THE COURTAULDIAN â€¢ BOUNDARIES
Welcome to ‘Boundaries’ This is The Courtauldian’s third print release of the academic year, and the first of this kind. Based on a theme that dominates the news and politics today, this special issue explores boundaries. Each of the four sections examines a different aspect of how boundaries define and shape our lives. We hope you enjoy our blend of creative writing, think pieces, interviews, and art work, and don’t forget to find us on Facebook or at our website www.courtauldian. com for more. The project wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated designers, ediotrs and contributors, who despite looming exams have put in an incredible amount of effort into this issue. We wish you all of you the best next year, and would like to thank you for making this one so enjoyable. Ellen Matin Charlesworth & Harr-Joht Takhar
Chief Editor Deputy Editor Head of Illustrations Design Section Editor - Outsiders Deputy Section Editor - Flux Deputy Section Editor - In-between Section Editor - [un]real Deputy
Ellen Matin Charlesworth Harr-Joht Takhar Anna Seibaek Torp-Pedersen Julia Craze Tom Powell Matt Page Amy Page Lorna Tiller Bianca Schor Barbora Kozusnikova Amelia Young
outsiders fâ€Š lux in-between un[real]
1 23 41 53
3 5 7 11 15 17 19 21
Dear editor, Different Versions of the Same Thing Books for Living in a City of Strangers. Queer British Art Interview Sweat Do I know you? Ash Wednesday II While they discussed thermonuclear war
25 29 32 34 39
A State of Constant Change Dirge Jenny Saville Hanecdote Interview Flux at the Courtauld
43 45 47 51
The two guillotines The Physiology of Phone Sex I Who Can Sail without a Wind
55 59 61 63
History Shall Repeat Itself I dreamt that I was Sylvia ‘OH, I’ve had such a curious dream!’ Elgaland-Vagaland
e h t o
e d r i st
a r t l’é
“I only meant that the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game. In this respect, he is foreign to the society in which he lives; he wanders, on the fringe, in the suburbs of private, solitary, sensual life.” – Albert Camus, 2
Thank you for an opportunity to write this. This text on boundaries, insiders and outsiders is attempted to be written with limited boundaries. Funny isn’t it: limited boundaries. When I am writing this, the grass is growing between my toes. When I am rewriting this, the concrete is hurting my feet. When I am typing it, I can smell the dust. My feet are not bound by shoes, but by skin. By giving me five hundred words, you are limiting me. When I put a full stop at the end of this sentence, I limit myself. The person who decides on the lay out of this issue will probably lie to you. They have the power to decide where the limits of writing will be. They break the sentences, they break the words. Where are they going to cut this sentence...here?...or maybe here? What I can tell you is that I’ve written it on the upper margin of the March 27, 2017 issue of the New Yorker with a black 0.7 Parker pen in a single line. They wanted me to write about my experience as an outsider. Not sure what they meant by that. Was it my Russian nationality or maybe it is lack of a degree in art history. Insider, outsider have become badges of honour. We wish to divide humanity into “in”s and “out”s without realising how divisive it is. “Divisive”: you like this word, don’t you. After all, we are all just human. But the differences are still there. And the boundaries are needed. People have different skin colour, we speak different languages. My body is limited by my skin, this text needs to be restricted by a page, for you to be able to pick it up and read, I have to put this full stop. What matters is what we choose to do about these differences, limits, boundaries (hope you are not too tired of this word). Do we choose to justify our actions by certain scientific discoveries which have been used as an excuse for killing and enslaving those who are not us? Do we choose opinions just because they come from people who are different from us or because those people can write something worth reading? After all we are all outsiders to each other and only insiders to ourselves. If we choose to pursue this path, every single person on this planet would be at war with each other. But instead we choose to overcome these differences and look at what we have in common. Boundaries are inevitable, like a beginning and an end, like birth and death. Like many people who continue living in people’s memories, I hope this text will be able to outlive the borders of these pages and carry on living. (Written by Cyril “Beef ” Babeev for his nonexistent English Literature class)
Different Versions of the Same Thing
As for death, my love, let’s not talk of beauty. The last time I saw your face about to plummet on a fair ride your eyes spinning like slot machine reels. Today your name is just newsprint. Those thoughts yours alone except in CCTV as you zoomed, then toppled, over the Victoria Line track. Your phone without signal as I called you to stop. Your hand, that minor twist, like a turn in a line, or a key change; was it grasping for the platform’s edge, or air, knowing it wouldn’t latch? * As for death, my love, let’s not talk of beauty. The last time I saw your face about to plummet on a fair ride your eyes spinning like slot machine reels. Today your name is just newsprint. Those thoughts yours alone except in CCTV as you zoomed, then toppled, over the Victoria Line track. Your phone without signal as I called you to stop. Your hand, that minor twist, like a turn in a line, or a key change; was it grasping for the platform’s edge, or air, knowing it wouldn’t latch? * As for death, my love, let’s not talk of beauty. The last time I saw your face about to plummet on a fair ride your eyes spinning like slot machine reels. Today your name is just newsprint. Those thoughts yours alone except in CCTV as you zoomed, then toppled, over the Victoria Line track. Your phone without signal as I called you to stop. Your hand, that minor twist, like a turn in a line, or a key change; was it grasping for the platform’s edge, or air, knowing it wouldn’t latch?
