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.
For the past few years I have sought comfort in the life that I have ended up living, a nomadic existence which has seen me chase winters around the globe for the past 19 years. I have interspersed these winter locations with periods of study and time on artist residencies. Balancing two for want of a better word careers in the snowboard industry and art world. Both of these lives are far from careers but passions, lifestyles or compulsions. Neither life in either world is one that I do for the sake of it but because something in me drives me too.
However over the last couple of years this identity of being nomadic has been something I have had to question. In the past I always returned to Queenstown, New Zealand for the months of June-October and I’d somehow find a home in the Northern Hemisphere for December- April (Colorado mainly) returning to see family in the UK in the episodes between. Since graduating in 2013 from Edinburgh College of Arts I have been on the move NZ, Greece, Chile, Armenia, West Virginia, NZ, Scotland, NZ and now Switzerland. This rollercoaster few years and even now no real plan or certainty ahead I realise that I am less a nomad but rather I am adrift.
When i raise the concerns in my life and art practice with people in resort or on residencies its hard for them to understand the position I am in. Reactions tend to favour one of two replies either, wow your life is so interesting it must really help your creative practice or how about you have a summer in the UK? I believe we all have interesting lives and mine is no different its just what you decide to do with your days that can make them different. What we don’t experience is always more interesting than our day to days. As for having a summer (last summer being in 2001) I would be happy to have a summer or even normal seasons its just that I have no clue where. Having lived a transient existence my idea of home has long disappeared and without an attachment to somewhere makes this idea of spending a summer hard to swallow.
My lack of posts on here have been mainly due to this fact as instead of producing I have stalled, not stuck but limited in how I proceed. I continue to create ideas and harness an urgency to work in both worlds. The balance of teaching and snowboarding alongside my art practice I feel is necessary. However not knowing where I will be, or where I will be based limits production and raises many concerns with work that I create, from the logistics of sculpture whilst on residencies to the temporary existence within an art scene or community.
So at present I do not know where I am heading, I know here in Saas Fee, Switzerland I hope will be a home for at least a few seasons. Whilst outside of these months I need to figure out how I produce and engage with other artists in a healthy way. Realising I am not enjoying the convenience and my practice is not necessarily benefitting from this nomadic life and that the reality is that I am adrift and I need to figure out where I will reach land in the future.
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.
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.
I am finally settled into The Auxiliary here in Stockton-on-Tees, UK. I flew back from NZ last week and traveled north on the Thursday. I am here working on some new modes of output for sonic works. Realising how I can install some of the glitch sound pieces and working on new processes at the same time. Anna and Liam who run The Auxiliary have been great hosts and offer heaps of support both with introducing me to the area and equipment. The next two months should prove to be fruitful and I am excited to see what I can accomplish in this time.
&MODEL GALLERY, LEEDS
Launch: Wednesday 16 March, 6-8pm
Exhibition continues until: Saturday 2 April
Early Warning is Mark Devereux Projects’ third annual associate members exhibition, showcasing the strength and diversity of its membership, currently comprising over 50 artists. The exhibition was open to submit to all artists, working in any medium, who are members of Mark Devereux Projects. Each year, the changing panel of selectors is made up of artists, curators and writers.
This year’s exhibition, Early Warning has been selected by Melissa Hinkin (Artes Mundi), Michelle Bowen (UK Young Artists), and the Directors of &Model Gallery (Derek Horton, James Chinneck and Chris Bloor). The selected artists are Jo Clements, Daisy Forster, James Harper, Gareth Kemp, Darren Nixon, Willow Rowlands, Richard Starbuck, Dickie Webb and Louise Winter.
“We’re proud to be collaborating with &Model Gallery, showcasing the practices of nine of our current associate artists within Early Warning. We had a great day talking with the selectors for the exhibition about the quality and variety of submissions received and look forward to working with each of the selected artists to show their work in this year’s exhibition.” [Mark Devereux, Director Mark Devereux Projects]
“&Model is happy to be involved in working with Mark Devereux Projects and the other selectors to bring some excellent new work to Leeds as part of our continuing project which shows a diverse range of international contemporary artists alongside some of the region’s emerging practitioners.” [Derek Horton, &Model]
Early Warning launches on Wednesday 16 March (6-8pm) and continues until 2 April at Leeds’ &Model Gallery, open Wednesdays to Saturdays, 2-5pm.
MDP Associates is Mark Devereux Projects’ membership scheme, supporting early-mid career visual artists through a programme of events, opportunities and critical exchange. Working with artists, curators and industry professionals from around the country, MDP Associates encourages dialogue and support through both one-to-one and group sharing. For further information and to join please click here.
For further details about Early Warning and opening times please visit markdevereuxprojects.com.
For further details about the exhibition and opening times please contact us.
I know I have been quiet the last few months whilst on residency at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshops. I have just moved out but I am still in Edinburgh as I am installing a new work as part of Paradigm Electronic Arts Exhibition at Summerhall in Edinburgh. I am really grateful for this exhibition as the timing is perfect and to see some of the works that I will be exhibiting alongside makes me feel honoured for being selected. The exhibition opens this Friday and then is open for just over a week. There are 40 artists involved and the show will be truly interactive with works varying from VR and projection mapping to works that take you back to 90’s raving. The senses will be taken on a journey with this show.
Here is a link to the website and also the Facebook event page:
The work I am installing is called ‘Fence In’ and is a new piece that builds on previous glitch works that I have made in Athens and Yerevan. This work combines those glitch techniques with field recordings from here in Edinburgh. Here is a link to the synopsis: