under conventional lighting; but when the flashes went off, the vinyl shapes became more than visible; they were powerfully impressed onto the retina of the viewer. It is like a subliminally embedded geological message, reaching back to when the marble was formed, 600 million years earlier. RB: So, what subjects did you have in mind when you put together are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era – for psychoanalysis, that is? CA: The only psyche being read is mine. Another mind would have found different shapes in the marble; I settled on these ones. The marble patterns are not man-made, but the presentation of them is. I’m analysing the analysis, and then highlighting the results. RB: How many official Rorschach cards are there? CA: Ten, but I met a researcher in Berne last year, at the Rorschach Institute, who told me there was actually an eleventh plate that was not included into the test. It made me wonder why it had been left out of the official canon; did it trigger something undesirable, something that should not be uncovered? I intend to go there and find out... Maybe it is the one that will do it for me, when the other ten don’t quite get me there. RB: The Spinal Tap Rorschach? CA: Perhaps, yes.
Now wait for last year For his von Bartha, BASEL show, Andersson took one of the most celebrated scientific discoveries of the early 20th century, Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, and presented it as a physical work in such a way as to disrupt and extend its traditional roles within our cultural lexicon.
an inventory of my sketches, after my studio was severely flooded a few years ago. From these two sketches I planned six sculptural works, which were then fabricated from 120 year-old oak tree trunks. I wanted to excavate the trees’ embedded time through the process of woodturning. The centre of the works becomes a void where the trees’ rings stretch out. These simple wooden objects become models of time curved by matter, like black holes, as described by Einstein. The sculptures are only table-sized objects, but they become models for cosmic phenomena that are unimaginably vast and completely ungraspable to the human mind. I mean, we have difficulty perceiving what the world looked like just 120 years ago, and we have even greater difficulty picturing what it will like be in 120 years from now. I am drawing attention to the limitations of human perception.
RB: In now wait for last year (2016), are you once again tracing natural patterns? CA: Yes, back in 1993, I visited a handicraft expo with my grandfather. I spotted a carved wooden bowl that exposed its annual rings. Afterwards, I made two drawings; both were titled the mystery of time explained in handicraft. I completely forgot about them until I did
Self Portrait as Living Fossil In this self-portrait, Andersson wedges himself into the history of the earth by presenting one of the planetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oldest and most resilient creatures, the Atlantic horseshoe crab, in place of his face. Andersson discusses our striving for the immortality which the crab apparently possesses, and we now threaten. CA: The horseshoe crab is in danger of extinction now because its blood contains highly refined antibacterial compounds which we are harvesting from them. Ironically, this antibacterial quality is likely to have contributed to the incredible resilience of the species. They have been around for
a long time, they are immortal (or close enough), so our immediate response is to drain their blood and shoot it into our societal systems, to make a desperate grasp for that immortality. RB: Is it your intention to undermine the objectivity and progressive nature of scientific practice? CA: I have a general mistrust of broad swathes of the Eurocentric narrative of science and history. As an example, my work From Lucy with love, features a series of objects placed in a long museum case; these include three
copies of significant paleoanthropological skulls: Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis); a Neanderthal specimen; and the Piltdown man. I included the Piltdown man because it is a crudely fabricated evolutionary narrative. The skull is a paleoanthropological hoax in which bone fragments, said to have been collected in Piltdown, near Essex, in 1912, were presented as the fossilised remains of an early human. It was, in fact, a forgery, which remained unexposed until the 1950s. What interests me is that we are always at the mercy of speculation until we find proof. I like to point out the inherent vulnerability of that position.
Scanner In this final dialogue Andersson relates how the fusion of related ideas, in this case Rorschach’s test cards and a sci-fi gadget from a Philip K. Dick novel, can lead to the conception and construction of a physical work. CA: As you get to see the Rorschach cards, on recurring visits to an analyst, you become familiar with them, and so your possible responses to them become increasingly contrived. Through the ’60s and ’70s, the test slowly disappeared in psychoanalytic circles. I see the cards as much as sculptures, as
they are a method – spheres that have been carefully designed to evoke triggers. For my work Scanner, I made use of five of the black and white images from the series of ten Rorschach cards (because they are formally the most self-contained). When the cut outs I made from them rotate, they become semitransparent, like a hologram or a memory. RB: Where did the title Scanner come from? CA: I got it from Philip K Dick’s novel A Scanner Darkly (1977). In the novel, undercover
agents wear ‘scramble suits’ which project millions of different human characteristics every second onto a super-thin membrane covering the wearers’ bodies. This, in effect, renders the wearers anonymous, making them completely forgettable once the observer turns away from the wearer of the suit. RB: The outside of your rotating Rorschachs are travelling faster than their centre, lending them an ethereal quality. CA: Yes, like the centre being impenetrable.
1st spread: Endless Morning II, Christian Andersson, 2015, felt pen drawing on inkjet print, 21cm x 29.7 cm, Collection Hallands Konstmuseum, photo: Fagot Koroviev for CCQ 2nd spread, both images: are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era, Christian Andersson, 2009, lambda print, vinyl, 3 photo flashes, 3 tripods, timer, print: 125cm x 750cm, courtesy the artist & von Bartha, BASEL, Galerie Nordenhake Berlin/Stockholm & Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon, photo: Terje Östling / Moderna Museet 3rd spread, left page: Self Portrait / Living Fossil, Christian Andersson, 2013, C-print, walnut frame, 69.5cm x 96.5cm, courtesy the artist & von Bartha, BASEL, Galerie Nordenhake Berlin/Stockholm & Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon, photo: Christian Andersson 3rd spread, right page: From Lucy with Love, Christian Andersson, 2011, mixed media installation, 196cm x 70cm x 600cm, collection MUDAM, Luxembourg, photo: Terje Östling / Moderna Museet 4th spread, left page: Angel of the Hearth, Christian Andersson, 2011, stainless steel, plaster, 125cm x 110cm x 75cm, courtesy the artist & von Bartha, Basel, Galerie Nordenhake Berlin/Stockholm & Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon. Photo: Terje Östling / Moderna Museet 4th spread, right page: Now Wait for Last Year, Christian Andersson, 2016, oak wood, 31cm x 31cm x 27cm each, courtesy the artist & von Bartha, BASEL, Galerie Nordenhake Berlin/Stockholm & Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon, photo: Gerhard Kassner / Galerie Nordenhake opposite left to right: Scanner (Plate I), Christian Andersson, 2012, MDF, electric motor, titanium plate, acrylic glass, 180cm x 30cm x 30cm, von Bartha Collection, photo: Andreas Zimmerman / von Bartha Scanner (Plate IV), Christian Andersson, 2012, MDF, electric motor, titanium plate, acrylic glass, 180cm x 30cm x 30cm, von Bartha Collection, photo: Andreas Zimmerman / von Bartha Scanner (Plate VII), Christian Andersson, 2012, MDF, electric motor, titanium plate, acrylic glass, 180cm x 30cm x 30cm, von Bartha Collection, photo: Andreas Zimmerman / von Bartha final spread: Shelving in Christian Andersson’s studio bunker, Fagot Koroviev for CCQ, Malmö 2016
Visually, the image has a deep core; physically, it has a backbone, like a creature. I realised that, as the credibility of the Rorschach test was slipping away, so, at the same time, it was growing as a cultural icon; it was becoming mythologised. RB: You are worried you might become a Rorschach fan? CA: I am concerned that I might become a Rorschach follower; I have to be prepared to heckle, or even to take a hammer to,
Rorschach and Mies van der Rohe, if the need should arise. I am not the guy to sit opposite you, whilst you recline on a couch, and help you with your issues. RB: I guess I had better be off then—CCQ
Christian Andersson’s solo exhibitions, at von Bartha, BASEL and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin (Put the cobwebs back in place) have just closed. This autumn his work can be seen in group shows at Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, and
The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik. In 2017, he will do a commissioned work in Le Havre, France and a solo presentation at Museum CIAJG, Guimarães. Christian Andersson is represented by von Bartha, BASEL, Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin/Stockholm. christianandersson.net vonbartha.com cristinaguerra.com nordenhake.com
Smashing It Up Marega Palser and Gareth Clark (AKA Mr and Mrs Clark) are a partnership and a real life couple, who make performance, live art and dance theatre together. Their recent show, Smash It Up, has been touring to critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience responses. They talk about cities and destruction with Emma Geliot before taking to the streets of Newport with photographer Donald Christie for CCQ. Mr and Mrs Clark share a love of art, performance, music and cycling. Creating a connection seems to be an important part of what they do. When Newport Council decided to destroy a much-loved mosaic mural of the Chartist Rising, the idea for Smash it Up (SIU) was born, a collaboration with fellow performer, Steve George Jones and film maker Andrew James Rock of the arts collective BOSCH. Based in South Wales, Mr and Mrs Clark have been making work, often in response to real life events, which is playful and provocative with a strong DIY aesthetic since 2002. In Smash It Up the audience was invited to inspect the debris of previous performances, before taking their seats for a full-on experience. It was loud, confrontational, witty and did, indeed, involve a lot of destruction – the performers’ precious personal possessions reduced to heart-breaking rubble (I heard stifled sobs as a teddy was beheaded with a saw, more at the atomisation of a mix tape). But beneath the anarchic action was a deeper message about where value lies, about tearing down to rebuild something better, rather than just something new for the sake of newness, with an injection of art history thrown in for good measure. Through the magic of video, we were taken out to the streets of Newport, where the trio of performers perpetrated acts of re-appropriation, to the bemusement of The Authorities. With each act illustrating how restrictive our cities have become, how constrained and curtailed its citizens are. What is happening to our urban heart?