BOOKS FOR LIVING IN A CITY OF STRANGERS. RECOMMENDED BY JOEL DAVIE
The Lonely City by Olivia Laing JOEL DAVIE That cities are often lonely places is not news to anyone, and it might even seem a clichĂŠ to say so. To simply shrug off the statement, though, as if it were too obvious to think about further, undermines the depth of suffering that loneliness can bring. Jumping off from her own experiences of isolation when she was living in New York, a city so densely peopled that to admit that one is lonely is likely to make one feel ashamed, Olivia Laing focuses on that breed of loneliness unique to city living. She explores this loneliness by way of the lives and works of certain New York artists,
some well-known (Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol), others perhaps less so (David Wojnarowicz, Henry Darger). But although the book is about others, and takes in a vast amount of history and biography on its way, Laing never loses sight of the personal. Loneliness is before all else intensely personal and by keeping it in the foreground, even while surrounded by an ocean of detail, Laing has illustrated precisely what it is to feel lonely in the city â€“ one solitude among millions.
Open City by Teju Cole JOEL DAVIE Our narrator, a young, cultured psychiatrist named Julius, walks around New York, with an excursion in Brussels, and looks, and thinks, and we walk and look and think with him. In many ways Julius is an ideal companion. Half-Nigerian, half-German, and settled in the US, he affirms the multicultural nature of cities by his very existence. He takes part in city life without being totally absorbed by it – maintaining a valuable detachment while not being wholly detached. ‘Each person must, on some level,’ Julius tells us, ‘take himself as the calibration point for normalcy,’ and his recognition of this is what
prevents his meditations from sounding merely self-indulgent. His observations of the physical world are concrete and vivid, his portrayals of the characters he meets sympathetic and sensitive. Through Julius, Teju Cole gives us the complexity – sometimes wonderful, sometimes rather less so – of how it feels to live in the modern city through the eyes of one person. As we get to know Julius we find in him much to love but also much that repels; and so we end the novel as we experience cities, where intimacy and alienation go hand in hand.
Teju Cole via Instagram (@_tejucole)
Interview: Richard Dodwell on Queer British Art
An interview with Richard Dodwell. Richard is a painter, sculptor and performance maker based in London. He is interested in found objects, life writing and the ocean. The full text of the interview can be read online at courtauldian.com. TP: Youâ€™ve said that the exhibition made you feel a bit like you were being buried alive or â€˜nudged back into the closet' - can you explain that reaction? RD: The exhibition itself is a big disappointment. It lacks in a certain curatorial finesse and attentiveness to spacing and light, not to mention the vibrant politics of queer history (and thus queer art history). I thought there was little dialogue between the work throughout the exhibition; some rooms were dark and crowded, others were light and spacious. There was so much text on the walls; as if each work had to be deeply explained and justified -- even work that wasn't that exceptional and wouldn't otherwise be displayed in the Tate or any other decent gallery's collection. That was quite patronising. The text itself used some of the same code and coyness of the art of the artists featured, at a time when their sexuality would have warranted imprisonment or chemical castration. It was all very polite and sort of winking at you in that prissy, theatre-ey way; replicating much of the burying of queer lives that has dominated our history, rather than being a defiant statement. I felt a sense of it all being made palatable to a nonqueer audience; the kind who I saw pulling up outside the Tate in their chauffeur driven Jaguars on the opening night. There was so much missing: early Derek Jarman, Howard Hodgkin, Denton Welch... Sure, you can't include everybody, every voice; but then isn't that what queerness seeks to redeem from the dark closet of history?
