CCQ magazine issue 8

Page 1

Chim↑Pom | Ivor Davies | Eddie Ladd | Sue Williams Athi-Patra Ruga | Harrison & Wood | @Gaybar 08

9 772053 688016


Cecile Johnson Soliz, Untitled, paper and acrylic / papur ac acrylig, 2014

anthony rhys Notorious: The Dark Side of Victorian Carmarthen / Drwg-Enwog: Ochr Dywyll Caerfyrddin yn Oes Fictoria 9 Ionawr – 12 Mawrth 2016 9 January – 12 March 2016

Oriel Myrddin Gallery

cecile johnson soliz Made Up / Gwneud Lan 19 Mawrth – 21 Mai 2016 19 March – 21 May 2016

oriel myrddin gallery

Lôn y Llan / Church Lane, Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen SA31 1LH 01267 222775 / Dydd Llun – Dydd Sadwrn 10–5 / Monday – Saturday 10–5 Mynediad am ddim / Admission is free

dail behennah Fieldwork / Gwaith Maes 28 Mai – 30 Gorffennaf 2016 28 May – 30 July 2016

Ian Watson: End to End Burners 18/02/16 - 05/03/16 Plus live events & talk check website closer to time for details

Hefyd, digwyddiadau byw a sgwrs Ewch at y wefan yn agosach at y dyddiad am fwy o fanylion


Dydd Mercher - Dydd Sadwrn 12:30 - 17:30. Wed - Sat. 12.30 to 5.30

Arcadecardiff, Queens Arcade, Queen Street, Cardiff, CF10 2BY. Ian Watson -

An Oriel Davies touring exhibition in partnership with Independent Curator Mandy Fowler, supported by Arts Council of Wales / Arddangosfa deithiol Oriel Davies mewn partneriaeth â’r Curadur Annibynnol Mandy Fowler, a gefnogir gan Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru


5 DECEMBER 2015 - 6 MARCH 2016 5 RHAGFYR 2015 - 6 MAWRTH 2016



– The Editors– This issue comes to you as packed full of luxury as a hamper full of feminine hygiene products, and in time to give yourself a festive treat - if you’re eagle-eyed and fleet of foot. If not it’ll perk you up in the New Year, so it’s win-win all the way. But, as we’re celebrating the creative process, in all of its divers beautiful manifestations, we can hear the sound of axes being sharpened and scythes cutting swathes through the public funding that gives much of this activity its backbone. As we go to print, Cardiff Council is preparing to hack up their arts budget in a breath-taking act of short-termism. If councillors have their way then we’ll be saying goodbye to the very excellent biennial Cardiff Contemporary, along with a host of long-running organisations, who have supported the more innovative and exciting projects in the Welsh capital for decades. If not killed, they’ll certainly be hobbled to a shuffling standstill. Oddly, the arts community has always shown itself more than capable of thinking creatively when it comes to hunting down the cash to make things happen. Ivor Davies’ exhibition is a case in point, made possible through significant funding from the Academic Higher Research Council and the good offices of Professor Heike Roms, who recast Davis’ fascinating survey show as a research project. It is usually the case that every pound of arts funding levers out many more from other sources for the benefit of the economy. Of course, local authorities are between the proverbial rock and hard place as they, in turn, are squeezed by a government intent on splashing the cash on weaponry, but not the arts (which of course encourage people to think – dangerous stuff) or a lot of the basics like welfare and health care. Just because we’re an arts magazine, doesn’t mean we don’t see the bigger picture. In 2016, we’ll be looking at some canny artist-led organisations, who more than prove their worth to the local and wider economy, and we look forward to hearing from you about how you’re tackling the big squeeze. In the meantime, a happy, peaceful and creative 2016 to you all, with my usual teary thanks to the fabulous CCQ team, who have spread this issues arty feast before you, and to you for reading.

So why are arts budgets being slashed so enthusiastically? Because expenditure on art is not seen as being as crucial as expenditure on defence, education or health; art is considered a luxury. Ironically, if art was not thought of as a luxury commodity, but instead recategorised as dangerous and disruptive, budgets might be cut even faster. At the height of Stalin’s purges artists and intellectuals were among those he sent to become zeks in the labour camps of the Gulag Archipelago. He did not banish them to alleviate the burden on the public purse, but because he was very much afraid of their knack for looking behind sham-political veils and then communicating to others what they had seen. In the West we do not have this respect for artists and philosophers, because, for the last 150 years, we have listened to absinthe-addled romantics shouting ‘art for art’s sake’. Or as Edgar Alan Poe writes in his 1850 essay The Poetic Principle ‘...[there] neither exists nor can exist any work more thoroughly dignified, more supremely noble... [than] this poem written solely for the poem’s sake.’ If these 19th century flower children were right, then the artistic endeavour is no more than masturbation and window-dressing. As I write this, Assemble have just won the Turner Prize, for working with residents to regenerate housing in Toxteth. Can this work be described as art, let alone ‘art for art’s sake’? There is an incorrect presupposition bound up in the question, that there exists a single distillable essence, which something must possess for it to be categorised as ‘art’. The question presupposes that art must have a pure and separate Platonic soul. The art to be found in Assemble’s efforts resides not in any one of its parts but in its whole; it lies in the processes of communication, the transactions that the collective have engendered and into which the related objects and actions are immersed. Art is in the spaces between. I would encourage those who believe that art exists just for its own sake to experience Chim↑Pom’s emotive responses to Hiroshima and Fukushima, or to spend a happy evening making out at one of Quinlan & Hasting’s queer reading groups. Art exists not for itself but for others. Let us hope the government does not catch on to this. As the scottish politician Andrew Fletcher wrote in 1703: “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”

Emma Geliot

Ric Bower

—Cover Image— Legal: As an arts magazine we take the intellectual property rights of our contributors very seriously. All copyright in this issue belongs to the authors or originators of the material and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the author. Unless otherwise stated, all material has been produced by or for CCQ Magazine. We take great care to ensure that information within the magazine is accurate and fair, but opinions stated within this issue are those of the author and not necessarily of CCQ Magazine or the publishers, Culture Colony Quarterly Magazine Ltd. If you find something that is inaccurate or misleading please let us know, and we will attempt to remedy any errors on our part at the earliest opportunity, either in print or on-line. Culture Colony Quarterly (CCQ) Magazine is published by Culture Colony Quarterly Magazine Ltd, a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales. Company no: 08634632

Cover image: The History of Humans, (installation/ performance view), Chim↑Pom, 2015, Photo: Gástôn van Mülders for CCQ.

—Something Else— CCQ are very proud to have helped Huw Alden Davies produce his new publication Prince in conjunction with Elysium Gallery, Swansea, and Diffusion Festival. If you are lucky, a copy will be attached free to this issue. If not and you would like to purchase one, please contact Huw through his website, contact us at, purchase one at: Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Church St, Carmarthen. 01267 222775; Elysium Gallery, College Street, Swansea. 07980 925449 CCQ Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, 029 20398510; Ffotogallery, Turner House, Penarth, Cardiff, 029 20708870. See in 2016 for more outlets throughout the UK and further afield.

We were also extremely pleased to host a launch party to celebrate Prince at the brilliant Abacus, in Cardiff, with two wondrous local bands WolfPunch and Jemma Roper supporting the excellent 100% Beefcock and the Titsburster. We also had the delightful dj drunkenmissorderly / Zia Torta spinning discs and fluttering eyelashes in between. Our very good friend, and director of CCQ, Mr Culture Colony, Pete Telfer, filmed the Beefies and produced this superb film, available on (at 100% Beefcock will soon be releasing their first album produced by Steve Albini, no less. Look out for it. We would like to thank the bands and performers who took part, the numerous lovely volunteers especially Eric, Tom, Finn and Amber, Pete, and of course Huw.

Editors: Emma Geliot and Ric Bower Design, Editorial Assistance, Sales: Rhiannon Lowe Editorial Assistant: Francesca Donovan Sub Editor: David Sinden Design Consultancy: Height Studio Web Development: Glass Mountain Ambassadors: Victoria Houselander Cook & Beka Prentice Photographic Assistance: Megan Winstone

CCQ Magazine Chapter Market House Market Road Cardiff CF5 1QE 029 20398510 @CCQmag

Distribution Central Books, 0845 4589911 Editors General Enquiries Advertising Distribution Subscriptions Printed by

Above, top: cover of Prince, Huw Alden Davies, 2015; centre: 100% Beefcock and the Titsburster, Nov 2015, Abacus, Cardiff, photo: Gástôn van Mülders and Amber Bower; right: the untitled (wallpaper), (detail), Rhiannon Lowe, 2015

Omissions: In our last issue, we omitted to mention Waterside Contemporary in relation to George Barber. Several of the works shown alongside the interview we did with him were in fact commissioned by Waterside Contemporary.

Also, many thanks to David Barnes for his very welcome assistance with picture editing in the previous issue. The bellyband, so-called, on this issue is in fact pitched a little below the belt, and comes c/o CCQ’s own Rhiannon Lowe.

Subscibe to and buy back copies of CCQ in print at and see us online for free at


p16 Gang of Two: Wood and Harrison on life as a double act

p62 Take a Look at Me (Now): Camille Blatrix’s No School is a family affair

p22 Love is Over: Chim↑Pom overcoming powerlessness

p66 Pause for Thought: EMDASH foundation supporting the temporal

p28 Offered a Dream: Huw Alden Davies and his larger-than-life father

p68 THROB: Sue Williams and art, the heart and other parts

p32 Fantastic Impermanence: Ivor Davies putting politics in paint

p38 Right Back at You: Ryan Moule and Rut Blees Luxemburg

p42 Third Phase: Georgie Grace and Kelly Best – Jerwood’s guinea pigs

p48 It Has to be Beautiful: Athi-Patra Ruga’s challenging personas p56 Memory in the Muscles: Eddie Ladd dances with culture

p72 Atsushi Momoi: our selection from the new ESPY Photography award

p76 PERICLO: Oriel Wrecsam takes new art to market

p82 Queering the Landscape: @Gaybar carves out new ground

p86 Makeshifting: Daniel Baker on art and the Roma

p90 Well Worn: Gareth Wyn Owen mines the stickier side of eBay

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 #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.

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.

DOLPH focuses on the stuff that drives an artist’s practice and the context in which work is made. At DOLPH we set a brief. The brief asks artists to be generous because what we are asking of them is intrusive. We want them to share the personal stuff that is often hidden away as notes to themselves, to share the idiosyncratic thoughts and influences that go on to form their later propositions. How the artist does this is completely up to them. They set their own terms. They are their own curators.

2016 Hanaa Malallah Ambrosine Allen Simon Callery Lana Locke Phillip Allen Jordan Baseman @DOLPHprojects

3D Computer Animation Advertising and Brand Design Automotive Design Creative Computer Games Design Digital Arts Digital Film and Television Production Fine Art Glass Graphic Design Illustration Music Technology Photography in the Arts Photojournalism Product Design Surface Pattern Design Transport Design

[Image credit: Emily O’Grady]

Find out more at:

Gang of Two Artists John Wood and Paul Harrison have been collaborating for over twenty years, making works that dance along a line of absurdity, irony, tragedy and humour. They first met at what was then Bath College of Higher Education in the late 1980s, but it was only later, after they had both graduated, that they began working together. Between projects, Emma Geliot met them in their Bristol studio to find out more about the nature of their collaboration.

Emma Geliot: What’s so special about being part of a duo? Paul Harrison: The nice thing, about there being two of us, is when you’re in the studio or off doing a really nice show, in a nice space, with nice people, it’s brilliant being together and it makes it much more fun.

conversation. It’s useful, ‘good cop, ever so slightly not so good cop’ – we’re giving away our secrets here, so that’s not going to work anymore… PH: We like to think we are nice, but we can’t be that nice, because nice people give up because it’s really tough.

John Wood: But then that 10 per cent of the time is balanced with the other 90 per cent, where it’s not much fun and having the other one there really helps.

JW: As we get older there are fewer and fewer options to do anything else, so you just keep going, you don’t have any choice, we actually can’t do anything else; having the other one helps to stop this becoming really scary, at least you’re not the only one.

PH: When I was a student, a particularly naïve student, I expected the art world to be full of people who were really kind and interested and generous and supportive and, apologies to any equally naïve students reading this, it’s not quite like that.

EG: Do you have the same working relationship now as when you first started out? JW: We had no idea when we first started that we would be working together for so long, we didn’t have contracts…

JW: We sometimes find ourselves in a difficult situation or up against a difficult person, then it’s great having the other one. Suddenly we’ll switch, Paul will send an email and it’ll completely change the tone of the

PH: …I wouldn’t have signed.


JW: We had so much time when we first started, we did everything together, every strange three minute screening in Hungary, we’d be there doubling the audience. PH: Now thankfully it’s different, not that I don’t like hanging out with John… It’s just different, we’re always busy. This again is where it’s great having the two of us; we can divide thing between us. EG: Is this how you are going to deal with the shows at von Bartha and in Tokyo? PH: Yes, I’m off to Basel and John’s going to Tokyo, John’s fourth trip out there; and I guess maybe my thirtieth trip to Switzerland. You make friends and contacts so it sort of makes sense to stick with places and projects. Though I think John would like to swap this time, because he’s just come back from Vancouver and I think he’s a bit knackered. JW: A bit. PH: I was ill, so couldn’t go, so John took over. We’re collaborating on a piece out there with Ballet BC [British Columbia] commisoned by CAG [Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver], so he was working with the dancers developing the work. JW: So now I’m back, I’ll take the lead on the ICC project and Paul on the von Bartha show. PH: But we’re in constant communication. We both know what’s going on, I hope. EG: Sounds like you are busy. How do you carve out time to experiment and maybe go against what people expect of you? Can you take that time out? JW: It’s always a balancing act between making work and showing work, and the tons of other crap that you have to deal with; but we always make the time. PH: The big shift in our practice, in the last five or six years, has been a move away from purely screen-based works into other stuff. These things – objects, drawings, photographs and other things, we don’t know what to call – have always been in the studio, it just took us a while to get them out. JW: We started extremely tentatively in the IKON show with a few drawings and objects and weird things alongside, predominantly, video work. It was interesting because, at that point, we’d been making video for 15 years, and so had all that experience, but we didn’t really know what we were doing with these new things. PH: It re-invigorated the practice I think, we felt like we were starting over, but we made some huge mistakes and some terrible works; I mean really awful. JW: But that’s part of it, failing is a positive. PH: Unless you do it all the time… JW: We didn’t try to fail, I mean we really tried to not fail. We would plan and draw and try things out. Often we would think ‘we’ve got it’. What do we call it the night before when we think we’ve cracked something, and then we come in the next day and it’s shit? PH: False dawn. JW: But now, we do have a bit more experience with these new parts of the practice and we’re almost really quite confident, in a quiet way, that the von Bartha show will work out well. PH: I hope so, because I’m going to be the one at the private view… EG: I’ve managed to skid around the humour question: a lot of artists struggle

with being labelled as being funny, because it detracts from the how seriously you’re taken. PH: We don’t worry about it, but equally, we’re aware of it. JW: I think the audience knows when the artists are taking what they do seriously. PH: Even when the outcome can be… well, we like to say, ‘slightly amusing’. JW: When people first started laughing at the early works we were really surprised; we didn’t mind, but we were surprised. PH: People have this strange idea that in all the work, every piece we have made, I fall over or something hits John on the head; The End. And really, that only happens in about 95% of the works… JW: Actually that hardly ever happens; we’ve made a lot of works which are not in the slightest bit amusing, really dull, deliberately so, or often quite melancholic; people say that quite often about the works. PH: I would say we use a gag structure quite often to deliver the idea; not a gag so much, but more the structure; here is something, something will happen, something does happen, The End. JW: But we really don’t mind if people do find the work funny, and if they laugh that’s great. PH: Sometimes its odd though, people have been crying with laughter,

I mean totally losing it, when that happens we tend to think that maybe they should get out more… EG: There seems to be a requirement of art to entertain rather than trying to make people think. I like the idea that you’re not delivering on that, to actually step away from that and allow the slow burn. JW: I’m not sure I agree completely with the question… PH: No, I think all types of art are being made now and have been made at all time. There is a temptation to see things as part of movements still. There are a lot of extremely dense works being produced that, say, you might see at a biennale, but also a lot of fluff… JW: That you might see at an art fair? PH: Yes, I think it’s fun to show the dullest work at a fair. You’re supposed to show colorful things that spin around and make a noise, so showing a life-size photograph of a ruler, for instance, as we did at FIAC [Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain] once is sort of fun, in a perverse way. JW: It didn’t sell… PH: Obviously not… JW: Art fairs clearly do have an effect on some art production, so I guess in a way you are right with your point about entertainment. We always try

to make work that operates on several levels; I hate that phrase, but you know what I mean. Maybe, going back to the humour, we sometimes use that to engage people, sort of a hook, then you have the viewer and other things can take over and develop. PH: Maybe art fairs will be less important in the future, even now people talk about there being too many… JW: The thing that we’ve noticed – and what’s interesting about having a longish career – is things come and go, and come back again. What is important now might not be so important next year. PH: When we started off everything had to be made on a TV quality format, big production values etc., and then there was this period of low budget, and now things have come back around. It’s interesting for younger people who haven’t seen that. Three years ago, you couldn’t move for 16mm, now everything’s shot on 4k with a crew and budget that would keep us going for four years. JW: A lot of things now are overinflated and overblown and some of it’s great, but most of it isn’t. PH: No one seems to be making short little videos… JW: Just us. PH: We’re stubborn I guess. JW: Or deluded. PH: Or wrong. EG: How does your work evolve? Do you arrive at a point together? PH: We draw. JW: A lot. PH: Most days. JW: It’s not a proper job. PH: Sometimes a work will come from one drawing. Sometimes it’s a drawing from the week before combined with a drawing from ten years ago. JW: We use drawings to clarify our ideas to ourselves and to the other one. A drawing means it’s out there. PH: There is no taking it back and if it’s a bad idea, we can spend the next twelve months reminding the other one how bad it was. JW: It also depends on the work. For instance, in the von Bartha show, we are going to exhibit a few finished drawings from the 500 drawings series; it’s a series of 500 drawings… We don’t even run them by each other, they just appear. Installation images: Some Things are Undesigned, John Wood and Paul Harrison, at von Bartha, 2015, courtesy of von Bartha & the artists. Photos: Andreas Zimmermann. p21, top: 13 Assassinations, John Wood and Paul Harrison, 2013, 7’00” HD, single channel, 16:9, edition of 5 (plus 2 A/Ps). Courtesy the artists and von Bartha p21, bottom: Collaborative Portraits, Harrison and Wood, for CCQ, 2015. Technical facilitation: Gástôn van Mülders, photographic assistant: Megan Winstone

PH: But with a video work, or, say, with A film about a city, also in the von Bartha show, that kind of work takes months, years even. JW: Endless drawings and discussions, and those discussions are important obviously.

