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Nope this isn’t a post about some amazing achievement or that I have somehow have a bank account in the black.  Its more of a reflection on what success is for me, and specifically in my art practice.  Whilst teaching here in Saas Fee (means to fund my art practice) I get asked a lot by my guests whether my artwork/practice is successful.  The two means for validation lie mainly on me telling them whether I sell my work regularly or am I famous.  I guess in this day and age you know one unless you are on some list of success even if you are Z list Celeb…

I am honest with my guests, I am not known however like most emerging artists we are labeled so for that very reason.  As for selling, it has not been a focus within my practice to make specifically objects.  Commodifying an art practice is something we all contemplate throughout our years.  However at present I rely on my snowboard coaching as a source of income whilst I develop my voice and direction in my practice.

Success for me is nothing to do with money or notoriety and its something I feel is harder to gain.  It is purely one thing for me and the works I make which is conversation or discussion (discourse if you want art-speak 2.0).  This very basic element within the art world and beyond is not that easy to gain.  Yes in the era of social media it is easy to put work out there for more to see but to hear back is not so simple.  There is very little echo from the majority of not just my work but my peers.  The little that does come back is more of support from fellow creatives who spur you on.  However for me I seek success in the form of something more in the conversation that good art creates.  Don’t get me wrong this is not purely about adulation or people describing works as life changing its the chat surrounding how it engages and interacts on different levels and people.  This discussion is not always sought from those that like or get the work but rather negative and constructive response is just as valid.  I come from a belief that good work is so when you have a response to it this can be in the form or negative: repulsion, hate or anger.  Whilst also the positive: resonates, refreshes perspective or challenges existence.  Work that sits in the middle is what just fades.

Following on from my previous post about being adrift, the reason to currently make work whilst not be located within a place or group.  I see this isolation as a hard time to know where to exhibit or present work when I barely exist.  For me the motivation of making work when I deep down know that the rational for the work being successful is this conversation adds to stalling of making.  The works are still there in my head and whilst I navigate the next few years I will create. However finding a means to connect with networks or environments where I can gage the validity of the work is part of the process and for me right now is the biggest challenge.

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Since arriving here in Stockton my time has been spent exploring not just the local landscape but also my current limits of my practice. I came here looking to examine how I install current workings of sonic works and how I can develop or bridge the gap that I find between what I am making and what I am trying to offer.

The first few weeks were spent contemplating speaker architecture and how installing speaker drivers within a form that dissolved or collapsed whilst it functioned worked.  Drawing on the inspiration of the local area and its regeneration hopes/plans.  I have been thinking heavily about addition and reduction as methods of creation both in sound and process works.  Glitch process that I have been known to use is a perfect example of how regeneration seems to operate, existing ideology is rehashed the result is urban planning that though clearly considered it is not until it is implemented you realise the functional errors of such planning.

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The focus on heritage and community, the life and death of generations that have called a place home.  The time that passes by and the marks those leave on a place last longer than structures in many cases.  Replacing old is not something that should be done without consideration and awareness for those that live within it.  The Auxiliary residency is based within a community that is exposed to many different social factors.  It is an opportunity to live within a place that is struggling to come to terms with how it should function.  The oddity is that with all the trials and time that it takes to rejuvenate a place it somehow still continues, functions without much thought.  Time will change the nature of a community however daily this is not something that is really brought to your attention as each day was like the last.

Mid way through this residency my father has a stroke which alongside my research here at the Auxiliary has given me a new perspective.  Seeing a parent go through a life changing moment in their existence brings reality home.  I have recently been back and forth between the residency and my parents to see how my father has progressed with his recovery.  Even though I have not been making as much as I would of hoped it has provided much needed reflection, thinking more about the sound works that have been started yet not finished.  The last few weeks here in Stockton I hope to realise some new works with little or no focus on completion yet more or presenting something that is mobile/fluid and evolving.  15107435_10157615606300018_3800575047413753897_n.jpg

 

 

A 1224724I am drawn to the work of Tatiana Trouvé, the works seem strong and made with such precise intent yet delicate and respectful of the spaces they occupy.  Trouvé exhibits a skill that I rarely see with a lot of artworks and that is touch, an ability to present works that are not over worked and stand on their own, not questioning why they were made.  This subtle skill allow Trouvé to present works that fulfil a hunger I guess for me as an artist to see within other artists practices.  Trouvé works intrigue and raise questions of their being and a desire to ask more.  I am not sure I can ask for more from art work.  The review by Andrea Gyorody in Artforum discuss’s some of the work in her first solo show at the Kunstmuseum in Bonn.