because those visions seem to have little to do with the social wellbeing of people. When the Friars Walk development was near to completion, Newport Council proposed the PSPO [Public Space Protection Order] for anyone sleeping in city centre doorways (they don’t quite fit the new ‘clean’ image that is trying to be cultivated). Thanks to a petition that started and then went out on change.org, the Council couldn’t ignore the numbers in opposition to the PSPO (though it sometimes feels like a matter of time before they try to push it through again). Conversation/acknowledgement of people around me feels more important than ever... London is another city that I ‘feel’. I did a lot of my growing up there, but the areas that resonate are being re-possessed, so to speak, especially Soho. It’s as if all the wonderful unique qualities that made these places are being taken, re-packaged and sold back to people at four times the price (a random figure, I know; I haven’t done the stats), minus the atmosphere and the people! Gareth Clark: Newport is nestled between the armpit of Cardiff and the fingertips of Bristol. It has a multi-cultural population; an accepting and determined independence of mind. It is understated and belligerent with an ambivalent attitude to confidence. It is typical of many small cities trying to regenerate or recreate its purpose after a post-industrial decline. This makes the landscape of the city an ever-changing one. Brutalist concrete structures have been replaced after many years with an architect’s version of an inner city film set of convenience restaurants and popular chain stores. They hum with impermanence. Newport is the latest chameleon to change its appearance in some way, and move another step away from its foundations.
Marega Palser: The notion of city – my city – resides somewhere inside me. I’m beginning to think it’s more of a state of mind than a specific place. I grew up in Cardiff, but I no longer feel the same sense of connection to it. My connection to Cardiff now is through work (sometimes) and people I’ve known for years, and my memories of course ... for example, I still find it hard to call The Bay ‘The Bay’. It will always be ‘The Docks’, because that is my connection to the area. It was a place that was exciting; people created their own fun and there was always a bit of an edge. There was an attitude in the fabric of the city... I feel this attitude that once defined, not just Cardiff, but many other cities’ character has been eroded under what is termed development. The new generation of shiny, smooth, reflective, clean looking, you-can-look-butdon’t-touch style of architecture isn’t a particularly sympathetic one. I feel very much a part of Newport. There’s a dialogue, a conversation that happens between people, between strangers here. There’s a warmth and a matter-of-fact-ness... I don’t know if this is because it’s a smaller city and everyone/everything bangs next to and up to each other more... It still has that ‘thing’ that Cardiff once had. I worry about the changes in the name of ‘development’ here,
Emma Geliot: What is the city? MP: A place which allows you to lose yourself and find yourself, and probably lose yourself again; a place which lets you discover things at your own pace; a place that isn’t neatly laid out into ‘quarters’. The socalled ‘major cities’ have become more branded. They are becoming stripped of their darker underbelly and, as a consequence, are becoming slightly boring. GC: The city is, in some cases, a smörgåsbord of thoughts and ideas; a mix of culture; an ever-changing space. In some instances it has become a model of capitalism and self-protection that seems to be at the heart of the new or newly developed spaces. EG: What does the audience bring to Smash It Up?
GC: The audience come to witness, to bear witness, to a series of events, chapters, which explore, attempt to explain destruction and creation of the space we occupy. The audience bring a sense of purpose to the performance and process of making SIU. MP: The invisible space that exists between you as a performer and an audience is a space that is totally unpredictable. It’s undefinable; you can’t say where it begins and ends, it’s just there. It’s a collective space where all our collective energy is pooled... in the moment.... in the Nowness of Now. EG: What do they take away? MP: Thought provocations, discussions ... A trigger! ‘Trigger’ is a word we used a lot in the making of Smash It Up... Everything is a trigger ... A stimulus, a beginning for something to be created, destroyed, changed, nurtured... GC: A headful of imagery, words and attitude. I hope they take away a sense of repulsion and joy, a celebratory note of mourning and a smidgen of triumph. EG: What’s left when the lights go off? GC: A heartbeat, a breath, a memory… Something that stays, disturbs or illuminates. The show offers the consumer something to chew on. It offers us another way to frame our ideas. EG: What should we keep? What should we destroy? MP: You know what to keep when you come close to losing something. GC: Our creative freedom, our sense of self, our individuality. We should keep the creative spirit and nurture it. The protection of things, the product, appears paramount and, whereas it is distressing to see ancient artefacts demolished, there seems to be less outrage at the erosion of creative practice in general. It is easier to respond to images of bulldozers striking murals, and bullets and bombs destroying statues, but how do we respond to the less visible acts of destruction. I hope we are asking people to consider what really matters… because the reality may actually be that it is not the product of art, but the creative spirit or energy, which needs saving, preserving, mounting and queuing up to see. It is the essence of art that seems in need of saving—CCQ
Mr and Mrs Clark will be performing at Green Belt Festival on 27 August 2016 greenbelt.org.uk mrandmrsclark.co.uk
Short Messages From Life Marko Mäetamm makes work that plumbs the very depths of his heart and mind, revealing innermost thoughts, fears and doubts, with an imagination sometimes a little too personal to be easy on the eye. Rhiannon Lowe caught up with the Estonian artist, just before he left for a six-month residency in the US. Rhiannon Lowe: Are you still living in Tallinn? You’ve mentioned you have some new projects and a residency in the US. Marko Mäetamm: I’m going to America in August – I’ve been invited to be the Christian A. Johnson Artist-in-Residence at Colgate University [in New York]. I have two large solo shows there – an interdisciplinary installation, I Want To Tell You Something, in the Picker Art Gallery and a video installation, Something Moving, in the Clifford Gallery; and I have a show in Tallinn City Gallery, next spring. I am currently working on two new projects – one is a kind of blog-like thing. I do acrylic paintings or drawings on 70 x 100cm paper, which comment on what is going on inside me and outside me. Just mapping things down without positioning myself. Short comments – like we make on social media – about everything that touches me somehow. Anything goes, even what I see in my dreams, or what pops up in my head when I meditate. It’s a blog, or a diary, made up of short notes. I do comic-like works too that don’t have any images, just simple texts. I also have a collaboration on the go with two Canadian artists, Rita Bozi and Ken Cameron. The story we are developing is about my grandfather, who escaped from Estonia during the Second World War and ended up living in Toronto. My father managed to visit him two months before my grandfather’s death, in 1978, spending one month in Canada with him. The project I am working on with Rita and Ken focusses on this short month. RL: Have you worked collaboratively before? MM: I worked with another artist, Kaido Ole, for some years, but that was more than a decade ago. We created a fake personality, John Smith, and were using this name as the alter ego of our collaboration, which was how we also represented Estonia at the Venice Biennale in 2003. Then, at one point, we both started to work more on our own stuff again and I haven’t been working with anyone else since then. This new collaboration happened
in a very natural way. I had a show in the Estonian Art Museum, last summer, with US artist Raymond Pettibon, and Rita and Ken just happened to see it. They got in touch with me; it was obvious that we had quite a lot in common. I was just starting to think about my new project about my grandfather, and they really hooked onto it. I took it as a sign. I liked the projects Rita and Ken had been doing before, and I liked that they were from a slightly different field – they are both playwrights – and their practices are even more multidisciplinary than mine. RL: When I saw their websites, I was very surprised; they appear very… confident and self-assured. I liked the thought of your work up in contrast to theirs. Perhaps it is just different worlds, the visual artist versus the writer/theatre person, and/or perhaps a European thing? MM: I agree, it is a totally different world that Rita and Ken live in; their working methods are more rational and methodical – they seem even almost mathematical to me. I am taking it on as an experiment. I don’t always feel comfortable with their approach, but I am curious. RL: Is putting yourself in the position of someone else, for instance, your father, a new thing for you? MM: This is the first time, after many years working with myself and with my own close family, and completely the first time to involve my father and grandfather into my art practice. I think it comes with age. I have also made a video about my mother, who died a couple of years back. RL: I like the idea that age changes how you might approach your work. Do you also think it might be about wanting to know people better, perhaps even after they’re gone, and building your own projected hopes and fears onto their lives? MM: When you are young, you need to get to know yourself and there is no time