PH: Another reason why it’s good to work with someone, they are always there to talk to, to throw things at; not physically, well not often physically. JW: The other one acts as a filter, hopefully getting rid of the bad ideas. PH: Not always. EG: Because you know each other, you can circumvent what the other is going to hate. I’m trying not to compare it to a marriage, but you can cut out a lot of crap in the middle. JW: Are you suggesting there is no crap in a marriage? PH: I’m consciously aware that we try to surprise each other… even if we do know what the other one will like or dislike. JW: Are we still talking about a marriage? PH: We obviously know each other very well, but we don’t know exactly what the other one is thinking, we can’t see inside the other one’s head. So in that way it is like a marriage… Again, that’s why we use drawing to try and clarify what we are both thinking. JW: We have developed a kind of shorthand, over the years, almost little catchphrases that we use to save time. PH: But sometimes, we get it very wrong; we can still really fail to communicate, be on different planets. EG: Have either of you wanted desperately to do something and haven’t been able to because the other wasn’t keen? JW: The thing I most want to do is retire to a garden shed… PH: Because we’re not precious about ideas, maybe exactly because you can’t be if there are two of you, we tend to think that if we don’t do ‘that’ we’ll do something else just as interesting. PH: That’s not to say we’re not driven to do certain things; we are, but I think that’s just how we work. JW: We still have time, though it is running out, to do a lot of things. So, if we don’t do something now, we’ll do it next year. It’s also a way to test the strength of an idea, sit on it for a while, if it comes back up and still sounds good then maybe it’s a keeper… PH: And I think if one of us really wanted to do, say, plasticine modelling, there’s quite a high chance that the other will say ‘okay’. JW: I’m not so sure… PH: What’s really nice, is that when one of us is away working on a show or something on our own, the other is always in the background, backing you up. But you still have to make decisions on your own. We don’t submit them to the panel of the other.

EG: Have you ever, in 24 years, contemplated doing solo projects? JW: I have been for the last ten years. Paul doesn’t know. PH: We’re too busy, and we really do enjoy what we do and the fact that we get to do it together, it’s a fantasy job, the best one in the world. It’s like being an astronaut and it’s great having someone to share that with. JW: There is only so much our other partners will tolerate, and believe me they are tolerant, but after a while they will tell us to shut up. PH: But we’ve been having a 24 year long conversation and we haven’t got bored yet… well, I haven’t. JW: … PH: We do give each other room though, we have to; we don’t really socialise, except when we are away together, in some ways we socialise in the studio, hang out and chat, not just about the work of course JW: I can’t imagine we’d collaborate with someone else if one of us died. It would just be weird. PH: It’s funny, and this is going slightly off the point, but when we first started and we were making very perfomative videos, we just wanted to be stick figures, anonymous things really. But then John is slightly smaller than I am… JW: Quite a bit smaller… PH: People have said that John has a pathetic looking face, big eyes – open somehow. People feel sympathy towards John, but not so much towards me. Whenever I go to von Bartha, Stefan [von Bartha]’s dad’s first question is’ ‘Is John here’, and I’m like, ‘No, it’s just me, sorry’. John’s the nice one. That’s why I do most of the commercial dealings. JW: I think what Paul is trying to say, is that our relationship, or friendship, is the work, we can’t remove ourselves from it. Our personalities and the way we are together shapes the work. PH: So we are interdependent to such a great extent now, that’s why we don’t think about working alone. JW: Obviously one of us is going to die first, unless maybe it happens when we’re making a video… If you died it could increase the value of our work. PH: Yeah, not by much… EG: So how do you make a living? PH: We made two classic mistakes. Firstly, there are two of us so everything gets split 50/50 after the gallery takes its percentage… JW: Although to be honest almost all the 50% we get from the gallery goes back into making work, so we actually get something like a fifth for a salary.

JW: So we do have a kind of independence within the practice.

PH: Our business motto: ‘Cover your costs, break even…’ Our second mistake, we make video. Which sells, but not for much and not that often.

PH: We just have to trust each other.

JW: Those were really bad business decisions…

Issue 8

PH: …Which we don’t regret, because we are having a great time, admittedly in a poor sort of way. JW: We both teach very part time, which gives us a degree of self-sufficiency, because we don’t have to sell work to live and that gives us a lot of freedom to make the work we want. PH: We work with five commercial galleries and do sell quite a bit, but not enough so we make anyone a lot of money, and in a way that removes us from the pressure of having to make works that sell. JW: Yes we don’t get that, ‘make me ten more of those’, mainly because the first one didn’t sell anyway. PH: We don’t have to worry; we’ve always noticed that children tend to really like the work, so in thirty years time when they have all grown up and some of them have become collectors… JW: …We’re going to be loaded. PH: The art world is quite tough, and sometimes you have to remind yourself what the good bits of what you do are. JW: Really it’s when you get an idea, then you work out it’s perfect formal resolution, well as near to perfect as you can. When you do that and this thing pops out and it just works… well that feeling is worth a lot of cash. PH: It’s actually not. JW: It’s worth a lot of something…

John Wood & Paul Harrison: Some things are undersigned is at von Bartha, Basel 07 Nov, 2015 – 23 Jan, 2016 John Wood and Paul Harrison: Some Things Are Hard to Explain is at the NTT Intercommunication Centre, Tokyo 21 November 2015 – 21 February 2016



ove is

The Japanese collective Chim↑Pom’s rampage of playful social interventions began in Tokyo in 2005. Their emotive responses to the 2011 Fukushima disaster went on to solidify their reputation as leading cultural activists. Ric Bower spoke to Ryuta Ushiro 卯城竜 , the collective’s leader, on the top floor of the Saatchi gallery where Ellie エリイ, of Chim↑Pom, was performing The history of humans, after Chim↑Pom won the Prudential EYE Award for Best Emerging Artist.


Elf-like, Ellie is perched atop a huge pile of origami cranes that have taken over a large part of the Saatchi Gallery; she has set herself the impossible task of unfolding every crane, a project that she undertakes hypnotically and with immense care. Every one of the cranes had been a gift to the city of Hiroshima, sent by a well-wisher, as a cathartic gesture in response to nuclear devastation reeked by Little Boy in 1945. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to share in this process of healing by refolding the cranes Ellie has unfolded. Our fumbling fingers, our complete inability to remake that which has been undone, became a metaphor for the powerlessness we feel when faced with such a mountain of suffering. Ryuta Ushiro 卯城竜太 and I sat and watched Ellie as we spoke. I began by asking Ryuta where the name Chim↑Pom came from. Ryuta Ushiro 卯城竜太: Ellie just had a realisation one day. It was like‘Oh, we are Chim↑Pom!’ Nobody knows why or what it really means, not even her. Ric Bower: CCQ invited Chim↑Pom to share evidence from a performance of their choice. You chose Love is Over. Can you tell me how it came about?

p37 Five Stones Game, Nevin Aladag, 2009-12 38 Fine Art Photograph Prints, dimensions variable Copyright Nevin Aladag. Courtesy of the artist and Rampa, Istanbul Installation view, YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, Baku Photo: Rauf Askyarov, Courtesy YARAT

RU: One day, out of the blue, Ellie said she’s gonna get married.


She stated that: ‘Marriage is a social act, different from privately living together.’ So we decided to apply for permission to stage a demonstration and have a wedding ceremony on the streets; a kind of Royal Wedding parade. On the day, we were already very drunk before we hit the street; there were lots of police as a result of the application to demonstrate too. We’ve realised marriage is indeed something very public. Personal issues always have public meaning and, as an art collective, this relationship between personal and public is very interesting to us.

RB: When you did the performances around Fukushima, what did the locals think?

slightest inkiling about what you were doing then?

RU: There is nobody in or anywhere near Fukushima. It’s an exclusion zone, so there was no response!

RU: We did Black Death twice in Tokyo, once in 2008 and then again in 2013. The first time, many people looked up at the sky and got excited. They didn’t understand, but they wanted to know what was going on. When we did it again, people said: ‘Oh! This is Chim↑Pom! That’s boring, we’ve seen that before!’

RB: Your performance Black Death, though, when you walked around in parks with a stuffed crow and a megaphone amplifying the sound crows make to call other crows, and then you drove around the city with hundreds of crows flying above you, this was done in the heart of Tokyo, with lots of people watching. Did people have the


RB: You made an appearance on the Japanese pop culture television show Bazooka, How does Chim↑Pom relate to the

kind of popular culture that serves a specific commercial function?

performance into a music video. How did that work for you?

RU: Art has many kinds of audience. We don’t mind what kind of people are looking at us and we don’t restrict what kind of people we target. We want to create something universal that ordinary people can relate to, now or in the future.

RU: There was a story behind the Why Sheep? remix. We released One Hundred Cheers soon after the Fukushima disaster at a time when nobody was responding to Japan’s nuclear problem, so we invited the young people from the town of Soma to join us in a circle shouting and cheering whatever came to mind. They cheered things like: “Keep it up!”, “I want to swim in the ocean!”, “I want a girlfriend!” and “Rebuild!” We wanted to give away the sound data of 100 Cheers for free to anyone that wanted to use it. Why Sheep?

RB: You invited young people from Soma, a town very close to Fukushima, to take part in a work of great spontaneity and optimism called One Hundred Cheers. Why Sheep? went on to remix it, turning it from an art


had also been feeling powerless after what happened and they were inspired to make something new from it, which is great. RB: It feels like you are real life Manga characters! Is Manga important to you? RU: Interesting! Our whole generation is influenced by Manga, of course. We carry the essence of Manga within us, but we’re not necessarily consciously aware of it. RB: I get the sense you needed to do things, to make work, because you didn’t feel you had any power as a citizen after Fukushima.

Title Pages: The History of Humans, (installation/ performance view), Chim↑Pom, 2015, Photo: Gástôn van Mülders for CCQ. Previous Pages: Wedding invitation, LOVE IS OVER, Chim↑Pom, January 24th-25th 2014, Kabuki-cho district, Shinjuku This page, top left b&w: LOVE IS OVER, Chim↑Pom, January 24th-25th 2014, Kabuki-cho district, Shinjuku. Photo: Andrey Bold Both pages: Ellie holding LOVE sign, crowd shots from above, group shot above, pair dressed in white: LOVE IS OVER, Chim↑Pom, January 24th25th 2014, Kabuki-cho district, Shinjuku. Photo: Leslie Kee Both pages: Ellie being picked up and kissed: LOVE IS OVER, Chim↑Pom, January 24th-25th 2014, Kabuki-cho district, Shinjuku. Photo: Ryan Chan Both pages: Ellie with megaphone, Ellie kissing in crowd, Chim↑Pom on LOVE sign: LOVE IS OVER, Chim↑Pom, January 24th-25th 2014, Kabuki-cho district, Shinjuku. Photo: Kishin Shinoyama

elements to the hand, to the face, to the gaze; I take a very sculptural approach to the figure. This is not the same in my filmmaking. In filmmaking, I use landscape, choreography and music. I use movement and colour at times too. There’s a severity to photography and to human portraiture, in particular. Nothing is more powerful than human expression in my mind. In film you can do what you need to do with the mood of But what kind of power and doesthe artatmosphere. actually have? the room, the dialogue I’ve never been seduced by that within RU: This is notI’ve justlearned a pertinent question photography. to keep them for us now, but for allcompletely Japanese artists andmediums. also for separate; two different Japanese society as a whole. I think we are deeply it. After all, art can’t RB: Youconfused wrote theabout subjects’ responses eat or questions sleep or wear suit; itthem cannot defeat to the you aasked prior to disaster. Art cannot help if photographing themphysically directly on thepeople portraits they are paralysed. To doCan something an and mixed it with poetry. you talkas about artist though, anything at all, is empowering that process? in itself. We say that ‘art is power’… but what does thatthe actually mean? That’s what we were SN: Yes, texts inscribed on the asking ourselves wethe went to Fukushima photographs are awhen mix of characters’ and took action, Towell say as art poetry has responses to my any questions power is meaningless… is completely by the 12th century poetart Nezami Ganjavi. impossible. have toPersian take a poet step though Ganjavi wasWe a famous who – any stepto–Azerbaijan; however stupid it might seem. Art moved Iranians and Azeri’s doesn’t offer a single correct answer, it have been arguing over this poet for abut long does offerselected artists the opportunity to find their time. We sections from his famous own answers. Khamseh (five), so named for its five-part structure, to integrate into the calligraphy RB: methem about your friendship with and Tell wrote over and over. It’s all very Makoto carefullyAida? translated, line by line. It becomes like a mantra for each of the subjects. RU: Makoto Aida is a contemporary artist in Japan. is completely crazy!something Apart from RB: It’s He almost an act of love, Ellie none of us went to art school, so we you’re lavishing on them. didn’t have much skill or knowledge, but we did Makoto work from when we SN: know Yes, when weAida’s were getting them ready were met himtheir by striking upfelt a for theyounger. portraits,We combing hair, they conversation withcare himof in them, a bookstore, that I was taking makingnow themhe is a mate. I organised an artists’ of feel special and important. Theycollective appreciated 30 young Japanese people with Makoto Aida. it; they were being made to look their best. We from thisand collective I hadchose themsix sit members down afterwards look to form Chim↑Pom. through all the images and see how beautiful they looked. They were always amazed. RB: Chim↑Pom always changing TheyIsentered as strangers and theythen? left with us hugging them goodbye. In a short time, it RU: No. a very personal connection. became

has addressed Iranian politics, is because I still feel deeply connected to my country. Here, it was about the humanity of my subjects, the cultural aspect. I know a bit about the history here, but I didn’t want to involve myself in their politics. I think I’m interested in history, much more than politics these days, anyway. When I look back at my own work, I see how my work has framed some historical moments of The Iranian six members culture,ofsuch Chim↑Pom as the Islamic are Ellie Revolution (エリイ), of Ryuta 1979Ushiro in the (卯城竜太), Women of Yasutaka Allah andHayashi the 1953(林靖 CIA organized 高), Masataka coup Okada which(岡田将孝), was depicted Toshinori in myMizuno first feature (水野俊紀) film,and Women Motomu Without Inaoka Men, (稲岡求). and most recently The Book of Kings which captures the Green Movement of 2009. I’m Thealso history currently of humans working was performed on a film about at Saatchi the iconic GalleryEgyptian as part ofsinger Chim↑Pom’s Oum Kalthoum, prize for winning which the looks Prudential at theEYE history Award offor modern Best Emerging Egypt from Artist on King the weekend Faroukof toSTART the present Art Fair. day. RB: Prudential Why did Eye you Awards decide is a to partnership limit the portraits between to Parallel monochrome? Contemporary Art, Saatchi Gallery and Prudential. The annual awards focus on emerging

SN: Asian I find artists. colour to be too seductive and distracting. I like the severity of black and white. STARTWith art fair, mypresented film, Women by Prudential, Without Men, was held at for Saatchi example, Gallery I drained between the 10thcolour. and 13th InSeptember the video 2015. Its work aimI was did to with shine Philip a spotlight Glass, on Passage, emerging the artists people and new appear art scenes. to be black silhouettes but the landscapes are in colour. That work referenced the Zoroastrian symbolism of water, Facilitation fire and andair. translation For me,by there Yukiko should Kakiuchi be aof reason MUJIN-TO for using Production colour.

