The Political Economies of Art

Panel Discussion at Art Basel Hong Kong

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28th March 2019

I was invited for the second time to work with the team at Art Basel Hong Kong to develop and chair a panel discussion.

How does activism fit into the art market, and what forms can activism take within the market space? This discussion explores modes of politically engaged practice and engagement in art.

The speakers were Basel Abbas Artist, New York; Pedro Barbosa Collector, São Paulo; Corrado Gugliotta Founder, Laveronica Arte Contemporanea, Modica; Tayeba Begum Lipi Visual Artist, Dhaka; Kacey Wong Visual Artist, Hong Kong

 

Nicola Singh : Sweet Spot

for 3-Phase

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Workplace Foundation, invited me to write about artist Nicola Singh’s work for the 3-Phase project – a collaboration between Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Eastside Projects, Birmingham and Workplace Foundation Gateshead which explores a new model for working in partnership to support the development of early career artists’ work over a sustain period of time.

This is my text:

A small text hangs on the wall. It is not the first thing I notice in the exhibition space; in fact, it is almost the last – tucked, as it is, quietly in the corner. But the voice it adds is crucial. So, in telling you about Nicola Singh’s exhibition at Workplace, Gateshead, I will start with it. 

Through the text she twists and turns, manoeuvring me, as she speaks of him, to herself about him, of herself. I am not addressed directly, yet I hear her voice and I am pulled in. Pulled in, in fact, to the spaces between body, action and response. This is a strange, erotic, yet cold space. She speaks of him inside her, of her disappointment, of her experience of her own body, of memories of older encounters, with him, perhaps, with herself, with others. Encounters not always invited or welcome – she makes them public and I recognise her experience. Touch always makes a mark. 

Turning around, I look back at the three squares of silicone hanging behind me, within [her] reach (2018).

Before the exhibition, Singh used the gallery as a studio. Here, she lay on the floor with the silicon pieces on top of her. This is a private moment with no one else present, but I imagine her touching, rubbing, tracing, massaging her body with the powdered pigment on her fingers; the shifts and warps of the material coinciding with her movement as it picks up these residues. 

Pigment on semi-translucent silicone. This is painting of sorts. Yet it is perhaps best understood not in relation to its painterly composition or its representational ability, but for how it registers the process of its own creation. The plane of the silicone canvas records the event of its making. Though the performance cannot be seen, it nevertheless leaves a trace and the resulting work cannot be understood without the action, even as imagined. 

Hanging as sculpture in the space, these three paintings now persist both as objects pointing back to the moment of their creation and away from themselves, out toward the wider world. They hang in a line, taut from wires in the ceiling. Silicone, wholly artificial, has become a material imbued with the memory of Singh’s body. Standing now in front of the work, my hip bone is to her hip bone, my crotch to her crotch. I am not seeing her body represented but rather as embodied. Again, I inhabit the inevitable gaps between intention and action, telling and hearing. 

The private made public, and the space in between those two, weaves its way through Singh’s work. Performance is a process that not only exposes the private, but enacts the trajectory between the two. Here, at Workplace, text conjures performance layered upon performance. “Me on me,” she says. These are the ways that she acts on and is acted upon in the world. Working alone and speaking to herself, Singh’s materials are utilised as recording devices; manifold agencies with varying degrees of opacity and unknown consequences. 

Before, for Sweet Spot (2017) at Jerwood Space, London, Singh worked with other women artists – Kate Sweeney, Deborah Bower, Tess Denman-Cleaver and Naomi Garriock. She offered the group a text, space, and time; inviting an exploration of the physical and representational limits of the body to find something beyond demonstrable action and form. Working in pairs, they moved and they described their partner’s movements in real time: “you are,” “you are,” “you are”. 

Next, 14 meters of fabric were laid on the floor, dressmakers chalk supplied. Each drew around their own body, a seemingly simple act that in fact requires physically dexterity and complex decision making. Batiqued and dyed, the fabric was later installed in the gallery space along with an audio recording of the text piece with which they had begun. In a further step, the installation then became a space for live performance. Elements of the workshop experience were translated into a capella vocal performance performed live by Singh and artists Harriet Plewis and Jenny Moore as a public event. An audio of this performance was then incorporated into the installation. Making is accumulative: text became workshop, became movement, became painting, became architecture, became performance, became sound…   For Singh, such gestures are a way of both making and a context for sharing and generating. It is a means of gathering and communing, of bringing others together to facilitate conversation and a way of remaking the art world as a network of ideas to be shared.  An ethics and politics, a practice of contributing. 

