roves and roams
TINGLING FINGERS So it’s already February 2012. We’ve survived the guilt from realising our resolutions are dust, the January blues are history and those sparkly new diaries are buried in unfettered scrawlings. Fine. Let’s move on and enjoy ourselves- we’ve got a lot planned! The end of last year opened its arms to a new project assistant for roves and roams – please welcome Emma. And the beginning hasn’t been easy for her; she’s been busy writing up her diary on her recent trip to New York (36) and assisting the developments of our most recent event – An Evening of Performance with Anya Liftig (USA) & Dr Tracey Warr – which we coproduced with the wonderful OVADA. See Tiffany Horan’s review of the evening on page 10 . I’m happy to inform you that a lot of our online critics have contributed to this issue – Anna McNay visited Kinetica Art Fair (22), Gretchen Faust considers the wonder that is Marcus Coates (4), Stacey Booth nipped to the Cornerhouse and I discovered Richard Walker (16). Not bad for January.
Content 2 TINGLING FINGERS 49 Notes On Marcus Coates 10-15 presenting ANYA LIFTIG & TRACEY WARR 16-19 richard walker 20-21 the next modern 22-25 Kinetica art fair 2012 26-35 Lost is Found at Cornerhouse Manchester 36-39 EMMA CURDS NYC diary
Notes on Marcus Coates By Gretchen Faust
only to have the beavers take the painted sticks and reconstruct the dam in a matter of days as some kind of unwitting centennial monument; Kim Jones, aka The Mudman, who for over 30 years now has transformed himself into a walking ‘event’a menacing and muddy tree/man who, when asked after a performance why he did this sort of thing answered “ because it is a nice way to meet people.” Just to name a few. Laib, Stone and Jones exhibit the human need to connect with nature through possession, intervention, or mimicry. What makes someone like Marcus Coates different is his emphasis and intention to merge, to become, not to use but to be useful by creating a channel, a connection, a bridge.
I’ve been following his work fairly dutifully since 2007 and it has proven to have been quite a rocky “What birds and animals offer us is not confirmation four year road off-piste. I’m not going to describe in of our sense of our having an exalted place in detail the work that has already been covered by some sort of cosmic hierarchy. It is admission into a myriad newspaper articles and catalogue essays, larger scheme of things where our minds are no but instead focus on what (I feel) is his strongest longer turned in on themselves. Unless it has conwork and the tone of it through its several phases. tact with something other than itself the human Though I’ll break it down into three stages, this oranimal soon becomes stale and mad. By giving us der functions as an organising principle only, is in the freedom to see the world afresh birds and ani- no way dictated by Coates and is, basically but mals renew our humanity” -John Gray Point of View not entirely, chronological. September 9 2011 BBC Radio 4 I am partial to art that straddles conventional boundaries. Art that makes sense within its own oeuvre and history but also serves as stimulus for discussion and thought beyond itself. Never strictly a painting or sculpture, to me every piece is an event- a physical presence within the world. Perhaps this predilection stems from an early exposure to the work of Joseph Beuys, first through his 1979 Guggenheim show in New York and later in witnessing his actions while living in Hamburg from 1981-82. Later still, as an artist and critic in New York, I embraced what was deemed the ‘lunatic fringe’ and often found myself at strange venues, at strange times, witnessing stranger things. Considering a past and present interest in nature, temporality and reverence for the unusual, it is not surprising that Marcus Coates caught my eye. Having been introduced to his work “ Dawn Chorus” by a friend teaching locally at the then Dartington College of Arts, I discovered his earlier work through a catalogue (Grizedale) and the inevitable and inimitable Google search and was transfixed by its earnestness, honesty and humour. Of, course, there are multiple forerunners to this kind of intervention- a tradition, almost, of engaging nature as subject and/or stepping stone: Wolfgang Laib’s diligent and monumental task of collecting pollen and consequent radiant pollen squares sifted onto the floor; William Stone’s 1976 dismantling a beaver dam, painting the sticks red, white and blue and replacing them in the woods
“Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has suggested that early Christian spirituality was highly experimental: sit on a pillar, nest in a tree, live in a desert, dance, study, fast, don’t speak and so on- and see what that does for your interior life and your relationship with God.” - Sara Maitland in A Book of Silence p. 203 “Beuys: Can you say anything about a fixed situation? You can’t very easily when you’re inside that fixed situation yourself. So the best thing to do is to go outside of it, leave it for another realm, and identify in the other realm with the beings that live there. Now, if you represent that to people, you may succeed in provoking them…..We really ought to reconsider our sense organs and what they are capable of, you know, because they can penetrate far into other realms, realms we have lost touch with and which we have reduced down to an idea of civilization that isn’t even that anymore.” - Joseph Beuys interviewed by Heiner Bastian and Jeannot Simmen in catalogue to accompany Drawings at the Nationalgalerie Berlin/ Staatliche Museen Prussischer Kulturbesitz/Museum Boymans-van Beuningen Rotterdam 1979/1980. p. 97 Coates’ early work is characterized by equal degrees of abandonment of convention, commitment to a very personal and intentional disinhibition, and humour. As a result, it has an innocent elegance that is deeply moving.
