Silke Dettmers

The necessity of wonder. It’s a state of mind, the impetus behind her work, and what may come of it.
Her studio has pictures on the walls. Often these are of natural disasters.
Worthing beach.
Gare montparnasse.
Wondering about them sets off trains of thought.
Her leaning house and little people.
Great example of work which is a musing on a theme, not conclusive, opens further dialogue.
Eg Casper David Friedlich’s The Wreck of Hope being an allegory of industrialisation.

Dettmer talked about having a large studio space. Despite the running costs this is essential to her, as it gives her space to pile up all the bits and pieces which she wobbles. They get laid on top of each other, gradually forming an object-based pallette to work from. I can definitely relate to that.
‘My studio is, in fact, the place where I am working’ – Damien Birem, 2006
‘The studio as terra incognita’ – Gerard Byrne

Dettmer also refers to smaller scale collections of apparently unconnected objects, such as cabinets of curiosities or random displays such as Ole Worms work. Objects placed together with no obvious connections which then go on to suggest 3rd meanings.
In her approach to work and objects, Dettmer says she needs to see them in person, to experience smells and even touch them, because the object is everything.

It’s been 5 months since I heard all this, and in that time I have moved into a new studio myself. This all seems so exactly relevant to my practice I feel a reassurance that I am on the right track. Even if my studio is rather far from cavernous. For now.
Sharing with an illustrator and a sound artist whose beautiful works emerge from beautiful clean and tidy spaces, my junkyard in the middle is an hilarious contrast. It’s mine and I love it.

Dettmer also produced the ‘All Aboard’ photographic series, in response to being evicted from her previous studio to make way for the construction of the Olympic park. This also really grabbed me for two reasons: One is that it was a real 2D departure for an object based practitioner. Second is that the photos where featured in The Guardian after she approached them. Proactive. Find your own opportunities.

Fnally ‘ there is an optimism in making visual something which otherwise did not exist- in using reclaimed materials more related to narrative of object. This is verging on nostalgia’ which is something she is keen to evolve, so that things involve a little less looking backwards…

Love it

Graduate encounters: Rosalie Schweiker

Proactively personified, Rosalie Schweiker is really inspiring, bold and passionate.

Quotes which she is inspired by include:

‘ There are 3 kinds of artists-
1. Those who have LET’S DO SOMETHING said to them.
2. Those who say LETS DO SOMETHING.
3. Those who do nothing and fade away.’
-Bob and Roberta Smith.
This perfectly sums up how I feel too. I make work for people to look at. The more things I make happen, the more people will be able to do that.

‘The white cube of the gallery is the final destination of 200 yrs of privatisation of the self’
This one is harder for me to get my head around. The fact does remain that people do still look at work in galleries, it may or may not spark a thought in them, which may go on to start a discourse elsewhere in the world. I am wondering if presenting monumental public art contributes any more or any less, rather only differently. Public art, involving more participants, happenings which have a broader direct reach is not for me. And anything which I do present outside will absolutely have to be relevant to the space. Much monumental art is, but plenty exists which isn’t.

TEN BILL10N: ” we’re all ‘doomed’ “

Royal Court Theatre

 

A sobering slap in the face at the Royal Court Theatre with Stephen Emmott. As a scientist with a diverse authority on pretty much every scientific concern examine the state of our planet today. (might be slight over exaggeration but the non-scientist in me understood the scope of his overview). This performance was basically a scripted lecture similar to those I see at University. The difference is of course that it is at a theatre, to a fee-paying audience, repeated for the run of the show (all sold out), and presented in a more intimate setting. The replica of Professor Emmott’s lab office reinforced the paradox between the knowing and the sharing of information. As all attendees had voted with their money for this presentation, and none walked out, we can assume that everyone was interested and listened. Being in a mixed audience, rather than an audience made up of UAL students was also different, as I could no longer assume to know the general take my fellow members might have on the evening.

This was basically the cold, hard truth of what the current state of the planet means for us humans. Facts, straight from the horses’ mouth. Pretty bleak predictions, stark suggestions of actions possible, despairing assessment of likelihood of taking action, and a final bit of advice to ‘teach your son to use a gun’ left a bad taste in the mouth. This was absolutely the point. Professor Emmott gave this example (I paraphrase):

If an asteroid was predicted to hit the earth at a set date, the world would leap into action, half the resources being directed at trying to avert the catastrophe, half directed at working out how anyone could survive after the event. The presence of the human race on the planet IS an asteroid, we just don’t have the date yet, so no urgency is being felt by any of us to take action.

The examples of fossil fuels makes most sense to me “Using fossil fuels is essentially re-releasing 100billion year old sunlight into our world. We are turning it back into the dinosaur world, and humans will go the same way as they did”. This is frightening news for the future of humans, but part of me wonders if the world would really mind if we did disappear. Probably not. So the issue here is of fear of pain and suffering, and the pain and suffering of our children, which, as humans, we are pretty rubbish at imagining powerfully enough to spur us into action.