RB: Can you elaborate on what you were saying about the relationship between politics and history? SN: I find by looking at the past, you learn how history repeats itself. There is a circular nature to the process of people fighting for power, then resting, then beginning all over again. —CCQ

The Home of My Eyes, Shirin Neshat is on show at YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku, Azerbaijan until 23 June 2015

RB: And the was future hold fornonyou? Can Iwhat ask, does how this your first political work? RU: We don’t think about that. We prefer to embrace the unexpected—CCQ SN: Because I didn’t feel connected to the political situation here. The reason my work


A Prince Among Men Huw Alden Davies is a self-confessed spectator. Francesca Donovan discovers how his knack for observation translates beautifully into hyper-real photographs documenting the streets, backyards and inhabitants of his hometown, Tumble, West Wales. Huw Alden Davies’ new photographic publication, Prince, borrows its title from a man with an unusually regal nickname, the photographer’s own father. This enigmatic character is portrayed alongside Davies’ candid autobiographical texts. Prince is a chronicle of shared experiences relayed from memory, a microcosm of Davies’ ongoing project about life in a small village in Carmarthenshire. So, who is Prince? Huw Alden Davies: Never have I heard a bad word spoken about my father, Prince – at least outside of the family home. Every tale about him is told with exaggerated praise. I always recognised my father’s eccentricities, and continue to bear witness to them; they inspired Prince. One evening, a little over a year ago, shortly after arriving at my parents’ house, my brother told me to look at Prince’s new invention He said I’d find it in the Toilet Shed, one of seven buildings in my father’s garden. Opening the door, I saw a structure stuck to the wall resembling a biscuit tin with three holes in the side facing up. I removed the lid, revealing three tea-light candles in a row. On this discovery, I rushed home to get my camera and, when I returned, I went straight back to the shed, hoping not to raise the alarm. But it was too late. As I was pulling the door off the hinges to get a better positioning for my camera, Prince caught me. His head protruding from a small gap in the window – which he opens to let his fag smoke out – he began to shout: “What the fuck are you doing in my shed?” I explained I was interested in his invention and asked what it was. He replied: “It’s a toilet roll warmer, what does it look like?” Trying to contain my laughter, I readied the camera to take my shot. “Don’t fucking laugh, everyone will want one of those. You’ll be laughing on the other side

of your face when I’m a millionaire”, Prince said. As I laughed uncontrollably, he became frustrated and demanded to know the purpose of my photographing his invention. Before quietly closing the window, Prince concluded: “There’s something fucking wrong with you, photographing such things”. This was the beginning of Prince. Francesca Donovan: Was he happy to be your subject? HAD: My father has always been a test pilot for my photography; he’s been subjected to my lens since the early days. It’s nothing new when I turn up with a camera and start shooting. I did wonder how Prince might react to me doing a project of this kind, as I knew it would be intrusive. After I wrote the first draft of stories, I asked my father whether he approved. Without a moment’s hesitation he said: “Listen now, boy, I couldn’t give a fuck what you put in that book. It’s all true”. I had his blessing. Although, I’m not quite sure he was prepared for all the publicity and attention: “I can’t call up the shop without some wanker sticking his head out of the fucking window, informing me that they saw me on the internet. Like I need to know. Twats!” I asked him recently whether he regretted any of his choices and whether he would change anything. He immediately responded: “I wouldn’t have had you”, then he added: “I wouldn’t change a thing… apart from the occasional heart attack. ‘Live to the death’, I say. Here today, gone tomorrow. Trouble is, all the good die young. All the fucking idiots are still alive.” FD: What was growing up in Tumble like? HAD: Just like growing up any place with a


name that sounds like it’s been taken from a stage play with all the characters in tow. I was raised on a street they called The Bronx. It was part of a maze of council estates. I know people who still get lost travelling through there. Many hope not to find it, and for good reason. It’s no different to most small Welsh communities in that it is fixated on an eggshaped ball, but my family simply didn’t give a crap about rugby. When most dads took their kids to games, my father would take me to a smoke-filled club to watch the horses: a cocktail of ready salted peanuts, half a pint of Coke and the A-team on a large projection TV. FD: So what did you get up to when the others were playing rugby, and who is Dwarfy? HAD: I can’t divulge... but his name, recognised by fellow Tumble folk, brings to mind wild stories involving guns, stabbings, grenades, a washing machine, severed fingers, a bomb squad and a live chicken. Let’s just say he was promised £50 for doing something for which he was never paid. That’s for another time. FD: Can you tell me about some of the other characters you photographed for Prince? HAD: These characters – my mother, brother and nephew – co-exist in Prince’s world, as I once did, or still do to some extent. My mother, bound by devotion, and my brother, by circumstance – we share the same sentiments and appreciation of that world and its unconventionality. For every shot of my father there is one of my brother, Dwr, that you will never see. We have been through a lot together and have always remained close. Throughout the years he has been present on my shoots more often than

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weather was bad outside, my mother would draw the curtains, turn the lights out and turn the living area into a cinema where we would sit and watch films, one after another; a vision painted by Spielberg and Lucas, Burton and Gilliam. Eventually, I discovered Lynch, Kubrick and the Coens. The list goes on. This time of year, when the light is low it creates a dramatic atmosphere. Most of my photographs are taken during autumn and winter. It is here I am most comfortable, excited and moved, when I am most creative.

not. He has helped carry my bags, held the lights, and documented behind the scenes. Dwr has been the intended subject of only one of my photographs and that never saw the light of day, but he is now photographed in Prince alongside his son, Jac. There is something mysterious about decoding a photograph, at least until you read its accompanying text. FD: How does the text you wrote work with the photographs?

FD: Your photographic style looks to American tropes of hyperrealism. How does that relate to rural Wales?

HAD: I have always been aware of my family’s colloquial dialect. I listened carefully as a child. As I got older I recognised this dynamic as special — something begging to be part of a sit-com. In creating this series, I decided that dialogue had to be incorporated. Rather than creating an obvious narrative, the text was meant to function separately from the images. It adds light to the darker side of the photographs, creates balance and harmony and a pinch of ambiguity, whilst filling the gaps with subtle nuances.

HAD: I took inspiration from American artists: Edward Hopper; Robert Adams; Philip Lorca DeCorcia and Gregory Crewdson. Like I said before, much of my inspiration came from childhood cinematic experiences. I saw E.T. when I was four-years-old. That has to have an effect on a child. It did on me. It’s wonderfully dark for a children’s film.

FD: Is any of the text fictitious?

FD: Did you consciously document characters in this rather staged way?

HAD: I am happy to say that every single word is straight from the horse’s mouth, totally true. Some tales were too sensitive or controversial and would have affected the balance of the series if published. Sometimes, Prince’s tales simply didn’t survive quality control. But you can believe every word you read, and know that they can all be topped.

HAD: This has always been a conscious decision. If I am to exhibit my hometown, it has to be shown in the way that I saw it while growing up. I was always a daydreamer. I still am. My teachers felt that I was in a world of my own and, honestly, I probably was. But the reality I was surrounded with was just as entertaining. It was nothing to be woken on a school night in the early hours by screams coming from the street, only to find a naked woman running to escape her raging husband, or a fight between cheating wives. My village presented a lot to think about – especially for a child who is constantly thinking and trying desperately to make sense of the world around him.

FD: Do you see writing as part of your practice? HAD: It’s an unexpected development, but it’s definitely a way forward for me creatively. I think I have broken something in my head, something that can’t be fixed, something I don’t think I want to fix. Don’t tell anyone, but I had a secret admiration for psychology, poetry and philosophy while growing up – uncommon interests for someone of my background. Pandora’s box has been torn open.

FD: What does the future hold for your practice? HAD: Delving further into the depths of Tumble. Prince is available now from Elysium Gallery and through CCQ

FD: Your photographs have a dark palette, which gives them a quiet melancholy. HAD: I’m not sure I would describe my photographs as melancholic, although they do have a dark palette. I just see things in this way tonally. Utilising light and darkness is part of my visual vocabulary. I often wonder where this comes from… When we were kids and the


Pages 28-31: Prince, Huw Alden Davies, 2015


Fantastic Impermanence The career of Ivor Davies spans over six decades and is not marked by a single defining style but by his immersive engagement with both materials and with time. As his one-man show at the Amgueddfa Cymru/ National Museum Wales was about to open, Ric Bower spoke to him in his studio. Portrait: Gástôn van Mülders. Sometimes time can assume a physical presence and, as I walked up the wooden stairs into the Penarth studio of Ivor Davies, that presence hung heavily around me. The layering of the decades and the residue from the accumulation of years were strung from every hook and laid out carefully on every shelf. Time has never been passive for Davies; it is the medium into which he mixes the materials of his practice. For Davies’ career as an artist spans the entirety of the nuclear age. It is an embodiment of Einstein’s revelation that materially extended space and the fabric of time are so intimately connected. It also communicates the anxiety which accompanies that knowledge for the species that harbours it—a premonition of sudden and violent destruction. In the late 1950s, Davies was painting richly-patinated colour field canvases in the University of Lausanne Switzerland. In the late 60s, he was performing his Anatomic Explosions, as part of the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) held in Africa Gardens, Covent Garden, alongside such esteemed practitioners as Ralph Ortiz, Otto Muehl, Gustav Metzger and Yoko Ono. Evidence from these, and the many other seasons in his career, he has kept carefully in his studio where he continues to fold them into his practice. His one-man-show, Silent Explosion at Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales, is the largest exhibition of its type the museum has ever undertaken. It was soon to open when I met up with him and I began by asking him if he had ever thrown work away.

Ivor Davies: Only once have I ever destroyed a picture, apart from destructive art (assemblages which I’ve destroyed systematically with explosives, which is a different thing of course), and I’ve regretted it ever since. It was a very simple picture on hessian and it had several pieces of coathanger wire poking through it. Ric Bower: Don’t you worry about someone going into the attic one day and pulling out piles of work that were never intended to be shown? ID: Not really, I keep work for years. I might bring something out that I started decades ago, work on it for a while and, then, put it away again. RB: Do you feel that after such a long career you can stand aside from the vagaries of art world fashions? ID: No one can. All you can do is dream of standing aside from them, and I do a lot of that! When as an artist you look at a work, first you look at it as an object, then you enquire into its history, where it has come from, what is its provenance, so to speak? And then you move onto thinking about what you, as an artist, can take from it. You can’t escape from doing that. I’ve said to people that the best place for an artist to be would be on a desert island where no one is looking over your shoulder. Perhaps you might take no other works of art with you, except for those that have been


ingrained in your memory. Only then are you free from constraint. My studio is a kind of desert island, I think. RB: Over the course of your career you’ve embarked on journeys through such rich cultural environments as Russia and China. You’ve gone a long way from that desert island you speak of, in other words. Your practice shows a complexity of ideas and materials that doesn’t chime with a search for pure isolation. ID: If you call yourself an artist – and there’s something wrong with the title, but we’re stuck with it – you can’t really be separate, pure or isolated, because you have to believe that the context of art and artists exist. RB: Much of your own creative process is completely out of your control; a painting would degrade and rot in a damp corner, whether you intervened or not. How do you define the limits of your practice? ID: Those zones between reality and art are maybe the most interesting for me these days – colour for its own sake: for instance, the pure pigment, Prussian blue; I’ve got two pots of it, which I bought in the 1950s when I first found out about pigments and laboratory suppliers. I was leaving school and going to art college back then and, quite honestly, paints were so expensive, I thought I would make my own. I started to explore the possibilities and the chemistry, and then I started to find out what paint was,



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in terms of its chemical makeup that is. I’d start mixing these pure pigments I had acquired with various media, whether that was oil or egg or gum Arabic – the gum from the Acacia tree. Prussian blue is one of the earliest synthetic colours; it’s iron oxide, volcanic in origin, from Naples, I think. Not the sort of thing you should leave on a low shelf with kids about, it’s pretty poisonous. It’s got other names too: Berlin blue, Antwerp blue, Paris blue, Chinese blue.

RB: The potency of explosive powders is concealed; it is not immediately apparent to the eye, unlike your colour pigments. How did you come to interact with those kinds of materials? ID: This jar of Prussian blue I am holding is so pure. If you were to buy a tube of Prussian blue, however, only a quarter of it contains actual pigment, the rest is fillers and oils. It’s the same with explosive powders; that is why I mixed my own. The commonest is gunpowder: carbon, saltpetre and sulphur, tightly packed together; how tightly they are packed influences the violence of the explosion. I didn’t pack them in metal because that would be too dangerous; I use very tight paper packing. It’s not a good idea to use a metal spoon for mixing either, because that could spark. The end result of the explosions I made were both aesthetic and, in a complicated sort of way, socio-political, just as colour or a painting is. Within an object or assemblage, which is charged with explosives and then detonated — systematically, carefully and at precisely defined moments — a language like music develops. It comments on the nature of the society we live in; a society that imposes its ideas on us. There are aesthetic implications from the results of an explosive work too – a beautiful ugliness emerges.

RB: It’s like alchemy, to a certain extent. There’s a mystique that surrounds what is possible in the laboratory isn’t there? ID: Yes, but I wouldn’t dare make many colours, except for red oxide, which is quite easy. You just heat yellow ochre. I remember, when I was about 14, going up to the mountain Gwaelod-y-Garth, near here, to climb. The earth there is yellowish and reddish in parts. I saw this hole in the hill no bigger than I could crawl through. I went in and found myself in this gigantic cathedral-like space with water dripping into a pool in the centre. There was this strange blueish light reaching through into the cavern from above and abundant clean yellow ochre on the cavern’s floor; because the water had filtered it in some way, I guess. I took away some of the yellow ochre and heated it. It turned into a lovely reddish brown pigment.


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RB: Is time is an important component in your practice then? Things are placed in your studio and then left for long periods, or you destroy them in an instant with explosives. ID: There are many ways that time is related to painting, or indeed to any art object. If you go to an exhibition of 15th century Italian painting, how long do you have to stand in front of the same picture before it reveals itself to you? Sometimes I spend four days looking at the same exhibition. Each day it seems different. Maybe I’m a slow absorber of things? In my own work I start quite arbitrarily, then I put it aside when I can’t do any more to it for days, weeks, months or even years. Some things I started in the ’60s, continued in the ‘70s and finished in the ’80s. The idea of finishing work is an illusion anyway. RB: A lot of what you do though is held within the bounds of a traditional rectangular support. Why is that? ID: It’s embarrassing in a way, because it limits the work before it starts.

p33: Epynt, (installation view), Ivor Davies, 2015. National Museum Wales. p34: Portrait of Ivor Davies, photo: Gástôn van Mülders for CCQ. p35: Ivor Davies’ Studio, collaborative image with Ivor Davies, technical facilitation: Gástôn van Mülders for CCQ. p36, top row, left: Terrestial Nocturnal, Ivor Davies, 1959, oil on paper on oil gesso on hessian, 91x92cm. p36, top row, right: Sicilly, Ivor Davies, 1959, oil on oil gesso on hessian and board, 102cm x102cm p36, middle row, left: Teimlad Coch (Red Feeling), Ivor Davies, 1959-1961, oil on oil gesso and board, 101cm x101cm p36, middle row, right: Contents of the Sea, Ivor Davies, 1959, oil on oil gesso on hessian and board, 103cm x103cm p36, bottom row, left: Cosmic, Ivor Davies, 1959, oil on oil gesso on hessian and board, 105.5cm x105.5cm p36, bottom row, right: Beach, Ivor Davies, 195961, oil on oil gesso on hessian and board, 92cm x92cm All installation photography: Gástôn van Mülders for CCQ, images courtesy the artist and National Museum Wales.

RB: Maybe that is just the embarrassment of being human, of being finite. We are limited by nature and that, in a way, gives us something to fight against. Like paper packing an explosive charge, perhaps the rectangular support supplies the necessary containment for the potential power of the work to push out against. ID: That’s true. In a sense, when I use explosives in a work I am escaping from the restrictions of permanence. I spent a long time studying how to make things permanent and, then, there I was with an explosion which is fantastically impermanent – the very opposite of the study of fine art painting techniques. It’s also extending the work into a fifth dimension. You experience something in three dimensions of space and, then, four dimensions when you take into account movement; but, you also have a fifth dimension, and that is time. The implications of an exploding artwork are more geopolitical than archaeological, though. The straight lines you see drawn around countries, or even any subject that is taught in school, didn’t arrive there organically. It is political in its connection with the terrible destructiveness of the world around us too.


RB: Your show Silent Explosion is composed primarily of memories and fragments; representations of things that once were, it seems. Is the explosion a silent one because it no longer exists? ID: All works are self-destructive eventually; mine are no different in that sense. I wanted things to explode in a musical sort of way, to take control of the periods of time between the explosions, to control more than just the visuals of the performance. A long time ago, in 1940 I think, there was a huge area of mid South Wales, north of Sennybridge, that was commandeered for military exercises by the War Office. 219 people from the village of Mynydd Epynt had to clear out of their homes, at very short notice, so that the army could come in and practice there. There are two types of earth around that area. One of them is red, the reddest soil in Wales (I just put it straight onto the canvas in my work Epynt), and the other is a deep black loamy soil, into which bombs and bullets would sink, so they wouldn’t bounce up and kill the soldiers, I guess. There are still a few tanks rusting away up there now, but the people will never go back to their homes, even though they had been there for hundreds of years. This is all deeply political to me. RB: How do you feel about your work being reproduced and the processes of translation that it necessitates? ID: It’s a very interesting question. When you’re looking into this pot of genuine indigo powder, it has something that you cannot reproduce, I don’t know what it is. Even if I were to use it to paint with, it wouldn’t be as good as how it looks it the pot. It’s just like how we use words. The words we have at our disposal don’t really describe feelings. They’re just words—CCQ Silent Explosion: Ivor Davies and Destruction in Art runs at Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales, Cardiff until 20 March 2016 Silent Explosion is supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust with additional support from The Henry Moore Foundation. The exhibition is co-curated by Judit Bodor, doctoral researcher at Aberystwyth University, and supported by a Collaborative Doctoral Award funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council


Right Back at You Divisible Remainder at Mission Gallery, Swansea, prompted a lot of questions about the nature of photography. We invited Rut Blees Luxemburg to write in response to Ryan Moule’s exhibition, and he returned the favour with his response to one of her powerful works.

Broken Signifiers: Ryan Moule on Rut Blees Luxemburg’s The Kiss

These violent delights have violent ends, And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, Which, as they kiss, consume. (Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet) The conditions of visibility are grounded in an act of demarcation and separation. Between a signal and its receiver, the object is decipherable only through a discrepancy in space and time. In the moments the camera’s shutter opens and closes, a promise for the desired connection of this lost time becomes infinite, then finite. The Kiss points us to photography with a prevailing sense that time space is out of joint. The trace of a trace emerges on a pavement in Swansea, but what is written has become a palimpsest. These marks become constellations; floating signifiers, waiting to be born anew.

The Kiss, Rut Blees Luxemburg, 2003, photographic C print on aluminium, 140 x 180 cm Image © the artist



Rut Blees Luxemburg on Ryan Moule’s Fixation Error

Does photography function like a Black Box? A visual recording from a crushed transmitter, holding the opaque clues to the violent disaster ‘where the chalice was dropped, where the plane crashed, where the atrocities were perpetrated’ [from the opera libretto Liebeslied: My Suicides by Alexander García Düttmann]. In photography, dreams and trauma collide. The photograph is no hard and fast proof that substantiates a history; it is closer to the dreamlike spectres that haunt the imagination. It is not a fixed record of a past moment, but an unstable, unmoored, oscillating image, fleeting and precarious

like a half-remembered memory, open to infinite interpretations and contradictory readings; and it is fragile, like the Roman frescoes exposed to Fellini’s cinematic wit. How do you photographically visualise something that is not yet fully present, that is latent yet might already be sensed or presaged, but goes beyond the visible material world? Fixation Error could be decoded as a conduit for the idea of the emergent, or Verwandlung (transformation); a pulsing instability. At its heart lies the imperative of change.