It is more poetry than poetic and is as brave, cunning and earnest as any of the animals he seeks to ‘be’. Much of this early work is innately ridiculous and deftly illustrates that we cannot ‘be’ animal or at least the urge to merge is a distinctly and sometimes clumsy human creative projection. By crawling around on all fours in a red boiler suit in a field ( Red Fox, Vulpes Vulpes, 1998), attaching dead birds to his head and running through the woods ( Sparrowhawk Bait, 1999) and sleeping in a stream….with a pillow ( Sleep, 2000) Coates is saying more about the condition of being human than becoming ‘other’. A highlight of this period of work is Finfolk (2003) a video of Coates surfacing from the sea in a tracksuit, supposedly as an incarnation of a seal. In this piece Coates addresses the proclivity to humanize and make ‘cute’ or ennoble wild animals as an effective ruse to make us think we understand them, and in a sense contain and control the wildness in them that we find so intimidating and, to some degree, frightening. Instead of being cute and/or noble, Coates’ ‘seal’ is alternately gruff, crass and charmingly goofy, speaking in a nonsense language that sounds vaguely obscene. He returns to the sea, as he came, once spotted by unstaged on-lookers.
‘Finfolk’ serves as a link between his interest in the inclination toward nostalgic animism, in sound/ language, and meaning regards notions of “Nature” which surfaces in his best known work Dawn Chorus (2006) and in lesser known pieces like the song to the Bittern (Whitechapel 2007) and his speeding up the frequency of normal everyday noises (elevator doors, tills, blind crossing signals, children on a playground) until they resemble animal sounds. (Port Eliot 2010). The whole of this early period initiates Coates’ use of beautiful visual and aural metaphors for a journey of sorts which finds fruition in his later work. ►
“ In the West we tend to regard the Shaman or the Witch Doctor at best unscientific at worst a mere charlatan who deliberately exploits people’s credulity. We tend to forget that the shaman has long fulfilled a very real need. The need to come into intense physical and psychological contact with the material world. To feel and understand its energies and its substance rather than just skim over the surface of experience. Without this life becomes perilously abstract and we lose our sense of meaning and purpose. ( For Beuys) the principle of Shamanism represents a form of corrective- a return to a richness almost lost from our materialist world.” Caroline Tisdall. From a recorded interview accompanying the 1979—Joseph Beuys exhibition at the Guggenheim New York City
veloped an incisive parody of his very initial premise. At first the work was about his relationship to nature, but had morphed into a commentary about the role of the artist in a most complex, specific and reflexive stance that is both playful and caustic. This new and challenging attitude is evident, too, in Coates’ exhibiting his performance costumes at Frieze Art Fair (2010) and in a consequent one person show entitled Psychopomp in Milton Keynes (2011). The reification of his clothing and prop objects displayed as if in a quasi natural history museum a la Topshop store window was like an attempt to consecrate Coates into some kind of contemporary art reliquary.
Cynical Coates is not, and subsequent and parallel works betray a sensitivity and sensibility that circumvents his new-found, if cagey, sophistication. A As an extension of his early interest in ‘being’ animal beautiful photograph (Vision Quest, Ernie 2009) in language, form, sound and territory, Coates atshows Coates and an older man (presumably the tended a “how-to” workshop in Shamanism. Though Ernie of the title) in a traditional suburban sitting aware from the beginning of the pitfalls and limitaroom. They both wear glasses covered in white pations of its very premise, during the course of the per. Ernie sits in a chair, Coates is on the floor in a workshop Coates seems to have experienced a silver suit holding a taxidermied bird of prey in full deepening of the understanding of the mind and flight position- wings spread wide making the formal the power of imagination. His previous interest in human environment feel diminutive. In this piece being connected and useful merge in Journey to Coates touches the metaphor of journeying again the Lower World, performed in a Liverpool Housing in a striking image that also illustrates how we conEstate in 2003. The piece follows a standard Shastruct arrangements, domestic, architectural and manic practice form. Coates invites the audience emotional, that are limited and limiting. Both men to present a question, and he then goes on a are subject to and represent the suburban ‘white‘journey’ (shrouded in the skin and head of a stag), out’ effect- the “not seeing the elephant (or in this encounters and speaks to several animals there in case the predator) in the room” - and so the image the ‘lower world’ and then surfaces again with an reveals, through stark contrasts, the intense fear and interpretative answer. There is a innocence and its permutations that inform human behavior when awkwardness to it. The inherent doubt and embarinstinct is not refined into intuition. rassment- palpable in the audience’s reactions as well as in Coates’ brave endeavoring- make it very It requires a lot of discipline to live beyond the simpbelievable, honest and real. At the end, the quesly personal level. -Joseph Beuys tion hangs in the mind of the viewer ‘Is it art? And if it isn’t art, what is it?’ May all beings everywhere Plagued with sufferings of body and mind Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy This eccentric beginning soon seemed to devolve By virtue of my merits. into some kind of predictable sideshow, however. Just like space Each consequent performance/event sported the And the great elements such as earth same sounds, the same posturing, the same aniMay I always support the life mals. Different costumes for different countries: a Of all the boundless creatures. (politically obvious) light blue and white track suit for -from A Guide to the Boddhisattva’s Way of Life. Israel, a Monroe-esque pleated white dress for Ja(trans.Stephen Batchelor) 1979. ► pan, a dark suit for Norway. It was while watching the video of Coates striding down the centre aisle of the church in Stavanger like some kind of deranged self-proclaimed superman with a skinned stag for a cape here to serve the world and answer questions, that I had the sense somehow that he had crossed a line; that the medium of his performance had been pushed to a point of epic wry reversal; that through calculated and ironic choices (of venue, of clothing, of presentation), he had de-