above: Everybody having fun, Marko MĂ¤etamm, 2016, acrylic on paper, size 70 x 100cm. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Temnikova & Kasela left: Self portrate as a refugee, Marko MĂ¤etamm, 2016, acrylic on paper, 70 x 100cm. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Temnikova & Kasela
for others. When you’re older, you still want to get to know yourself, but you are looking for some additional information, and that comes through other people around you. The more you live, the more complex you become, I think. You understand that it is not only you in the picture, but you are just one piece of the puzzle. RL: I’m interested in the mix of truth and fiction in your work, and where the lines lie. Are you trying to be more honest and truthful than, say, I might be, in a relationship? The thoughts of slaying your family for example [in My Family]; the very blunt, sometimes brutal, things you depict in your drawings and your stories. These things might cross other people’s minds, but most people are not open about them. MM: I always think that making art is too complicated and it’s hard work just to make things up. Not trying to be honest in what you do seems a complete waste of time and energy. Making art has a strong therapeutic effect on me. I work with my fears and doubts
and worries, and moments that haunt me. I want my work to communicate, which means that I must be careful not to talk about things that make sense only to me. RL: The universality of artwork – the hope and need to work with the personal, yet to bridge the gap to others’ knowledge and understanding and experience – is that always a purposeful framework for how you approach your work? Do you mean that fiction and dishonesty break any connection? MM: Fiction is not the same as dishonesty for me. I use fiction too, sometimes; I am not interested in pure documentation. Anything you do as an artist must first of all be interesting to others. If it is not then you are alone with your work. So, when I work, it is kind of like making a cocktail with these things so that it’s strong enough, tastes good; and it must also look good, it must be inviting. Documentary mixed with a bit of fiction, plus a little bit of dishonesty if really necessary: on the rocks, stirred,
above: Talking about the alphabet, Marko Mäetamm, 2016, acrylic on paper, two panels 70 x 100cm each. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Temnikova & Kasela left: Tales of Messenger. Bowie, Marko Mäetamm, 2016, acrylic on paper, seven panels 29.7 x 21cm each. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Temnikova & Kasela
this page: proposed layout plans by Marko Mäetamm for his forthcoming exhibitions at Colgate University. Courtesy Marko Mäetamm opposite: I want to break free, Marko Mäetamm, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 300 x 200cm. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Temnikova & Kasela
not shaken. But the main ingredient is still documentary and autobiography.
personal. Will you feel as free to build on stories about your father and grandfather?
RL: I am thinking of Steph Goodger and Julian Rowe and their project [elsewhere in this issue] based on a staged photo they found of the slaughter of the French Communards; and of Christian Boltanksi’s 1996 project in Halifax, creating an archive housing information about (and belongings of) former mill-workers at an old carpet factory. Early on he was obviously thinking about adding made-up information and spurious objects for effect. Previously, he recreated his own (idealised) childhood memories and activities... and he also wrote a suicide note and posted it to some people.
MM: It is kind of different, yet the same. When I talk about my father’s story or my grandfather’s story, or about how my father visited him in 1978, I use my point of view on it. So in the end this is still my belief. There is no wrong or right in that sense, and, again, the only frame or limit for me is ethics – what I find coherent, or correct to put in public. In that sense it is the same thing for me if I talk about my relationship with my wife, or my father’s relationship with his father.
MM: Being honest is more like a moral thing to me. I don’t want to cheat people, although I could do it. I could make things up, pretending I am telling the truth, but not doing it – I don’t see why I should do it. Making art, or music, or writing books is taking responsibility for what you do, offering fair trade, not just playing with your audience. But bringing in elements of fiction is important, sometimes, for me just to make my originally true stories more powerful. RL: I wonder if you’re usually able to bring in artistic licence to your work as it is so very
RL: Tell me how you started doing work about social media and the Internet? Might you use the medium itself – for example, MSN, or twitter, etc. – to make or disseminate work? MM: What interests me much more than images, or the aesthetics of digital images, info streams or other things like that, is how the Internet and social media exchange alter our relationships and thinking, and what we talk about; how we can’t vanish from each other because we’re supposed to be available all the time, always online; and how it makes us feel more and more lonely. I also see similarities between keeping a blog and how my work develops – short messages from different moments of life, often not even
connected to each other. It creates continuity as a structure or working method. Social media doesn’t exist without people, so there is no point in talking about it as something in itself. We should focus on what it does inside us – how it breaks relationships, or creates new ones; how it occupies our minds, so that we kill hours just shuffling around online; how we’d rather chat on Messenger rather than make a call, or meet up in person. And, how it reshapes us. RL: Will the pieces work on their own, do you think, or will they be more successful en masse? Are they part of a coherent whole? MM: My works always function better if there is the whole installation, rather than singly, or just a few works. My ideas travel between different works and mediums. RL: Are you going to be working with your friends in Canada in a similar way? I wondered if you might work on a play with them. When I first saw your pieces in Venice, I thought they seemed almost play-like. MM: The way we work together is different. It needs more planning as there are three people involved, with divided tasks and shared responsibilities. The final project is going to be an installation rather than a
play. My father’s trip to visit his father lasted exactly one month. Then, two months later, my grandfather died. But this information is kind of borderless because it all comes together in my father’s head – the time when my father was a kid and his father was still here, the years before his trip to Canada, and the time after that, and so on. When Rita, Ken and I work together, they can only work with what I give them. However, they have experience of living in the society my father visited in 1978, which creates a reality check for my father’s stories, and my fantasy.
MM: I have made a lot of Bleeding Houses over the years; the very recent ones I made were Miami ones. The idea of the houses is constantly with me and my dream is to make a large show just of them. So far I have always mixed them with some other works to give them particular context. I keep collecting interesting houses (taking photos) for them. Here, in Estonia, Bleeding Houses became almost a brand for my practice, and it is not that exciting to show them here anymore. I would love to do it somewhere else though—CCQ
RL: Have you ever made a record? I wondered if you’d ever thought of doing your comic strip exchanges as spoken pieces.
Marko Mäetamm: I Want to Tell You Something will be at Picker Art Gallery; Something Moving will be at Clifford Gallery, both located in Colgate University, NY, USA, 15 September 2016 – 08 January 2017
MM: I write and use text in my work, but I haven’t made any audio version of my text. My working language in my art practice is English, but this is not my mother tongue, so I am not that comfortable speaking it. But I am interested in sound; I have done performance and music… My band had a gig outside Tallinn Art Hall recently. Maybe one day, if I get an idea that is good only for an audio format, then I will definitely do it. RL: Are you continuing with the Bleeding Houses series?