On show as part of Queer British Art at Tate Britain, Duncan Grant, Bathing, 1911 Â© Tate
Richard Dodwell, March Hare, mudlarked jaw bone, shell and razor clam, 2017; Floating Man, oil on pizza base, 2017
Richard Dodwell, Radio Wave, mudlarked ceramic and jaw bone, 2017
TP: The curators specifically used the word 'Queer' in the title to explore other LGBT+ stories within this history. The exhibition presents several queer readings of works and approaches to gender fluidity - I wonder whether you think they were successful? RD: I think the exhibition as a whole is really unqueer - the readings you mention are often basic and derived from some of the most off-the-shelve queer theory. In addition, the accompanying text sits rather clunkily next to the work. It's often long and muddled - obsessive about explanation and contextualising - it feels nervous; fixated on a certain way of speaking about queerness. Queerness is a conversation between the living and the dead. There is a deep well of tragedy behind some of the artists featured (for example, Dora Carrington or Keith Vaughan) that is hugely underemphasised and often absent from the exhibition, perhaps to make some feel less ashamed, or guilty - perhaps to make it less dreary. I felt my sense of my queer predecessors obscured; myself pushed backwards; risking burial by text. The final room features Hockney and Bacon together, two of the greatest artists of the century, and yet the room left me feeling vacant, the conversation between their work, and that which came before it, entirely lacking in the emotion and affect that such an exhibition should elicit. Fluidity, in whatever context, is so much more than signposting. TP: Don’t you think the exhibition’s cut-off date of 1967 is a bit jarring? Alex Farquharson talked about this being a ‘pre-history of the queer present’. It feels like there’s another exhibition that actually needs bridge that gap. RD: Absolutely. I think the responses to the Tate’s show, which among my colleagues has been largely mixed, although receiving complimentary reviews from the press, mean that another show is necessary. One that’ll blow people’s socks off. It is imperative that this gap is now bridged, between the dark times of legal persecution and the explosion of voices that emerged in the 70s and 80s, before AIDS took us back several decades, and that queer art is brought to the fore, bold and unapologetic, in all its anger, grief and unrivalled sexiness and diversity.
Sweat ISABELLE As I lie there With my face buried in the musk of the faded upholstery And the shudder of the motion beneath She leans over the arm rest, and rests her arms About my fallen head. Her fingers trace the folds of flesh Tenderly, the pink shell of my ear and the clamour of her palm smears tendrils of hair. Nape left bare, But for the caress of milky breath. I receive her molestation as if a benediction Absolve/dissolve the shameful yearn for a strangerâ€™s skin (Tanned by stranger still) in a single skein of sweat. It pools behind my lobe And into the hollowness, From which the spectres, low in their cups, Thirst together, and drink deep. Quench yourself, mother, And call me home. I will listen. I will latch onto your dry knuckles, and lock the jaw. But the train halts, and the station changes, and the old bitch shuffles off down the tunnel. I shore myself up against the ghost of her greasy curiosity, Sleeping in snatches. 15
Do I know you?
ANNIE MAE AITKEN
You saw me desperately clutching at our connections Begging you not to But you did anyway You saw me threatening my life You saw me threatening yours But you left You left
Ash Wednesday II
And then I see you outside my window, far from home. Rose-ringed stranger in the cold. Wet blossoms, come early, bruise the street. They curtsy at your feet. They let you take them away. Ave. Green and pink speck on a grey world, I think of you once in the infant’s fist, on the Mother’s knee – Ruffled toy to keep the baby still as they pose in new-found luxury. You’re not a miracle, but a mystery – a messenger of some degree. A descendent of escapees, early riser sent to placate me. I hope you haven’t left it too late. I hope you have a family, undomesticated. Still, I wish he could have waited.
While they discussed thermonuclear war
we danced, strangers in Berlin, my water bottle, a baton relayed between us across Berghainâ€™s crush. You kissed neon. Digital screens replaced by faces, speech cracked by toilets and fabric noise. Our night, like reverse timelapse inverted. My eyes became pennies. We bit pills in half tried to forget how to get home.
A State of Constant Change Boundaries are usually in place for a reason. They are established in order to distinguish between two or more things. This is not that. But what happens when these shift? When they are moved (physically or metaphorically), renegotiated or in a state of flux? What happens at the intersection of two boundaries when something is both at once? How can harmful boundaries be shifted? This is what weâ€™re going to explore in this section. If you or your parents werenâ€™t born here, or if you are growing up in a different place to where they did, then you will know something of being from multiple places, having to shift the boundaries of your identity. On this topic is the recent, brilliant essay collection
The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla, which was the starting point for the themes in this section. In this exploration of British identity and immigration, Shukla questions the problematic status quo where in order to be accepted as a good immigrant you have to win a national baking competition or an Olympic gold medal. The underlying message is a sinister one: you are not ok as you are, prove your worth, earn your citizenship. So what does it mean to be British? Or proudly part of the UK? Or European? First there was the Scottish Independence Referendum (or indyref), then Brexit, now Northern Irish elections, a snap General Election and potentially
egnahC tnatsnoC fo etatS A even indyref2. National identity within the UK is in flux; a poem by Sam Reilly questions some Scots’ reluctance to shift these boundaries. As well as words, we have always used images to negotiate identity and push boundaries. I interviewed the handstitched embroidery artist Hanecdote (or Hannah Hill) whose work explores race, class, gender, sexuality and what is considered ‘art.’ She joins Jenny Saville in our pages, another artist who teases us with art that is two things at once, showing people who are two genders at once. There is also exclusive new artwork from Lia Sher-Gill that questions the boundaries that structure so much of our identity.