“And that idea of becoming - I had to attempt to become Alex, however successful it was. The attempt to put yourself in someone else’s shoes or see the world through someone else’s eyes has become very important.” -Marcus Coates interviewed. London Evening Standard 1 March 2011 It takes a strong spirit and courage to step back, to step away and reconsider things when you are in the thick of it. And sometimes artists have to go offbalance to find what their balance is- to lose something to realise what it was in the first place. Like trying to view the Pleides in the night sky, one often has to avert the eyes; to look just aside of one’s subject; to learn to see what one seeks in the periphery of things. It would seem Coates has done just this, resurrecting and re-visiting many of his initial imperatives and intentions in his most recent project entitled The Trip. Though it isn’t just a mere re-presentation of his earlier explorations of becoming ‘other’ through language, sound, time and usefulness, Coates has returned with similar intent but mature, grounded and both selfless and present in a way that is new. In this piece, as part of an ongoing skills exchange programme associated with The Serpentine Gallery, Coates interviewed terminally ill patients at St. John’s Hospice. He eventually stood proxy for Alex H. who always wanted to travel to the Amazonian rainforest. In the piece, Coates travels for him, acts as Alex’s eyes and ears while there and returns to share the experience. The resulting video presents the viewer with a neutral shot out the window of Alex’s room documenting in real time morning arriving as we hear Marcus and Alex discussing the upcoming trip, what kind of questions Alex has, what aspects of the experience he wants Marcus to focus on particularly. Then the video shows the same still-framed shot in real time in the late afternoon, with Marcus recounting his experience traveling to Alex. Coates seems to have heeded Beuys’ words: “all work done is work done for others”. Paying attention and taking care of one another is perhaps the most radical political position available in the moment. By being right here, right now, Marcus Coates is, without a doubt, going somewhere.
Credits Psychopomp, 2010, Kate MacGarry Gallery Journey to the Lower World (Beryl), 2004, Kate MacGarry Gallery Red Fox (self portrait), 1998, Workplace Gallery
ANYA LIFTIG & DR TRACEY WARR an evening of performance produced by OVADA & roves and roams Review by Tiffany Horan Images by Emma Curd For those of us who braved the cold weather, found the venue and embraced the experience, this was a night we won’t forget. It felt like the beginning of something extraordinary, standing there in such a wonderful space, a derelict warehouse brought to life by a love of art, everyone in their coats, grasping plastic cups of tea and glasses of wine with frozen fingers, queuing for the toilet, shivering by the heaters trying to get closer to one another. A room full of familiar faces, an audience waiting to be asked to take their seats.
writers discussed included Thomas McEvilley, Gaston Bachelard, Rob La Frenais, Elaine Scarry, Marina Abramovic, William James, Jerzy Beres and a few of Tracey Warr’s past students. Tracey Warr believes that patience is a virtue and that our lives are almost certainly dominated by impatience, ‘an impatience that spills into our lives’ she says. I believe it takes a different kind of perspective to view performance art; you have to allow your body to become engrossed by it, you have to allow your mind to reach a meditative state in order to really see and understand what you’re looking at, a relationship between consciousness and the body. Warr quoted Kuiza by saying ‘I smuggled art into their lives…’ and as she did so, a connective understanding fell upon the room, people looked at one another, they nodded in agreement. Her talk left us feeling prepared for a little bit more art to be smuggled into our lives.
Tracey Warr’s ‘Performance Art: So Yesterday?’ was an informative, fascinating and truly educational talk. She made us as an audience question the art of performance using visual imagery, quotes and descriptive recollections. When referring to Marina Abramovic’s ‘Dragon Heads’ performance which took place at Modern at Oxford in 1990, she said it was as though the audience could smell Abramovic’s fear, as though they could taste it in the air. This kind of empathic connection shared between audience and artist, is something I find comAnya Liftig gave a truly stunning performance, her work the pletely vital when it comes to discussing a piece of perforvery embodiment of femininity, of naivety, of intimacy. Her mance, as without it something is missing, this could be a poevery movement an improvisation, every prolonged action a tential lack of authenticity or reasoning behind the work itself. subconscious connection shared by both artist and audience. ‘I I found the question ‘has performance art gone out of fashthink of the stupidest thing that I could do, a foolish thing, a ion?’ to be a poignant one. As a student, I know that a number dangerous thing.’ Anya’s work is heavily influenced by her of my colleagues are frightened of becoming typecast as a live interest in communication, botany, zoology, her fascination artist or being criticised for creating work similar to that of with the mouth and her ability to transform in and out of her more established artists. Several interesting ideas were raised role as artist. She reminded me of a butterfly, drifting in and such as the relationship between the body and the audience, out of the crowd almost unnoticed, like a caterpillar amongst social critique in place of social body, exploration of metamor- leaves, until she decided it was time to transform, slowly capphosis, endurance, asserts of freedom, duration, an embodied turing us in her exoskeleton, enticing us until we became fully consciousness and the idea that even if there appears to be immersed. ► nothing going on physically, or visually so to speak, there is often plenty going on. Some of the artists, collaborators and
No sooner had we become accustomed to being apart of her chrysalis, she broke free. Anya described her work as being quite confrontational, potentially accusatory, threatening and challenging. I found her performance to be quite the opposite, sensual, delicate and genuinely comedic. Perhaps we as an audience were as attentive because we’ve become numb to the kind of imagery she was trying to portray. We enjoyed it more than we should have, we smiled at the eroticism, we questioned the extend of her phallic exploration, and we enjoyed the unusual, voyeuristic journey she took us on. ‘I need you to be there, to be the carbon dioxide to the oxygen.’ We seemed to ignore any form of negative or obvious connotations that could have been associated with such an act, an artist’s ability to control aesthetic intention.