I suppose that to me he was preaching to the converted, but I’d like to think that some of the others in the room with us last night heard what he was saying, and I am heartened that the whole run is sold out. The conversation has to start somewhere, everywhere. Organisations like Cape Farewell have been working on starting this conversation in the context of the arts. Hopefully Professor Emmott will now be starting this conversation to an even wider audience.

David Nash at Kew

David Nash gave a talk at Kew last week, in conversation with Sue Clifford, founder of Common Ground

They spoke about the evolution of their work, and where they have coincided. David Nash is as generous as ever with his energy and tales, and it was more of a retrospective evening than engagement in new critical contexts. This was in keeping with the constancy of the natural evolution of how Nash has always worked, how his works work, and how the world works, in particular, nature.

I had a good wander round Kew Gardens for a couple of hours before the talk, and took in some of the work in situ. Most of it I had seen at last years Yorkshire Sculpture Park show, but it was great to see them in different contexts. In particular the Oculus Block, a gargantuan form made of four fused eucalyptus trunks, and the Charred Sphere.

The Oculus Block was inside at YSP, where it towered over you and filled a huge space with it’s presence. Somehow here, outside, it seemed even bigger. The textures of the surface are even more pronounced. The views through the spaces are all different.

The Charred Spere is on a hill, sited close to the Kew Time Capsule. This struck me as a commentary on the future of the planet if we don’t alter our behaviour. Nash diplomatically sidestepped my direct question about this later…

Exhibition as Medium

Symposium at The Showroom Gallery featuring artists who had participated in the year-long project Exhibition as Medium

The speaker Janna Graham really stood out during the packed day, talking about ‘parasites like us- studies of the possible in impossible times’

NESTA, the innovation research organisation, has shown that artists and creative sector professionals (who earn so much less for so much longer than other sectors) set up the prototype for wider economic development.

This means that our current actions, and what we agree to are influencing the wider model.

Consider the service you provide and what you accept in exchange for it.

When are we the parasite? and when are we the host? see what we contribute, and where the support comes from.

An exhibition is a moment of consolidation rather than an end point.

 

Cubitt Gallery Visit

Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 15.15.09

Cubitt is an artist-run space and has been going for 20yrs. They were showing Walk-Through, a film by Redmond Entwistle,  examining the role of critique and discussion at Calarts based on Michael Ashar’s 1977 post-studio class, which was based on Baldessari’s post-studio theory.

Critiques used to last for hours. ‘After 10 hours of looking at and talking about someone’s work, you absorb some of their subjectivity in making the artwork’

‘What you do at art school is preparation for what you want to do after’ No kidding. I am constantly amazed by the number of student who regularly miss other people’s crits. Participating in critical engagement is surely one of the main reasons we come to art college, or is that just really naive of me.

Cubitt is an active and engaged space where the artists who work there are very much all contributing to the running of the space on all levels. Engagement. Setting a good example of professional practice.

(o)ccupy at Grey Area Gallery talk

In the spirit of reflection, been thinking about this work and how it kick-started a lot of my cable thinkings. The opportunity to inhabit the space for the week, to really consider it and how I worked in it, was invaluable. Not least because the time spent talking about my workings with the people at Grey Area, and this chance to watch it back, is great. However inarticulate I see myself as at various moments, I like being able to watch myself actually thinking and working it out….

At the reflective journals meeting last week, an anecdote about a student who worked by recording herself talking, then transcribing it, really made sense to me.

Artquest

Simona Del’Agli came to speak to us about the range of services artquest provides. She was direct and professional and outlined some basic professional truths to help us navigate the world beyond art college. It was like a toolkit for what feels like the rest of my life as a practicing artist.

Some of the key points I noted down:

  • email: use professional one eg @cadifroehlich.co.uk
  • networks: eg Axis, Re-title
  • portfolio: keep up to date with business cards and headed paper
  • keep a database of contacts
  • email out a newsletter for your own shows
  • post on a-n blog listing
  • tweet @artquestlondon, #artops and #artistsworth
  • comment book: ‘if you would like more info….’ but you are not allowed to email any old address that comes into your inbox
  • MA show: plan a follow up
  • Contracts: WHO does WHAT, WHEN, for HOW MUCH. If you not offered one , ask or make one. Discuss before signing- if it doesn’t seem fair, don’t sign.
  • Delivery note: examples available on art quest. Also legal advice.
    DON’T SEND WORK WITHOUT A CONTRACT
  • copyright- maker owns it for life +70yrs
    ‘there is no copyright claim on the idea, only in the artists original expression of it’ – Henry Lydiat.
  • EARNING MONEY IS NOT SINFUL. Day jobs, selling work, spin-offs, commissions, awards, grants, license, IP, etc
  • Join DACS
  • Funding: Elephant Trust, Welcome Trust, Grants for the Arts, Grantstar, Fenton Arts Trust
  • Open Calls worth paying the fee for: Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Open West, Jerwood, Exter Phoenix Open, Oryel Open, Matt Roberts, Deptford X, BP Portrait, RA Summer exhib, etc
  • Residencies: V&A, Wysing Arts Center, Culture Lab, Isis, Love Park, Florence Trust, AA2A, Artsquest, etc

Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher was in conversation with the ever engaging David Cross. They share passion in the state of the world, and I loosely categorise them as Cross working to address some of the predicaments directly, and Fisher commentating and proposing possibilities for how things might develop. This alternative to the current status quo feels to me active, rather than the resigned struggle typified by the ubiquitous ‘keep calm and carry on’ mantra.
Fisher was able to present his research and ideas contained in his book ‘Capitalist realism: Is there no alternative?’ in a really interesting and accessible way. When the floor was opened up for questions I was really impressed with how engaged his responses were, it felt like a conversation.