The art world, for all its bohemian sentiment, still has many harmful and unfair boundaries in place that must be renegotiated. Art education, both fine and historical, is for the few not the many and careers are still established through networks and social or familial connections. Lorna Tiller looked at what the Courtauld is doing to challenge this state of affairs. This section holds no answers, just questions and a call to keep doing so.
SAM REILLY I could never stand the droning of your pipes When I heard you in Buchanan Street, busking In a faux-tartan miniskirt, to reap Pocket-change from tourists. They trusted, Without fail, that this mawkish Sentimentality was truth – That they were investing in a little nation’s wish For its invented past, when all creation moved With the involutions of a chanter’s melodies – With the invocation of some hidden power That could bring the world around us to its knees. Now’s the day, and now’s the bloody hour. All I hear now, remembering, is the rain That thinned the crowds, but never stopped you playing.
Jenny Saville LORNA TILLER Jenny Saville, b.1970, is an extraordinary painter. She is associated with the Young British Artists yet remaining inherently unique. Since graduating from Glasgow School of Art, Saville has created an extensive body of work that has been well received. Saville arrived on the scene after her postgraduate show was purchased by Charles Saatchi in 1992, this was the beginning of an intimate relationship between Saatchi and Saville. Saatchi proposed to Saville an 18 month contract that resulted in her piece Plan being the highlight of his exhibition Young British Artist III in 1994, the work was again exhibited in Saatchi’s noteworthy exhibition Sensation, 1997. Saville incorporates everything that flux is about by challenging the boundaries that society has created — the public perception of the female and transvestite body. Quickly gaining public attraction Saville has been praised for her innovative approach to classic figure painting. Saville is wellknown for her dramatic nudes which emphasise the contorted flesh and the mass of the body;
often the figures are twisted into unusual and unflattering positions forcing the viewer to reconsider societal expectations of the body. This highlights the contrast between social expectations and reality, ultimately emphasising the lucid area between. Saville’s painterly style has been compared to that of Lucian Freud and Peter Paul Rubens through the thick application of strongly pigmented colours, stressing the sensual nature of skin. Saville has always focused intensely on the female figure, however in more recent works she has begun to tackle issues with undetermined gender. Passage exposes Saville’s attention on a body type between the genders, highlighting how new the transvestite figure is a ‘contemporary architecture of the body.’ Saville is without a doubt one of the greatest 21st century painters, renowned for her ability to raise awareness of contemporary concerns. Saville has re-invented the self-portrait by using her own distorted body, bringing to light this in-between ground and showing how humanity can fluctuate between states.
Hannah Hill by Eleni Stefanou Copyright Women with Tattoos 2016
INTERVIEWED BY AMY PAGE
Hannah Hill (also known as Hanecdote) is a 22-year-old artist from North London. Her hand-stitched embroidery and honest thoughts on feminism, mental health, body positivity and the art world have found an audience of 36k people on Instagram. Through her brave sincerity, Hannah is encouraging thousands to gain self-acceptance and question embedded assumptions concerning bodies, sex and art. I got to ask her about her work and how Instagram is helping her to renegotiate the boundaries that can trap us, and how breaking boundaries leads to a richer life. AP: Your work explores many personal themes that everyone can relate to and identify with, such as race, sexuality, gender, mental health, sex, art, music and relationships. What is the reaction you get from people when you share your work? HH: Having people relate to the subject matter or messages in my art is really important to me. Most of my work stems from my own experiences, so sometimes I find it surprising that so many others can relate. The mostly positive responses and feedback I get have really helped boost my confidence over time, especially in my drawings. Knowing people believe in me and my art makes me feel like I’m doing something right, because I’m not compromising my beliefs or hiding part of my existence, and it’s still welcomed warmly feels so good. I want the creativity of PoC [People of Colour] to be celebrated and try to make my art as inclusive as possible, trying to right some of the wrongs made throughout Western Art History.
AP: I find it really powerful the honest way your record your fluctuating mood and mental health through posts on Instagram, and how you use clothes to express this. Is this vulnerability important to you? HH: Over time I have become more comfortable with making myself vulnerable online. It’s hard to lay yourself bare on the internet, and to be open to people’s opinion, whether they mean well or not, it can get a bit much sometimes. Although saying that, the positives have always outweighed the negatives. Daily, I’m confused and shocked that people like me. Mental illness and low self-esteem can make it really hard to believe you're worthy of love, and I feel so lucky that people remind me I am. I feel so validated through sharing with the community I have found, and people see my page as a safe place to share their experiences and kind words which I feel really blessed about. Sometimes I push myself out of my comfort zone to post a picture or caption, and in the end those are usually the most important and helpful and validating for others. Ultimately, I’m an extremely emotional person and being able to share that through art and Instagram is a blessing, I’m sure I wouldn't have made so many improvements with my self-worth without the support of this amazing community online. AP: How has your work with Tate affected the way you think about art and its accessibility? HH: Working at Tate Collectives, Tate’s young people’s program has been an amazing opportunity to feel like you're making some kind of change in the art world. We curate and program events aimed mainly at 1525 year olds, especially those from a BAME background, reflecting the diversity of London. It’s so exciting to work with many talented musicians, artists, DJs, and other young people to liven up the gallery space ad make it more accessible to people who have been excluded from art throughout history. I’ve met some amazing people and gained invaluable knowledge at Tate and hope to work there for many years to come.