Ryan Moule’s exhibition, Divisible Remainder was at Mission Gallery, Swansea, 12 September - 08 November 2015

Fixation Error, Ryan Moule, 2015, from the exhibition Divisible Remainder, Mission Gallery. Image © Ryan Moule


Third Phase Over the last year, Eastside Projects, g39 and Jerwood Charitable Foundation have collaborated on a interesting new approach to supporting two artists. Georgie Grace and Kelly Best are the guinea pigs in the pilot of Jerwood Encounters: 3-Phase. They talk to Rhiannon Lowe about their experience and the work they have developed during the last twelve months As I write, Georgie Grace’s show at g39 in Cardiff has just opened, replacing Kelly Best’s and taking over the intimate bare wood Unit #1 space, carved out of g39’s hangar. Earlier this year, both showed individually in Birmingham at Eastside Projects and, in between they’ve been at Jerwood Space in London together. They were selected as part of Jerwood Encounters: 3-Phase, involving a triumvirate of participant organisations and two unconnected, but comparable, early career artists. g39 and Eastside Projects are both artist-run spaces, with well-established artist development programmes, WARP and Extra Special People respectively. The programmes allow for connections to be made and offer opportunities, time and social space to enable young and emergent artists to gain critical experience and engagement as practitioners. The two organisations have had these programmes long enough to be confident about what artists need; Kelly and Georgie were selected from the membership of these programmes to take part in 3-Phase. Grace and Best are highly individual practitioners, but their time together on 3-Phase has allowed bonds to form between them. Both artists have been learning about putting on shows, from the ground up; they have had tutorials, team meetings and reviews, to look, not just at specific works, but also at the development of their practice as a whole, the nuances of different gallery spaces and the complicated logistics of a touring show. Both artists agree that it’s beneficial and even necessary to go through the potentially stressful process with someone else; in Grace’s words: “It’s not a solo project, it would be hard if it were just one artist; the pressure is high.” Best adds that, “it’s been good for building confidence”. Despite the additional remits of the individual organisations, it’s very much their thing. Grace says that she now feels more at home in the process of creating a show. She adds that there has also been, “the opportunity to soak things up just from being around, seeing how things are done, meeting people, figuring out whose job it is to do what – what’s in an artist’s job description”.


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p42&43: recognise predators, recognise prey, Georgie Grace, 2015, video still, 5 video loops, durations variable. Courtesy the artist. p44: recognise predators, recognise prey, Georgie Grace, 2015, 5 video loops, durations variable. Courtesy the artist and g39. Installation photography: Gástôn van Mülders p46: Sunder, (installation detail), Kelly Best, 2015. Courtesy the artist and g39, Cardiff, p47: Block (a), Kelly Best, 2015 Courtesy of the artist.


Issue 8

Before her show at g39, Georgie Grace sent me a link to A wonderful future where you have back-up copies, which she’d made for SPUR’s Landing Site gallery in Leeds; I was entranced seeing her searing, intense use of image and text once more. At Jerwood Space, her full-wall projected film, This time of day can be dangerous, had thoroughly disconcerted me; I had to move, lean, walk to and fro, try get an angle, a place where my eyes and body didn’t lurch. Now I was watching this new work, but in front of the computer; and I was being sucked (and suckered) in again, bombarded and overwhelmed, struggling to sit still and focus. I was struck by Grace’s ability to lure me in even on this smaller, intimate scale. The texts Grace used in This time of day can be dangerous (made for and shown at Eastside, and subsequently at Jerwood) are a mix of the cryptic, humorous, asinine, dry and unnerving; each proclamation or question flicks onto the screen and then off again, leaving little time to decipher meaning. The imagery carves up the screen, combining with the text and playing with a viewer’s instinctive responses. Grace talks about her sources, in a stream of consciousness explanation, a little like her picture-text-alogues: “I collect a lot of text from different sources and mix it all up together; it’s fragmentary. In recent work, the text has been scripted from various talks and speeches by technologists, futurologists, people who are speculating about development of technology or future relationships between human and machine; some are less mainstream.” The works Grace has made during her time on 3-Phase use a mix of analogue and digital imagery. This time of day can be dangerous, combines material from architecture journals with natural history books and old science fiction comics. The new work, at g39, recognise predators, recognise prey, is quite different. Grace explains that, “the content is partially made from my own photos of the real world; surfaces I’ve walked over, grasses, flowers, broken paving outside where I work… it’s a virtual rendering of my own experience, digitised, and then combined with other fabricated material generated using the Unity gaming engine”. Grace arrived in Cardiff with a set of video sequences, plus additional material, which she edited on site. She says: “The work recreates vision from the perspective of both


predator and prey moving over and through a computer generated, (un)real terrain; one that is almost recognisable, but ultimately empty and disorientating.” The movement in the films has been generated by live capture of Grace’s own moves when playing the game space that she has created. The development of this work has involved learning new gaming programming skills, resulting in another bleed from the real and remembered to the imagined: “I get real, childhood computer games nostalgia from coding these essentially tragically, rudimentary adventures.” The work is shown on five monitors; the outer two show the withdrawing movement through the digitally (re)created set – as if it were viewed by prey; the central one shows the advancing movement – as viewed by a predator. The two in between are a mixture of both movements – the withdrawal and the advance – but each of the five channels has elements that are not in the others. The rolling scenery is manipulated to explore and revel in the edges of virtual and created space; the limitations and kinks of a gaming engine. Grace adds: “The fiilms are of landscapes, typically and historically acquainted with more calming states of mind; imagery to be hung on the wall. However, they are imbued with a disquiet, due to their stripped back nature, eerie sundown colouring, and being devoid of people – and with a lack of purpose in the movement – that’s to say, in a gaming sense: no goals, no achievement or reward… I like the idea the landscape might be a cover for something else, the mix of real and fabrication.” The installation is as critical, playful and disorientating as Grace’s other recent works, for example her wall-based landscape lenticulars with different wording appearing across their fractured surfaces, depending on where they are seen from. Faced with the five screens of recognise predators, recognise prey, the eye flickers from one to another in an attempt to capture everything, sense small details, repetitions, the fleeting flash of text on the horizon, how layers and sections of landscape surfaces mesh awkwardly, or refract. Our instinctive mental processes stumble over associations and search for signs of life. Grace’s shift from text and image to almost solely image, returns the viewer to an innate ability to recognise and associate signs within the world without language – a primal ability to seek/avoid predator/prey.

Kelly Best describes how Velum, her piece at Eastside Projects, was constructed: “Nathan [at Eastside] made the structure; I told him how high I wanted it and the shape of its curve. It is made of panels of really thin MDF on the front; we worked the surface so it was as smooth as paper. We did the drawing once it had been built in the space; it was not entirely preconceived before we started making marks. While the drawing is very uniform and the pieces interconnect, it was made by a team. There was a scaffolding tower for someone drawing the top section, with someone else at the bottom. We had five volunteers; one would do one day, and then I’d have to instruct another the next. As they

got more confident with handling someone else’s work, the marks changed; I think that process of change enhanced the drawing.” Working at each venue was a quite different experience for Best, due to differing approaches and her own personal adjustment. At the first showing of Velum, at Eastside Projects, the piece appeared almost formally set, face on, open. Then, in London, the visitor came across its wooden framework first, having to manoeuvre around the curling, tapering wall to view the drawn surface. “The idea was for the audience to approach the work essentially from the back”, generating more of a sculptural, spatially interruptive presence. It became more physically

awkward, shy even, seeming to curl in on itself, wanting to protect its skin of delicately drawn lines. At g39, where there was more time to install, Best had freedom and confidence to work with the separate elements that form Velum and create a whole new configuration for the work. The twelve original pieces, which made up the structure at Eastside, and which were reduced to ten for Jerwood, were edited down again to just five at g39. “I wasn’t sure until I got the segments into g39 what I would do exactly”, Best remembers, “but I had an idea that I wanted to get them off the floor. The sculptural element of Velum was a particular development in my work, and I

thought it might be interesting to put it back onto the wall, an area more associated with 2D artwork”. That said, she explains, she was also still open to reworking the surface too: “I knew I didn’t want to reconfigure both the structure and drawing again as a full, single piece; and I had even considered painting the whole thing out, to do something new.” However, Best decided to keep the surface of Velum, and create from the structure’s parts something quite different. Velum separated and pared down became the collectively-titled Sunder – apart, like the pieces of a huge puzzle. They were now almost paintings, surfaces on supports, hung at distance from the wall. The delicate

nature and structure of their sloping, curling membranes were thrown into relief; the hand drawn vertical pencil lines were more tender, the slight mistakes and human error in their creation more apparent. There was a familiar push and pull, deceptive impression of depth, and a shifting balance of weight and light similar to that which Velum had. Yet these hunks (they weigh a lot) – the wooden framework supporting the curve of each drawn piece – took on a very different physical form. As large segments, unwieldy enormous shards and divisions, they appeared also as if in motion, unfurling, peeling from their fixings, tearing themselves away from g39’s walls.

Best is used to working at installation scale, taking on a space, changing its physicality through her interventions. The elasticity of Velum, and now Sunder, made for a particularly compelling and enveloping presence: Best’s practice, as a whole, has shifted, been allowed to breathe—CCQ Read Alice Butler’s posts about Grace and Best at

It has to be Beautiful On his first visit to the capital, South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga talked to CCQ’s Ric Bower as he walked through the streets of West London, whilst Gástôn van Mülders photographically documented his encounters with residents and tourists.

Athi-Patra Ruga presents the body as a hybrid construct, free from inherited ideological and geographical constrictions, through the creation of provocatively costumed personae and intoxicatingly rich tapestries. Both of these approaches put in an appearance at the recent group show Broken English at Tyburn Gallery. Ruga was recently included in the Phaidon book Younger Than Jesus, a directory of over 500 of the world’s best artists under the age of 33. So how old is he?

RB: What got you started anyway? A-PR: My father used to take us in the back of his van to the theatre, to see protest plays. I think my parents knew that the world was going to change, so they started preparing us for it. I remember going to see Asinamali, by Mbongeni Ngema. My dad, for the first time, entertained swear words, within the context of art. I realised then that it would be okay to express my capricious self through art. Then high school happened. My education was split between the Republic of the Ciskei and the Republic of South Africa. So I was this kid who was raised in a Xhosa animist tradition in Ciskei, then I’d cross the border to go to school in South Africa. Corporal punishment was officially banned in South Africa, in 1986, but people continued to use it. It was a violent time and that violence was transposed onto the kids. The South African education system was still run by people who were from conscription days. They couldn’t deal with a kid with an afro, who listened to Megadeth and played a mean piano.

Athi-Patra Ruga: A lady never gives that away! My birthday is on the 9 March, the anniversary of Biggie Smalls’ passing away, the Notorious BIG. I was 13 when it happened. I was like, ‘Shit, Notorious has just fucked up my birthday!’ RB: They say what you get into at age 13 stays with you... A-PR: Part of my meditation is to revisit those days and try to syphon some energy from them.


RB: You were beaten up a lot as a kid?

RB: Technique wasn’t what you wanted?

A-PR: You know, I think about that a lot. There’s violence in my work. I’m the last of ten kids. My parents weren’t really disciplinarians, but my older sisters and brothers were in the streets, throwing rocks and burning tyres and that violence came into the house. My mom was a midwife, so we never got to see her. We became this sibling family and the violence of the streets became its economy. That violence followed me into high school, where rugby, the Anglican religion and the English language were introduced to me through violence.

A-PR: I fucking hated it. I wanted to read fashion history. I got kicked out in my second year. They had to ask me back, because I got nominated for some big award, but why would I want to do their shitty syllabus when I was doing fashion week? I really hated the fact that in South Africa, then, it was the generation that thought black fashion students were only expected to learn technique and work in a factory. I bunked school constantly to hang out with these older artists in Johannesburg.

RB: And when did things begin to change?

RB: How do you see creative education developing in the future?

A-PR: As a teenager, I went to Belgravia Art School in East London [South Africa]. The teachers were cuckoo. They made me think, ‘Fuck, I’m an artist and it’s okay for me to be gay’. I remember being given this book on Hockney, which showed how he painted his friends, how he made his life his material. That was an epiphanic moment for me. The school taught me to understand art history and fashion history – both of which I was really interested in – and appreciate how different genres can collide. One of my first teachers told me that I shouldn’t have to choose between the genres because ‘choosing is for beggars’.

A-PR: I believe in mentorship; the atelier. The artist who learns from a community has a responsibility to open up their studio. A lot of solo gallery artists feel that interns will cramp their style, which is an insecurity born out of academia. I have come through this tradition whereby I would sit and learn under others, so it’s easy to open up my studio, because I know that I am, and must be, in an exchange with other people. RB: Because you were denied the education you wanted, it made you strive for it harder, I suppose?

RB: Young creatives often agonise over going one way or another. A-PR: I really appreciate what I have now. I look at kids who have just graduated and walk into my studio; they’re too cool for school. From the outset I tell them, ‘This is school, bitch!’ Over the time they spend with me they have their preconceptions challenged.

A-PR: That decision was made for me when I got a scholarship to the Gordon Flack Davidson Academy of Design in Johannesburg. They only focused on technique there, though, with almost no fashion history



Mainstream art education still comes from old ass white dudes talking about old ass white men, though. Where are the women artists, man? RB: I hear you are a fan of the early 20th century South African painter, Irma Stern? A-PR: Ah, my love affair with Irma Stern... Her work is a feast for the eye. When I first opened a book on her, I was completely disarmed by her lines and by the power of her gestures. You can see, in her work, the way she looks at things. She would paint black skin so beautifully... In some ways, that was the reason the 16-year-old Athi moved to Johannesburg and started hanging around with artists. I talked about the beauty of Irma Stern to these contemporary South African artists and they would look at me in astonishment and say, ‘What? But she was a colonialist!’ She bore witness to a particular time though, and it is still a part of our heritage. She was racist, it is true. She never gave names to black subjects, whereas her white subjects would be ‘Doctor this’ or ‘Mister that’. It raised important issues for me, as I was starting to move towards working with tapestry and portraiture. Who has the power? Is it the artist’s ego? Is it the technique that delivers the image? Or is it the person being represented? I love that tension and, whatever her politics, she was such a great colourist. You can’t take that away from her. RB: South Africa reacted to her very negatively when she first exhibited there in the 1920s. A-PR: That was because she was a woman artist and she was using a technique that was not Sunday painting. There’s always a certain bitter sweetness when you learn about your South African history.

day I decided to do what I had seen other gay folk do on TV. I walked up to my dad and was like, ‘Dad, I’m gay.’ My dad was like ‘So, out of 10 kids, you are the one who has to tell me what you get up to in the bedroom’. I felt like such an idiot; he brought it down to such a base level. I realise now that the whole thing that led me to coming out was really an imported standard from the West. This, within an increasingly hetero-normalised gay culture, creates problems that are connected to the opening up of martial law, adoption and property law. I am worried that this hetero-normalisation betrays the cheekiness of queer culture. It is that cheekiness that stimulates our desire for liberation.

A-PR: I need to clarify that it is in my civilian, non-performative form, where most of the real trauma of life is absorbed. For selfpreservation, I choose to use avatars to communicate through, because if I was to try to deal with my country’s history, my own sexuality and all of these difficult things, without a guise or cloak to hide behind, I think I’d just dematerialise. We all live double lives. We are characters that live behind fences and when we come out, we come out as different people.

RB: Is the sense of difference what motivates you to create work?

RB: In terms of performance, are there people who you look to? Leigh Bowery, perhaps?

A-PR: At times, yes. For a work I did in response to a poster released in 2007, in Switzerland, depicting two white sheep kicking a black sheep, called Even I Exist in Embo, I dressed up as a big ball of hair. I tried to react to such outrageous xenophobia in a cheeky way. The title of the work is derived from Poussin’s 1637 pastoral painting Et In Arcadia Ego. It is ironic that Switzerland is the epitome of Utopia for some people. I also started reacting to other xenophobic actions; one instance, where a young woman was brutalised for wearing a mini skirt in 2008, for example. The body is the other battleground. I was a really overweight kid, so I always had my own body issues. When I do performances now, I lose weight, I gain weight, I prepare for them in the way that an athlete does. Even if I’m going to be sitting down for 20 hours, I prepare myself physically.

A-PR: Leigh Bowery was one true queen, for sure. But before we talk about that, let’s look closer to home. Remember I come from an animist background where one has to put on the paint and hide the eyes to transcend into another world, into a performative space. Before we go for Leigh, let’s talk about my own backyard, because performance in Africa is boom! It’s not other. It’s an extension of our everyday life, there to help deal with the struggles that come from many, many bullshits.

RB: So your work emerges from tension and injustice?

RB: So when did you ‘come out’ then? A-PR: I’ve never had to come out. Gayness was the political liberation struggle for my generation in South Africa. So I’m gay politically, but I’m also a same-gender-loving man. I never had a reason to come out until I started seeing ‘coming out’ on national TV. As a country we’d just opened up, so there was this idea that you had to come out as a political statement. My parents knew I was a flaming queen from day one. I remember the

A-PR: When you’re talking about a city or a sovereign state, the conversation must eventually turn to autonomy. I started climbing churches to react against the idea of sovereignty over space: after all who has the right to name a space and who can claim it exclusively? I started just climbing motherfucking things; it was the only way I knew of reacting. There’s one video where I climbed a Universal Church of God building; it’s out there on the internet somewhere.


RB: You’re exerting control, through performance, where otherwise you might be quite powerless?