We speak of the third part of this project, Pushing attention (2018), to be held at Eastside Projects, Birmingham, and now in gestation. Once again, Singh will return to a multi-vocal practice by sharing the space with three other women artists – Kate Sweeney, Phyllis Christopher and Janina Sabaliauskaite – each interested in bodies and the potential of the erotica. Into the gallery, she will bring elements of a work made collectively during a private workshop undertaken in a house without the owner present.  A selection of photographs will be produced as large-scale screen-prints and suspended in the space. Over the duration of the exhibition, Singh will spend time in the gallery, gradually reproducing the images as a woven tapestries. This gesture will itself be framed by two live performances, one at the beginning, one at end, marking the transformation that will have taken place; each action simultaneously cyclical, self-referential, and generative.

Through the language of composition and choreography, of sound unfixed and reverberating in space, Bricks and mortar, paper, silicone, paint, charcoal, photography, light, words and architectures each make their own impact in her work because each is a physical demonstration of an interaction. Singh works through these materials. Rather than aestheticised objects, these are things with which to generate interactions and feelings, to be built upon in order to use, or to reach an understanding of, a women’s voice or body.  Singh is the maker of the occasion.  

Not long into our conversation she says to me “I want these objects to be desperate”. It takes me a long time to understand what she means by that. Desperation as in ‘I am desperate for a cigarette.’  ‘I am desperate to see you.’  Not a hopeless desperation but a craving, a wanting, a need, and an action to be fulfilled.

A Selective Guide to the V&A’s

South Asian Collection

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As part of my role as Assosiate Curator for Delfina Foundation’s Collecting as Practice programme, I co-edited this compendium of artistic responses to the V&As South Asian Collection which came out of artist Avani Tanya’s time as artist-in-residence at the Collection and Delfina. I contributed an introductory text in the form of an incomplete glossary.

This is the text:

Glossary for A Selective Guide to the V&A’s South Asian collection

Collection

a: something collected; especially, an accumulation of objects gathered for study, comparison, or exhibition or as a hobby a collection of poems a collection of photographs a baseball card collection: b: the act or process of collecting; the collection of data; the collection of taxes.

The V&A’s South Asian collection appears as an erratic never ending collection of files, folios, letters, lists, maps, specimens and artefacts—kept, ordered and preserved. We know how it came together through an impulse to rule through knowledge: manuscripts and assorted treasures, textiles, natural history specimens, raw products and art and antiquities of the Indian subcontinent brought together so as to ‘understand’ and exploit this understanding into domination.

Avani writes to me: “I, as an Indian woman, am leafing through letters written by British Victorian men deciding the fate of objects collected in India.” White men collected and learnt so as to rule this new place through the manipulation of its own cultures and traditions.

Later, the collection expanded into objects of everyday production in order to encourage the ‘native art manufacturers’ of India. It was also intended that these would provide models of design and ornamentation for British manufacturers and art students. A double-edged compliment that we seek to pull apart.

The taxonomy of the collection is of interest. What  fits into the South Asian collection and what, though from South Asia, does not—a pair of jeans from Primark for example, is made in India but not associated to this part of the collection. The museological rationalisation given is both arbitrary and revealing.

Much of the museum’s collection is in storage, covered in Tyvek—a strong, durable, tear and water resistant material. Avani spends time in the storage, exploring. Even when in the museum she is continuously thinking of all the objects hidden away, never displayed. What purpose do those objects have?

Colony and Colonialism

a: a body of people living in a new territory but retaining ties with the parent state; a colony of settlers; the territory inhabited by such a body the 13 British colonies in America; b: control by one power over a dependent area or people; the colonialism of the British Empire; a policy advocating or based on such control; Colonialism was brought to an end in the country.

The collection of objects within the official South Asian collection is mostly from a specific time. The moment when the collection stops stands out; very little is post-colonial and nothing is contemporary. The interest in India seems to be stuck in time. We wish to ask how do these colonial processes of collecting impact our now.

The objects collected during the time of colonisation inevitably hold the politics of Empire; the politics of power and repression. More, the ability to describe these spoils of Empire is itself the language of colonisation. The violence of colonialism weaves through the South Asian collection, not only through the objects, but through the ways the museum choses to speak of them and through the timeline printed on the wall, with its references to English Kings and Queens, foreign invasions and ‘Indian mutinies’.

Avani asks: “Is this India, the image that the South Asian gallery constructs, the India my ancestors inhabited?” How does the India of the gallery relate to that other India—their India?

Craft

a: an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill; the carpenter’s craft, the craft of writing plays; crafts such as pottery, carpentry, and sewing; he learned the craft as an apprentice: b: crafts plural; articles made by craftspeople; a store selling crafts; a crafts fair. 

