OFFSITE SHOW PREP

” hONEY I’M HOME !! ” AT SAFEHOUSE 1, 139 COPELAND ROAD, PECKHAM

Our show was built up around the site rather than the other way around. Once we had found a location big enough for all of us, we decided the best way to find a focus for our show was to find common grounds in our work and make this fit in with the context of the house. Because we were in a large group of 13 people, and we all work in very different ways and with very different interests/subject matters, it didn’t make sense for us to make work to fit in with a theme, but rather allow a theme to emerge from the culmination of our work.

Because of this, the curation of the show as well as the branding/marketing was very important. We decided to split up into two “teams”: the marketing team in charge of press release/posters/social media etc and the curatorial team who were obviously in charge of curation and well as practical things such as what we would need for the installation of the show/ the private view.

As part of the curatorial team, we discussed how each persons work could relate to the house and the idea of the domestic. Rather than thinking purely about whose work went with whose in terms of form and concept, we thought more about the relationship to the house. For example, what would go in the entryway, the living room, the bedroom etc and why. My work was concerned with where the house fit into the context of the city, so was partly by the door and partly inside the house, suggesting a coming in from outside. Anna’s piece “Duvet” was in the front bedroom and Mae’s piece consisting of three chairs was arranged around the window and fireplace of the living room, suggesting an absent presence which tied into Eliose’s work behind it.

For some works we had to think more practically: where are the plug sockets? What’s the light like in that area? How can things be attached to the ceiling or floor?

I do think we worked well in the house, allowing a narrative to come through and not being afraid that our personal meanings for a work would be swallowed by the connotations of the house. Despite all being very different, the house brought our artworks together cohesively, with touches such as original fireplaces, light switches and tiles keeping the house grounded in it’s history, rather than becoming a superficial space used only for exhibiting artwork.

Right / Left / Left

Breaking down the walk: part 3

I went on to analyse my own “instructions” of the walk, instinctively drawing as I read the directions. Each time the line came out different which brings into question the actual usefulness of supposedly strict, objective rules etc.

Are any of these an accurate representation of my route? Here I have created multiple systems out of one set of instructions. If I gave the left/right commands (without the road names) to a group of individuals, how many would end up in the same place? I am interested in this idea of multiple outcomes arising from something that should be very rigidly set. For me, it creates a kind of fantasy amongst the systems of the huge city. Never tied down.

I wanted to take this focus on the instructions further, so tried to memorise the route. I timed how long this took, again creating an alternative reality to the actual walk (e.g 2h 14m 01s 95 cs becomes 29m 38s 13cs). I’m not exactly sure where this strand of “breakdown” is going but at the moment I am finding it exciting. It’s no longer really anything to do with actual walking or even the city but rather my own obsessive systems. Perhaps this could be a way of creating other walks using the safehouse walk.

I like this way of presenting my memorisation. In a book it would become too obviously like a school exercise (like learning spellings or something). On the wall it becomes more painterly, however, still reads from top left to bottom right, ending with a single sheet which is the one that proved I had memorised it (I wanted to get at last two in a row right, to prove it was actually in there and not just a one off).

I am considering turning this into some kind of film.

 

2h 14m 02s

breaking down the walk: part 2

Once in the exhibition space, I set up two pieces of paper on opposite walls and walked backwards and forwards between them for the same amount of time as the original walk (2h 14m 01s 95cs). In doing this, I had essentially brought the entirety of the 7.3 miles route into the just under 5m wide room.

I deliberately chose to place my work so that the first sheet was near the entrance and the other fully inside the room, to be representative of the fact that this work has moved from outside the house to within.

The act of walking backwards and forwards as well as the tally marks themselves are very significant here. Pacing suggests a restlessness and feeling of containment, this plays off of the context of the safehouse in a very dark way, although also suggests prisoners counting days or children drawing on walls with brightly coloured crayons. There is a franticness that juxtaposes the system in which it is contained (contained both physically and within my decided process).

Something I struggled with with this piece was how to show my process to the viewer without giving away too much. know that London is contained between the papers, but how will anyone else? The tallies on their own can be seen as a kind of minimalist painting – an abstract, meaningless painting.

Taken out of the safehouse and into a white walled, traditional gallery space.