richard walker records uncomplicated interiors with near-seamlessness, making a subject of the commonplace and mundane. So why are we so enamoured with paintings of empty corridors and vacant studios? Perhaps because through our observation we connect with another's view, of seeing for seeing's sake.
Credits Radio (Saturday), 1998 Strip Light and Screen, - 2000 Floor and Ceiling (Night), - 2000 Table and Strip Lights, - 2000 Door and Cloths, - 2003 ÂŠ Richard Walker
The Next Mod
Since its reopening in 2006,The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich has tablished and emerging artists works. Its University setting nestles it between p studios to become significant educational venues. Holly Howarth investigates To mark the beginning of a series of exciting new developments throughout the Sainsbury Centre over the next year, four new exhibitions have been selected to demonstrate the expansive field of art and design, which, with its focus on world art, has delivered through a variety of permanent collections and international artists. The Next Modern programme includes an exhibition of work by American-Indian photographer Avi Gupta, whose images detail the cultural links between Kolkata and Washington D.C., and Gupta’s experience of growing up in a Bengali community in the States. Having been published in The Washington Times and The New Yorker, as well as holding Directorship of photography at the US News & World Report, There is Here offers a personal glimpse at domesticity on the parameters of social amalgamation. Devised by the Japan Foundation and having previously shown in Manila and Sydney, Japan: Kingdom of Characters holds residency at the Centre as the only UK venue for its showing. The exhibition details the emergence of manga and anime in the twentieth century and their intrepid encounters with everyday life. Demonstrating the transition from brand to culture, the exhibition allows visitors to experience characters, including Pikachu and Ultraman, on a life-size scale; a Hello Kitty bedroom showcases the extent to which characters occupy private and psychological spaces. Kingdom of Characters draws on the Japanese love of flattened visual imagery and the increasing reliance in contemporary society of these characters; the suggestion that Japanese culture offers a
contradictory prism which on the one hand offers technological interaction as a way to wellbeing, and yet on the other, hinders personal bonds between friends and family by the very same methods of mass-communication, is an accompanying narrative to the show. The exhibition presents a chronological account of the development of these characters, linking socio-cultural events with the progression of manga and anime, offering a wide variety of examples, from the ‘invention’ of instant ramen in the fifties, to the Gulf War four decades later. Coinciding with the Kingdom of Characters exhibition, design duo Anderson and Low offer a photographic survey on the phenomena of manga in Manga Dreams. Arranged in the Link Corridor, the mini-exhibition consists of eleven large-screen prints and an accompanying film in which the subjects, digitally-manipulated, are rendered neither real nor fictional. For both designers, these images imply that this sub-culture of fantasy provides a space for emancipation and imitation; with reference to universal character-sartorialism, the worldwide impact on youth culture can be seen. Continuing with the theme of universality, highlyanticipated The First Moderns: Art Nouveau, from Nature to Abstraction, features the Centre’s own Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau along with private acquisitions and works lent by public collections, including the V&A and Glasgow School of Art. With the arrival of the new Director, Paul Greenhalgh earlier last year, the exhibition reflects his field of expertise in Art Nouveau and the decorative arts. Pursuing an expansive chronology that explores this movement as the first in modern
s achieved the aim of Robert Sainsbury: to extend an appreciation for both esarkland and the River Yare, gifting it the space for superb gallery space and the centres new programme of world art. design, The First Moderns explores the style from its natural origins to the more abstract and geometric form Art Nouveau later embodied. The exhibition breathes new life into a collection that has previously been displayed in its entirety. The recent acquisition of Josef Hoffmann’s 1908 lounge chair marks a more comprehensive overview of a movement entwined in nineteenth and twentieth-century philosophical thinking and ensconced in debates drawn from science and nature. Furnished in the new Modernisms Gallery, the exhibition paves the way for more discourse on later design movements, which will occupy this new collections display thereafter.
The Centre’s offering of a broad array of exhibitions to see in the new year is symptomatic of its ambition to gather more momentum and recognition, not only as the holder of a substantially global art collection, but also as an institution determined to question established contexts in design and culture. There is no doubt that this new direction will certainly pull some punches, and hopefully, place East Anglia firmly on the art world map.
Credits All photographs from series There Is Here 2011 © Avi Gupta
Kinetica 2 0
This weekend Ambika P3 gallery opened its doors to international arts organisations, galleries and artists for its annual fair of robotic, kinetic, electronic and time-based art. Never been? Nor had anna mcnay.
