Lewisham Arthouse, where I am currently on a residency, is a co-operative; everyone does work hours and contributes to the running the place which consists of artists studios, a gallery and workshops. It is an example of a community that supports and enables creativity. When I left the Royal College I thought I was leaving behind the most institutional part of my life…. However, intuitions for collaboration are what artists thrive on and I sought out a new one! My own practice springs from the way we interact with the world, mostly the physical object world, but increasingly the social and political. At the Royal College I was ‘student rep’ a role that required being part of microcosm of political turmoil. I continue to be actively engaged in and sometimes antagonistic to the artistic communities- mostly when they fail to engage beyond their own agenda. Here at the Arthouse everyone lives beyond its walls, doing things- teaching, set design, admin work, urban planning… so busy and engaged are the members after 7 months Ive not met them all! This project stems from the idea of a community, and the arbitary but not pointless nor regardless relationship we have to each other in the street and those we work alongside. I’m not going to bore you with all the many thoughts and ideas Ive had about this event, I leave that for you to discover by witnessing it and to be documented and critqued by Amy Tobin (my press release writer and blog contributer), Ladies of the Press* and the performers.
The artists, poets and musicians I selected purely for method, choosing how they work rather than what they work on. Their subject bases are wide reaching and disparate, yet each of them directly respond and deal with audiences and it is in this way that I am interested in collective consciousness.
Often exhibitions try to make grand ideas about collaboration through a shared subject such as sombre philosophical notions. Here in Chain we allow collaborations with each other and with our audience to just be as arbitrary as how respond to each other everyday where a colour, an image or a word might jolt our memory, or inspire an idea and in the end be seemingly a million miles from that starting point.
The focus of the event is on process and experimentation surrounding a chain of performances. The only indication of a subject was at the start when I gave the participants 3 ideas surrounding research on collective consciousness: 1)Apocalypse- how individual fear of death is translated into the collective. 2) Shared space -how urban planning has responded to increasing collective responsibility. 3) Herd behavior- what happens when we get swept up by the group and act as one. These were simply examples about the context rather than a subject as a whole or something to directly respond to each other.
I fervently believe that rather than illustrating theories and concepts written by academics or specialists in their fields artists should respond and invent. As artistic specialists we can encourage progress both in the creative worlds and beyond in the political, social and economic; we can’t do this by illustrating we can only do this by playing with, generating ideas and experimenting, chain is all of this.
One of the ways we can extent time based moments such as performances is through publicity and press. Ladies of the Press* will be doing a live press. They are Ana Čavić and Renée O’Drobinak: a performative press duo that re-imagines the role of the publisher and the publicist into a theatrical persona.
The second way is through documentation and contextualization. Here I have invited Amy Tobin to play a central role. Amy Tobin is a writer and research in contemporary art and theory. She has studied at the University of York and the Courtauld Institute. I invited Amy to be involved in contextualising the event and she kindly also wrote the press release and will be using this blog space to document the event. Her role is almost the same as that of the performers, playing up to the part of the academic.
As an artist I am antagonistic to writing when it becomes a means for artists to justify exhibitions and ideas. It often falls short and encourages an elitism, that only those in the know (those that are in the art world or have studied art for example) are part of. Amy’s role is not to generate this but to contextualize through the language of academia which surrounds the art world. She too is antagonistic to elitism and interested in Participation as a progressive tool in the art world.