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View of “Tatiana Trouvé,” 2014.

Artforum March 27, 2014

KUNSTMUSEUM BONN Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 2 October 16–May 4

For her first solo exhibition in Germany (co-organized with the Kunsthalle Nürnberg and the Museion in Bolzano, Italy), Tatiana Trouvé has transformed eight galleries of the Kunstmuseum Bonn into a series of separate but interconnected installations. Each room is presented as a work in itself, comprised of singular sculptures—and in a few cases, drawings—in combination with alterations to the space. One gallery, with an intervention titled Prepared Space, 2014, is blindingly white, thanks to a stark coat of paint that exacerbates the effect of sunlight pouring in from above, an aggression matched by shallow gashes transecting the walls and floors. Bronze wedges are shoved into the cuts at irregular intervals, holding them agape like surgical wounds and making the entire room feel as if it might split open at any moment, swallowing the sculptures—and visitors—within it.

This sense of carefully orchestrated precariousness pervades the exhibition, particularly in the center gallery, which plays host to 350 Points Towards Infinity, 2009, an installation of small magnetized spinning tops, each suspended from the ceiling with taut wire and left to hover over the ground improbably, as if paused while in motion. Illusion is also a common theme of Trouvé’s work, whether manifest in sculptures that only appear ephemeral from a distance but which turn out to be cast concrete or bronze, or in constructed déjà vu moments, as Trouvé has created here by bookending the entrance with galleries that are eerie near mirror images, with only the subtlest variations in arrangement and detail. At first glance, one might be tempted to understand Trouvé’s work in the lineage of Arte Povera, especially when it involves yellowed mattresses, plastic bags, used shoes, piles of black sand, and copper piping. But her evident investment in tricks of the eye—and of the mind—paint her more accurately as a twenty-first- century surrealist, more interested in instigating a double take (and then a lingering, probing gaze) than in elevating humble everyday materials.

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As I start to get a handle on Yerevan ideas are starting to be considered, circulating my daily thoughts and bouncing off different aspects of the interactions I am encountering.  One which feels quite poetic is to do with the now abandoned ErAZ Automobile Factory here in Yerevan.  Yerevanskiy Avtomobilny Zavod (ErAZ) was founded in 1964 and closed in 2002.  The reason this factory feels quite poetic is due to the flagship van th ErAZ factory produced.  The  ErAZ 762 which become widely known as the Yeraz – Dream (The ErAZ 762 was based on the RAF-977 was a Soviet (now Latvian) van made by Riga Autobus Factory (RAF). The Yeraz or Dream as it translates was an incredibly successful van and even though it has been over a decade since the factory was in business you can still see these mobile dreams roaming the streets of Yerevan and no guess the countryside of Armenia.  You also see shells of these vans everywhere I guess stripped for their parts to keep these dreams alive.  Parts are surely getting harder to find as some of the dreams are held together by any means necessary.  However like most things here in Armenia things work with little or no fuss.  People do not hesitate to get on and work with what they have.  Problems here seem to be just an everyday occurrence so people move and solve these as they do each day.  I guess without having this attitude its hard to fulfil or even attempt to reach your goals. The factory at its height was producing 12,000 a year and in 1982 produced its 100,000 vehicle.  This was partly due to the factory being equipped with a production line in 1975 one of the first in the Soviet Union.  For me the idea of a production line being created to build dreams is quite appropriate. The factory now is a shell with security watching over the vast site I guess similar to a lot of vacant land here it is owned though is currently void of any development until the owner decides what they wish to do with it.  As with all things comes down to money however we all know money cannot always buy your dreams. From the ErAZ website there is some good documentation of the legacy this factory had on Yerevan and Armenia.

The ErAZ has even made it into video games such as Grand Theft Auto! 110913-1297930735-gta-sa-2011-02-17-11-12-47-50 1355320431_gta_sa2012-12-1217-24-15-90 However the ErAZ website continues to feed my thoughts, on the English translation of the site you are greeted with this message. Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 22.16.19 I guess for some dreams we will have to wait.  In future posts I will write about some of my research into the word Yeraz as this also has some interesting links and keeps bouncing off ideas that I am considering.

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What is a starting point or how do I find an IN?  A week ago I arrived in Yerevan, Armenia and within this week I have to find my bearings as well as figure where to begin.  Though I have current and ongoing themes within my work I change, my location changes and especially the landscape I experience.