RB: The work you present is dirty, complex and connected. A-PR: Yeah! And you can feel it. There is a duende that comes with camp; once you get into it, you get thrown from one labyrinth to another. RB: What is the relationship between your performance and the tremendous physicality of the objects you create? You have spoken about your hands-on involvement; the process of dying wool, seeking tactile connection with the material. What is the connection between the two arenas: the performance, which occurs and then is gone; and the object, which you have built and with which you have an ongoing relationship? A-PR: It’s all in me, like a lost condom, and I’ve lost a few. My performances began in fashion school. I started wearing my creations after someone questioned whether a male fashion designer should be exerting control

over a woman’s body. I was like, ‘Take it easy, it’s only fashion’, but it did make me think. It challenged me to start wearing my clothes and go into dangerous areas, because they don’t have art in those spaces. In South Africa, avant garde drag performance traditionally ends with being kicked out or with being arrested. I thought, ‘Fuck that, I grew up on the streets, if someone wants to come for me I’ll take off my heels and fight!’ I would go into these dangerous spaces then and the first thing that would happen would be people would look at me and laugh... There’s nothing more comforting than someone laughing at you when you think the motherfucker is gonna hit you! Then they would ask why I’m doing what I’m doing and I would tell them: “To bear witness to the times we live in.” That’s the textbook answer to the question of being an artist,

p48&49: Collaborative portraits of Athi-Patra Ruga with White City inhabitants, Gástôn van Mülders with Francesca Donovan, photographers assistant for CCQ, 2015. p51: Proposed Model of the New Azanian, Athi-Patra Ruga,2014, Wool, thread and artificial flowers on tapestry canvas, 300 x 178 cm. © Athi-Patra Ruga, courtesy of Tyburn Gallery. p52&53: Hoochi Burlesque, Athi-Patra Ruga, 2007. Intervention, Hillbrow, Johannesburg, South Africa. Photograph: George Mahashe and Athi-Patra Ruga studios cc. p54: The Future White Woman of Azania, Athi-Patra Ruga, 2012, performance still, inkjet print on cotton rag, 80 x 100cm, edition of 10. © Athi-Patra Ruga, courtesy of Tyburn Gallery. p55: Lands of Azania (2014–2094) (detail), Athi-Patra Ruga, 2014. Thread on tapestry canvas, 200 x 180 cm © Athi-Patra Ruga, courtesy of Tyburn Gallery.




Issue 8



but what I really do it for is to purge these spaces. There’s a moment of grace when these questions are asked within a space, in spite of the prejudices that are present. All of our education, all of our experience; the travel, the reading and we are shown up by people who don’t have all that, but who show you grace. They engage with your work very directly. That’s when the art is made, in that moment of grace. I always want to hold on to it. I tried to by moving into print. I would bring a photographer with me when I performed, but I’d see the audience react to the camera in a different way, so this created a dilemma. To answer your question, when I make tapestry, I insert my performative self into these arcadian landscapes, these utopian dreams.

I was living in the Northern suburbs at the time and I wanted to test their prejudices and mine. I would go into the city and perform in these spaces dressed to the nines. I was asked to go to Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to perform Miss Congo. It was an opportunity for me to create and then break new prejudices in a space I’d never been to. I went to the Congo with all these beautiful looks: tracksuits I’d made myself, beautiful high-waisted dresses; Very nice, very Miss Congo! This was the first time I had travelled outside South Africa. I arrived as Miss Congo wearing my Burberry high-cinched dress, my safari hat in the same beige and big shades. It’s the DRC in December and I walked off the plane straight into a heatwave. Boooooom! It blew me away. I just thought, ‘Get me outta these things!’ So poor Miss Congo started her performance the moment she stepped off the plane by throwing a hissy fit in customs. In South Africa things are efficient, but not in the Congo – I was humbled pretty quickly mind. In Kinshasa, things had really gone to shit. The roads didn’t work. Electricity didn’t work. You only got water for an hour a day. I began these performances in amongst the raw sewage in the streets and these great mounds of rubbish that had built up over years. Miss Congo with her lovely clothes explored those juxtapositions. The video was made because I wanted to tell this story, otherwise Miss Congo would

RB: Tell us about Miss Congo. Why do you invent characters for yourself? A-PR: I invent a character every time I feel I need to answer something that is tough for me to understand and engage with in civilian mode. Miss Congo was the first character I ever invented to deal with these dark, prejudiced spaces. When the World Cup was announced in an ever-changing Johannesburg, rents were raised like crazy and people were being kicked out onto the streets. People in the Northern suburbs were saying, ‘Oh that place is dangerous, you can’t go there’.


have just been there as an intervention without an audience. Being there was shocking; an awakening. That’s when I first saw myself, and what I did, in a wider African, continental context. In spite of all the rubbish and dereliction, there is still a culture of the body in the Congo with body–building and there’s even a dandy culture. These guys would be living in a shack and wearing their Commes des Garçons and carrying Gucci bags. The whole idea of adding ‘Miss’ to a country name is that the body becomes a landscape. After all, so much of war is fought on a woman’s body.

culture there’s a sangoma – a traditional faith healer – who has to put on white lime powder. When I was going through initiation I had to put on white lime powder, because this makes you invisible to bad spirits, so it is used as a way of transcending. The sangoma is usually called ‘the white person’ and most sangomas are women. RB: Adorno argued that art should make us unhappy. Was he right? A-PR: God no! It has to be beautiful, it has to be disarming, it has to bring a person to their knees and just be humble at what they’re looking at. I believe in humility when approaching art and it’s tough to find that attitude—CCQ

RB: You have an ongoing project called The Future White Woman of Azania. Tell me, would Azania be a great holiday destination? A-PR: Most definitely! By law, you have to jazzercise to music from the late ’80s. As long as you feel you’re fully freakish, there is no need for a visa. You must go and check it out. Tell the guy at customs that you have a penchant for losing condoms and he will take you straight to meet the consulate. The Future White Woman of Azania is a thing that I had to create to deal with a tension between me and the academic world... It’s so very male! Most of the curators I work with are women. I think we gravitate towards each other. I just wanted to create a land, Azania, that’s like, ‘Fuck you, we don’t need your patriarchal shit!’ In my

Athi-Patra Ruga’s work was shown as part of Broken English at Tyburn Gallery, St Christophger’s Palance, London. The gallery is dedicated to international contemporary art and is currently focussing on art from Africa.



Memory in the Muscles Making dance about cultural crisis is always going to throw up more complex questions than it can answer, but dance maker/performer Eddie Ladd has been doing just that for two decades now. She talks to Emma Geliot about identity and her attempts to embed her culture into movement. Photographs of Eddie Ladd by Donald Christie. Snow falls, in the form of wafer-thin sheets of polystyrene, softly, blanketing an otherwise bare stage, released by a trio of performers. They will take on multiple characters to offer a series of perspectives on the drowning of the Welsh village, Capel Celyn. There were cries of protests and more violent acts of struggle as the Tryweryn dam was built to provide water for the English city of Liverpool. Eddie Ladd performed in and co-directed Theatr Genedlaethol’s Dawns Ysbrydion/ Ghost Dance, which epitomises the specifics of a Welsh struggle, stemming from the ghost dances performed by First Nation Americans.

but now there’s a framework around it, which we seem to have accepted. Emyr Llewelyn [one of the activists who damaged the Tryweryn dam site] wasn’t so accepting of the narrative, when I talked to him. He said, ‘Oh, it was a failure’, and he had mixed responses to his own actions. However, I think it’s still relevant, simply because of the action that was taken, and the action that the time called for; and the fact that we don’t take that kind of action at the moment. EG: The protest action rather than the actual drowning of the village of Capel Celyn? EL: Yes, the bombing, and that form of protest. Because there are more outlets within the state that we live in [now]; within the British state there are more breathing spaces, I suppose. So, given that I’d considered the story already, I then approached Theatr Genedlaethol. It wasn’t as if I said ‘I’m going to go visit Tryweryn and make a piece about it’ – it didn’t happen that way. This was an idea that was current. It made me wonder how you… testify, or what you physically need to do, in order to survive. The ghost dance idea had come up during a previous piece. The three of us in Dawns Ysbrydion are dancers; there is a nice way of expressing dance as crisis. So that’s how it happened. I call it ‘crisis’, because if you are talking about it from a Welsh language point of view it is undoubtedly a crisis. You think: ‘At what point is this crisis going to stop?’ Is it as people like [writer and broadcaster] Jon Gower say, that we [Wales] are in Resuscitation, or the ward where you just wait to die, and you just think: ‘Is it a matter of slow dying or not?’ You know, you always get a little bit better when you’re dying; you’re in and out of hospital all the time. You have good days and bad days.

Emma Geliot: How do you define your identity? Eddie Ladd: I think you negotiate your identity all the time, you just don’t know you do it. With a bigger identity like British-ness, that seems slightly more hard and fast, and it’s used in that way – essences and essentialities. But really we are negotiating it all the time; we’re negotiating through gender, age, places we live, languages we speak, people we’re talking to… All of those things. It’s all fluid, all the time, really. EG: And ‘British’ doesn’t actually mean anything when you pull it apart, because people feel they come from places that are specific. EL: I heard it described today as, ‘anybody who speaks English’, which is an interesting marker now. If you translate that into our Welsh experience, is that becoming the marker of British-ness? EG: You said something, at the launch of Cardiff Dance Festival, about Wales being in crisis, but you didn’t say what that crisis is; and why do you think the story of Tryweryn still resonates so much?

EG: Moments of remission.

EL: Tryweryn resonating... There’s a back-story to Dawns Ysbrydion (Ghost Dance) and it came out of a project about weather systems and extreme weathers. I could’ve chosen any period of history to talk about, but I chose Tryweryn because it had been snowing – extreme weather of sorts – when the protestors attacked and bombed the site in winter of 1963; but also because there was a very human action surrounding the attacks. It’s the only time I’ve done a piece about Tryweryn; in a way, you might think, ‘Oh god, why would you chose that?’ It’s not an easy subject,

EL: You look better than before, but you’re still dying internally. I don’t want to think we [Welsh speakers] are in that condition, but that would be the nature of one of our crises. I don’t know about the other sorts of crises because, if you are Welsh and you don’t have the language, you’re viewing it differently. You think you can survive. You may find your identity glowingly expressed through sport, or whatever. But I must say, if you’re a Welsh speaker, you do think this is a crisis. That’s what I’m talking about


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really, which is why it’s got to be a Theatr Genedlaethol [Welsh language National Theatre company] piece, because, if you’re trying to deal with it in another language, it’s not meaningful at all. I think the ghost dances give a real focus. They were dances born out of crisis, because of the colonisation of North America, and the fact that all of those nations were living on smaller and smaller amounts of land that were given to them. They were well aware that their culture was vanishing. They couldn’t hunt any more; ceremonies that used to define their identity were banned, so, you know, language was disappearing. They were changing clothes, they were cutting hair, and they were being sent to boarding schools to de-nativise them. That was the intention. So, ghost dancing is a kind of acknowledgement, and an attempt to turn it around. It’s grief. I could find a definite link there; I could find a perfect match. The Welsh went to North America as well; built colonies where Native Americans had been. EG: And so they were complicit. EL: Well, yes. Everybody’s complicit in everything, in a way. That’s the thing about looking at where you are and who you are: you’re complicit in other people’s misery all the time. EG: But of course those tribes had taken land from each other before the first Europeans arrived. EL: They were always taking territory, stealing horses from each other. You think: ‘There’s no perfect place where there’s a smart matriarchy going on: it doesn’t exist.’ This is what happens when you defend small nations, or any kind of nation. They’ve always harmed somebody else. You can’t defend them on the basis that they’re the perfect, or independent, ones. EG: If you take away the notion of a border or territory, then what would happen?

p57&58: Portraits of Eddie Ladd, Donald Christie, for CCQ, 2015

EL: Well, you’d replace it with something else. Identity isn’t the problem, borders aren’t the problem; it is what you try to do to that other person because of that identity. I’m explaining this as a Welsh speaker and as a Welsh person. I’m not nationalistic. British nationalism is a far stronger idea here than Welsh nationalism. The fact is that you don’t have to punish someone for their identity. But if you are using identity in the way in which the British Empire has done, that is, to declare

that others are inferior, of course, that’s where identity problems ensue. So borders are fine, but what are you doing with them? EG: In Wales, we are often told that we don’t see ourselves in an international context, that we are inward-looking. Do you agree? EL: We believe a script, which isn’t true, but we just believe it. We’ve got to ignore it and then examine whether we think we’re inward looking or outward looking, or whatever. Wales has been outward looking for forever. When you think about [Owain] Glyndwr, he had allies with the French, you know. I just think it’s a Victorian script that we have learnt and we regurgitate. We’ve associated the idea of looking outwards to the British State and the British Empire, which has this mentality still attached. You can only be outward looking from the British Empire by taking over other states. EG: Looking out to see what could be grabbed next, rather than to engage with other people’s ideas? EL: And to batter the life out of them and to make them irrelevant. Of course you’re everybody then and you are everywhere then, because you are everybody and you are everywhere. I just don’t accept the script. But because we are forever being told we’re inward looking, it becomes a defining idea of how we are. You think: ‘What kind of work are we producing?’ Are we producing work that is so deeply local no one understands it? No, we’re not. We’re producing internationalese, which is an international tongue all on it own. Artists understand internationalese. EG: Are there not things you can produce that are intensely local, which resonate all over the world, and so become more authentic? EL: Well, you should try and make your work more local really. That would cancel out all the talk of ‘international’. In Welsh we have this word called y gyfieitheg, which is when you are speaking Welsh but are really translating from English as you speak. So you should try not to make work that is speaking ‘internationalese’; watched by initiate middle classes who watch internationalese work. Even when you make ‘culturally located’ work, you’re often doing it through internationalese. So, why don’t we just produce ultra-local work then? Actually, that’s the work that’s not being produced; but it does translate, and it’s all accessible in the end.

EG: There is something about how you work that is intrinsically coming from Welsh language, but movement is universal, isn’t it? EL: Dance isn’t universal. There are movements you do not understand unless you are the initiate, which is fine, you just have to know that you don’t understand it, and then have to learn this language. It’s not going to communicate fantastically and you won’t understand all of it. You might understand some of it on a cellular level – some of it – because that understanding does exist. EG: There’s a sort of dance language that goes across a framework…

English, dumping Spanish and speaking English; using a male figure even though I’m a female. So it shows how many things that I’m inhabiting as well as trying to reject. With choreography, it’s difficult to think: ‘What is the choreography that truly is breaking the system - that I think needs breaking - and is reflecting me”. I’ve not found that yet, and it’s really, really hard, because at the same time, I‘m trying to be a part of a system, which is going to accept my work, and I’ve got to try and do good choreography. EG: And do you need other collaborators to understand why you’ve got to do that? If it’s a new system, or a new thing, then it’s quite different?

EL: …And that is a struggle I’m having. EG: How can I watch you and know where you’re coming from? Do you make a conscious decision to do one thing and not something else, to shape that? EL: The answer is going to come from all sorts of different places. You might be picking up on something that is not choreographed, because the dancers always do something beyond their choreography. You’re reading muscles and reading desire, and reading stuff all the time which is beyond the choreography, possibly. I always keep trying to make the choreography do the thing that I’m intending, so you may be reading the choreography at the same time. I’m thinking about Scarface [Ladd’s solo multi-media performance from 2000] – I intended it to be this anti-Imperialist dance piece, and I did that by adopting all those Imperialist tropes, like the three-act Hollywood film. And I was chopping the language, dumping Welsh and speaking

EL: Sometimes, yes, because your mind is so framed by all of the choreography you’ve ever seen, and you think that’s all within the framework of the state – European white choreography. So how do you not do that? It’s a hell of project. You think you’re not going to succeed in that, because those are your references, and I know that they’re my references. Can I deliberately do the other thing? So I have to say, it’s an on-going project.

Dawns Ysbrydion/Ghost Dance is a Theatr Genedlaethol Production. It was co-directed by Eddie Ladd with Sarah Williams. Williams choreographed the piece, Ladd was one of the performers. It premiered at Galeri, Caernarfon, toured Wales, and was part of the Cardiff Dance Festival 2015 at the Wales Millennium Centre.

Dawns Ysbrydion/Ghost Dance, photography: Stephen Kingsdon


Take A Look at Me Now Camille Blatrix’s recent show, No School, in Llandudno blurred the lines between authorship and installation. MOSTYN Director, Alfredo Cramerotti tells CCQ’s Rhiannon Lowe and Francesca Donovan about a highly collaborative exhibition and we find out how it’s possible to come home to somewhere you’ve never been before. In 2014 Camille Blatrix was shortlisted for the Ricard Prize and shown at Paris’ Pompidou Centre. He works with wood, metal, ceramics and, most significantly, with other people to produce highly polished work that folds in his own back-story with very sitespecific references. CCQ: How did Camille Blatrix come to exhibit at MOSTYN? Alfredo Cramerotti: I met Camille a couple of years ago, when I went to see the Ricard show in Paris. Camille’s work was so subtle you could’ve missed it. He’d placed his sculptures in the corners. I got in touch with the Ricard Foundation through a curator

friend of mine, and I struck a deal to export the Ricard Prize exhibition, arranging to show this very high profile prize that’s never been seen outside France here, at MOSTYN. CCQ: What is special about the Ricard Prize? AC: The Ricard is for emerging artists only. The Duchamp Prize, the other major French prize, is for those more established – but winners of both end up exhibiting at the Pompidou Centre. It is an interesting prize: there is a panel of artists and curators who select the shortlisted six artists. They then invite 100 people from different sections of the cultural world to see the show and vote for the winner.