Honestly, I don’t mind this as a reading of my work, however, I was keen to explore how I can reveal more of my ideas, especially when the work was up in the safehouse. I considered creating lines using dust or paint or something so my journey would be visible, but this felt like too much. I also thought about displaying my entire “report” alongside the piece, or showing the full video of the walk, however, this would feel very disjointed like a piece and an explanation for a piece, rather than one coherent thing. In the end I put up the instructions for my walk (road names, turnings etc) next to one of the papers. The format mirrored both the scroll and a kind of road which alludes to the journey taken without explaining exactly what each tally represents. I was careful to place the two scrolls exactly opposite each other to reinforce a relationship between the two. I don’t think I was completely successful and the work definitely required some kind of an explanation so as not to be seen as just an abstract piece. This is something I want to really focus on going forward.

1 out of 3 instruction sheets.

 

8041

breaking down the walk : part 1

For my off-site show I wanted the work to be an exploration of the chosen site and how this fits into the context of the city. I approached this by walking from my flat in Holloway to the exhibition space in Peckham (a total of 7.3 miles taking 2 hours 14 minutes 1 seconds and 95 centiseconds). From this I aimed to create a series of works in which I explored this journey – and ways of representing this journey – in as much detail as possible.

After a tutorial with Sarah, I realised that my recent work has been as much about time as it has about space/place so I used this as a starting point for my “analysis”. The notion of combining objective, scientific factors such as time and distance with the subjective, emotional nature of an individual journey is interesting to me.

 

Here, each tally mark represents one second of the walk. I filmed myself doing this to compare the difference between how long something takes and how long it takes to represent (i.e, the walk was 8041 seconds, would it take 8041 seconds to represent this 8041 seconds?). However, my camera kept cutting out without me noticing it so the resultant footage is not at all representative of the act. This in itself produces something quite interesting as an inaccurate record of one act could be seen as in itself creating a new act: what walk is this video representing? This kind of mirrors my ideas from the beginning of the year about the power an artist has to say what they like about their own work and play with facts vs fictions.

I also find it interesting how what, for me, was a big task (walking across London) appears very unimpressive when presented like this. There isn’t as many pages / tallies as you would expect. A challenge I have had throughout the year is how to materialise/ display something immaterial in a way that doesn’t give too much away while still doing justice to the ideas behind the piece. The anti climactic effect of this piece kind of satisfies me in the sense that even if an idea/action is completely accurately represented, it can still appear inaccurate or unimpressive. For me, this gives the license to care a bit less.

 

Screenshots from “8041” video

The Orange Walk II

I decided to use oranges to trace my journey. I didn’t want to use something permanent that would stick out (e.g tape, paint etc) as this would draw attention and make the ‘drawing’ into a literal drawing which isn’t really what I wanted as I enjoy the idea of taking over a space despite knowing knowing I have done it. Oranges are temporary and go ignored (as they are always dropped on streets), yet are brightly coloured so are noticeable despite not being out-of-the-ordinary.

Whilst on the initial 5 minute walk I was looking out for a way to mark my journey and thought it was funny how peoples exact movements/location can be traced using orange peel. People stand or walk whilst peeling leaving a trace of their actions.

The orange also reflects the shape of the walk which I find funny. I have made this section of London into a giant orange.

The conflict between my own rules and the rules of the city was very interesting. I set myself a route but had to ultimately do what the city wanted me to do as, obviously, the roads don’t follow my pre-decided shape.

  

I enjoyed working with oranges. There is something funny about them and this idea of eye-catching yet ignoreable works well alongside my interest in creating spaces and systems. It will be interesting to continue thinking about other things that trace in the same way as orange peel. Cigarette buts? Chewing gum?

Having said this, I don’t want to ditch the oranges.

 

The Orange Walk I

Thinking about using the city to create a kind of invisible system I wanted to do some kind of walk. I am very interested in the idea of claiming a space as my own and/or making it into something else.

My plan was to walk for 5 minutes and mark this point then create a circle around uni so that everywhere within the circle would be maximum 5 minutes away. However, this crossed over the river so I shifted my circle around to fin the best route. Perhaps I should have got a bit creative and figured out a way to tackle the river rather than just pretending it doesn’t exist, but I chose to keep my circle the exact same diameter, and still cross the original 5 minute mark, in order to keep as much integrity as possible.

5 minute radius – everything within 5 minutes. Goes across river.
Same size but shifted away from river. Crosses original 5 minute mark but not everywhere within 5 minutes.
Same size again but shifted so it crosses the river.