Artefacts identified by material, method, use, geography and time but not artist or maker. Somehow we brake off the object from the hand that made it, asking it to speak for itself as a generalised thing or a representation of a skill, a symbol of power, majesty or fashion.

Exploring the V&A not as a space of unique objects, made for aesthetic pleasure but as one which houses the replicable and the useful—things made to do something—is a new thing for us.

Actually, many of the colonial collections in the UK came together this way; set up as industrial museums whose remit was to collect samples of objects and processes that had a potential use in the UK and would stimulate exports from the colonies. In this context, the skill of makers in India takes on a different guise. Simultaneously ethnographic and pedagogical, they were seen as a potential source of salvation for British design and aesthetic values. Victorian notions of medieval craftsmanship and a Indian craft-skill were fused in a hybrid aesthetic described by Tim Barringer as ‘colonial gothic’ . 1

Here we return to investigate the actual and the symbolic—what do these specific crafted objects invoke in us? We think about the Gujarati craftsmen, intricately weaving and embroidering textiles, combining traditional motifs with European engraving of floral vases in the 18th century, to make bedspreads for the western market.

Re-Imagine

a: transitive verb; to imagine again or anew; b: to form a new conception of.

Avani’s project sits within the Reimagine India cultural exchange programme. Set up to develop an ‘intercultural dialogue and strengthen cultural relations based on the exchange of ideas, knowledge, work and artistic practice’. We wanted to create new meanings for objects, to give voice to the anecdotal and magical, to add mystery and out unknown authors and owners, to honour the invisible, the meta and the general. We want to lose the authoritative and anonymous voice of the museum and instead make room for the personal relationships that we have with objects—those that can come through personal and family histories, childhood visits and fairytales.

Avani pushes for the objects to speak in the singular, the personal and anecdotal.

Residency

a: a usually official place of residence; b: a state or period of residence; a 20-year residency in the city; c: a period of advanced training in a medical specialty that normally follows graduation from medical school and licensing to practice medicine.

Avani Tanya lives between Goa in India and Bremen in Germany. For a period of time she stays in London at Delfina Foundation. A home away from home with other artists, curators and collectors. Eating, talking, dancing. As an artist in the museum she lives among the objects of the past; objects from India, now in London.

In a previous project, Avani had made her own collection, one for Bangalore; a homage to and a critique of the city in which she lived made through objects intentionally discarded. Trees, pet food and plastic toys were brought together as fragments of a city changing so fast it can not keep up with itself.

There is a constant back and forth between these different residencies. A personal negotiation certainly, but also a way of visiting and re-visiting place. Tipu’s Tiger, for example, lives in the V&A, but Avani also visits its plastic replica, housed where once the original was, in the Sultan’s Summer Palace in Bangalore.

Trade and Exchange

a: the business of buying and selling or bartering commodities; commerce; b: business, market novelties for the tourist trade, did a good trade in small appliances; c: an act or instance of trading; transaction; also, an exchange of property usually without use of money; something offered, given, or received in an exchange; d: a place where things or services are exchanged, such as an organized market or center for trading in securities or commodities, a store or shop specializing in merchandise usually of a particular type.

Creating markets between the UK and India, thinking of the history of the movement of these objects and of the ways in which items were garnered through the Empire, Avani discovers the Rapid Response collection—a contemporary way for the museum to collect things quickly, things that have an immediate cultural significance; a pussy hat, a pair of jeans from Primark, made in India. These cargo trousers connect Avani’s present project to an older work—the snapped rope from a garment factory in Bangalore—a safety rope snaps during a mock fire drill and a woman dies from the fall. More though, they make explicit that ongoing line between India and the UK, the ways in which the vestiges of Empire remain.

Here, we look at objects in the collection and ask what was bought, what was sold, what was given, what was coerced? What was sold under false pretences? What had significance to its original owners and what was willingly bartered away? How might the museum give voice to these nuances?

Interpretation

a: the act or the result of interpreting; explanation; b: particular adaptation or version of a work, method, or style; c: a teaching technique that combines factual with stimulating explanatory information; the natural history interpretation program

The way in which museums make meaning matters. What they show to us, and how it is shown, shapes our collective memory. It determines the way in which history is read. How we choose to define ourselves is crucial to us as a society. How does the museum speak on our behalf?

Interpretation, how the museum talks about its own past and the objects it houses, is integral. On the surface it suggests how we, as audience, should experience our time in the museum. Beneath this, it lets slip the blind spots in our ability to confront difficult pasts and tell home truths.

Within this overwhelming space, Avani asks what the objects were intended to say about India at the time, what they did say, and what they say now. To herself, to others.