CCQ: How does that fit in with MOSTYN’s programme? AC: MOSTYN hosted a programme of exhibitions called the Conversation Series. It started with Radovan Kraguly and Fernando Garcia-Dory – artists from two different generations, working towards the same theme; then we had Bedwyr Williams and Ryan Gander – the same generation, but with the work placed together; and we had a third with Irma Blank and Amalia Pica – again two very different generations of artist, working on different modes of communication, one written and one oral. We had this idea to continue the conversation. I asked Camille what would

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be his main influences as an artist; who he looks up to. We talked and talked. It came out that his main influences were his family. He grew up in a very artistic family—his father was a painter before changing his craft to ship-building; his mother is a ceramicist, his brother is a lighting designer and his old friend, Camille Blin, is a furniture designer. So I thought we should talk about how these references nurture artistic talent and Camille agreed. CCQ: How did you begin the collaboration with Blatrix? AC: Camille came to visit from Paris last year. It was a miserable day. He’d come via

Manchester and by the time he got here it was dark. He told me he felt like he was coming back home to a small town from the big metropolis to see his family and friends again. There was this nostalgic feeling even though he’d never actually been here before. So, he staged the whole visit, the whole experience, as a desire to be home, but, at the same time, deriving from a feeling that you belong to something that you do not. CCQ: Was that the starting point for the exhibition? AC: At the beginning we started with two different shows: Camille’s solo show and a show curated by him with his references –


the work of his parents and friend, Camille Blin. As we continued, the whole thing became more and more blurred and, for me as a curator, this was a very interesting process. Without realising it, Camille was really hosting the other artists’ work. When we came to install No School, the whole exhibition and the accompanying publication became one big show in which Camille’s solo show is embedded. You can’t pick it out as a singularity, but it’s there. Rather than having a curated show and a solo show, it became this hybrid model, as we realised it was really difficult to separate the references from his work. Camille was on a residency in LA between January and April. He


sketched the designs for all the pieces during that period, after which he went back to Paris and started to produce like mad. He went to Brittany to see his father. Camille remembers his father’s paintings well and wanted him to be a part of No School. He spent a week trying to convince him. In the end, Camille managed to secure two paintings from a triptych narrating his own conception and birth. The second painting in the series depicts his parents having sex, which Camille left out because he thought it was… unnecessary. In the third, we see Dorothée, Blatrix’s mother, with baby Camille. So the artist is depicted in his own show by his father. Camille reframed the paintings and worked on the new frames, incorporating sculpture and reliefs into them. It is a really all-encompassing approach. The same thing happened with Camille’s mother; she is a well known ceramicist, but doesn’t exhibit often. She comes from a dance background and her ceramics have come out of her knowledge of choreography. You can see the movement in the stonework. Each piece is incredibly heavy – 10 kilos each – but they look so light and fragile. The plinths bulge under their weight.

CCQ: Can you talk us through the exhibition? AC: The exhibition works in steps. It starts very low and gets higher. It starts with the existing floor sockets, which he made custom fittings for from wood with graffiti symbolism imposed. There was a whole rationale behind these marks related to coding and inscription. An industrial version of tagging, I believe. Part of the youth culture. Take A Look At Me Now is the second stage. It comes from a story he wrote when he was here the first time, inspired by the Phil Collins’ song Against All Odds (Take a look at me now). He was in a hotel and the people next door were playing this song really loudly. It got stuck in his mind and developed into a narrative. The video that you can see was shot while Camille was installing his work, so it was incorporated at the very end of the installation period. The video shows a girl that he met in one of the cafes round here. They had a rough exchange ­– I’m not sure what about – she got upset and went out to smoke a cigarette and Camille filmed her from the window on his phone. It’s an autobiographical work but it’s articulated in a smooth way.


CCQ: It’s fascinating for such a young artist to document his influences.

mother’s input in relation to her work and the exhibition as a whole.

AC: Usually we want to put a bit of distance between our parents and ourselves, especially if you’re an artist. He went through the whole thing in a very thoughtful way, to integrate and host their exhibition in his own solo show. In the editioned book with a short story written by him, you can see a lot of the artistic elements come through in the narrative; constant hints and reminders between the two.

CCQ: Can you talk about the title No School?

CCQ: It shows a remarkable maturity and selfawareness. AC: Camille is an artist’s artist. He’s studio based. He doesn’t work with computers; he works with metal and wood and ceramics. He sketches everything. He makes work with wood and metal workers at foundries and he spends a lot of time finishing and polishing pieces. It’s almost like he’s an artist of another generation in a younger body. The whole show has been constructed so carefully, with an almost Modernist approach. It’s very Camille. He has something that is difficult to find in an artist; his production values are incredibly high, but he maintains this flexibility. He’s very calm and he doesn’t panic, but he works until the very last minute. CCQ: How much influence did the other artists have over the curation?

p62&63: No School, Camille Blatrix, 2015; sculpture, Dorothée Loriquet; scenography Camille Blin. Installation at MOSTYN. Photo: Dewi Lloyd. p64: No School, Camille Blatrix, 2015. Installation at MOSTYN. Photo: Dewi Lloyd. p65: No School, Camille Blatrix, 2015; painting, François Blatrix. Installation at MOSTYN. Photo: Dewi Lloyd.

AC: Camille Blin had leeway as to how he staged the objects and how he made the plinths. He decided to make them very fragile. He and Blatrix saw each other twice during the preparation of the show and they talked a lot. Blin designed the stools for the invigilators too. He was so involved. It’s a very rich exhibition. You have to spend time unpicking all the objects and references. Blin came to help install. Blatrix’s mother came too, with her new husband. His father didn’t. Before Dorothée came we positioned some of her sculptures just to try out different placements. We wondered about the colours, but Camille said he wanted to wait for her to position colours appropriately. He left space for his

AC: There are elements of youth; teenagers going to wastelands to smoke and sticking chewing gum under their school desks. The installation on the walls – the cracked wording bandaged with plasters and chewing gum – spells out ‘Youth’, ‘Rage’ and ‘Infinity’. Young rebellious kids trying to make their own way in the world. No School comes from this – bunking off, school holidays, filling your days. CCQ: It seems as though Blatrix has blurred the lines between curatorial and art practice. Do you think that curatorial practice is art in itself? AC: It’s very blurred actually. To me, it is interesting to see how it develops and changes so much from the outset. It’s how you imagine a painter reflecting on his paintings; scrubbing out and adding and changing his approach. As an institution, we have to be able to accommodate this process. It is a matter of trust. We have to make space for artists to experiment. It was a joy to see. CCQ: Will No School tour? AC: I hope it will have a future, but it is so site-specific. The whole exhibition resonates at MOSTYN because it originated from Camille’s first visit to Llandudno. The show I saw for the Ricard prize was also very integral to the space it was shown in. He’s made a beautiful use of the space here. There’s nothing on the walls. Everything’s quite low. From the beginning he envisioned something that would take on the centre of the gallery. He seems to occupy a space somewhere between his mother’s and father’s work—CCQ

No School was at MOSTYN, Llandudno from 18 July to 1 November 2015

Pause for thought To celebrate the refocusing of the EMDASH Foundation’s annual art prize towards performance art, they commissioned Nástio Mosquito to make a new work for the ICA. Ric Bower and Francesca Donovan spoke to EMDASH’s founder, Andrea Dibelius, as they sat awaiting Mosquito’s prophecies. Commissioning ephemeral works which cannot be hung on the walls of global institutions, or sold to dealerships and collectors, is a bold statement against the ongoing commodification of creative practice. CCQ asked Andrea Dibelius, the founder of EMDASH, why she has made a conscious effort to invest in an aspect of human endeavour that, some might say, has no practical purpose. Andrea Dibelius: We do so much digitally: we write emails, we text, even our love letters are on Whatsapp. When does somebody have the opportunity to really communicate their thoughts, criticisms and questions to the world? The answer, I believe, is through performance. Performance art is by no means new, but it is certainly evolving through the application of multimedia. And it needs support from foundations like ours now precisely because it’s not commodifiable. CCQ: Do you see performance drawing on a pre-modern tradition? AD: Everything that we reinvent always relates to something else that came before it. An emdash is a pause that allows you to reflect on your prior thoughts and to interject something new. In fashion, in thought, in speech and, of course, in art, there is always a precursor. CCQ: Do you always encourage artists to take stock and then strike out in a new direction? AD: Artists wouldn’t be artists if they were not producing what was innate to them, but they each have their own processes. Artists have different phases in their lives that inspire change, so development in their practices happens organically. We don’t need to encourage it – it’s automatic. CCQ: Performance is difficult to represent. How can the event be communicated authentically after the fact? AD: Your question implies another: how do you collect performance art? And, honestly, I don’t know. We have made sure, of course, that we have four cameras to capture Nástio’s performance tonight. Someone like Nástio, who possesses this incredible charisma and presence, can still communicate through the medium of video. Having said that, seeing coverage on YouTube will be different to experiencing Nástio live. When you engage with Nástio, he engages with you, and the performance goes in a different direction. The Age I Don’t Remember, if he repeated it, would be totally different. Performance art, as a form, should not be recycled. It always has to be fresh. We just have to encourage more performances if we want to create these live moments. Everybody is talking about buying the rights to performative works. I think that’s wrong. Performance should be in the moment, otherwise it loses power. CCQ: EMDASH has supported work that comments on the commercial nature of the art world. What role can performance, uniquely perhaps, play in the art world’s attempts at self-criticism? AD: It is inherently non-commercial and so it already stands outside the system. It’s hard to collect. It’s hard to hang on your wall. You could buy a still from a performance, but it would never represent what you have actually experienced. CCQ: Without obvious monetary connections or opportunities open to a performance artist, what other options are there out there? AD: There are a lot of art foundations that can jump in and support performance artists who don’t have contacts with curators or collectors. Critics say that foundations are often just vanity projects. Some of them are, maybe, but at the same time, foundations that support the right projects for the right reasons can do a lot of good.


Both pages: The Age I Don’t Remember, Nástio Mosquito, ICA, 2015. Performance documentation: Gástôn van Mülders for CCQ.

CCQ: What then is the difference between art and an information leaflet, as a vehicle to initiate change? AD: In the case of Nástio, he draws you in. Immersion is the key. There is a German word: Gesamtkunstwerk. It means, ‘a total, universal work of art that touches all your senses’. This is what art can do that a leaflet cannot. CCQ: What about the current cultural climate makes commissioning ephemeral work particularly important now? AD: Public museums and institutions in Europe are having to cut budgets. It is always the right time to commission ephemeral work, but especially now; foundations like us need to collaborate with artists and stopgap this lack of public funding. It’s practical factors, above all, that make it particularly important to commission work now. CCQ: Do you have particular geographical aspirations? Where do you want EMDASH to be working?

CCQ: Foundations often have the power to dictate the kind of work that is commissioned and exhibited. They become not only the financiers but also the arbiters of taste. Surely, that is counter-productive? AD: You could argue the same of curators! In a way, foundations are purer. You can think outside the box with a foundation, because you don’t need to be recognised, or build yourself a career as a successful curator. You’re not tied down by professional pressures put on you by institutions. When commissioning work, the EMDASH foundation always collaborates both with the artist and with a separate institution or museum. CCQ: It’s about networks rather than individuals, then? AD: I think a network consists of different individuals whose roles are changing over time. It’s not set in stone. Globally, the art community is large. There is no need to work with the same people over and over. I try to work with people who are not yet in my network, to give artists a chance to reach out into that broader community, both personally and geographically. CCQ: The Medici family had a very direct input into the intellectual and creative environment they fostered. Do you see that kind of input as part of your responsibility as a foundation? AD: Well, that would be a high objective! I work more simply. EMDASH just wants to make people think and, through thinking, one can hopefully implement change for the better. If someone leaves Nástio’s event tonight having enjoyed the music and goes home happy, I think I have done my job and Nástio has done his job too. If somebody goes home tonight having formulated an interest in performance art, that’s great too! If somebody goes home tonight and thinks of the problems in this world, especially in Angola, and then starts supporting a charity, even better still. Happiness, personal development, political changes; that’s enough for me. I don’t aim as high as the Medici.

AD: The art world is international. Artists should think and act and work on a global basis. EMDASH looks for good artists and emerging artists at an interesting point in their career, no matter where they come from. We have no geographical restrictions or aspirations in that respect. But even as a global oriented thinker, I cannot deny my own roots. I’m Austrian. I perceive things in an Austrian way. When I am in Angola, there is an Austrian girl inside me influencing the way I think. That is unavoidable. CCQ: Nástio’s approach to communication is particularly non-Western. Have you noticed marked variations in the process of artistic development between, say, the West and Africa? AD: You think that has something to do with where an artist comes from? I think it’s a question of the person rather than their nationality. I’ve seen artists that work the way Nástio works, but I’ve seen artists who are more regimented too; they wake up at 8am, have their lunch at noon each day, walk with their dog, then go back to the studio until 5pm. My drive to engage with artists – wherever they’re from – comes from my fascination with their divergent modes of communication. It’s never linear. CCQ: EMDASH may be seeking to disseminate work to a wider audience but the artworld is intellectually exclusive is it not? How might EMDASH break that down those barriers? AD: Artists break them down themselves. Somebody like Nástio is more than an artist, in the traditional sense. He’s an entertainer and a musician as well. I think music is easy for everybody to hold onto so the blurred boundaries between disciplines themselves can facilitate the process of dissemination. CCQ: Tell us about the EMDASH award. AD: Every project EMDASH has supported so far has had a performative element. It became clear to us that we should redirect the award towards performance exclusively; not only because there is no performance award in Europe at present and because the artform suffers from a severe lack of funding, but also because the discipline is crucially important in its own right—CCQ Nástio Mosquito performed The Age I Don’t Remember at the ICA, London in November 2015, commissioned by The EMDASH Foundation.


BLINK, Sue Williams’ video response to issues raised by THROB, is a work of passion. The fleeting monochromatic glimpses into love, sex and the longing to be touched and to touch show how passion takes each of us in different ways, from raging fervour to states of abandon. THROB will manifest in a series of conversations between the artistic and clinical worlds, bringing this human condition into a public arena. Dr. Nicholas Ossei-Gerning, a cardiologist specialising in erectile dysfunction and consultant on THROB, gives CCQ a science lesson: Nick Ossei-Gerning: The National Institute of Health defines erectile dysfunction (ED) as, ‘An inability to either obtain or maintain an erection that is sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse’. My expertise has to do with erectile dysfunction; so with men, but it affects women too because their partners can’t get it up. It’s a couples problem: most of the men who come to me, come because their wives have driven them to seek help. FD: Are there differing degrees of erectile dysfunction? NO-G: Yes, the degrees of dysfunction are key. Some patients have mild ED, some moderate. 36 per cent of patients have severe erectile dysfunction. There is a way of assessing ED; the test I use is called the Sexual Health Inventory for Men or the SHIM score. You get a score out of 25, deduced from a questionnaire. 17 to 21 is mild, 11 to 17 is moderate and under 11 is severe erectile dysfunction. FD: Are some people more at risk?

Artist Sue Williams has teamed up with the medical profession to develop THROB, an extended work, which explores the wider implications of erectile dysfunction. Francesca Donovan talks to consultant cardiologist, Dr. Nicholas Ossei-Gerning, who is acting as consultant for Williams and is a world expert on the subject. The conversation is set against stills from Williams’ short film BLINK, which was created as part of THROB.

NO-G: I am a cardiologist; a heart specialist. I spend most of my time opening heart arteries. The condition I deal with is coronary or ischemic artery disease, whereby the arteries clog up. The various arterial diseases in any bodily system are basically the same, as are the six big risk factors for arterial clogging: smoking, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, family history and, finally, obesity. The hardening of heart, brain or kidney arteries is the same hardening going on in the arteries of the penis. To cut

a long story short, 80 per cent of ED is organic, rather than psychological or psychogenic. So when you ask whether there are risk groups, the answer is yes, but they are the same risk groups you would recognise for other diseases. If you see an obese, diabetic smoker, you can just about guarantee they’ve got some degree of erectile dysfunction.

is quite complex. Traditionally, until the discovery of Viagra, most people thought ED was psychological. We now know that’s not true. Saying that, if a healthy 20-year-old comes to see me with ED, nearly all of the time there is a psychological cause.

FD: Who is likely to get ED?

NO-G: This is really important. A lot of men feel they’ve lost their manhood. They’re extremely embarrassed. In the Massachusetts trial, 90 per cent of men with ED did not seek medical help. The tragedy is that anything between 20 and 50 per cent of divorces were rooted in ED, or at least ED played a factor. It is a common contributory cause of divorce.

NO-G: Erectile dysfunction is quite common. The most authoritative study is called the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, which found the incidence rate of ED was 52 per cent amongst the age group of 40-70. FD: What can you do to help, medically? What does science offer? NO-G: There are several treatments that are used at ED clinics all over the world. The first stage tends to be the PDE5 inhibitors, commonly known as Viagra. There are a few on the market now: Sildenafil, Levitra, Cialis and Spedra. The second line of treatment is prostaglandins; there are injectables; you can insert a pellet into the urethra or squeeze an ointment onto the penis. The next line of treatment is a vacuum pump. If that fails, the only option left is a penile prosthesis. It’s a big operation where rods are inserted into the penis. You pump fluid into the penis and get an erection mechanically, and let the liquid out manually when you’ve finished the job, so to speak! It’s quite invasive. I use the same technique I use to open heart arteries to open up erectile arteries. In patients with vascular ED, I assess blood flow into the penis. If it is reduced, I do an angiogram: I inject dye into the arteries in order to look for blockages, which I can then open up through an operation involving erectile scaffolding. FD: Most people think ED is psychological – is that wrong? NO-G: You’re going to get purely psychogenic cases and purely organic cases. There’s a middle ground too. The picture of causality

FD: What about the emotional consequences of ED?

FD: So you’ve been privy to the emotional consequences of ED? NO-G: I have couples weeping in my clinic regularly. Last week a young couple came in. They were very young, attractive. The husband couldn’t get an erection and the wife was threatening to leave. She was in floods of tears; the husband was beside himself. There is no doubt that the emotional turmoil ED causes is huge. I get a lot of patients coming to me and saying: “You’ve got to help me, because if you don’t my marriage is over.” FD Where does THROB come into it? Can art help people deal with the distresses of ED? NO-G: The whole point of THROB is to try and talk about the human drama of erectile dysfunction through multidisciplinary art forms . Sue is doing something very powerful by telling the story. FD: How are you and Sue combining your different areas of expertise for THROB? NO-G: Many, many conversations. I would be lying if I said I thought of it. It was Sue’s idea from the outset. We’ve known each other for years. THROB has been on-going throughout.