Marko Mäetamm is represented by Gallery Temnikova & Kasela
maetamm.net paranoia.ee/karamell/ temnikova.ee kencameronplaywright.com ritabozi.com temnikova.ee
opposite: Tales of Messenger. Serious things, Marko Mäetamm, 2016, acrylic on paper, seventeen panels, 29.7 x 21cm each. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Temnikova & Kasela far left: Knives, crashing airplanes, refugee boats, cut-throats and many more… Marko Mäetamm, 2016, acrylic on paper, 70 x 100cm. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Temnikova & Kasela left: Suicide bombers, Marko Mäetamm, 2016, acrylic on paper, 70 x 100 cm. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Temnikova & Kasela
Very Metal Artist Stefhan Caddick works across a variety of media, including film, sculpture, installation and electronic art. He has just come to the end of a period of funded research into the use of archival film, marked by an ambitious one-day event in Ebbw Vale. Emma Geliot goes to Ebbwferric. The interval of time between the past and the present has been unnaturally compressed in Wales. One minute the coalfields are churning out anthracite, trundling it by rail through towns and villages, and then, even before the last working pit in Blaenavon has closed, Big Pit opens as a museum (part of the National Museum Wales family) two years before the end of the Miners’ Strike in 1985. While the mining history of Wales came to a stuttering end, the steel industry was still very much in evidence. This year, however, following Indian corporation Tata Steel’s shock announcement that it was planning to sell off its assets in the UK, steelworks including many in Wales, would have been shut down, without Government intervention. If no buyers could be found, another unexpected full stop would have hovered over the story of the South Wales Valleys, ready to close another chapter. Watching one’s recent past transform into ‘heritage’ is akin to seeing old clothes come back into fashion – a bit unnerving. But there’s no denying that the past, and particularly archives, can provide rich source material for artists. Stefhan Caddick originally trained as a documentary photographer at what was the University of Wales Newport, but his practice has shifted continuously since then and, while it is often factually rooted in real events, he has made a firm move into a more fine art aesthetic. In 2013, he was given one of the Arts Council of Wales Creative Wales awards to explore the possibilities of archive film as a lynchpin in his wider artistic practice, which involves sculpture, electronics and events, amongst many other things. While research and development offers an exciting opportunity for artists to build up their source material and technical skills, it’s sometimes hard to demonstrate the artistic
endeavour involved. Caddick tackled this with a one-day event, Ebbwferric, on an afternoon when the April sun was uncharacteristically cooperative. Alongside his dual channel film, Specific Gravity, there was a programme of films from the local steelworks archive, guided tours of that archive led by former steel-workers, three metal/punk bands and an iron flinging display by sculptor Andy Griffiths and students from Coleg Sir Gar, in Carmarthen. I drank it all in before asking Caddick how his project had taken shape. Caddick had already worked with the archive at the Ebbw Vale Works Museum, which opened in 2011. He used archive footage of the outcry at, and subsequent demolition of, the steelworks at Ebbw Vale for Ghost Parade, part of Marc Rees’ Adain Avion touring project for the 2012 cultural Olympiad, and The Pickle Line, a commission for the Outcasting: Fourth Wall [O:4W] artists’ moving image festival in Cardiff, in 2014. The project, Caddick explains, came out of previous works from the start of the decade – Bogey Road and Ghost Parade, in particular. “Both of these projects enabled me to spend lots of time working with archive film, particularly documentary sources from the South Wales Valleys, although my approach was to widen the scope of material beyond what would be of interest to an institutional archive, to include more personal, tangential materials. So, in Bogey Road, I was as interested in a local retired GP’s camcorder footage of Bargoed Carnival in the pissing rain, in 1984, as in the BBC’s clip of Nye Bevan casting his ballot in Tredegar, in the 1950s.” His interest in the steel industry came when making Ghost Parade, in 2012. The work is hard to describe, but was incredibly moving to be part of. People gathered and were given blank placards to carry; marched together; paused in a long tunnel
previous spread: Specific Gravity, Stefhan Caddick, 2016. Film stills. Original footage (Steel - The Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Most Important Metal, 1919, Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company Limited) used courtesy Ebbw Vale Works Museum opposite, far left Specific Gravity, Stefhan Caddick, 2016. Film still. LinnĂŠ crater, mapping data courtesy NASA left: Specific Gravity, Stefhan Caddick, 2016. Film still. Moon, far side, mapping data courtesy NASA below and following spread: Specific Gravity, Stefhan Caddick, 2016. Film still.
under a railway, where archive footage was projected on to the placards as they formed a temporary screen; broke up again and carried the phantom signs to the site of the General Offices, where they were constructed into a giant single screen, showing multiple narratives as the sky darkened. Caddick will often conduct extensive archival research before undertaking a project – this is partly to uncover material, narratives and stories, but also just to be present in a place, he says. “So, during Ghost Parade, I spent a long time working with the Ebbw Vale Works Museum, but also spoke a lot to an archivist called Glyn Walters, at Ebbw Vale Institute. Glyn was an ex-steel worker, but had a second career as a videographer in Ebbw Vale, working the wedding circuit as well as local events, the rugby club, etc. I think it’s this confluence of the official record and the unofficial, personal, or commercial material I find really interesting.” The Pickle Line references the process of cleaning steel with acid, prior to
galvanisation, which is done on an extensive rolling conveyor belt, housed in a vast shed. Caddick’s installation, across multiple TV screens, combined archive footage from the BBC and home movies, which recorded the demolition of this giant structure at Ebbw Vale, when the works closed, giving over a dozen perspectives of a significant event. There is no commentary, except the voices of the amateur filmmakers, with just the sudden culmination of those perspectives at the point of explosion. When Caddick began his Creative Wales research, no one could have foreseen the ominous threat of closure of the Port Talbot works, the last bastion of Welsh heavy industry. As he observes: “The coincidence of the event, with what became a major crisis in the steel industry, was totally unexpected, and threw a completely different light on the event. At one point, I had Newsnight on the phone asking about Ebbw Vale ‘after steel’ – questions I didn’t feel qualified to answer. I knew, from Ghost Parade, that there were
strong links between the town, which had lost its ‘works’, and the towns which retained them – Port Talbot, Trostre, in particular – and that some people, who worked in Ebbw Vale, still lived in Ebbw Vale, but worked in Port Talbot or Trostre.” Specific Gravity, which Caddick describes as, “an hallucination, an excavation of our industrial past”, is a two-screen video installation, combining a 1919 promotional film with footage generated from NASA mapping of the moon’s surface. The former harks back to a time when British steel was exported all over the world, rather than made in China and dumped over here. Its smoky industrial backdrop, now replaced by glossy new buildings, funded by Europe in another attempt at regeneration, wobbles as the camera pans and fragments occasionally. Caddick begins the film by overlaying an aperture, which opens imperceptibly slowly, as if you are looking at a strange incident from the past through an ever-widening telescope. He says, “I was less gripped by
the fact of the 1919 film, but rather its sense of strangeness – the alien landscape and the odd pacing”. Meanwhile, the NASAgenerated footage, captured many decades later, is equally unfamiliar. Harrison Banfield’s soundtrack adds another otherworldly layer and links the two screens. One reference point for Caddick was Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902), a story of escape from a polluted landscape to a fictional lunar one. Caddick says: “In much of the West, we have ‘escaped’ the landscapes depicted by Méliès, and which appear in the archive, by transferring heavy industry to the other side of the world, a process that dislocates communities, which once relied on those industries for employment, as it degrades the environment in the East. “In Sichuan province, in China, the smog created by heavy industry is often severe enough to partially obscure the moon and stars. In South Wales, the aftershocks of this transition are still reverberating – in the
EU Referendum, Ebbw Vale voted to leave, despite benefiting massively from European structural funds; a decision which some have seen as a protest against people’s sense of being ‘left behind’ by the forces of globalisation.” What’s next for Caddick? “I’m doing a residency in Llwyn Celyn with the Landmark Trust, which is looking at sound and the animal inhabitants of a historic building; and I’m also doing a commission at Green Man festival in a cave with some bats. It’s a collaborative piece with the musician Mark Daman Thomas (from Islet, Shape Records and Farm Hand) [see elsewhere in this issue]. The commission is from PEAK/ COPA, which is an initiative being run by Arts Alive, supporting contemporary work by artists in rural Wales, specifically in the Black Mountains [Caddick lives near Abergavenny]. The Black Mountains, for me, are very much a post-industrial landscape, although we think of them now as a space of leisure, so that’s a really interesting project.”