I also considered not using a circle, but rather returning to my ideas about remnants, specifically the marks left on the wall from earlier pieces (which I was drawn to as a way of creating a new system from an old system, but never actually took anyway). However, although this could work, there’s not really any reason for it and I kind of like the idea of forcing a perfect shape (i.e a circle) into the jagged linear streets of the city. It will be interesting to see how the walk is taken out of my control and into the control of the city. This will be more obvious when veering from the perfect curve of a circle.

Joined up the marks on the wall to create a loop.
Edited on to the map.

 

 

Wrapping / Wax

In order to transport the components, I wrapped them up in little packages containing all the parts of each object. I really like these as little things in themselves. The breakdown has become irrelevant and so, in fact,have the objects, as the only indication of what is inside is a little note, which could be a lie. The identity of the object has been taken away, once again making the piece about the act of collecting, or the act of journey.

I also like the connotations of these things: is it a parcel that will be sent somewhere? A gift? This reminds me of early ideas I had about redistribution and rearranging one system into another system. Much of Francis Alys‘ work questions this idea of circulation and systems of distribution. Asco also challenge the idea of circulation in terms of the media.

Then cast every component in wax. Here, although they have lost a large amount of their identity as an object, they much more explicitly represent the object. I think these are super satisfying little things, however, I felt like I had spent a lot of time using the objects in an attempt to move away from the objects, which obviously doesn’t make sense. Especially as, in my eyes, they closely resemble the objects.

However, in a group crit people seemed to see them quite differently to me. They said that rather than being the same as the objects, they are more of an essence of the city. It was also said that they themselves form a kind of map and that perhaps they don’t need to be taken back to the city, but stay in some kind of composition as a representation of the city.  It is kind of nice to create something material and tangible, this is the first thing I really have from this term that still exists in a physical form.

There was also a big focus on their sanitised aesthetic which is interesting as it is something that I didn’t really pick up on myself. While they have an essence of the city, it is a clean, crisp essence. This is a complete distortion of the grimy, throwaway objects which I think creates an interesting tension as it makes the connection with  found objects less obvious / boring / pointless.

Breakdown

Continuing with the idea of trying to stop the work from being about the objects by using ‘remnants’, I broke a number of them down into their most basic, reduced form. The objects become components rather than objects. I like the thought that by breaking down these objects I am also breaking down the city.

This has a clear link to Michael Landy’s breakdown in which he (along with a team of assistants) methodically took apart/shredded/deconstructed every one of his possessions, reducing them to their most basic parts. These remains can no longer be seen as possessions or belongings, in the same way that my objects can no longer been seen as the same objects I collected. The piles of Landy’s scraps are a kind of pile of his life, without being actual physical objects – I see my parts as a summing up of the journey/network that I created, not as found objects.

One of the most interesting parts of “breakdown” is the inventory that was written of every item along with a code number. It is interesting how such subjective, personal things such as possessions can be so easily made into sterile and objective.  I am very interested in cataloguing, list writing etc as a way of recording dematerialised works and was curious about applying this to this facet of my work. A list is one step further removed from the object itself. The words are the objects and the objects are the city, so the words are the city.

Extraxt from Michael Landys “Breakdown Inventory” 2001. Full list available here
Extract from my inventory.

My inventory and Landy’s are the opposite way round – his is a list of all the objects pre-breakdown, whereas mine is a list of the components.

I decided not to breakdown every object as it started to feel like a bit of a waste of time. Although the result was an effective veer from object, the fact that I was spending so much of my time working with the objects, rather than returning to systems/space etc, felt completely contradictory. I am glad I started this as I do think it was interesting (both the process and the result), in that I have become interested in starting a dematerial process with a material object. (for example, the more i continue, the less of a material I am left with. Could I start a network with an object and end with no object?).

 

Francis Alys

francis alys: walking distance from the studio” – kunstmuseum wolfsburg

“Observing and explaining anthropological contexts and social situations… for almost 20 years”
– Not global, but local
– No pandering to the trend of ‘political art’ just to fit with popular movement. Just his own, actual, genuine, observations of the city.

“Collects experiences of everyday life”
Participant and observer, as a human being and as an artist.

 

“francis alys: 7 walks, london, 2004-2005” – artangel, 2005

Goes into his walks without a particular plan, approaches the city with a method rather than a project. This allows an “open and responsive” mode of making.

Importance of the presence of railings: sound, feeling, memory, association, barrier, wall, function.