Kinetic art is art that has a life of its own – or so claim the organisers of the fourth Kinetica Art Fair, taking place this February at Ambika P3, a 14,000 square foot, triple height, subterranean space on Marylebone Road, built originally in the 1960s as the construction hall for the University of Westminster’s School of Engineering. The expansive concrete space couldn’t really have a more appropriate history for this fair, which, itself, is a celebration of technology and engineering, science and invention, light, sound and movement. Pioneered by artists such as László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946), Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), and Alexander Calder (1898-1976), contemporary kinetic art both looks back at and pays homage to early Modernist glorification of man’s increasingly manipulative power and innovation, but also allows for a wide and exciting range of more experimental works, employing the ever increasing possibilities offered by new media and computer-generated artificial intelligence. Hosting some 45 international galleries and arts table, which allows organisations, with a collective total of over 400 works of art, the fair offers a cabinet of curiosities with exhibits which will draw you in, whirl you round, and spit you back out, head still spinning. A large proportion of the works on show are interactive, especially those displayed by students of such multifarious degree courses as BA and MA Interactive Media and Screen Cultures, or BA and MA Special Effects, at the various universities who have hired spaces. Philippa Jones’ Arphid Songs, for example, simply requires you to place a chip card (my Oyster card sufficed) onto a circuit board reader, before regaling you with your own personalised screen of dancing colours and patterns, accompanied by a unique soundtrack, triggered by the data readable from the chip. (I was assured that none of this data would have been copied, saved, or damaged in any way!) On a larger scale, Studio
Rosegaarde’s Liquid Space 6.0, up on the balcony, is a three-legged sculpture made out of entwined green, blue and white neon tubes, which responds as you walk beneath it, seemingly coming to life and beginning to breathe, flashing its lights, sighing and sinking. Some of the works are overtly functional, such as Poietic Studio’s Tropism Well, a clever contraption, if somewhat large for the dinner before regaling you with your own personalised screen of dancing colours and patterns, accompanied by a unique soundtrack, triggered by the data readable from the chip. (I was assured that none of this data would have been copied, saved, or damaged in any way!) On a larger scale, Studio Rosegaarde’s Liquid Space 6.0, up on the balcony, is a three-legged sculpture made out of entwined green, blue and white neon tubes, which responds as you walk beneath it, seemingly coming to life and beginning to breathe, flashing its lights, sighing and sinking. Other creations look into the future whilst others play with contemporary technology. One of my favourites, Nik Ramage’s Mirror, is effective precisely because of its seeming simplicity: an undulating mirror surface, powered by a small hidden motor, the reflection of the viewer is continually distorted, rendering the work interactive, but in a passive, somewhat disconcerting, way.
There are also a great many reflections, revisitations, and homages on show. Daniel Chadwick’s Disc Mobile 2000112, for example, is almost indistinguishable from one of Calder’s own mobiles. Developing from this, both progressively and regressively, are a number of celestial-themed works, including Mark Zirpel’s models of the solar system, based on the Greek antikythera, and Arthur Woods’ Cosmic Dancer, a ‘space art intervention’ consisting of a painted geometric form made out of welded aluminium tubing, measuring ca. 35 x 35 x 40cm and weighing exactly 1kg, which was specifically designed and launched to the Russian Mir space station in 1993, as part of an investigation into the properties of sculpture in weightlessness. Piotr Jedrzejewski’s work, on the other hand, is more like a modern day realisation of a Leonardo da Vinci sketch. Teetering along above your head, his contraption resembles an early flying machine on cogs and a chain, running along taut suspended wires. Homage is also being paid, in particular, to Alan Turing, ‘the man who invented the digital computer, helped decode the German Enigma machine, and founded the science of artificial intelligence,’ since 2012 has been dubbed Alan Turing Year, in honour of the centenary of his birth. In the special tribute section, entitled Intuition and Ingenuity, visitors are met by works such as Greg Garvey’s The Automatic Confession Machine: A Catholic Turing Test (try it if you dare!) and Patrick Tresset’s Paul, a robot who draws. The largest scale work is almost certainly Monomatic, Noise Machine, pixelpusher and Transphormetic’s half-hour-long projection on the rear wall of the hall, presenting a series of real-time, code-based audiovisual works, inspired by, interpreting, and extending John Whitney Sr.’s animated films from the 1960s. Considered the pioneer of geometric art, Whitney’s early twodimensional motion harmonies have now been able to be amplified beyond his wild-
est dreams, thanks to more recent technological developments. One more recurring element appears to be the idea of ‘drawing’ with lines of light, something I had already experienced on a grand scale at the same venue last year with Anthony McCall’s impressive Vertical Works. Smaller, but equally transfixing, is David Ogle’s 08011, which fills a small back room with what appears to be a series of lines of light cutting through the dark space. Actually, there is fluorescent fishing line involved, but, regardless, as Ogle himself suggests, the impression is created of something existing outside of space, something ‘perceptible within an environment, but without a physical mass of its own.’ As Janet Cooper similarly says of her optically illusive work Rotating Cross: ‘How can we be sure of what we know about the world if we can’t even see what is really there?’ After time spent wandering around Kinetica Art Fair, this is a question you might well begin to pose yourself. The Daily Telegraph is quoted as having said: ‘If you can’t find something to excite at Kinetica, you probably don’t have a pulse.’ Indeed, with its confusion of mirrors, lights, projectors, sound, wires, spirals, rotors and motors, and with the demands placed on the visitor to look upwards, downwards and sideways, to squint, to blink and to open one’s eyes wide, whilst it would certainly be possible to spend a full day there, as, it seems, many visitors indeed did, I personally found myself needing to escape after a couple of hours, before my heart rate sped up and my head began to spin as much as some of the installations on show. A visit to this art fair could perhaps be better described as a visit to a funfair!