FD: From a medical perspective, what would you say to someone who found the work uncomfortable?

send someone suffering with ED to them. I concentrate on what I’m good at, which is to get the man an erection.

NO-G: I thought the work was beautiful. Honestly! Because of my Christian sensitivities and inhibitions, I thought I might cringe, but I found it tasteful. You’re never going to keep everybody happy. I rather suspect some people will find it uncomfortable and even pornographic. I’d like to think the vast majority will find the message within. What we are trying to portray is really clear: the pain, the anguish, the embarrassment and the drama of ED.

FD: Has THROB been enlightening?

FD: So do you think being directly involved in THROB could be psychologically beneficial to those portrayed in some of the work? NO-G: Very much so. The hope is that the public will now be discussing ED. We want people to talk. If you don’t talk about problems, you’re never going to get help. FD: Even medically, is sexual health still taboo? NO-G: Absolutely. The vast majority of people who come to see me have had erectile dysfunction for years. Men suffer in silence. That is the tragedy of human drama; even regarding sex – something that is so important to all of us – people are prepared to suffer in silence. It is a taboo and we should break that down. FD: Do you deal with treating emotional distress as a consequence of ED? NO-G: I don’t kid myself. I’m not a psychosexual doctor. I’m lucky enough to work with psychosexual practitioners and wouldn’t hesitate to

NO-G: Yeah, absolutely! I’m a human being. I’m a sexual being. It is impossible to watch THROB – the pain of sexual dysfunction amongst couples and the anguish that it causes – without being moved. FD: What’s the future of THROB? NO-G: It is very art-heavy and science-light. We need to root it in science so we can help people. It needs to be disseminated because the messages are so important. We are embarking on a research programme. I run a clinic and Sue and I will be interviewing couples to learn more about what is going on inside their heads. We want to trace the whole story from beginning to end and get a full perspective from these patients, incorporating that into the continual thought process of THROB. We’ve got the green light to start doing that. THROB has wings, no question! FD: Is it problematic that no one talks about sex, in all its weird and wonderful glory? NO-G: Yes, sex is all of those things: intense, messy, fraught with all manner of feelings and emotions. It’s the whole drama of sex - that is what THROB seeks to explore—CCQ

THROB: FEELY will be exhibited at BayArt Gallery from 6 February – 4 March 2016

pages 68-71: BLINK, Sue Williams, 2015, video still. Courtesy of the artist, Co-Editing: Tila RodrĂ­guez-Past, Camerman: Roy Campbell-Moore

Atsushi Momoi Japanese photographer, Atsushi Momoi, was one of the eight shortlisted artists chosen by judges Peter Finnemore and Helen Sear, for the 2015 ESPY photography award at Elysium Gallery, Swansea.

p72: #2, Atsushi Momoi, 2015, from the Mirage series © Atsushi Momoi, courtesy of Elysium Gallery. p73 top: #1 (reflection eternal) Atsushi Momoi, 2015, from the Mirage series © Atsushi Momoi, courtesy of Elysium Gallery. p73, bottom: #5, Atsushi Momoi, 2015, from the Mirage series © Atsushi Momoi, courtesy of Elysium Gallery. p74&75: #4 (new perception), Atsushi Momoi, 2015, from the Mirage series © Atsushi Momoi, courtesy of Elysium Gallery.


The ESPY photography award, in partnership with Elysium gallery, is a biennial open international photography competition. ESPY encourages traditional approaches to photography alongside digital and experimental techniques. Elysium gallery provides the venue for the ESPY award and will also give this year’s winning artist, Mira Andres, a solo exhibition.




PERICLO The opening of Wrexham’s new art space, PERICLO, is a marked shift in the town’s contemporary art provision, whether temporary or not. Francesca Donovan and Rhiannon Lowe ask curator, James Harper, how PERICLO’s challenging yet promising programme fits into its local surroundings.

p76, clockwise from top left: 7 ½ weeks, Lindsey Mendick, 2015. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd Sistahood (detail), Lindsey Mendick, 2015,. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd 7 ½ weeks, Lindsey Mendick, 2015. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd Physical (detail), Lindsey Mendick, 2015. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd 7 ½ weeks, Lindsey Mendick, 2015,. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd Ritualistic Tendancies, (installation view), Rebecca Gould, 2015. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd

After a long autumnal drive and a litre of fizzy pop, we deposited a princely day-parking fee of £2 through the letterbox of a gloomy-looking residence. Leaving our hire car in a trusting Wrexham inhabitant’s driveway we made the short walk towards Wrexham’s People’s Market. Both Oriel Wrecsam’s public-fronted hub and offices Siop//Shop and PERICLO are based in this thriving, indoor market. They nestle among units selling meat, fish and Welsh love spoons, and an overflowing vintage shop. Siop//Shop’s pillarboxred, pavement shop front displays an array of magazines, prints, ceramics, jewellery and giftware, by local and national makers, while boasting a stencilled design installation by Jonny Hannah. PERICLO, tucked a little further back into the undercover sprawl of the market building, is still very much on the front line of the organisation’s refreshed determination to give contemporary visual art a platform in Wrexham. Both ventures are part of Oriel Wrecsam’s major new proposed redevelopment programme. This will double their exhibition space and establish learning areas, create a mixed use space for film, performance and artist studios, as well as a food court, bar facilities, a flexi-space for events, monthly markets and market trading. We are told by the staff at Siop that regeneration, training and increasing employment opportunities are at the heart of this huge project; and integration, consultation and engagement are also key. PERICLO is accessible to all passing. Its exhibition space is visible through its large windows, which bear the signature logo – a Doric column cropped short at a jaunty angle; a symbol of reimagining existing traditions and creating something new in the process. ‘Periclo’ can be translated from Latin to mean trial, risk or ruin. In this vein, we asked the quietly-spoken facilitator of PERICLO’s programme, James Harper, whether PERICLO was a site purely for testing, and even failing: “I wouldn’t say that PERICLO is about trial and error. It certainly presents opportunities to work in that way, but we intend to show finished, resolved and refined works in the space. Trial and error is an inevitable part of the development of any artist’s practice, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into an individual exhibition.” PERICLO embraces forward-looking ideas while retaining the integrity of historical, curatorial and artistic practices. Steffan Jones-Hughes, Wrexham Borough Council’s Arts Manager and Programme Director at OW, told us: “This is reflected by the town and borough’s rich tradition of creative thinking, stretching back to the paper-making for the first banknotes and world-class iron work here. We believe that this new space encapsulates Wrexham’s history of risk and experimentation by providing opportunities in this creative town.” Harper believes it is also important to contextualise contemporary visual art alongside applied arts, adding that this is particularly so, “In a town such as Wrexham, where applied art is probably more prominent and more accepted. By showing visual art alongside applied art we are giving an entry point to the general public of Wrexham.” Although PERICLO is not necessarily a permanent space, there is nothing slapdash about what Harper is constructing. The exhibitions are



focussed, complete and carefully curated. The notions conveyed in the logo’s dissected traditional column are reflected in the philosophical rationale of PERICLO’s programme. Harper explained: “Oriel Wrecsam has always focused on showing contemporary art. Rather than being the contemporary strand of OW, PERICLO serves to present the riskier, more experimental side of contemporary visual art practice. There is also a desire to show younger, more emerging talent.” Harper has so far initiated two exhibitions in the PERICLO space, both of which present the works of less well-established visual artists. He told us that, “Aside from the fourth and final exhibition in this series, I am not acting as curator. I am playing the role of mediator and enabler”. The first show, GIRLS, was a witty display of hypersexual and feminist works by Lindsey Mendick and Rebecca Gould. Arguably, the contents of the show were not the usual fodder for artistic spaces in Wrexham town. We asked Harper whether he thought it was a precarious proposition to show this kind of work, when it could easily serve to alienate the more unaccustomed of audiences. He replied: “I would find it quite unusual if the general public in Wrexham had a taste for the edgier, experimental side of contemporary art. You could say OW is taking a risk by starting PERICLO and knowing that a lot of people are not necessarily going to be into what we’re programming at first. What’s important is how we convey what we’re doing and how we engage with people. The signs, after one and a half shows, are very positive... therefore, there is a certain amount of freedom for me to work with my own tastes.” As important for Harper, as for any curator, taste, background, education and experience are key, as was proved in the second show by Alfie Strong, Heart Shaped Like A Baseball Bat. Frankly, the

transformation of PERICLO was amazing: the walls were painted deep purple and small stones (and teeth!) covered the floor in a sea of beige. The physical space that houses PERICLO certainly allows for change; it feels adaptable, malleable. James told us he likes to work with unusual spaces – so PERICLO certainly ticks one box: “The nature of the space presents interesting problems to overcome. The stairs are essentially redundant, due to accessibility restraints, so they have become more of a display mechanism. I’ve always had a dislike for suspended ceilings too, so with Alfie’s exhibition it’s been nice to incorporate that into the show in some way. We’ve hidden it in plain sight.” Despite acknowledging the certain and even unfair perception that the general public in Wrexham may not appreciate these rather nonconformist artistic practices in their town, Oriel Wrecsam’s intention is to continue to develop relationships with their immediate community. “The next exhibition, Supermarket Sweep: Bonus Round, will hopefully provide plenty of opportunity for engagement with our neighbours who inhabit the People’s Market”, Harper said. Earlier projects with artist Emily Speed, special traders’ events and work with one trader, Beauty Box, to deliver a nail bar event alongside GIRLS, have already enabled growing levels of engagement with them. OW have also included the traders in their stakeholder group meetings and have had extensive conversations with them. Harper added: “There is further commitment to engage with students on the Fine Art course at Glyndŵr University and the foundation course at Coleg Cambria through talks, seminars and tutorials relating to the PERICLO programme. Graduate retention in Wrexham is poor, particularly with artists. Moving forward with our redevelopment proposals, we realise there is a need to


address this, if not for the sustainability of OW, then for Wrexham’s art ecology as a whole.” In some ways, Harper’s appointment as the coordinator of PERICLO also fed into the desire to show emerging talent. Harper was, until recently, one of five directors at the Royal Standard in Liverpool, where he also has a studio. Originally from Wrexham, Harper studied Fine Art at Cardiff School of Art and Design and went on to get a Masters degree in Curation from Chelsea College of Art and Design. He has since travelled to Berlin for a period as Resident Curator at Node Center. Despite this experience, in curatorial practices, he was still taken on at OW as an emerging curator; in some ways part of the great experiment, the risk. We asked him about this position: “That’s an interesting way of phrasing it. I hope that through the training and experience I have accumulated there was not a great deal of risk involved in my appointment, despite being an emerging curator. Steffan [Jones-Hughes] will probably see it differently though. Hopefully, by the end of this series of programming, I will have proved that it shouldn’t always be considered a risk to appoint an emerging curator in this type of role.”

We also asked Jones-Hughes about Harper’s role. “I have given James a certain freedom to programme work by emerging artists, while also encouraging him to consider audiences and the careful balancing of relationships needed when working in an exposed, public environment. I feel it’s really important to provide support for emerging artists, curators and arts practitioners, so the arts ecology can continue to grow.” Harper’s curatorial practice is on trial, to some extent. But he shows no sign of giving up those things that drive his creative process: “I like to work to a brief, or within a set of restrictions with the intention that my own style will come through, while maintaining my integrity. I’m really excited about the fourth exhibition. It will combine contemporary elements with historical artefacts and older works. It will be heavily curated, but hopefully it won’t come across that way. They often say the best referees in football are those who go unnoticed – this is how I like my curating to come across.” The future of PERICLO is as yet undetermined. Amid developing relationships with the market traders and an all-too-familiar lack


of funding, it is hard to predict whether this challenging contemporary space will receive the necessary support. Harper, however, who at the time of writing is only contracted to curate this first programme series, remains hopeful: “There will, no doubt, be a period of evaluation, but I see no reason why the programme won’t continue and grow into something permanent and well regarded. PERICLO is straddling the gap between the artist-led spaces, or project spaces, and the larger institutions. It can provide a stepping stone for both artists and curators.”—CCQ ‘Supermarket Sweep: Bonus Round’ curated by McGilvary/White is open at PERICLO from 8 January – 20 February 2016. Featuring: Joe Fletcher Orr; Lucia Quevedo; Jack Strange; McGilvary/White; Beth Fox; Kate Turner and Alex McNamee. The fourth exhibition in the series, Harness Your Hiraeth, is a group exhibition curated by James Harper, which will run from 26 February 2016.

p78: GIRLS, (exhibition installation view) Lindsey Mendick and Rebecca Gould, 2015. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd p79, top: Heart Shaped Like A Baseball Bat, (installation view), Alfie Strong, 2015. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd p79, bottom: Given Back, Alfie Strong, 2015. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd p80: Well, I wouldn’t bother climbing that mountain either if I was going to get airlifted to the top, but unfortunately I have to climb it and it’s going to take ages, wear me right out and I’ll probably die on the way up, Alfie Strong, 2015. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd p81: Give Me Some Breath ’Cause I Feel Like I’m Dead, Man, Alfie Strong, 2015, cotton tapestry. Image courtesy of Oriel Wrecsam. Photo: Dewi Lloyd

Queering the Landscape Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings are reclaiming queer space through their project @Gaybar – a blend of parties, reading groups and a warm aestheticism informed by the history of queer art and visual activism. The duo met Ric Bower and Francesca Donovan in the mêlée of This Is Tomorrow, an invitational section of the START art fair selected by the fair director, Niru Ratnam. @Gaybar represents a new breed of visual activism. Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings’ practice traverses the border between visual art and the traditionally unforgiving realm of socio-political commentary. The duo document their processes of knowledge acquisition and their fight for LGBTQI rights through a range of media, including CGI and installation. What is most important to them, however, is community for its own sake and the development of spaces in which people feel comfortable to express their difference. To this end, they begin by telling CCQ how they came to be represented by Arcadia Missa, an emerging art space in Peckham. Hannah Quinlan: I guess it was through making work in South East London. We were living on Peckham Rye and co-running a low cost studio block there called Rye Lane Studios (RLS). We started to put on our own events in different rooms in RLS, which was just around the corner from Arcadia Missa. There’s definitely a close knit arts scene in South East London. Ric Bower: What was it about Arcadia Missa, in particular, that made you want to work with them? Rosie Hastings: Arcadia is just flat out the best gallery in London. They mainly work with female or queer-identifying artists, which is really important to us. HQ: Rozsa [Farkas], the gallery founder, has a really political agenda; as she describes it, it’s ‘contemporary art with intent’. RB: So how do the politics and social factors that concern you fold into a visuallyled practice?

RH: We do have a formal gallery practice, but we are also pursuing a career in visual activism. We started doing an event called @Gaybar. We wanted to re-materialise the idea of a gay bar to be an inclusive queer space for gender non-conforming people, trans people or queer people of colour. These are people who are normally rejected from the gay bar scene and who have also been systematically eradicated from queer history. So it was about reclaiming the gay bar as a politically queer space and making a space for our community to come together. We’re constantly drawing new people in, offering a platform where people are comfortable to express their difference. RB: A safe space? HQ: Yes, we wanted to create a space that does not privilege heterosexuality, white supremacy or cis-masculinity. Within this matrix we also want to encourage a discourse that does not censor or police the voices of the community that this space is designed for – a space in which transphobia, homophobia, racism and misogyny are simply not tolerated. RB: Were you evicted from your old studio space? HQ: Yes, we ran Rye Lane Studios for just under a year. It was a massive old business centre. We started off with a group of around eight other artists, musicians and curators. There’s a limited amount of space for artists in austerity London and we were able to formalise a large space that housed many artists. By the end, we had over 50 artists working in the building. We knew we would have to leave at one point, because it was being redeveloped as luxury flats; knowing


we would lose the building at any moment gave an intensity to the project. We managed to achieve a lot in a short space of time. Francesca Donovan: Can we talk about the parties and what they mean in relationship to your creative practice? HQ: Almost all of our @Gaybar projects take place in spaces outside of institutions: in studios that we were running for other artists, or even in our own bedroom. When you have access to self-led space, you have freedom that normal private views don’t afford. People can get fucked up, emotional and make out. It alters the material and meaning of the work. We feel that parties are always political. Often this is overlooked. With our projects we make this explicit. RH : When we have done @Gaybar Projects in gallery spaces – like Cruising Utopia @ Gaybar, which we were invited to do at the gallery Oslo 10, Basel, Switzerland, during Art Basel 2015 – we were interested in thinking about how we could switch up the queer codes with the more hetero codes of the gallery space without selling out or giving too much away. Next year we will be working with Somerset House on the show Counter Culture Now. We want to insert a queer and community-focused space into the intensely classed and patriarchal architecture of the building, which formerly housed the Government Tax Office. RB: Your projects seem often to interface quite pragmatically within existing societal structures and hierarchies. RH: Yes, that’s true, but It’s really important, in terms of queer space, not to have to operate

in a traditional club management hierarchy either; environments where the buildings are owned by straight men, the staff hate dykes and bouncers are required to police gender non-conforming bodies and gendered ideas of nudity. Unfortunately, that’s often been our experience of gay bars. We’re really interested in this idea of queer performativity, though; how we can socialise queerness and queer theory, but also how we can socialise queer politics in a different way from the a-typical protest form. That is, how we can bring the protest into the party, so to speak HQ: We’ve thought a lot about what makes a queer space and whether it’s only a combination of certain people, or whether it’s tied up in a specific kind of location and whether what surrounds you informs that idea of queer space. We work a lot with gay bars in terms of their aesthetics, how they self-represent as gay male or mixed or transfriendly, and how that dimension informs the way people feel comfortable to act and whether they feel encouraged to further socialise their politics.