Stefhan Caddick is an artist who can process world and local events and combine them with an artistic vision, which is engaging without being prescriptive. He has the ability to carry collaborators and protagonists in those events along with him, which was beautifully exemplified by the day in Ebbw Vale. Ebbwferric as an event was interesting, because it laid bare the source material while creating a platform for a work in progress, which already had enough meat on its bones to sustain an audience for a long time after the event. As the sun began to dip behind the hills, the three bands – Commercial Zone, Tits Up and Godbomber – had warmed up and the hall began to throb as each band got progressively louder. It was nearly dark as Godbomber’s set ended and we trooped out to watch Andy Griffiths and his students launch molten metal through the dark air—CCQ
Noctule Green Man festival, in the Brecon Beacons National Park, takes place in one of the most beautiful settings in the land. More specifically, it happens on the foothills of the Black Mountains near the historic town of Crickhowell, and this is also where PEAK/COPA develops its creative programme of contemporary art opportunities in the region. For the last month, Farm Hand (the solo project of musician and Shape Records founder, Mark Daman Thomas) and artist Stefhan Caddick (featured elsewhere in this issue of CCQ) have been researching, filming and documenting underground, in Eglwys Faen (Stone Church), a cave on the Llangattock Escarpement, just three miles from the Green Man festival site. Working with the architecture – part natural, part hewn by punishing manual quarrying labour
– as well as the acoustics and habitat of the cave system, the collaborators are recording Noctule. This multi-media project is to be a site-specific, intimate, audiovisual response to one of the biggest cave systems in Europe, which is also home to a colony of protected lesser horseshoe bats. The resulting collage of organ-drone, field recordings, and manipulated sounds of echolocation between the resident bats, will be used in conjunction with light and
projection. The piece makes reference to the cave’s history as part of the limestone industry, and to their current identity, as a site of ecological interest and tourism. Emma Daman Thomas has created the limited edition risograph in CCQ as part of the project. The print is based on the entrances to the cave, the negative shapes and forms seen when looking out of it—CCQ
Noctule is being recorded and screened during Green Man festival 18-21 August peakart.org.uk emmadamanthomas.com stefhancaddick.co.uk farmhand.org.uk vimeo.com/176880805 greenman.net
opposite page, top and bottom: preliminary sketches for risograph print, Emma Daman Thomas, 2016 centre band across both pages: screen grab of sound manipulation process, Farm Hand, 2016 this page, bottom: scan from sketch book, draft of lyrics and composition, Farm Hand, 2016
Landscape, Portrait Is it possible to distill a landscape and transfer its many meanings to feature walls, cornicing and alcoves? Artist Rebecca Chesney set out to do just that, as part of a residency in the Black Mountains, on the Eastern fringe of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Emma Geliot explores Chesney’s landscape paint chart. The word ‘landscape’ means many things to those that populate it. Habitat, property, agriculture. It’s so many steps to be walked, toeholds achieved, sites excavated for remains, open country, enclosures with warnings to trespassers, terrain for manoeuvres. For the romantics, it is the embodiment of the sublime, to a geologist, it’s the result of tectonic shifts, while an environmental scientist will search for signs of climate change and a forester will see marketable timber. But it’s also home turf, a locale for living. To define or capture the meaning of landscape is a challenge, but that’s exactly what Rebecca Chesney set out to do, with a very pragmatic approach. “My natural response is to take the piss out of romantic notions of the rural, and yet I am sometimes
filled with dread at the impact we have on the environment, our denial of that, and the lethargic attitude towards doing anything about it”, she explains. Chesney was the first artist in residence for PEAK/COPA, a network with a programme of projects and events, supporting contemporary art practice in the Black Mountains, part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. She arrived in the depths of winter, to be hit by the cold. The necessary daily walks, from her living quarters to her studio, provided much needed, selfgenerated warmth, as she waited for the logs in the studio burner to catch and burn. “I’ve found that when I go anywhere new, walking is the perfect way to get intimately acquainted with the environment. You notice more, and walking is also a great thinking-pace
to consider things while you’re travelling – that and the fact I don’t drive. So, with no buses in the valley where I was staying, it was the only way to get from A to B. While on the PEAK residency, I was living an hour and ten minutes walk away from the studio and walked the same route many times – it became really familiar. I noticed the same thrush singing at the top of the same tree, every evening, the first celandines and blossom flowering along the canal, and I experienced it in different weathers – frost, snow, rain (lots of rain) and sunshine. It was sometimes a real slog to get home, but I noticed the minute things around me.” It was while walking that she began to collect objects and samples, as an act of familiarisation. “I see it like gathering souvenirs to remember a place – we
all do it – collecting shells and pebbles from beaches, feathers and conkers from woodland walks, and so on, and they become mementos of the visit and experience. However they do all add together to reveal part of the identity and what makes the place different from some place else”, Chesney says. “For me, residencies in unfamiliar places offer interesting and often challenging opportunities. Spending an intensive amount of time looking at a place can push your boundaries and alter your original perceptions of that location.” When she’d first landed the residency, Chesney had discovered that room fragrance company Air Wick had developed a range called ‘Scents of the National Park’. An amusing notion that it might be
Bale Twine Blue Used in baler machines this UV resistant twine is also an indispensable staple of any farming toolbox. 12Selenium Lick A cheerful blue from the bucket containing this livestock supplement.
22 Passing Shower Reminiscent of the lightweight waterproofs available to the rural day-tripper.
13Commodity Fleece Wool Price Schedule www.britishwool.org.uk
23 Flurry A threatening blue, warning of approaching snow.
14 Blossom of Blackthorn Although a delicate, modest shade it was believed that to bring blackthorn into the home meant certain death would follow. 15Bleached Bones Stripped of all flesh yet darker in tone than Penglog 19). 1Fallen Snow Compacted snow on hilltops produces the purest of whites. 2 Icicle A pure and neutral hint of colour from a moorland icicle. 3 Shy View Matching the spectacular scenery obscured by mist. 4 Relic From one of the many ghostly remains of farm machinery standing sentinel in the landscape. 5 Regulation This authoritative tone was sampled from a footpath sign “most land in the National Park is privately owned”. The BBNP authority manage approx 2000 km rights of way and a further 500 km that are not theirs.
6 Foolhardy Dedicated to the work of the Brecon Mountain Rescue, Foolhardy is derived from a popular colour of waterproof clothing. 7 Newborn Lamb Market prices for lamb and ewes: Meat Promotion Wales Hybu Cig Cymru www.prices.hccmpw.org.uk 8 Victim Dead in the frost, the tiny body of a lamb produced this soft depressing grey. 9 Bloated Blue A subtle pastel shade of blue from the hind of a long dead sheep. 10 Grwyne Fawr Clear sky reflected in the ice cold water of the Grwyne Fawr river.
21Mon & Brec A cold colour from Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal water. Opened in 1799 it was used to transport coal, lime, iron ore and agricultural products.
16 Pecked Carcass A classic blue found often in the landscape. 17Sheep Brand Blue A traditional form of flock identification this charming blue works well with the pale tones of Commodity 13). 18 Joyride Obligatory burned out car at the bottom of a disused quarry. 19 Penglog Skull: hollow remains of an unaccounted livestock death. 20 Tissue Discreet grey of the Tissue Moth Triphosa dubitata found hibernating deep in the limestone caves.
24 Pacamac Matching a stylish weatherproof coat this rich shade of blue represents the total economic impact of tourism in BBNP in 2014 = 219.14 £M 25 Bobbing Body “A sheep’s only ambition in life is to die” 26 Swollen The mountain streams swollen by rain and coloured with soil inspired this garish pink. 27 Sheep Brand Red From the flock identification range. 28 Freckled Metal weather on scrap vehicles. 29 Shot Fox A luscious and mesmerising red from a freshly killed fox. 30 Ewe 38 The number 38 sprayed of a sheep. 31Cherry Blossom The prettiest pale petal pink of spring. 32 She Stereotypical pink tint for female walkers.
33 Intrepid From a ‘high performance’ outdoor jacket this dynamic red reflects the wearer’s spirit. 34 Holly Berry A stunning red from the berries only found on female holly trees. 35 Jelly Ear This succulent brown is named after Jelly Ear Fungus Auricularia auricula-judae found on dead elder. 36 Highway The busy path on the highest peak in South Wales, Pen y Fan, provides this colour. Total visitor numbers to the BBNP in 2014 was 4.01 million. 37 Early Primrose A pretty spring plant with a gentle greenish hue of yellow. 38 Dant y Llew Dandelion: a determined character happy in most situations. 39 Shepherd’s Delight A deeply romantic, rarely seen hue from the old phrase “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight” 40 Sheep Brand Orange A distinct orange used as a traditional form of flock identification. 41 Trentepohlia A confused orange derived from green alga growing on calcareous walls. 42 Pitted Wits It is estimated between 30,000 and 60,000 pheasants are released on the larger estates in BBNP each year.
43 January Celandine A welcome yellow taken from the early celandines encouraged by January 2016 mean temperatures in Wales being 1.3°C above 1981-2010 average. 44 Gorse Flush From the bright sunny yellow flowers of the evergreen gorse plant. 45 Forest Ribbons Alluding to the self-made plastic waymarkers tied to trees this striking colour contrasts nicely with Plantation 66). 46 Golden Spindles A strong warm yellow named after the common fairy club fungus Clavulinopsis fusiformis. 47 Brwyn Llyn Llangors Lake Llangors Reeds: taken from Wales’ largest natural lake and home of the Two-tone Reed Beetle Donacia bicolora, the only known site for the beetle in Wales. 48 Grazing Cob Seen at a distance these semi-wild ponies run free in the uplands of BBNP.