Credits Waterwheel, 2011 Alexander Berchert Visible Emotion 2010 Ginna Lee
Lost Is Found, curated and developed by Creative Stars, is the Cornerhouseâ€™s most recent group show. The exhibition presents work, from nine emerging artists from the North of England, which reconsiders discarded and used articles to produce a more beautiful assembly of sculptures, drawings and photographs. Stacey Booth visits Manchester's thriving venue to sample the success of Creative Starsâ€™ first major show.
reative Stars is the name given to a group of 19 young individuals aged between 14 and 19, who have been selected through a process of 100 applicants, and have been required to curate, document, manage and deal with all communications associated with the event. A joint project that has been run by the Cornerhouse and in partnership with Band on the Wall, Contact Theatre, the Library Theatre Company, the Royal Exchange, Unity Radio and Zion Arts Centre, the aim was to allow youngsters to experience art in a real setting, to see how such an event is managed and realised, and the difficulties this can
anthropological way. Here we see Louisiana Blues, Anywhere (2010) where a redundant moped is laced with fake fur, light bulbs and a sheep’s skull. Wooden stakes protrude from the vehicle, decorated with fabric suggesting rebellion and uprising. The appearance of the piece is tatty and clearly made from found objects, but its importance as a relic is clear to see by the careful considerations taken in presenting the individual objects as a combined and ceremonial unit. The light casts an eerie ambience over the piece with shadows that highlight the death of both the objects and what they initial represented. This is now a resting place for the items that showcase an era gone by and something which once was, but now no longer exists, and is only to be remembered. The same can be said for Booker’s work as we witness abandoned Despite this, the group succeeded in pro- objects take on new form through new ducing an exhibition, which was both jus- formations. Spilt Milk (2009) is a minimal tified and sensitive to the topic that they piece which speaks volumes. The letters chose. Both the theme and title of the ex- used are iron letters reclaimed and painted in white enamel. The innocence of hibition was chosen by the group, and each individual object is transformed as Lost is Found cleverly summarises the artists’ practices and interests in both an they are assembled to create an idiom that states its intended point, without individual and collaborative way. Each artist explores the ideas of memory, nar- making a fuss. It questions the history of rative and homage to such reminders and the objects and why they have come to be claimed in such a way. This arrangement relics that render personal interpretatackles our attachment to such memories tions. and objects, whilst dealing with painful Both Andrea Booker and Richard Proffitt emotions and lack of control. There is present pieces that deal with identity reference to a disposable society, and this through society, communities and social can be translated through Proffitt’s work conditioning. Proffitt is known for his in- as he looks at how society develops, terests in post-apocalyptic sci-fi themes whether in a positive or negative way, but and the development of civilisations by both pieces deal with death or disuse, producing work that renders this in an whilst using the remnants as a reminder The chosen group had to undergo an epic task of visiting Rogue, Suite Studio, and S1 Artspace to see the work of over 100 artists in order to select a small few to feature in the exhibition. To select 9 artists from such a large number and agree on who the final artists should be is difficult for any individual curator or team, let alone a group of minors who have had no experience of undergoing such a task as this before. The level of professionalism, maturity and hard work that would be required from each of them is impressive in order to pull such an exhibition as this off well. After all, this was no community centre or college exhibition, this was a well established cultural hub that has prized itself of presenting exciting, challenging and impressive exhibitions; the pressure for them must have been immense!
Emily Speed’s egg, nest, country, universe pressing femininity and sexual tension (2011) also touches on these subjects as blurs with the movements of the female to she explores the relationships we have and hold with architecture, its purpose and the temporal existence. Her work has always focused on dealing with the precarious and the how this can clash with our ideals of security, and this is certainly felt as you approach the cast plaster eggs with small archetypal dwellings nestled into the shell of the structure. One wrong move and the mini civilisation will come crashing down.
result in a soft yet chaotic series of images. It is a dramatic and emotional piece showing hysteria and frustration, but also expresses a void, where witnessing the events are almost ghost like, referencing a memory or something which is not real. The same can be said for Barraclough’s Everything and Nothing #5 (2011) and Everything and Nothing #8 (2011), where both drawings reveal fast strokes that appear to be random and unexpected, but Cherry Tenneson also explores the redun- show the hint of something that couldn’t dant in her own work. A self-proclaimed quite be captured. The drawings are suggestive in that they appear tense and chaartist-cartographer, her work focuses on otic, whilst presenting the vestige of a capturing the ‘temporarily relevant’ through her trade as a sign maker, where moment which has passed. Both struggle the leftovers of vinyl lettering screwed up to capture the precise moment leaving on her desk, become the starting point of a fragments of the situation behind causing a flawed moment of recognition. map to all that is temporary in both the artists physical and mental world. She references her trade as the origin, where everyday sign boards are used for the basis of her work, featuring handwritten notes, which cover the surface, and docu-
An ambiguous theme features in the work of the remaining 3 artists. Mark Beecroft, Eileen O’Rourke and Lucy Ridges offer work which appears open-ended and purposeful in not reaching a definitive out-
ment the smallest scratch or hair that may have settled on her desk, to thoughts that may be going through her mind at that point. It is a snapshot into a lost moment that can only be imagined through her statements and the viewers mind.