“Listening to the music of the city”

Rumour and bronze sculptures in grabage bags. An exploration of the circuits of diffusion and circulation. Systems and networks that develop naturally through the process of circulation and distribution. “I like to set an idea in motion, to set the parameters for a situation to develop and then lose control of it” (does the city/space itself become one of these “parameters”?)
– e.g musicians finding each other in the city; drawn by sound.
-tracking, chasing, following
– e.g “The Nightwatch” : fox in the National Gallery, CCTV
– ‘discovering’ relationships/networks/webs
– e.g milk bottles, people in shadows

Francis Alys “Zócalo Mayo”1999
Francis Alys “The Nightwatch” 2004

“My first impulse was not to take from the city, but more to absorb what was already there, to work within the residues, or with the negative spaces, the holes, the spaces in between

Dematerialised works presented as film, photograph, maps, lists, diagrams, conversations, press coverage, emails etc.

Francis Alys “A Personal Repertoire of Possible Behaviour While Walking the Streets in London Town” 2005

Francis Alys has become the most important reference in my work. He works with intervention / public event in a way that I have struggled to see in other artists. There is minimal political drive, rather he is honestly and organically exploring space, the city, human interaction with the city etc. He makes art both in the city and with the city.

Walking and noticing things that then become maps and networks. I am also interested in his focus on distribution and circulation. Reminds me of the idea of “drawing a picture” in the city that is either invisible or is impossible to see as a whole. Don’t know what happens to it once you turn the corner. (Link to “New York Trilogy:City of Glass“)

Francis Alys “The Green Line” 2004 – drew a line on a map with a thick green marker then followed this line as closely as possible while leaving a trail of green paint.

“Internal Exiles: The Interventionist Public and Performance Art of Asco” – C. Ondine Chavoya

from “Space, Site, intervention: situating installation art” – erika suderburg, 2000

Asco = artist collective
– test limits of art: production, distribution, reception, exhibition.
-performance, public art, conceptual multimedia art.
– Activism: response to turbulent social/ political climate.

Power of public representation and documentation in and of media. Created new means of access/distribution to circumvent traditional institutes.

“Dynamic interaction between critique and seduction, play provocation, activism and abstraction”

  • “Ethics of Combat”
  • Walking Murals: e.g “Stations of the Cross”1971 – procession /  ‘religious’ ceremony. e.g “Walking Mural” 1972 – replacing a cancelled Christmas, acting as both the participants and the floats.
  • “Counter-spectacle intervention”
Asco, “Walking Mural” 1972, LA

Didn’t plan these interventions/ spectacles so anyone “could actually see them”, just dropped into normal life. Don’t necessarily want the audience to understand exactly what is being critiqued, just want to raise questions using “bizarre and unorthodox activities in public thoroughfares”

Asco “Asshole Mural” 1974

Situating critique in a space that Chicano’s didn’t have access to, i.e PUBLIC SPACE.
– “Project Pie in De/ Face”: Chicano art absent from LACMA’s collections/ exhibitions. According to the creator this is because they “don’t make fine art only folk art” or “they were in gangs”. In response, Asco signed their names with spray paint on the museums entrances, effectively taking all the artworks and the building as their own “conceptual piece”. This became “the first conceptual work of Chicano art to be exhibited at LACMA”
– “Instant Mural”: Two of them attached to a liquor store with masking tape. After an hour, and numerous people offering help, they simply walked away. “Visually intimidating, yet physically weak”
Human geographies become filled with politics and ideology. Space becomes loaded with politics, changing interactions within it. “The symbolised space of place constitutes the very material for Asco’s urban performances”.
– Setting up ‘decoys’ in areas of potential violence, e.g lie on the ground covered in ketchup. Photos distributed to publications/TV, which accepted them as real violence. Re-stabilise the power of the media.
– “Asshole Mural” Take over the idea of traditional monuments. Monuments are often very loaded : suggest a shared, generally ideology/set of values. (e.g monuments representing ‘important figures’. Are they important to everyone? Or just the white middle class?)

Asco “Instant Mural” 1974

Interventionism was becoming somewhat irrelevant to me, as the political/activism side of it is not something I am interested in. Although I am not interested in doing work about the exact issues Asco focus on (racism, oppression etc), the way they work is very interesting to me. Their focus on the politics of space and how this effects the usage of space as well as their ideas about taking ownership/reclaiming spaces and their focus on the network of the media feed into my own practice.