Copyright Hannah Hill
AP: In your opinion, which boundaries need to move to make it easier for people to explore and make peace with their identity?â€Ż HH: I think representation is something which is really important. In order to understand ourselves and what we are capable of, we need to see people who look or sound like us succeeding too, and with social media this is hopefully changing. In a similar way to how I share myself and my work online, there are countless other babes doing amazing things and all inspiring each other and also others.â€Ż
Flux at the Courtauld
What is The Courtauld Institute of Art doing to move the boundaries that surround history of art? When considering boundaries that affect us directly here at the Courtauld, I began to question the limitations surrounding access to education. The privileged few that get the opportunity to study here at the Courtauld Institute of Art are privileged, however why should access to art history as a subject be so limited? Art history itself already has a certain stigma and I was ager to discover how the Courtauld is attempting to challenge and raise awareness of art history education. Since 2012 the Courtauldâ€™s Public Programme department have been running education days called Insights Into Art History, a series of one-day workshops targeted at
teenagers between 16-19 years old â€” a crucial age for discovering what you wish to study in further education. These workshops are exclusively for young people who attend non-selective state schools and colleges, whose parents or carers have not previously gone to university, and/or who currently receive Income Support or Tax Credits. Earlier this year I got the opportunity to get involved with one of the workshops and speak to the young people involved. One of the greatest things about these programmes is that the attendees choose to come to the Courtauld, resulting in the occupants being enthusiastic, interested, and aware
of the importance of diversifying art history. The day was split between an interactive art theory session, which involved a tour of the Courtauld’s Conway Library, where the young people got the opportunity to dive through our extensive photographic collection. Then in the afternoon a more practical session — they got to create Warburg Panels and present their findings to the group. The intimate setting of ten teenagers created a friendly environment where they could open up about themselves and their experiences with art education. None of the attendees were planning to go on to further education in history of art however they all expressed how beneficial the workshop had been to their other studies and how it had
inspired them to get more involved with art. These workshops are paired with the Courtauld’s Summer School programme and together these projects are helping to reach out to individuals that wouldn’t necessarily get the opportunity to experience the Courtauld and the art history education that it provides. I cannot commend the Public Programme staff enough for the fantastic job they do to create more flux and an open-minded attitude about access to art history education. Blog: http://blog.courtauld.ac.uk/ youngpeople/ Pinterest link too: https://www.pinterest. com/ecourtauld/
between â€˜The blank space between two lines, the light shining through a door left ajar, the interdisciplinary topics ignored by both sides, the time lapse from one moment to another, the chemistry of a kiss, people caught up inbetween.â€™
The two guillotines BIANCA SCHOR
On récolte ce que l’on sème. Dans le doute, mieux vaut s’abstenir. (Two French Proverbs)
Monday morning, you wake up. Those few seconds when you feel content, and have nothing to worry about… Before it hits you in the face. Yesterday you went to the polls, half-convinced, half-praying. Yesterday the results of the first round came out: candidate H vs candidate Q. The humiliation and frustration, for the lack of better options. You despise them all anyway. You want to cry but don’t know what for anymore. The worse is still to come. Fourteen days to go before the second, final blow. You go to work. Everyone looks down, they don’t want to talk about it, yet. It is too early. They probably don’t even know what to say. Everyone is preparing their speeches, candidates and voters alike: the former to boast about their petty, temporary victories, the latter to come up with excuses, explanations, and predictions. We are all metamorphosed into gloomy fortune-tellers these days. It’s all over the screens, ubiquitous. The tension is palpable. It sounds like a bad reality show, but it’s not. It did happen. It is hard to believe, such a disgrace. Why on earth did 25% of them have to vote for H? Can’t they see how H is only running after power and money, acting like a fool, one scandal after another? ‘So what?’ H says, shamelessly. How can they accept such behaviour? No dignity left for the country. Q is far worse, they say. Much more dangerous. But you cannot think straight anymore. Too much noise around. The line between reality and nightmare is blurred. The French Republic seems to have reached a historical low. People are conjuring up the guillotine, turning the bloody means of an emerging democracy against themselves. The Terror is lurking and they fail to see it. And all you can do is play by the rules and show up at the poll station? What difference will it make? Is there really nothing else to be done? Our British neighbours don’t need to worry. With a single round they won’t go through these endless two weeks, at least. People used to be enthusiastic about elections, passionate even. Now, we do not feel represented. So many of us are scared and/or indifferent. The others are indoctrinated. Thirteen days to go before the second round…
The Physiology of Phone Sex ZHUANG FENG JIAN The main feature of the original work is to avoid any description of personal feelings and to try to remove personal subjects from all the sentences. The attempt is possible in Chinese, but it becomes too weird to read when translated into English… I just can’t make it out.