53 Ba A con shad natu
54 H A tra tone boun
55 C With this d shad Copp
56 U This wide foun
57 H A vib disca thorn
58 C A cur after 35 pe comm priva certa ‘com
49 Limestone An historic tone named after the limestone escarpments rich in nutrients supporting a prolific plant life.
59 Sp An im spec essen
50 Highvis A showy yellow for the safety conscious explorer of the rural.
60 O An u samp Brach
51Xanthoria parietina Named after a common foliose lichen increasing as a result of nitrate/ammonia deposition from atmospheric pollution.
61 Ba Pale Gree
52 Cagoule Quintessential British rainwear of many colours, but here in a modern green.
62 Fr From nativ in up dom
53 Bale Wrap Green A contemporary synthetic shade developed to blend with natural green tones. 54 Hedge A traditional yet complex tone taken from the living boundaries of land cultivation. 55 Catkin Pollen With a delicate quality this dust derived shade complements Coppiced Hazel 70). 56 Usnea subfloridana This fresh colour reflects the widespread bearded lichen found often on trees. 57 Hedgerow Bunting A vibrant green selected from discarded plastics caught on thorns and brambles. 58 Common A curious historic green named after Common Land. Around 35 percent of the BBNP is common land. Commons are privately owned and only certain people, known as ‘commoners’ have rights over it. 59 Sphagnum An important peat building species this vibrant moss is essential to any upland. 60 Ordinary An under appreciated green sampled from ordinary moss Brachythecium rutabulum. 61 Bale Wrap Green (light) Pale version of Bale Wrap Green 53) 62 Frosty Bracken From the over familiar native needing management in upland areas to prevent domination.
63 Relative Wildness A theoretical shade of green from the Landscape Character Assessment describing the BBNP as “an exceptional open and exposed landscape. Its landform and absence of settlement and development give it a sense of tranquillity, remoteness and relative wildness in parts, despite its proximity to settlements to the south.” 64 Caer Crucywel Be enchanted by this colour from the iron-age hilltop fort of Crickhowell. 65 Heather Habitat A rich sophisticated colour. Found on the uplands in BBNP this habitat and related species are under threat from climate change. 66 Plantation A dominant colour reminiscent of the blocks of evergreen trees lining some hillsides and valleys. 67 Sun Wish A drear hue waiting for the rain to stop. 68 Whitebeam An exclusive colour inspired by Ley’s Whitebeam Sorbus leyana (Welsh: Cerdin Darren Fach). With roughly 15 individual trees left it’s considered to be Wales’ rarest tree. IUCN Conservation Status: Critically Endangered. 69 Turkey Tail This soft grey green is from the common bracket fungus Trametes versicolor .
70 Coppiced Hazel This muted traditional tone has been sampled from a hazel, coppiced long ago as a self-renewing source of wood. Works well with Catkin Pollen 55). 71Waen Ddu An enriched brown colour taken from the raised bog at Craig y Cilau National Nature Reserve. 72 Metal Forage An abandoned Land Rover stripped bare of useful parts: an enduring classic of the countryside. 73 River Streamer A playful colour from the water worn plastics of river beds. 74 Lime Kiln Drip From the pencil thin stalactites slowly forming in the disused kilns. 75 Usk in Flood January 2016 in Wales was the wettest since 1948 with 168% of average rainfall. 76 Faint Echo Taken from a tram block, all that remains of the horsedrawn tram ways of industry. 77 Footfall Colour derived from exposed soil on eroded footpaths. Total spend by BBNP in 2015 on paths and access £448,000 78 Wow 1882 Initials carved into rock provides this cheeky shade of grey. 79 Ash A familiar dusty tone, the remnant of a daily fire essential for comfort.
80 Cave Calligraphy (contemporary alternatives not acceptable). 81 Felled Timber A dull grey derived from the bark of plantation felled timber. Complements Plantation 66). 82 Old Red Taking its name from the distinct Old Red Sandstone of the local mountains formed millions of years ago. 83 Dog’s Breath Named after the local farm dog whose only joy is mithering passing ramblers. 84 Cwm Clydach Beech Lying on the edge of their natural range in Britain this represents the rich colour of fallen beech leaves. 85 Crumbling Barn A vague hue to represent housing detailed in the BBNP authority Local Development Plan 2007 – 2022 86 Sugarloaf A saturated grey inspired by the rain soaked view from the delightfully named Sugarloaf Mountain. 87 Torn Wing A moody grey tone from the remnants of a small bird. 88 Sheep Brand Black Taken from the flock identification range this dull black is not as striking as others in the Sheep Brand range.
89 King Alfred’s Cakes An intense colour matched to an example of the fungus Daldinia concentrica found on dead broad-leaved trees, mainly ash and beech. 90 Carbon Sink Inspired by the handsome colour of upland peat. Peatlands are a globally important land-based carbon store. 91 Talybont Reservoir One of the nine reservoirs in BBNP providing most of the drinking water for the popula tion and industry in South Wales. Owned and managed by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water. 92 Quarry Highly dramatic, this colour matches the scars left from 18th and 19th century quarrying of limestone, a key ingredient in the ironmaking process.
93 Kite Silhouette An elegant warm grey taken from the underside of a red kite circling overhead. 94 Lesser Horseshoe One of the UK’s largest populations of the rare Lesser Horseshoe bat is found in the Usk Valley. In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected by domestic and international legislation. 95 Bale Wrap Black A landscape classic also in Bale Wrap Green 53) and Bale Wrap Green Light 61). 96 Midnight A deep timeless black in celebration of the International Dark Sky Reserve award given to the Brecon Beacons National Park.
possible to infuse a domestic space with the aroma of morning dew on the mountains, or a sea breeze from the coast. The artist decided to go one better and attempt to represent aspects of the landscape in a paint chart of colours, sampled from her walking observations and from conversations with those who lived and worked on the land. “I don’t think it’s possible to truly capture the essence of something and re-present it elsewhere”, she says, “however, I can try and go some way to achieving it. I suppose that’s why the colour chart is called Snapshot. I could only begin to capture the feeling of the place with the 96 colours, but I could have collected hundreds more. The combination of subjects and individual things contained in the chart make it unique to the Brecon Beacons. No other place has the same combination of species and issues, and I hope the chart goes some way to reveal or highlight that.” Bringing an outsider’s eye – Chesney is from Lancashire – and an artist’s critical faculties, the observations are sharp. Snapshot is more than an aid to chic interior décor, as embodied in some upmarket paint ranges for the posh. The colours, their titles and thumbnail descriptions skewer the detail of man-meets-nature, as surely as a lepidopterist pins an endangered butterfly to a board. “My first visit was for a very frosty week in November”, Chesney remembers. “My first thoughts were that the area seemed to be a mix of small working farms, run by aging farmers and also quite well-off middleclass people, who could afford to live in nice cottages, in a beautiful setting. Most people were very warm and welcoming, but I found a couple of people questioning how qualified I was to comment, or to make work about the area as an incomer from a city. I found myself explaining how rural my background was and wondering if I was rural enough.” Because she’d arrived in the middle
of winter, some aspects of the landscape, usually clothed in greenery, came into sharper focus. “If landscape is about livestock, then there’s also a lot of death”, Chesney observes and then nails it in Shot Fox (29), Bleached Bones (15) and Pecked Carcass (16). It’s the lifelessness of a largely agricultural countryside, when cattle are brought indoors and sheep folded in against harsh weather. But she also references rotting machinery in Metal Forage (72), Relic (4) and Joyride (18), and the incredible amount of plastic to be found in the countryside. She’s anxious to stress she’s not suggesting that, “the rural landscape is littered with stuff – rotting tractors, silage bales; but there is a lot of it”. It’s also surprisingly populous and Chesney was taken aback to find winter walkers in shorts and skimpy t-shirts, yomping up Pen y Fan in vast numbers. Landscapeas-leisure features in the rugged greens of Cagoule (52) and Highvis (50), while lady walkers have a limited choice of pink, She (32) or purple, to aid gender identification through binocular lenses. But it isn’t just the human traces, or domesticated animals, that make it into the colour range. Natural features, flora and fauna abound, although some of the swatches are testament to nature going awry, like Usk in Flood (75) for the wettest Welsh winter since 1948; or in January Celandine (43) and Early Primrose (37), the little harbingers of spring brought into early bloom by an unnaturally warm winter. Every aspect of what the word ‘landscape’ means is explored, encapsulated in a brief descriptive text, and colour is digitally sampled to find the most representational hue from a riot of shades and tones. “The idea behind the colour chart was to show a more detailed and complex picture of the Brecon Beacons National Park than is encapsulated in one scent for the home”, Chesney says, referring back to the Air Wick fragrances. “It’s only when you see