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Firstly my process is simple I go get lost.. Not in the moment per se but in a place.  Public transport is easy to do this in a new country.  Just get on and do not worry about the direction just travel.  This here in Yerevan is perfect as the whole experience is totally different from other countries I have experienced.  The majority of the transport system is run by small minibuses similar to Ford Transit vans.  I am 6’4″ so even getting into these at times is a challenge.  Especially in rush hour, oh yes just like elsewhere in the world the transport system still gets crowded and these minibuses are full.  Standing room only and you would be surprised at how many people these buses can carry.  Its an impressive feet in itself.  However the whole process is calm and collected considering the horns being used by other road users and taxis.  The public just get on with it without any complaint or quibble.

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Anyways back to process.  My approach is I guess similar to the Situationists – Guy Debords’ dérive.  I use my one and one approach with the city to experience the infrastructure and witness the makeup of the city.  I am not directed as to where I head and would rather each left and right decided when it is met.  By passing through districts, suburbs and communities you can get a feel for what atmosphere and people live in a space.  This interaction with the landscape creates a dialogue that builds the more I walk and the further days spent doing so.  I start to question or be drawn into errors, repetition, oddities, familiarities and characteristics.  Its certainly not just the physical or visible that appeals, though sometime its the sense of smell or piercing sound that leaves a lasting impression.  I find my experience of space similar to how I read people and their personalities.  The anthropomorphic nature is something allows me to form initial ideas.  What are these ideas, well I have no idea until I start to delve into these dérives.  How do I know when I am onto a idea or something that is worth investigating further I do not know at first.  However I could compare it to tennis.  If you think about tennis and the shots that win matches or serves that are aces.  These are not ideas that appeal to me as they are either one of, one liners or too literal in their representation of an idea.  The ideas that I am interested in I would compare to the rallies that build and sometimes keep on going.  These rallies I would compare to the discourse that the ideas created within my own research and investigations and those that I speak to regarding the work.

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So by using this kind of dérive or active losing oneself I create an instability that aided by the new location or country sparks my engagement.  I move and navigate the new spaces without plans though attentive to that which is around me.  Over time my mind starts to read that which is around me in new ways and dialogues start to happen and it is these that I use to form the basis for new work/projects.

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DEMOLITION SCHOOL – Re-post from BLDG BLOG

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[Image: The Broelschool, Kortrijk, Belgium, via Space Caviar].

As part of the 2014 Biennale Interieur, curatorial group Space Caviar is hosting what they call a “demolition workshop” in the Belgian town of Kortrijk.

Set in a derelict school building condemned to demolition after the workshop has ended, the project aims to “construct alternative routes into and through the building, most significantly a new staircase,” and to explore new forms of improvisatory navigation through architectural space by way of “inventive deletions or modifications.”

Think of it as applied topology in the tradition of Gordon Matta-Clark.

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[Images: Some internal views of the Broelschool, via Space Caviar].

You have only a narrow window of time in which to apply to join one of two teams in the exercise, however—that is, you only have until Friday, September 5, to express interest.

To apply, send an e-mail to martina (at) spacecaviar (dot) net with the subject “Broelschool Demolition Workshop,” including your name, contact information, hometown, and professional CV or PDF portfolio, and you need to indicate which of the two teams you are hoping to join. Those teams are, and I quote:

TEAM DÉRIVE (5 people) will construct alternative routes into and through the building, most significantly a new staircase. Through sensitive and inventive deletions or modifications, this group will create shortcuts and reveal hidden aspects of the original architecture, as well as foreshadowing some of the future architectural plans for the building site. Using the building itself as a source of reusable material, the workshop will both predate the destruction and celebrate the transition of the school.

TEAM TIMELINE (5 people) will create a graphical layer on top of the existing architecture that offers a unique chronology of the domestic space over the last half-century. Blending quotes, data, diagrams, graffiti, and way-finding, the timeline will lead visitors to explore the nooks and crannies of the school in search of the steps in the story of the home.

However, in your email you must also then complete these sentences in no more than 100 words: a) My first memory of home is… b) My current home is… c) My ideal home is…

The workshop itself takes place September 23-28.

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[Image: “Splitting” (1974) by Gordon Matta-Clark, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art].

Finally, somehow tying into this event will be a “Roomba ballet” choreographed for 12 of the robotic vacuum cleaners.

Space Caviar is thus also looking for someone to choreograph that dance, so please also consider getting in touch with them if you have any ideas for how to control 12 algorithmically impulsive, semi-autonomous household appliances.

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On the 1st of October I will be heading to Yerevan, Armenia for two months to partake in an art residency program operated by Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory.  This is an exciting opportunity especially after my experience in Athens previously I feel more than ready to make the most of my time there.  It is a place that I have not experienced before but sits in an important part of the world.  Its rich history and current economic state will provide many new thoughts and ways to reflective current thoughts and perceptions.