The phone is connected. The voice enters the ears like the water goes from the tap, to the drain hole in the sink, and the emotions arise. As the tone of that voice floats, experiencing a breathe which would hope to excrete with sighs immediately after the inhalation. The edge of the heart tightens, to the muscles on the back; as if a man was holding and swinging them with his fingers, from the rear of the heart. A warm stream goes, from the stomach, starts backwards, continues towards the top along the spine, between the diaphragm and lungs. Afterwards, it flocks to the breast. The stream wanders, sways, swings, both ways, to the lungs and the heart. Bitterness. It’s more like a sense of taste, rather than tactility. It’s like drowning in a pot of coffee, the chest is filled with awakening liquid, in a coma. Gradually, the blood goes beneath the abdomen, the lower part of the dick is dragged tightly, downwards; erected in tension, and the front end of it hurts, as if all the red blood cells are escaping from their greatest enemies and the urethra is the only way to run… 45
READ THE SEQUENCE OF THE STORY ON WWW.COURTAULDIAN.COM
To them I was a noble savage, Perhaps, here to obtain training in civility; Or some feudalistic subject, who Must learn from them the way to be free
Outside, on the steps, the stranger peers into the interior through windowpanes, strains to make out muffled conversation. Across brick wall and frosted glass, he fancies himself an inhabitant, but knows he could not be. The door holds the tantalising promise of entry, one forever denied to the man outside. The stranger’s hand hovers over the bell in a futile gesture. The ‘WELCOME’ doormat on which he stands mocks his impotence. He considers returning the way he came but knows that there, too, a closed door awaits.
For the first time I became aware That the world was divided into races, Composed of hegemonies and minorities
Wolfgang Borchert’s post-war radio play, Draußen Vor Der Tür, sees veteran Beckmann returns to a city that no longer needs him. The play’s title, literally ‘Outside, in front of the Door’, conjures into an image the confusion and loneliness of alienation.
When I was small, I shut the door to my world, A new name accompanied my new journey
Like shadow under the lamps our selves flicker and fade, Never definable, always ephemeral It’s when we oscillate in the space between closed doors That we are most complete
To Bertolt Brecht, alienation was a performance technique. Das Verfremdung entails one’s distancing oneself from familiarity and pervasive logic for the sake of attaining criticality. The stranger’s inherent estrangement, seen in this way, is a privilege rather than a curse. Gazing through countless windows, overhearing myriad conversations, without the need to commit, the stranger is the spectator and judge of worlds
At night, when darkness envelops, I see in the mirror, An aberration of my own creation, Grimacing at me
Yet even Beckmann, one who drags himself from door to door, is not so unique. Described as einer von denen, one of those, he resents the alienated mass who found themselves bereft of a place in the world on their return. By fixating solely what lies behind the doors, they fail to notice the presence of one another. The street between doors is filled with individuals who seek solidarity not from each other but from what they cannot reach. If only they knew where to look…
Who Can Sail without a Wind? ANON. - SWEDISH FOLKSONG Who can sail without the wind? Who can row without oars? Who can part from their friend Without shedding tears? I can sail wihout wind, I can row without oars, But I cannot part from my friend Without shedding tears.
real â€œHave you ever had a dream Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world, and the real world?â€? - Morpheus Matrix (1999) 54
History Shall Repeat Itself Pondering what the future may look like has been a fascination for many an artist, filmmaker and writer. Stepping into the past, on the other hand, is a fairly unexplored territory. Although museums, lecture theatres, books and TV screens can illuminate the world of yesteryear, the encounter can be somewhat flat. Unlike the future, we can never truly experience history. Or at least we were not able to, until now. From May until June 2017, Mat Collishaw, the world-renowned British artist, is creating a time warp inside Somerset House. Thresholds will invite visitors to travel back to 1839 and encounter the groundbreaking exhibition of scientist William Henry Fox Talbot’s first photographic prints, as well as other incredible inventions premiered at Birmingham’s King Edward School. Possible only thanks to the incredible advancements in Virtual Reality technology,
Collishaw’s recreation won’t just allow the guests to see the space, but to feel it, touch it and hear it. “My experience with Virtual Reality has been that while some fantastical scenery is vaguely entertaining, it's when you experience depictions of very familiar things that it gets truly strange,” the artist says about the importance of creating fully immersive space. He continues, “however, the lack of physical substance to those familiar things slightly undermines this. I wanted to create an environment where your sense of touch confirmed what you were seeing and gave you the strange sensation that the virtual world you were observing was actually there in front of you. I've also added other elements that exploit our various senses, the objective being to confound what you think is real. A simulation that deceives one sense is engaging, but when it deceives more than one it is fiendishly compelling.”