We begin by looking at the display, then at the interpretation, and finally we return to our own experience of being in front of the collection. Bringing new context to individual objects, to ‘the collection’, indeed to the museum, becomes a preoccupation. Linking them to contemporary lives, we simply seek to explore how we as individuals relate to each in turn. As such, here we invite others to respond to the objects. To speak of their personal connections, their ways of seeing and their experiences.

1 http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/c/collecting-south-asian-textiles/

 

 

Open Music Archive feat. 51 Architecture : Play it Again! Use it Together

Victoria Gallery and Museum, Liverpool

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15th September -
24th November 2018

Play it Again! Use it Together by Open Music Archive feat. 51 Architecture (photo: Neil Cummings)

The third and final commission in the series I have curated within the collections of the Victoria Gallery and Museum, Eileen Simpson and Ben White’s project takes as its starting point the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Popular Music (IPM) archive of over 80,000 records, an exceptional and rich research resource gifted over a number of years by collectors and enthusiasts. 

With a particular focus on copyright-expired hit records from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s, the artists will temporarily re-house the IPM archive in one of the galleries at the Victoria Gallery & Museum for the duration of the exhibition, making it accessible and public for the first time. 

Alongside this uncovering of the archive, at the centre of the exhibition is a newly commissioned and bespoke booth created for archive digitisation, broadcast and remix performance, designed with 51 Architecture, the award winning architecture practice led by Catherine du Toit and Peter Thomas. Animated by University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University students and graduates, the exhibition space has be turned into a production site through which the shellac and vinyl records will be digitised and made available online (www.playitagainuseittogether.com). To further explore the usefulness of the public domain digital samples created during the digitisation process, the artists invite a number of collaborators to live produce new music sampling from the evolving public resource. 

Play it Again! Use it Together contributes to Open Music Archive, Eileen Simpson and Ben White’s ongoing work to source, digitise and distribute out-of-copyright archive material and to spark collaborative activity.  Here, using the unique resource of the IMP’s archive, the artists strip away proprietary elements to explore ownership, investigating what is owned and how it is owned. The project promotes expanded usership of the archive through replay, live events, digitisation and distribution – seeking to explore different relations between artists, institutions and their publics.

 

Ben Judd : The Part Versus the Whole

Victoria Gallery and Museum, Liverpool

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9th June -
16th August 2018

Ben Judd : The Part Versus the Whole, 2018 - installation shot (photo: Julian Hughes)

Combining an eclectic mix of materials from the Victoria Gallery and Museum’s collections and archives, including historic magic lantern slides and the archeological photography of John Garstang, with new objects, performance and film.  The Part Versus the Whole by Ben Judd is the second of three new commissions for the VG&M that I am curating this year.

“…sometimes different cities follow one another on the same site and under the same name, born and dying without knowing one another, without communication among themselves. At times even the names of the inhabitants remain the same, and their voices’ accent, and also the features of the faces; but the gods who live beneath names and above places have gone off without a word and outsiders have settled in their place.”              

(Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities)

Through The Part Versus the Whole, Judd invokes a lost community with its own internal systems, beliefs and taxonomies of knowledge. The installation weaves together threads of mythology with imagined and real histories of characters and architecture from the local environment to create an immersive installation.

The exhibition is experienced while listening to the text written by writer and collaborator David Hering which imagines traces of this lost community’s ghost culture.

The performance on 9th June, shown here in the images, imagined this community existing within the VG&M.  Judd worked with recent dance graduates and a local community choir to create the unique work that weaved its way through the building and culminated in a dramatic finale in the Leggate Theatre- the University’s original lecture hall housed in the museum with song, dance and magic lanterns.

The Part Versus the Whole is an invitation to viewers to experience a series of alternative readings of the VG&M, and the city of Liverpool’s history, to reimagine what might have been and to bring its possible futures to life.

 

Alice Anderson : Nuhé

Witnessing at Art Brussels

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19th - 22nd April 2018

The artist Alice Anderson invited me to respond to her solo booth with La Patinoire Royale-Galerie Valérie Bach at Art Brussels. Entitled Nuhé, the work is a durational performance that lasted the entire length of the fair.  Rather than a precis of her practice or a review of the piece as such, I proposed a ‘witnessing’ of the performance – that is, a written account of being with the piece and an attempt to transfer some of its ideas into word – that has now become part of the documentation of the work.

This is the text:

 Booth D13, Art Brussels, Tour and Taxi, Brussels

There is no roof to the booth, so I can see the mechanics of the building it has been constructed within – exposed ducts and lighting tracts snake above, the is visible brickwork and windows look out.