the 96 colours together that you begin to understand how complicated the National Park is. Climate change, affordable housing and the impact of tourism are in the chart; farming, history, ecology, industry too. Some of the colours don’t mean anything on their own and need the others around them to have meaning. I like the idea of anyone being able to take the colour chart to a DIY store and get the colours mixed for their home. Even though I think the Air Wick range is absurd, I always said the paint range was made to match it. My colours are, however, a more real representation of the landscape.” After her residency was over and Snapshot printed and distributed, Chesney returned, in August, for a public conversation with National Park geologist, Alan Bowring. They had been introduced during the project and Bowring’s self-confessed love affair with rocks proved infectious and illuminating. She had already considered the meanings of the landscape’s surface, the “layering, political boundaries, ecology, funding – lots of issues” and, as Bowring observed, “in our different ways, artists and scientists are looking for deeper meanings”. Bowring describes geology in narrative terms – a series of events, collisions, shifts and erosions, which shape the landscape and, therefore, the way that it’s settled. This bringing together geology and archaeology, where land and humans converge in a shared story. Chesney had first thought to avoid stories: “I wanted to reject folklore, myths and legends, when I was starting out. But I’ve since realised that it’s what makes us human; they inform how we understand things, these myths. Thus folklore helped us understand geology.” In comparison to the millennia that geologists measure their work in, the temporal elements of Snapshot are flickers, reflecting seasonal changes, lengthening days, and sharper or softer light. But those earlier conversations with Bowring have
clearly introduced more colour references to the rocks that form the Brecon Beacons. The introductions, by residency hosts PEAK to people like Bowring and to other artists, offered important connections for Chesney: “PEAK were wonderful to work for and I would say this residency was one of my favourites. Rebecca Spooner [PEAK creative director] had researched and visited other organisations that host art residences. I think she had very carefully considered what they wanted as an organisation, and what they expected from me. She was constructive with feedback and open to my ideas. We’ve worked really well together and that has made for a great residency.” Chesney has travelled extensively for numerous residency projects and commissions, adding to her store of knowledge and her understanding of how the world works. From working with bees, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to creating a lush but unapproachable lawn, in the dryness of the South African grassveld, and two acres of flowers in a Liverpool park, many projects seem to incorporate ideas or information from previous ones. It’s projects like these, which make Chesney, and artists like her, such a valuable bridge between art, science and other disciplines. Her work elicits connections, offers new ways of looking at, understanding and appreciating the landscape in all its multi-layered, messy glory; perhaps more profoundly than a spritz of Morning Dew air freshener—CCQ
rebeccachesney.com PEAK/COPA is an initiative devised by Arts Alive Wales to develop opportunities for contemporary art in the Black Mountains and Welsh Borders for the benefit of the region’s artists, communities and visitors. peakart.org.uk
All imagery from Snapshot: Colours of the Brecon Beacons, Rebecca Chesney, 2016
Grasshoppers and Rice Milk Kan Xuan’s current exhibition at Ikon is a survey of her video work dating from the late 1990s. Refreshingly unpretentious and economical in style, each piece exemplifies an attempt to represent the state of our daily life, set against the crowded and noisy modern world. Jonathan Watkins, the director of Ikon, introduces the artist and her practice, whilst the writer Anny Shaw invited her to respond intuitively to a variety of themes relating to life and art. In 1993, Kan Xuan left her home town, in southern Anhui province, to study at the China Academy of Arts, Hangzhou. There she came under the tutelage of influential practitioners Geng Jianyi and Zhang Peili. She moved to Bejing in 1998 and began to work with video. Three years on, she enrolled in the studio programme at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, where, she explains: “I learned to communicate with people, not just as a person in a community, but as an artist.” She returned again to Beijing, to live, in 2009. In Kanxuan! Ai! (1999), one of her earlier video works, Kan is seen dashing through subway tunnels, shouting her own name, as if looking for herself; she enthusiastically answers in the affirmative, “Ai!”, as she flits frenetically through an indifferent tide of humanity. Looking, looking, looking for… from 2002, traces the movement of a spider across two young naked bodies. While the viewer alternates between feelings of sensuality and arachnophobia, the humble creature, oblivious to the game of art, seeks a place to hide in the bodies’ many crenellations. The playful freedom found within the artist’s practice, is exemplified by A Happy Girl (2002). In this short video, an empty stone pedestal in a leafy garden is suddenly occupied by Kan, naked and dancing. Kan produced a number of works, during her years in Europe, which similarly reflect feelings of liberation and a voyage of discovery. At the same time, she was becoming increasingly preoccupied by the effects of globalisation and its economic impact – both in China and the West – especially on those who do not enjoy the benefits of political power. Kan’s artistic practice draws freely from 3,000 years of tradition, the realities of modern existence, and her own personal circumstances, without pausing to draw breath. She has travelled extensively in recent years to make hundreds of short films documenting places of Chinese historical significance. Simultaneously screened in video installations, they are quietly cautionary, an indictment of human vanity; the fundamental proposition being that any rise must inevitably be followed by a fall The transaction proposed by CCQ, is unusual: it offers a vehicle for augmenting art practice other than the usual academically-styled catalogue essay, or review in an industry journal. Kan’s responses to Anny Shaw are accompanied by stills from selected video works and reproductions of two works on paper, from a largely unseen, 2006 series.
on chocolate and milk: My generation in China didn’t have chocolate. It was still a very poor country, so I didn’t grow up with milk either; we had rice soup instead. To make it, you keep adding water as you cook the rice, until it becomes milky and white in the pan. My grandmother fed it to me; I can still remember the smell of it… People thought that was very healthy for babies back then.
on grasshoppers: I was born in Xuancheng, a place where there are many hills with lots of bamboo and insects. The summer evenings are especially lively; frogs and crickets compete in undulating chirping. When I was little, I caught grasshoppers in the bushes, braided them with foxtail millet, and brought them home to feed to the chickens.
在我小的时候没有巧克力，也没有牛奶。所以童年的时候常常喝米汁， 做饭的时候多加一点儿水，便有了白色清香的米汁，奶奶总是用它喂 我，我记得那个味儿。人们说米汁对小孩的身体好，很健康。
我出生在宣城，那里到处是丘陵。有很多竹子和昆虫。夏天的夜晚很热 闹。许多青蛙和蟋蟀的叫声此起彼伏，还有美丽的纺织娘，小时候，我 总是在草棵里捉蚂蚱，用狗尾巴草穿着，穿成串。然后带回家喂鸡。
on selling art: I don’t want to work too closely with the art market. If you have to live by selling work, you are always deeply nervous but you are eternally hopeful at the same time; that’s not a good place to be. I have my gallery, Continua, but if they don’t sell my work I don’t really care. I think it’s very healthy for me to have another job. I feel a lightness in my spirit right now, and I am happy.
on respect: I really respect terms like ‘making art’, ‘creativity’ and ‘work’. Actually, they put me to shame. 我特别敬畏“做作品”“创作”“工作”这样的词。它们让我感觉 惭愧。
on the making of The Happy Girl: I went to Sweden in 2003 with my friend, who has a summer house there. I stayed there alone, for two months. It was a special time for me; winter was just giving way to spring. It was a quiet space, so I could really concentrate. I was editing videos on my computer at a window; I’d spend a lot of time looking out of that window during those months. There was a white stone by a tree in the garden; I often thought there should have been a small sculpture there. So, one day, I jumped on the stone and started dancing. I made a small film, and did a quick edit on it. It’s about beauty and freedom. 2003年，和朋友去瑞典，她有一个度假小屋。 后来我独自在森林里居住了两个月，一段很特 别的时光。冬天刚刚过去春天已经到来，四周 极安静，可以专心的工作。空闲之时，我总是 透过窗口看着窗外，花园里有一块白色石头， 后面绿色树林。我总想着，那石头上应该有一 个小小的雕塑，轻松舞蹈。。。一天，我跳了 上去。。。经过拍摄剪辑，便是这个小小的录 像，关于美好和自在。
on art: I don’t worry about whether it’s art or not; I don’t care. If I feel good about it, then the project is good. People often say they’ve had an idea for this, or an idea for that. But I don’t think ideas are important; it’s about aspiration and inspiration.
many of them; I probably have fewer than 100 left now.