Beecroft’s work could be described as hackneyed but displays a process which derives a new narrative, where mundane objects such as coat hangers are rearranged into new configurations. O’Rourke’ Jon Barraclough’s drawings and Jessa s work is similar in that she purposely Fairbrother’s slide projection work relate avoids creating images that resembles to each other really well. Both explore something of familiarity. Her work is both memories and the traces which are left impulsive, yet dictated in producing somebehind from these moments. The Rething that is both lacking in distinction and hearsal (Dedicated to Augustine) (2011) by conclusion, but rather documents and deFairbrother presents a series of slides, scribes a process through threading hairs. projected onto a wall that give glimpses This visual exploration of a process can into the moments captured during a realso be seen in the photographic work of hearsal. The red dress prominent in exRidges.
The framed photographs feature familiar objects and interactions that are arranged in a surreal and nonsensical way. This avoids connections with the intended purpose or narratives associated with the objects and interactions featured in her work, which allows a level of absurdity to grow and demonstrates the immersion of memories and events.
After viewing the work on show, it is clear to see that
Creative Stars have successfully produced and curated an exhibition that is complex, challenging, but honest and delightful to explore. Recent exhibitions have left me perplexed and overwhelmed as I have been left wondering how certain artists work relate to the theme of the exhibition, or why certain works have been selected to be situated together. This exhibition presented none of that and left me feeling hopeful with regards to the futures of the 19 participants. Creative Stars is looking to continue in the future and present further exhibitions which I cannot wait to see. For me, it is refreshing to see young people who are interested in the arts get involved from a practical sense and witness how your academic skills translates into employment opportunities. Far too often I have heard the arts referred to as pointless subjects that materialise into nothing, and it may be that the creative sector has been hard hit in recent years, but projects like this justify the purpose of such subjects and prove the skills and knowledge that can transcend into real settings. More should be done to protect the importance of studying the arts and highlight the career paths it can lead to, if not to the arts directly. Creative Stars is a step in the right direction in this sense, and I applaud the efforts of those involved helping to shake the stigma that still lingers around studying humanities to prove there is still a valid place for it in both the employment market and society in general.
Lost is Found is at the Cornerhouse from Sat 14 Jan â€“ Sun 19 Feb 2012. Further details can be found here: http:// www.cornerhouse.org/
Credits Installation shot Emily Speed egg, nest, home, country, universe (2010)
Installation shot Lucy Ridges This page: Andrea Booker spilt milk (2009) All images courtesy of Cornerhouse Manchester All photo credits Paul Greenwood
NYC DIARY by emma curd As I sit at my desk, which peers onto a snow dusted park, it’s easy to recall scenes from my recent visit to New York. It is so chilly that I am attempting to type with gloves on and, believe me, if I hadn’t made the thermal-inspired shopping spree before my departure I don’t think I would be typing at all. So I’ve leafed through my notebook and translated my scribbles to tell of my wanderings around the streets of the Big Apple, my amblings through MOMA PS1 and my first encounter with the Guggenheim.
Day one: MOMA (the big ‘un) After travelling for seven sleepless hours over the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded with nothing but the sound of other peoples’ snores, perhaps the last thing I’d want to do is jump (or flop) into a crowd of tourists ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the pop-art collection of the MOMA. I managed to spend three hours there however, completely unaware of the mayhem around me. The exhibit that I had come to see was ‘Sweet Violence’ and it is the first major American retrospective of the Zagreb-born artist Sanja Iveković. Iveković’s work manages to convey serious messages that refer to the material seduction of audiences in a consumerist-driven society. Not only does her work resonate on an international level, but I found it also addressed the audience personally by subjecting them to the beauty of women that appear in magazines and films. In ‘Double Life’ Iveković uses magazine clippings and photographs of herself in order to juxtapose commercialism with the reality of everyday life. The photomontages create conceptual comparisons between the quality of individuals’ lives during times of war and unrest but also through times of opulence. Although the message of this exhibit is serious and could even threaten to be miserable, I couldn’t help but be completely absorbed by the beauty of her photomontages and the message that she conveys through out the exhibition. After a long day at the MOMA, next stop, the Guggenheim.