Juxtaposing and merging together cutting edge technology, which is almost two hundred years apart, is an incredible feat, and a history lesson you won’t find in any textbook. Yet, Thresholds is not an egoistic celebration of modern technology and its sophistication. While awe-inspiring, the exhibition stresses the reliance and impact of the nineteenth-century invention on the encounters of today. Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, or any other digital platform built upon the sharing of images would not exist were it not for the salted paper and calotype techniques pioneered by Talbot. Just imagine!
imagery such the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and even to an extent cave paintings, have attempted to simulate environments that we can lose ourselves in. Virtual Reality is a continuation of this inclination but it's the creation of a world that you can actually move through and interact with, rather than being the projection of environment that you are removed from.” What are you waiting for? Stop what you’re doing and run to Somerset House. The most exciting exhibition of the summer is commencing its teleportation on May 18 with flights until June 11.
Still, the exhibition is forwardlooking and celebrates the yet unexplored possibilities of Virtual Reality. Collishaw acknowledges this “total immersion in image is something that we've struggled to achieve for thousands of years. Large scale panoramas, religious BARBORA KOZUSNIKOVA
History Shall Repeat Itself
Collage Illustrations by Eugenia Loli
I dreamt that I was Sylvia ELLEN HARRIS
I dreamt that I was Sylvia Buttering bread, In a cave strung with bunting and hung with tapestries Telling Jason’s story. My blood was the electric they put there to keep me in colour. It itched in my veins. A vampire and a killing machine wrestled in the squalor. And my babies, my best things, shone like silver dollars. Out of reach, she screamed for the loops the cows made with their tails. Snotty nosed, she howled for the moon. Nick was as quiet as a candle and flame red. ‘It’s not enough to leave’, he said. ‘It was never enough to leave’. And all I could do was butter bread. I dreamt that I was Charlotte Thin, gay, Counting the captains that lived in the gulls, resting their wings Over Gower Street. My mind wore a tight dress on the arm of a city man in winter. It longed for thrushes. Anne, like paper, admired my bow-tie and collar. Such a pity, she uttered, that my throat was blistered. Out of reach, I could see her bone-knitted back through her blouse. Under yellow skies, she was gravestone still. Two lovers as bare as sea winds skipped away. ‘I didn’t mean to leave’ she claimed. ‘I didn’t want to leave’. And I stood defeated, thin and gay. I dreamt that I was Amy fat, pleased, Bathing in an amber bath of patchouli and jasmine On an ocean liner. My eyes trained on the stars that were the games my brother would conquer. They missed my books. But anticipation gurgled, heart like an anchor. Heart like a full barrel of wine in the cellar. Out of reach, someone waited in supple gold, drum-skin taught. Gloved hands, her home, a beacon. I knew then the night’s sharp corners merely teased. ‘I’m never going to leave’, I gleamed. ‘I would not dare leave’, and I hummed a bell’s tune, fat and pleased.
‘OH, I’ve had such a curious dream!’ AMELIA YOUNG Almost every day we hear somebody echo Alice in Wonderland’s favourite sentiment about dreams. From Joseph’s prophetic dream in the play, to Beyonce singing about them, to Fuseli's painting, or even a friend simply telling us about theirs, dreams are a large part of our lives. Even though we forget around 95% of them, we dream for around 90 minutes to 2 hours every night. You can now even take a supplement and train yourself to have more vivid ‘lucid’ dreams which you are aware and in control of. Freud claimed that our dreams are the portrayal of wishes we would like to fulfil in our waking lives. Yet how can this explain disturbing dreams or recurring nightmares which seem to pick on very small, random aspects of our lives?
goals, yet troubles in taking flight can symbolise a lack of freedom. Dreaming about being in an accident often suggests that there is something on your conscience which is bothering you, or anxiety about a mistake which happened during the day. Losing clothes or being naked can suggest that you are feeling vulnerable or worried that you might be exposed to others; or could be feeling that you should or have revealed a secret to someone, the idea of ‘the naked truth’. Dreams about giving birth and pregnancy represent an immature side to you which is still developing, or a part of you which needs to be loved and accepted by yourself. The word dream portrays a pleasant experience; we describe things as ‘dreamy’ and like Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ we speak of our dreams as our hopes and goals. However, many of our remembered dreams are nightmares which are disturbing and can be caused by our own fears, stress, trauma, and emotional turmoil.