These are the notes I took during Mark Fishers’ presentation:
The debate can be framed as Fordism vs Post-Fordism, the switch from The Godfather model of control to the blown-open Heat magazine generation.
Capitalist Realism is about keeping at bay what we know about sustainable growth/development. It makes it politically impossible talk about climate change.
When Thatcher announced ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism, she meant there was none more desirable. Today we are facing an ontological shift which allows us to see another way. We no longer accept ‘that’s just the way it is and the way it has to be’
The disappearance of the political in our contemporary popular culture actually means the victory of one form over all the others. Capitalist Realism is the pathology of the left. New Labour’s world is dominated by markets and big business, ‘that’s just how it is and it has to be engaged with’.
‘Continuous professional development’ epitomises New Labour. It means that you are never finished. Just like The Trial by Kafka, we are now living with lifelong uncertainty and perpetual anxiety. Validation will never come. You could call this a form of market Stalinism.
Neo-liberalism did not in fact free is from beurocracy as we have ended up just doing it all for ourselves. ( Raw market operating needs quantifying- when this gets applied to public services then you have to create beurocracy to measure it)
Is there such a thing as synergy of political and material changes?
How did neo-liberalism win? Successful violence destroyed established structures of workers rots. This was helped by the shift in workers desires. The 1060s neo-liberalism promoted link to modernisation, but to reject is not to modernise.
-Fordism: workers exchanged boredom in return for security in the local factory. In the 1970s the fractures began, with antagonism between management and workers. Resulted the precarious position of ‘flexibility’
-Computerisation and digitalisation, which is short term.
In the 60s success was equal to Stalinist or lenin view of just getting things done, with the alternative being the ethical approach, in which nothing appears to get done. Resulted in a great IMPASSE.
Frederick Jameson offered view on the state of homogenisation. Culture becomes chronically nostalgic, a pastiche. There develops the rhetoric of high turnover and the disappearance of anything new. But capitalism can’t deliver new culture, just new technology.
Communicative Capitalism. Participation is compulsory.
capitalist Realism is the naturalisation of Post Modernism. Results in retrospection and pastiche. This are the facts of mandatory continuous precarity.
Sherrie Turkle in Alone Together wrote about modern communication and how email means we have no more set working hours. Smartphones mean we have no more restricted workplace, but the converse of that is that the workplace is everywhere.
A phrase for this is nonstop inertia. Communicative Capitalism states that phones are no longer leisure items. The libidonisation of anxiety- smartphones are tethers to the capitalist matrix. In social media time we are always late.
David Cross then talked with Fisher about ‘worker prisoners and debater addicts’. And whether post-Fordist placing may be way of recontextualising solidarity?
Fisher responded by summarisation that flexibility is a capitalist construct, plasticity has a memory but can be explosive, and elasticity is a pastiche the two.
The so-called ‘prisoner’ Fordist workers didn’t want to move into liquidity or flexibility, they wanted more structure and coordination. This comes back to centralisation vs de-centralisation.

Being stressed at work results from no longer having union stewards to go to or anyone to ask for support. We are now soley responsible for it ourselves, and therapy or medication takes the role.
Personally I find these theories of lack of support, continuous workplace and constant expectations of improvement and developing being related to mental ill-health extremely interesting.
There is a common dismissive notion that depression is a modern phenomenon, literally in our minds. Accepting it as such, but integrating current knowledge of predisposition towards mental ill health and trigger situations such as a side-effect of capitalism seems brilliant to me.
It means that just as increased incidence lung cancer is as a result of smoking, or road accidents are a result of the car, or indeed burns are a result of the harnessing of fire, we accept that living with capitalism can be bad for our health too.

Fisher finished by suggestion that our capital is in a state of ‘non-stop innertia’ driven by the property prices. UK property prices are a major source of capitalist control, in that if you are happy to work hard to keep a roof over your head, you have no every left to make something or think about things. Logical.

Extract of talk by Mark Fisher

Being stressed at work results from no longer having union stewards to go to or anyone to ask for support. We are now soley responsible for it ourselves, and therapy or medication takes the role.
Personally I find these theories of lack of support, continuous workplace and constant expectations of improvement and developing being related to mental ill-health extremely interesting.
There is a common dismissive notion that depression is a modern phenomenon, literally in our minds. Accepting it as such, but integrating current knowledge of predisposition towards mental ill health and trigger situations such as a side-effect of capitalism seems brilliant to me.
It means that just as increased incidence lung cancer is as a result of smoking, or road accidents are a result of the car, or indeed burns are a result of the harnessing of fire, we accept that living with capitalism can be bad for our health too.