不在乎是不是艺术，如果工作快乐，作品也会 不错。常常人们说作品想法这样那样。。。想 法对我来说不重要，我觉得是意愿。
大概有两年的时间，我喜欢在贴着宣纸的木板 上写字，关于各种想不太明白的事，我总是花 很长的时间整理思考，写着写着停不下来。我 把宣纸裱在小木板上，木板拿在手里很舒服， 我的包里总是揣着几张这样的木板，在任何地 方都可以写字儿，比如在公园。我有一个盒 子，里面都是这些木板，后来也丢失了很多， 可能现在还剩下一百多张。
on writing: For almost two years, I spent a lot of time writing on rice paper. I would spend many hours at a time writing to try and make better sense of things which I did not understand. Sometimes I would go to the park and write. Once I had started I couldn’t stop; I could write anywhere really. I would stick the sheets onto small pieces of cardboard so they became objects; they felt very comfortable to hold. I always have a few in my bag I had boxes of the things at one point but I’ve lost
on life in China Living in China creates aspiration and imposes restrictions at the same time. It has provided me with a level of fulfillment, not only in how I work, but also in how I approach survival in general. These are the kinds of things we come across every day in China: a tailor couple, living at the end of a hutong, who work day and night; then there is the beautiful woman at the dry cleaners, who is ironing constantly; and I mustn’t forget the couple at the steam
buns shop. There is the brother and sister at the fruit stand; the brother goes by the nickname ‘Baldie’, and ever since the new order of grapes has arrived at the market, he’s been meticulously picking out the rotten ones. It’s very difficult to find anyone who’s relaxing. 在中国，给我最大的感悟就是劳作和生存。所 有为维持生存而做的奋斗，梦想及忍耐。住在 胡同路口的裁缝夫妻总是日夜忙碌的缝补衣 裳，干洗店里的美丽妇人手持熨斗日日烫熨， 馒头店的老板也是一对夫妻，这里还有开水果 店的姐弟，弟弟的名字叫“秃秃”，这几天葡 萄上市了，他总在神情专注地剔除一颗颗烂葡 萄。平常，很难看到他们悠闲的坐着，永远都 是他们忙碌的身影。
on humour: It is better to be humorous than calculating; to be light-spirited than pretentious. This is how I like to think. 多一点幽默，少一点斤斤计较。多一点轻 松，少一点装腔作势。我喜欢这样。
on video as a creative medium: My favorite thing about video is that it is ephemeral, it disappears; I feel very relaxed when I turn off my phone, by the way. After a video is edited, it disappears onto my hard drive — it’s gone — no one knows it’s there (not that I really care if they do of course)! The thought is comforting somehow, though. I gather my work together like a squirrel storing up nuts for winter; that’s a great way to think about it! 我把手机关掉时总是很轻松。当影像剪辑完成 之后，消失在我的硬盘里（没有了！） ，这 样想到，我总是很舒服。没有人知道也不在乎 别人不知道。象松鼠一样把果实储存起来？这 样说太美了！—CCQ Kan Xuan is showing at Ikon, Birmingham until 11 September 2016 ikon-gallery.org galleriacontinua.com
1st spread, left page, all images: Garbage, Kan Xuan, 1999, video, sound, 60’, single channel, film still courtesy the artist and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins and Habana 1st spread, right page: Kan Xuan! Ai!, Kan Xuan, 1999. video, sound, 1’22”, single channel. film still courtesy the artist and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins and Habana 2nd spread: Untitled, Kan Xuan, 2006, pen and ink opposite: A happy girl, Kan Xuan, 2002, video, sound, 1’, single channel. Film still courtesy the artist and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins and Habana right, all images: Island, Kan Xuan, 2006-2009, 4-channel video installation. film still courtesy of the artist and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins and Habana
Castaways Part performance and part act of sculptural fabrication, an iron pour involves glowing, molten metal flowing into moulds, at very high temperatures. Moving deftly amongst showers of sparks and smoke, leather-clad performers/founders appear to have stepped straight off the set of a Mad Max movie. John Beynon, in an alternative approach to evidencing a pour, salvaged plugs of iron from the moulds, before they were recycled. Using these discarded and misshapen lumps of metal, he composed a series of still life photographsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;CCQ
Left and right page: Untitled, from the series Castaways, John Beynon 2016, photographic image
Untitled (Stockton & The Beach), from the series: Out of Season, Mark Havens
Out of Season In documenting the disappearing motels of Wildwood, New Jersey, Mark Haven’s photographs echo that most universal of all human experiences, the relentless passage of time. As the project’s publication launches, Havens talks to CCQ about its conception. The Out of Season series uses the disappearing motels of Wildwood, New Jersey to examine an idealised past and its inexorable disappearance. So many of my summers played out against the backdrop of the Wildwood’s unique motels, that they seemed as unchangeable as mountains to me. But several years ago, amid a rush of condominium development, they began to disappear. The motels of Wildwood were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s and were like nothing else along the Jersey Shore; buildings enveloped in cake icing stucco, high on I-beam stilts of pink and aqua; walls and roofs tilted bizarrely, as if frozen in mid-collapse, walkways and arches spiralled upward in strange concrete ribbons, and plastic palm trees sprouted from zigzag verandas. The builders made sure to imbue their creations with the culture of the moment: space travel; cars; nascent rock ‘n roll and exotic Polynesian locales. Above this riot of Ag-Crete and steel, bristled a forest of neon signs, spelling out names like Satellite, Astronaut, Bel Air and Waikiki. Developers, driven by skyrocketing property prices elsewhere along the Eastern Seaboard, arrived en masse at the end of the 1990s. Motel owners, accustomed to decades of simply scraping by, suddenly found themselves offered million dollar jackpots for the sand their motels sat on. Once sold, demolition often followed swiftly. Many of these buildings are empty, not simply because the summer is over, but because we’ve all, for better or worse, moved on. markhavens.com/out-of-season Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods by Mark Havens is published by Booth-Clibborn Editions. Available now, £30
Swyddfa Ewrop Greadigol y Deyrnas Unedig Cymru
Cyllid a chyfleoedd i’r sectorau diwylliannol, creadigol a chlyweledol
Funding and opportunities for the cultural, creative and audiovisual sectors www.creativeeuropeuk.eu #creativeeurope @CEDUK_Culture
Volcano Theatre – One Land Many Faces. Prosiect cydweithredol rhwng Volcano Theatre (Cymru) | La Transplanisphère (France) | Institut Français (France) | Bildung und Integration (Germany) | Maison de la Création (Belgium) | Ortzai Teatro (Spain) | Sin Arts (Hungary). Ffotograffiaeth gan Arthur Navellou. Prosiect cyd-weithredol wedi ei ariannu gan raglen Diwylliant yr UE 2007-2014. www.volcanotheatre.co.uk
Volcano Theatre – One Land Many Faces. A co-production between Volcano Theatre (Wales, UK) | La Transplanisphère (France) | Institut Français (France) | Bildung und Integration (Germany) | Maison de la Création (Belgium) | Ortzai Teatro (Spain) | Sin Arts (Hungary). Photography by Arthur Navellou. Cooperation Project supported by the EU Culture Programme 2007-2014. www.volcanotheatre.co.uk
Hydref yn Pontio, Bangor… Autumn at Pontio, Bangor… Cwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru
National Dance Company Wales
Theatr Bryn Terfel
Theatr Bryn Terfel
Nos Wener 16 Medi 7.30pm £14/£12 myfyrwyr a
Friday 16 September 7.30pm £14/£12 students and
Folk/ Taith Hydref 2016
Folk/ Autumn Tour 2016
Dydd Sadwrn 17 Medi 1pm (Matinee Rhyngweithiol i’r Teulu) £8/£6
Saturday 17 September. 1pm (Family Interactive Matinee) £8/£6
myfyrwyr a gostyngiadau
Cabaret Pontio yn cyflwyno Cabaret Pontio presents
Black Umfolosi Theatr Bryn Terfel
Nos Wener 30 Medi 8pm £14/£12 myfyrwyr a gostyngiadau
Friday 30 September 8pm £14/£12 students and concessions
students and concessions
Merch yr Eog / Merc’h an Eog Neontopia a Chanolfan Mileniwm Cymru Neontopia and Wales Millennium Centre
A Good Clean Heart Stiwdio/Studio Nos Fercher, 5 a Nos Iau, 6 Hydref 7.30pm £12/£10 myfyrwyr a gostyngiadau
Wednesday, 5 and Thursday, 6 October 7.30pm £12/£10 students and concessions
Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru a Teatr Piba mewn partneriaeth â Chanolfan y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth
Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Teatr Piba in partnership with Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Theatr Bryn Terfel
Theatr Bryn Terfel
Nos Fawrth, 11 a Nos Fercher, 12 Hydref 7.30pm
Tuesday, 11 & Wednesday, 12 October 7.30pm
£12/£10 myfyrwyr a gostyngiadau
£12/£10 students & concessions