Although there is not simply one meaning for symbols and images in dreams, there are some images which commonly occur. Being chased can suggest that we have a threat in our lives which we are trying to run away from. Falling can symbolise anxieties about letting go, losing control or falling after success. Flying can suggest that But don’t worry, as Alice said; ‘It’s you have high hopes, are feeling only a dream…’ in control and starting to reach
Elgaland-Vargaland: the www.kingdom
The Royal Kingdom of ElgalandVargaland (also known as KREV) is at the same time a micronation and an art project founded in 1992 by two Swedish conceptual artists, Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren. Laying claim to border lines, bands of international waters, as well as various mental states and virtual spaces means that anyone is welcome to become a citizen. “The reasons, explanations, rights and excuses for the construction of Elgaland-Vargaland must be sought elsewhere,” the two kings declare, fairly summing the idea up. Elgaland-Vargaland questions and plays with geographical, artistic and political concepts; the idea that the kingdom’s territories are the borders of other countries draws attention to the arbitrariness of state territoriality; the monarchical structure reflects both Swedish historical experience and the irony of the inherently coercive nature of governments which pretend to seek consent in ruling. Yet, for all its whimsy, KREV ultimately underlines just how difficult it is to meaningfully challenge or even reinterpret power and meaning in space while also
thinking outside the state. Obviously, one is supposed take them seriously but not literally (though, the other way round is more fun). Did you know: KREV is among the world’s least-developed micronations in terms of conceptual GDP, conceptual life expectancy and conceptual human rights? This is perhaps because focusing on the absurdities of the bureaucratic state has left EV with The KREV Ministry of Bankrupt Shopping Malls, The KREV Ministry of Monetary Doubt and The KREV Ministry of Nostalgia, and no-one in charge of hospitals. One could speculate that KREV was born out of a sense of selfimportance, jealousy even, by conceptual artists who wanted to become conceptual masters of their own conceptual world. One journalist decided the kingdom was “totalitarian,” reflecting the Raskolnikovian arrogance and fascistic urges of artists. Understandable ElgalandVargaland gained its name by combining von Hausswolff and Elggren’s own names. The territories and citizenry are redefined at the
two kings’ whims, too. At the 2007 Venice Biennale, Mr. Elggren said, “we had it in our minds that everyone who is dead is automatically a citizen of Elgaland-Vargaland. And if any of them didn’t want to be, they could file a complaint, and we would remove them from the list.” There is also the question of how far parodying the nation state is productive. Rather than transcending territorial logistics that divide and administer space, KREV reproduces the geographical, imaginary and political axiom of the nation-state in its conceptual spaces. Worse, these conceptual spaces are confined by physical space. KREV is the organising frame for various alternative interpretations of space and political organisation, but it is stuck in gallery events, in its physical “embassies” in the homes of its subjects, ultimately stuck in the physical bodies of its kings and citizens. This weakness is underlined by a relative lack of controversy. Compared to other Scandinavian space-projects that physically challenge state sovereignty, KREV
is almost unnoticed. Consider the semi-autonomous Freetown Christiana neighbourhood in Copenhagen, the debates about how it should be controlled and restricted by the state and the attempts to do so. Look at Ladonia, a micronation created by Larks Vilks to protest the removal of his unauthorised driftwood sculptures from a nature reserve, which involved legal debates and physical constructions – negotiation and resistance around state power. The Royal Kingdom of ElgalandVargaland has orchestrated border-crossing attempts and plenty of embassy openings, but it isn’t a lasting intervention, it is navel-gazing. Upon “annexing” the Isola San Michele in Venice, von Hausswolff noted, “So far no one has complained.” For someone who apparently mixes ashes of concentration camp victims into his paint, the lack of controversy and attention must sting. If it’s bad to be ignored as an artist, how much worse it must be for a king!
Illustrations Front & back page - Photographed by Pascale de Graaf 6 - Lรกszlรณ Moholgy-Nagy, Lucia, 1924-28. Metropolitan Museum of Art & Lรกszlรณ Moholgy-Nagy, Lucia (Negative Print), 1924-28. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 10 - Images from Teju Cole via Instagram (@_tejucole) 16 - Illustration by Brittany Richmond 17 & 18 - Illustration by Savan Mohammad Amen 20 - Illustration by Emily Knapp 22 - Illustration by Tom Powell 26 - Illustration by Anna Seibaek Torp-Pedersen 27 - Illustration by Lia Sher-Gill 30- Illustration by Matt Page 31 - Illustration by Ema Inigo-Jones 33 - http://www.womenwithtattoos.co.uk/2016/07/hannah.html 37 & 38 - Photographed by Amy Page 43 & 44 - Photographed by Pascale de Graaf 46 - Photographed by Pascale de Graaf 49 - Photographed by Pascale de Graaf 50 - Painting by Pascale de Graaf 51 - Illustration by Ellen Charlesworth 52 - Photographed by Pascale de Graaf 57, 58, 59 & 62 - Collage Illustrations by Eugenia Loli
ISSUE 16 • SUMMER 2017 • FREE •
The Courtauldian is the student paper of the Courtuald Institute of Art. Issue 16 of The Courtauldian was published as a special edition mag...
Published on Aug 2, 2017
The Courtauldian is the student paper of the Courtuald Institute of Art. Issue 16 of The Courtauldian was published as a special edition mag...