This year has seen me move quite a bit and most of that time I have been immersed in countries where I speak little of the language.  This isolation in my nomadic practice really plays on my current thoughts of what home means to me.  My projects tend to start from a personal response but then tend to be expanded to become works that others can reflect on and read in their own light.  However I feel also whilst in Armenia I need to document the daily emotional attachment I have to what I deem as home, the never studio or practice nomadic..

I am also grateful for the funding that has been provided for this time I will spend in Armenia.  The ECF Labs and their Step Beyond Bursary has made this time one which I can devoted solely to furthering my research and creating new works.

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Dazed and Confused magazine has just posted an interesting article about Scottish artist Robert Montgomery.  However it was this work about “All Palaces Are Temporary Palaces” that resonated with me.  The idea that one builds a palace, a castle or even a house with a vision.  That vision or idea changes with time so hence this once dream place or palace is only a temporary palace or utopia.  We can constantly dream utopias but once we stop and build and consider these, even fabricating them in the real.  We really only build a past utopia something that was once.  

Full article here:

Robert Montgomery Website here:

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Re:post from Hyperallergic, written by Thomas Micchelli on August 16, 2014

The exhibition takes its title from a poem by Susan Howe, and its subject is aphasia, described in the gallery’s press release as “a cognitive disorder causing an inability to understand or produce speech.” The curatorial intention, drawing on concepts developed by the Russian-American linguist and scholar Roman Jakobson, is to present aphasia “as a cypher with metaphoric and metonymic implications.”

An intriguing concept: how to create an art exhibition about the inability to communicate? That is what curator Rachel Valinsky has set out to do in Itself Not So, the current group show at Lisa Cooley on the Lower East Side, and for the most part, her selections neatly vault past the inherent paradox of the proposition.

Typically (though not necessarily) caused by a stroke, aphasia ranges in severity from an inability to find the correct words for things to the complete loss of the capacity to use or comprehend language, whether spoken, written or signed. At the same time, it does not interfere with the patient’s mental faculties, which only increases the frustration of those suffering from the disorder.

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The exhibition, according to the gallery statement, has assembled a selection of artworks that “taken together, form a polyphonic response to the fundamental rupture between thought and expression that aphasia engenders.”

The metaphoric implications of aphasia’s “fundamental rupture between thought and expression” can be readily applied to the creative process, where the rupture between subject and form, idea and object, can often feel unbridgeable — and yet the connection must be made if the artwork is to hold together. And so how does one develop such a concept in the context of an exhibition? The curator’s answer is evidently to present works in which deliberate omissions and obfuscations are major components, as if they are confronting us with their own unmaking.

This idea is at its most conspicuous in a work like Michael Dean’s “Analogue Series (tongue) On the pronunciation of the letter L” (2014), which features a straight-back chair with a black (aphasic?) tongue in the place of one of its four legs, rendering it unusable. In a piece by Ryan Gander, which bears the impossibly long title, “Associative Template # 23 – (And all that chatter around your career) *Debit and Credit by Dan Fox, first published in Frieze, Issue 119, Nov-Dec 2008” (2009), aphasia’s gaps in comprehension are suggested by the holes left in a large, handprinted photograph from which sizable sections have been laser-cut and placed on the floor beneath it.

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The sensation of halting, unclear thoughts is visualized to striking effect in Fia Backström’s “An-alpha/pet-isms…” (2014), an installation consisting of sheets of clear vinyl film hanging from five standing steel frames, upon which letters of the alphabet float like obscured, distorted ghosts amid inky clouds, blurs and blots.

And there is “I Hate” (2007), a hi-def video by Imogen Stidworthy that focuses on a middle-aged man, presumably afflicted with aphasia, and his attempts to try and speak. All of these works walk the tightrope between clarity and unintelligibility in ways that are by turns visceral, heady, sensuous and whimsical.

The reason behind including some of the other works in the show is not as clear-cut, but that makes them no less engaging. There’s artist/musician Ben Vida’s “Slipping Control (pink/green/blue)” (2013-2014), an elegantly designed triptych comprised of three framed digital prints employing patterns of letters laid out in the spaces between pink, green and blue rectangles. The work is the basis for a vocal piece performed by the artist, whose repetitive, percussive soundings could be likened to aphasic stammering, but without the loss of control experienced by the patient.