FD: How do you bring all this into the art fair, into the Saatchi Gallery? RH: The transition from event to art object feels really natural. When we put on events, we’ll custom build all of the furniture. It becomes an installation and we’ll photograph it as such.

to make work about. We also want to avoid setting ourselves up as a voice for others. One way we try and avoid this is by not making our work figurative. We never make films with people in them. FD: What made you decide that?

HQ: When we produce work for exhibitions, especially the more sculptural work, we will imagine these objects in the context of the gay bars that we fabricate, or in the CGI landscapes that we produce for our video work. So there is a dialogue between the different parts of our practice that knits them together, both conceptually and thematically.

RH: The field of representation is inherently problematic and violent. There’s always someone who’ll be othered and someone who’s going to be privileged. Instead of trying to overcome it directly, we try to speak through images and objects of history in a relative way; describing situations or someone’s embodied experience to open up this discourse.

FD: Have you got a good relationship with local gay bars? You must be pushing them in new directions and challenging established power structures within that arena too.

RB: Your practice challenges perceptions on both sides of the queer divide. Do you find yourself engaging with a process of education in your own queer community?

RH: Yeah, it’s complicated. There’s definitely the feeling that we have to remain accountable to the people who we’re trying

HQ: Definitely. Before we started doing more physical work, we ran a reading group called Where is The Body? facilitating readings


p83: Cruising Extinction @Gaybar, (installation view), Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlan Anderson, Oslo 10, Basel, 2015. p84: Cruising Extinction @Gaybar, HD Image, Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlan Anderson, Oslo 10, Basel, 2015.​​​ p85: Tifkas, Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlan Anderson, HD video, 00.01.20, video still, Arcadia Missa, London, 2015.

of queer theory texts. We did five texts over the summer of 2013. RH: We did You’re too Much by Hannah Black and Against Innocence by Jackie Wang. We used the group as a space to discuss some really prominent issues that were facing our friends. It was a space to talk about where they were at, in terms of identity and gender; a lot of people came out as trans or as queer then. It was really cathartic. We’d all lie down together in our bedroom. Even though sometimes there were 30 or 40 people, it always felt really intimate. HQ: Many of these people come to our events and we end up collaborating with them too. We made some really close friends over that time.

at Goldsmiths. The art faculty, at the time, was predominately white and male. When I graduated, the directors of the course and of the university were up on a stage together; it felt satirical. They all looked exactly the same: straight white men of a similar age and with a similar demeanour. To me it indicated that underneath the Goldsmiths’ public persona, which promotes diversity and projects a radical outlook, it’s actually organised in the same way as most other institutions and places of learning in the UK are. When you’re looking for some kind of reflection of who you are personally in your educational environment, this is deeply troubling. HQ: Basically they educate you - as it seems most educational systems do - in a straight, white way, erasing, in the process, a lot of alternate sources of knowledge.

RB: Are you guys together? FD: Tell us about your work. RH: Yeah, we met at Goldsmiths. RB: How was your time at Goldsmiths? HQ: Mine was quite a closeted experience in relation to my practice, which I think had a lot to do with my own coming out. When I did come out, my practice still remained quite straight. I did not address queer issues in my work immediately, but as soon as I left Goldsmiths I realised I should concentrate on making work about my own embodied experiences. RH: I was lucky enough to study with some amazing tutors, like Bonnie Camplin; but I think there is still an underlying problem

RH: We did a lightbox for our solo show, Tifkas, at Arcadia Missa. We had started reading this book called Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, a lifelong trans activist, queer rights activist, environmental activist, social rights activist and a communist; it’s amazing! They wrote this book which documents the lesbian, butch-femme bar scene in a small town in America, just before the civil rights movement and before the Stonewall riots. The book’s no longer in print and, so, for the show we were working through some of the moods, the emotions, the history that was brought up in the book and trying to re-materialise them. We wanted to do this in a way that would teach


people about this moment in time, a time so distorted by normative historical narrative. FD: How do you settle on an aesthetic? What is involved in the process of translation from the political to the aesthetic realm? HQ: We use Blender, an open source animation software. I guess we like to use it because it’s not necessarily seen as the process of choice to present something authentic. We’re working through issues of historical authenticity, especially in the way the gay rights movement has progressed. There are a lot of myths within the gay rights movement, about origins in particular; we are using Blender to interrogate these myths and imagine new worlds where these histories can belong. RH: We’re interested in the idea of the queer sublime. The landscape doesn’t just belong to male painters who paint with their dick. We’re queering the landscape—CCQ Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings will be presenting @Gaybar at Somerset House in 2016



Makeshifting Daniel Baker’s objects and installations create connections between Romani aesthetics and tradition, and wider issues around mobility and social justice. He talks to Emma Geliot about Roma visual culture, education and his recent shows in South Wales and Budapest. Daniel Baker grew up in St Mary Cray in Kent, the youngest child in a family of Romani Gypsies. The site on which his parents settled was sold for development in the 1950s; a number of the residents were offered housing in a street overlooking the land, so the community has remained relatively intact, despite the disappearance of the main encampment. In 2007, Baker exhibited and advised on the first Roma Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. He completed his PhD on Gypsy aesthetics at the Royal College of Art, in London in 2011, combining art practice and academic research. Daniel uses the word ‘Roma’ as a collective term to mean ‘Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’.

the UK Romani communities, where the practice and experience of nomadism are more recent than in more settled Roma groups in Eastern and Central Europe. Within the nomadic worldview, a painting for example, would have been just one more thing to move around, with no immediate functional merit; whereas, the daily use of a favoured quilt or knife would ensure its place among essential items, allowing the home and the ephemera of everyday life to perform the role of art. By operating outside of literary tradition, the Roma’s facility for aesthetic communication, accounts for the development of keen visual and sensory vocabulary. It makes sense that Roma are less inclined to look beyond their immediate surroundings in search of art. Access to education continues to be problematic for Roma. Again mobility, historic and current, is a significant issue. Certainly, in Western Europe, the mechanisms of nomadism, historic and current, have meant that regular schooling has often been overlooked. The basic skills of reading and writing are difficult to pass on through teaching at home, if few adults in the community have acquired these skills themselves. Romani cultural values determine the skills that are prized, and therefore taught to children and, often, these are skills more relevant to the economic imperatives of the family and the wider Roma community. Prejudice is another key issue: those children that do find themselves in school, are often bullied and have commonly been targeted for special treatment by staff and officials, resulting in relegation to lower achieving classes simply for being Romani – or in exclusion from school completely.

Emma Geliot: Can you tell me a bit about how you became interested in art? Was there anything that first sparked your imagination, or someone who encouraged you? Daniel Baker: There is a history of artistic activity in my family, mostly traditional Romani activities; my family encouraged my painting and drawing from an early age. Visual culture is taken very seriously amongst Romanies, perhaps because visual communication is so important in Romani and Traveller groups, given our historical lack of attachment to the written word. We had no books at home when I was a child. Our histories didn’t seem to be contained within books, so they were not seen as important. The way our home was decorated was a big influence on me as a child. My most vivid memories are of the glass cabinets filled with collections of painted crockery and ornaments. These had sliding glass doors decorated with flowers and mirrored panels at the back, so that the objects were reflected and could be seen from all sides at once. The rich visual culture of my community is a strong influence on the work that I make. The ways in which Gypsy aesthetics so eloquently employ both artistic and functional elements to convey the spiritual and the everyday concerns of Romani life, continues to be a source of fascination for me. I went to Ravensbourne College of Art at the age of 17, and concentrated on contemporary art practice. It wasn’t until my late 30s after studying for a Masters degree in Romani studies at Greenwich University that I began to concentrate on Romani identity and its artistic traditions – looking at the relationship between marginal artistic practices and those that form the elite centre ground, and supposed mainstream society.

EG: There are several motifs running through your work, including impermanence, interdependence, shelter etc. Could you describe them and how they developed? DB: During my PhD at the RCA, I examined the Roma aesthetic, informed by the urgencies of the Roma experience and shaped by the practices of historic and, in some cases, current nomadism. It is not the actuality of nomadism that I refer to here, but a legacy that is the ‘nomadic sensibility’; an awareness through which Roma maintain an inherent understanding of the contingencies of life on the move. The collective experience of life at the edge of state control has resulted in the development of the Roma’s innate understanding of the makeshift and its associated qualities of contingency, simultaneity and adaptability. My recent Makeshifting project is concerned with themes of mobility and the structures that enhance and/or inhibit movement, whether physical, social, economic or aesthetic. The works use objects such as ladders, wheels, ropes and flags – signifiers of both movement and fixity – which play with contradictory qualities, such as attraction and diversion, display and concealment, functionality and obsolescence. Analog is formed of a pair of golden ladders propped against a wall, the allure of the shiny rungs thwarted by their inability to be

EG: What do you think are the barriers to the Roma community accessing art – either as audience or as a career? DB: Artistic practice is bound within everyday life for Roma. There is an absence of any tradition of ‘art object-hood’, particularly within


p86: Mobile Surveillance Device, Daniel Baker, 2015, mirrored glass, steel and mixed media, 60 x 60 x 90cm. Photo: Anthony David Vaughan p88, top: Canopy, (detail ), Daniel Baker, 2015, camouflage netting gilded with silver and gold coloured metal leaf, 600 x 600cm. Photo: Anthony David Vaughan p88, bottom: Paper Ladder, Daniel Baker, 2015. A4 paper and metal, 28 x 27 x 27cm Photo: James Cochrane

climbed. In Mobile Surveillance Device, mirrored wheels and an axel form an amalgam of low-tech surveillance technology – an improvised apparatus whose function is to keep track of us wherever we are. The structure of the work invites the viewer to pedal the vehicle into motion, but with little prospect of movement. The hybrid flags in Altered States look at the possibilities for adaptability and inclusion within the more abstracted structures of nationhood. The aim of the Makeshifting project was to generate discussion and participation amongst the Roma and wider communities. The parallels between migrations of peoples and migrations of knowledge are interesting. The project was timely as the issue of physical migration remains increasingly pressing. Despite its position as a founding tenet of the EU, mobility continues to be perceived as a threat to society. The works in the show aimed to reposition the inherent elements of mobility as qualities to value rather than outlaw with particular emphasis on relationships between the marginal and the mainstream in society.

as possible, and any ethnic or gender label might be seen to negate this. That said, I believe that good art can operate in multiple contexts and continue to convey meaning and insight, transcending their labels whilst at the same time embracing them.

efficiently the undesirable elements from the carpet’s pile. They are made of traditional wicker and gilded metal; the carpet’s pattern is bright and cheerful. It’s a mix of the domestic and political, the decorative and the brutal.

EG: What kind of responses have you had to your work when it is prefaced with the word Roma?

EG: Do you have any ambitions for art and the Roma community – creating more routes through to the mainstream, for example, or a shift in perception around specific cultural activity?

DB: Nothing really surprises me when it comes to questions of ethnicity, even in relation to art. There remains a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to Roma, so there is a lot of work to be done both within the various Roma communities across Europe, and across the wider community. In terms of the art world, I think that, in the same way that other minority groups have formed movements as a way of shifting from a position of specificity towards a place of wider influence, so the notion of Roma art can be used a stepping stone towards greater understanding and equality. EG: What are you working on now?

EG: Do you think that there are certain expectations about the kind of work you make and/or the themes you address through it? DB: Although the works have a certain feel they rarely make direct reference to Roma within their materiality. My hope is that audiences can experience meaning within my work regardless of knowledge of particular histories. EG: Do you think that being categorised in particular ways can be useful, or does it get in the way of how you might like your work to be received? DB: I think that artistic practice attached to an identity position can be limited in ambition if it only works within a specific context. I have discussed this with a number of Roma artists and the conversation often follows the same trajectory; artists want their work to be seen and experienced by as many people

DB: I have just finished installing awork for a new solo show titled 100 thousand blows, at Gallery 8 in Budapest. I was invited to make an installation in response to the increasingly frequent series of violent raids carried out under Code-Action 100. This is a term for police action involving supposedly tracking down individuals thought to be escaping justice, or tracing items believed to have been obtained by criminal means (or used for carrying out criminal acts). The use of the code is the latest in a long tradition of violence against Europe’s largest minority, and continues a culture of state sanctioned racism that often remains unchallenged. The work explores the historic and current experience of Roma expulsion from territories throughout Europe. My installation is made of a carpet that carries the image of a map of Europe surrounded by a number of carpet beaters. The beaters are given individual national markers, and positioned to dislodge most


DB: In the UK I have been working with the Romani Cultural and Arts Company and g39 in Cardiff, with the assistance of the Arts Council of Wales, to promote the work of artists of Roma origin. The Gypsy Maker project commissions exhibitions of new work from artists, in order to publicise Roma arts and raise awareness. It also helps create a physical collection of artworks by Roma for the nation. I am aware that within the UK we have yet to identify a critical mass of artists from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller backgrounds. This has, as I said earlier, something to do with artistic practice being integrated more into everyday life, so not seen as a separate activity. It is also down to the prohibitive expense of art school training. There are many more artists of Roma origin practising in other parts of Europe, so this is encouraging in terms of a wider movement. I regularly work with a number of artists, theorists and curators of Roma origin on international projects that are influencing wider contemporary art discourse, and within this, the possibilities of art as a tool of emancipation remains a central concern—CCQ

Daniel Baker’s exhibition, Makeshifting: Structures of Mobility was at Art Central in Barry earlier this year. The show coincided with the Gypsy, Roma & Traveller Arts & Culture National Symposium at g39, Cardiff 7 July 2015

Well Worn For Well Worn, Gareth Wyn Owen has brought together a selection of photographs and descriptions for used clothing and footwear which have been listed on eBay. These items are often described as being ‘well worn’, sometimes as ‘private’ or ‘trashed’. The items are sold and modelled by sellers like Sweetjo, Maturehousewifenextdoor and Miss-sophisticated. Owen describes Well Worn as being about fashion, consumerism, photography and sex. The photographs and accompanying descriptions are reproduced with the kind consent of the sellers.

Trashed Orange Suede Dune Shoes

Sexy Gold Metallic Mini Stretchy Shiny Wet Look Pants/Shorts

“I am a ballerina and these are my favourite party shoes. I have worn them so much and danced all night in them.”

“Very glamorous and very comfortable to wear.”

Dunlop trashed slippers “Selling my sisters slippers. Pretty bad condition through constant wear round the house, with socks and without, She always wears her socks for a long time so 10/10 standard.”

Worn Soft Silver Playboy Bunnies Ballet Flats Pumps used for Work Well (Private) “My sloppy silver playboy bunny ballet pumps. They are very worn out.” (coming soon)

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Creative Industries Space The Art House Drury Lane Wakefield WF1 2TE

Img. Sigrid Muller, Damsons (detail) 2014 Artist of the Month, December 2015

Laura Slater Masterclass // Dosbarth Meister 30/01/2016

Join acclaimed pattern, print and textile designer Laura Slater for a one day masterclass at Oriel Wrecsam. Price: £50 per person, which includes all materials. For more information or to book a place, contact Oriel.learning@ or call 01978 292093 Ymunwch â’r dylunydd patrwm, argraffu a thecstilau, Laura Slater, am ddosbarth meistr undydd yn Oriel Wrecsam. Pris: £50 y person, sy’n cynnwys yr holl ddeunyddiau. I gael rhagor o wybodaeth neu i archebu lle, cysylltwch ag Oriel.learning@ neu ffoniwch 01978 292093 11 Chester Street, Wrexham LL13 8BE @P_E_R_I_C_L_O @orielwrecsam

Nos Fawrth, Ionawr 19, 7.30pm Tuesday, January 19, 7.30pm

Nos Wener, 15 Ionawr, 6pm, Dydd Sadwrn, 16 Ionawr, 12pm Perfformiad 4 awr. Cyd-gynhyrchwyd gan Grŵp Opera Mahogany a’r Barbican

Friday, 15 January, 6pm, Saturday, 16 January, 12pm


Lost in Thought

Opera yn seiliedig ar Ymwybyddiaeth Ofalgar A Mindfulness Opera

Gandini Juggling 4x4 Ephemeral Architectures

Theatr Bryn Terfel

Theatr Bryn Terfel



Nos Sadwrn, 12 Mawrth, 7pm, Dydd Sul, 13 Mawrth, 2pm

Nos Iau, 4 a Nos Wener, 5 Chwefror 7.30pm Thursday, 4 and Friday, 5 February, 7.30pm

NoFit State a Chynllun BLAS Pontio yn cyflwyno

Mae Yna Le

Ockham’s Razor wedi ei gynhyrchu gan Turtle Key Arts yn cyflwyno Ockham’s Razor produced by Turtle Key Arts presents

Tipping Point

Saturday, 12 March, 7pm, Sunday, 13 March, 2pm NoFit State and Pontio’s BLAS project

Llun/Pic: Seventh Wave

There is a Place

Llun/Pic: Nik Mackey

Theatr Bryn Terfel


Llun/Pic: Photography by Ash

4 hour performance. Co-produced by Mahogany Opera Group and the Barbican

Theatr Bryn Terfel


Photography at the University of South Wales • BA (Hons) Photography • BA (Hons) Documentary Photography • MA Documentary Photography 03455 76 77 78 Image: Opal Turner, BA (Hons) Photography The University of South Wales is a registered charity. Registration No. 1140312

Myn FFRWYDRAD TAWEL am ediad d Free dim Ifor Davies a Dinistr Creadigol entr y SILENT EXPLOSION Ivor Davies and Destruction in Art

14.11.15_ 20.03.16

Cefnogir y rhaglen gelf gyfoes gan Contemporary art programme supported by

Anatomic Explosions, 1966 Ffotograff/Photograph: Michael Broom

art brussels From Discovery to Rediscovery Follow us #artbrussels

Organised by EASYFAIRS

Fri 22 April – Sun 24 April 2016 Vernissage Thu 21 April

Photo: Ottomura

New location! Tour & Taxis, in the heart of Brussels