Day two: The Upper East Side Breakfast is the most important meal in New York, and by lord, they do it well. At least on every block there is a bagel or a pancake diner inviting hungry customers inside with the aroma of something doughy and satisfying. Although the all-American tradition of having a big breakfast may well seem sensible in order to keep you going throughout the day, it has it’s drawbacks. Firstly, being able to move afterwards proves difficult, especially when you are quite comfortably squished into a cosy booth while the temperature continues to drop outside. Also, walking anywhere in a hurry is near impossible without doubling over in pain as you are seized by a sudden stich. Regardless, we made it to the Guggenheim as it opened. As you enter the Guggenheim and wander into the atrium you expect (as I did) to stare up into the familiar architecture of the Guggenheim’s great hall. However, the atrium had been hijacked by an installation produced by Maurizio Cattelan. The exhibit named ‘All’ features twenty-five years worth of Cattelan’s work suspended in the central hall. Whilst the crowds slowly make their way up the rotunda they are able to explore the nuances and hidden sculptures that are revealed by examining the body of work at different angles. It seems ironic that Cattelan agreed to display his body of work in the Guggenheim because his work tends to expressly ridicule institutions of art, museums especially. Although Cattelan’s intentions are never predictable, I would like to think that maybe he intended to exaggerate his reputation as a ‘prankster’ and that this is all one scathing but poignant jest. And now for something completely different: The Whitney. After being encouraged to laugh at the art, yourself and society at the Guggenheim, walking into the Whitney felt slightly intimidating. The building itself is made from charcoal-coloured marble that seems to tower over the customers in a daunting fashion. And the staff do not aid the feeling, whilst visiting the exhibit ‘Real/Surreal’ I casually pointed to one of the paintings and found myself instantly summoned by one of the guards and warned that if I attempted to touch the art I would be removed from the building (I maintain that I was at least two feet away from the painting). Feeling disgruntled, I immediately left the exhibit and instead went to find the exhibit that I had come to visit, Sherrie Levine’s ‘Mayhem’. For a long time now I have admired Levine’s attempts to re-write the history of modern art and so I was excited to see this exhibition; it did not disappoint. Entitled ‘Mayhem’, the exhibition was in fact far from chaotic; it was symmetrical and beautiful like no other exhibition that I have ever visited. The work on view intelligently and subtly questioned the issues of authenticity that Levine is notoriously interested in. The beauty of the exhibition lies in the making of the life-size pool tables inspired by paintings from Man Ray and cast-bronze shapes that feature in Duchamp’s masterpiece ‘The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)’. It became apparent to me as I walked through this exhibit that it had been perfectly curated in order to pay homage to both Levine’s practice and the practice of the artists that inspired her to produce her work. ►
Day three: It’s a waiting game After spending an inspiring weekend in ‘the city that never sleeps’, (it does by the way, on a Monday morning), I was looking forward to topping it off with a trip to the New Museum to see Carsten Höller’s exhibition: ‘Experience’. What I hadn’t realized was that the main attraction of the exhibition ‘The Giant Psycho Tank’ would be closing the next day and indeed, as soon as I arrived I learnt that it had already been closed for the rest of the day. Obviously, many New Yorkers had cottoned onto this and by the time I had arrived there was already a forty minute queue that wrapped around the outside of the building. Maybe I should have researched the exhibit more thoroughly, but I could not help but feel cheated when I was told I would have to wait for just under an hour to visit a museum, which would cost me twenty dollars to enter. I told myself that it would be worth it when we were eventually allowed to cross the threshold in the museum. However, on arrival I had to wait to give my coat to the cloakroom (as we were not permitted to carry our coats for health and safety reasons) and then queue to buy the ticket. In fact, by this point I was so hungry and thirsty from waiting around for an hour that I had to visit the café before I set my eyes on any actual art. Naturally any exhibit that promises a slide, carousel and strobe lighting requires a waiver to be signed and therefore, you guessed it, there was a queue for that too. After signing the waiver, I decided against waiting for another half an hour to experience wearing the ‘Upside down goggles’ and proceeded into the weird and wonderful world of Carston Höller. From what I did manage to experience of Mr. Höller’s exhibition was that, essentially, his work is about childhood memories and the act of playing, and if children were allowed to visit his exhibition I’m sure they would have loved it. I did manage to get a turn on the slide, although, as I waited patiently in the queue for it I thought about my personal experience of the exhibit. Finally, I maneuvered myself into the required canvas bag and let myself slide into the unknown; I was spat out in seconds and emerged dizzy and disappointed. Having spent so much time queuing, I left the museum wondering which ‘experience’ was pertinent. I had expected that ‘Experience’ would be my favourite exhibition of the weekend, however the highlight of my trip to New York was my visit to MOMA PS1. As I stumbled through the corridors of PS1, limping slightly from the blisters that I had acquired, the place felt alive and vibrant. During my time at PS1, I was lucky to catch Clifford Owens perform a couple of scores from his project ‘Anthology’. Owen’s work attempts to encapsulate and elevate the history of African-American performance art by performing scores that 26 African-American artists have written especially for him. As I watched Owens’ naked body being moved from corner to corner I realized that there is something about new Art that changes the energy of a building. Whereas so many galleries and museums continue to show retrospectives, it is important for small galleries like MOMA PS1 to provide more accessible Art to the public. However, I have come to realize after my trip that I needn’t have gone all the way to New York in order to experience new art. It is right on our doorstep, you just have to look for it.
thanks and credits roves and roams issue 4 was made possible by six wonderful writers. Here are their names and links Gretchen Faust—www.greengrassi.com/Artists?aid=6 Anna McNay—www.art-corpus.blogspot.com/ Stacey Booth— www.stacey-booth.blogspot.com/ Tiffany Horan— www.tiffanyhoran.com/ Emma Curd— http://misslemoncurd.tumblr.com/ Holly Howarth
We’d also like to thank the following galleries Kate Macgarry Gallery Workplace Gallery Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art Kinetica Museum Cornerhouse Manchester And huge thanks go to Dr Tracey Warr www.traceywarr.wordpress.com Anya Liftig www.anyaliftig.com And to the wonderful Lucy Phillips of OVADA. She is stellar. roves and roams links www.rovesandroams.com www.facebook.com/rovesandroamsproject www.twitter.com/rovesandroams www.vimeo.com/rovesandroams
thank you to the good people that came to ours & OVADAâ€™s event on Tuesday 7th February.