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Rick Myers’s “Either side of the eye” (2010) offers two steel squares covered in lubricating flake graphite, one featuring a concave depression and the other with a matching convex protrusion. A quick glance can fool the eye as to which is which, but such visual ambiguity doesn’t seem to touch on the communicational handicaps stemming from the disorder.

Another work by Myers, “Study with BEFORE following AFTER” (2010), more successfully conveys the idea of expression held captive. The piece couldn’t be simpler — five black, vertical bands running the length of a narrow sheet of paper — but there is something compellingly dense, even layered about it. It is tempting to think that this impression is related to the work’s materials and process, which are described on the checklist as “Alcohol sealed sooted paper with etched soundwaves of the words AFTER, BEFORE, AFTER, having been spoken aloud and transcribed using a phonautograph.”

There are two other abstractions in the show, both by James Hoff, though they look like the work of two different artists. “Concept Virus #1” (2013), in enamel on aluminum, looks like hyper-pixelated video snow, while “Stuxnet No. 5” (2014), a red, white, blue and black Chromalux transfer on aluminum, is a Gerhard Richter-like smear of color. Neither seems to fit under the exhibition’s umbrella, which is also true of a conceptual piece by Julien Bismuth called “A train of thought” (2011), consisting of four sticks painted different colors on each of their four sides. In the notes for this work we are told, “The sticks are rotated daily so as to go through all 24 permutations of the four-color sequence.” Perhaps the piece’s daily evolution is meant to correspond with the slow, frustrating grind of rehabilitative therapy?

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According to its wall text, another conceptual work, Research Services’ “If You’re Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me” (2014), takes the subject of aphasia “as a social phenomenon triangulated by politics, aesthetics, and technology.” The artists, soliciting phone numbers from the viewing public, plan to interview participants via “robotic avatars” and broadcast the conversations in the gallery.

The exhibition’s remaining pieces, all text-based, perhaps have the most tenuous connection to aphasia, but they point in some interesting directions. Sophia Le Fraga’s video, “W8ING” (2014), consists of scrolling cellphone text messages chockablock with abbreviations and emoticons — which, in their disuse of language, may or may not be signs of aphasia. “W8ING” is supposedly a riff on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, at least according to Karen Rosenberg’s review in yesterday’s New York Times, but the triteness of the dialogue makes the connection murky at best. (Le Fraga’s other video, “TH3 B4LD 5OPRANO; or, English Made Easy,” 2014, apparently applies the same treatment to Eugène Ionesco, but the piece was not available the afternoon I visited the gallery.)

Both Sue Tompkins and Christopher Knowles use typewriters to create their works. Tompkins’ handsome, 18-part “The Lost Weekend” (2014) runs in a horizontal line across two sides of a corner of the room. Incorporating typewritten designs and enigmatic phrases on letter-size sheets of newsprint, the piece’s mystery-shrouded words could be considered stand-ins for the confusion over precise meanings that aphasia can cause.

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Knowles, who received a diagnosis of autism when he was a child and came into prominence at the age of 17 when his poetry was included in the libretto for Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach(1976), has contributed two of his pattern-based, black-and-red typewriter pieces, “Designs” and “Butterfly Blocks,” both from the 1980s. At the top of “Designs,” he has repeated the words “black” and “red” in their corresponding colors. The self-evident meaning of those marks, which soon give way to complex streams and patterns of a single letter — the lowercase “c” — embodies a poignant literalism in search of human connection. There is no abstraction, no chance of a mistake: red is red and black is black, a simple truth that marks the first step in the stairwell toward a sense of surety and understanding.

The poets Susan Howe and Aram Saroyan employ their own poetry as works of art in very different, very potent ways. Howe uses another obsolete technology, letterpress, to create drifting, squeezed and fragmented shapes out of excerpts from her poems; we don’t know what to respond to first, the elegance of the designs or the music of the words (some of which are illegible). But this is an instance of neither/nor — the physical beauty of the objects creates a doubled meaning, with each element dependent upon and inseparable from the other.

Aram Saroyan, a pioneer of Minimalist poetry, is showing “Lighght” (1989), the yellow-on-white silkscreen he made from his famous (or, for some, notorious) one-word poem, “lighght,” which was first published in 1965. Like the orders of significance in the pieces by Knowles and Howe, the image in Saroyan’s print is suspended between, and compounded by, what constitutes a word and the indefinable visual resonances carried by its semiotic representation. These poets, rather than falling into the rupture between thought and expression, bring to their visual works an understanding of the limits of language and the tools — from the metrical to the symbolic to the typographic — needed to traverse them. To make art out of their poems is just another step along the continuum.

Itself Not So continues at Lisa Cooley (107 Norfolk Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan) through August 29.