The booth itself is a three-walled square, open to the audience from one side only.  It is approximately 20 square meters of space in total but I am not allowed to enter.

Seven poles around 2 meters high are placed in a circle around the booth, each is approximately 20 cm in diameter. Three have been encased completely in copper wire. Neatly finished in the thin metal, they resemble large drill bits, totemic elements of machinery.  Their surfaces are mostly smooth, giving then a shiny metallic casing, but also criss-crossed in places for matt effect, nevertheless weaved perfectly. 

North South East West.  A performer works individually at the other four poles. 

The internal core of these four pillars show themselves to be tree trunks or thick branches, knotted and patinated. Immediately I understand that they will be worked upon until they too are completely covered. The four performers each hold a spool of copper-coloured thread. They pass the fine wire around the trunks, passing it around the back, to the front, and between their hands in a rotation. One stands on a box, reaching high to the top of her pole.  Another creates a full body motion from his action, his arms stretching wide and his torso rolling through as he circulates around. Though they are bound in a common task, each performer works solipsistically, alone, creating their own rhythm and motion, using their own technique and pace.

Through the temperature of their movement I can sense how long each has been performing – the speed with which they work seems to be inversely proportional to their absorption in their task; at the beginning, the heat each generates is fierce, their labour is clear and self-conscious; as they become absorbed in the practice, they cool, the force of the gesture slows, conserving energy, and yet, become more focused, as if the trick of time is to absorb the body into the work, transforming the task into a process of automation and meditation.

Their action is ritualistic, seemingly unaware of its audience and context – of the flow of people walking past, stopping, watching, whether for a moment or some time.  The performers are engrossed in their action. I am incidental. They don’t perform for me, instead they work intently, intensely, automatically so that I can sense the transience of my own viewing. They were here before I arrived, they will remain after I leave. 

North South East West. Ritual extends from the largest-scale social and political processes to the most intimate aspects of our self-experience. It is a process of transformation, a rite that transforms from one state into another. Here, it changes not only the wood into metal, but performer into material – gradually they change from being the makers of the work into the work itself – copper, wood and body all acted with, and upon, in a performative circuit.

Nuhé. The orientation of the poles points to something outside the fair to which the performers are attuned. A nuhé is a Colombian Kogi temple from the Sierra Nevada. The construction of a nuhé is the physical architectural expression of the community – a gathering place that is both spiritual and political. A site of gathering. A temple, a cosmic observatory.  The nuhé is both the structure within which the transformation takes place and the portal through which is possible to see the spiritual.

I think again about how the fair contains the work. Like in a casino or shopping mall, time and light are rarely allowed into this space. It is self-contained and immersive. Here, standing still, I am afforded time to configure myself in relation to this space. The strangeness of the constructed box, containing a different kind of ritual, small in the volume of the building. How the building sits on the site, warm in the unusually fierce heat of the April sun. The building in the site, the city. the cosmos…

Nuhé. This is a performance related both to the theatre of the fair and tethered to a ritual from far outside of this place. I am simply its witness and I must decide how long to stay, where to stand, and how to connect it to the larger space the booth next door, from the cafe the other side, from the fair itself… to the ancient ritual that exists elsewhere. 

Performers memorialising the structural elements of the work through their motion, and working in parallel with one another, morph to the knowable tree branches into totems of the unknowable and intangible. 

I am witnessing both a vanishing and a making act  – the natural wood is bound, it is gradually, ritualistically disappeared, petrified in copper.  Such an act creates new space.  Mummifying and building, a task that is both primitive and wholly contemporary. Copper was the first mineral material used by mankind – mailable and ductile. Its power lies in its conductive mutability, it transfers electricity and heat. 

Here, copper is the material that records, the material of memory itself. Pulled thin, into tread-like wire, it becomes a material to weave and with which to create a physical structure connected to the ground it sits on as much as the clouds above.

North South East West. Copper totems capture and distribute the vital energies of the four poles. 

Through the ritual of disappearance, I witness the making of new meaning, invented by the materials themselves.

Nuhé. The nuhé works with two verbs, to see and to seize: “you will see what exists and you will seize what of that suits you.“

The Evolving Collector

Panel Discussion at Art Basel Hong Kong

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28th March 2018

I was invited to chair a panel dissusion at Art Basel Hong Kong entitled “The Evolving Collector: When Collecting is just the Beginning”.

Through a consideration of collecting as a point of departure, this conversation hopes to chart what is becoming an expanded and creative practice by bringing together a group of individuals who have each taken a path that has somewhat diverged from the traditional notion of what a collector is and does.

The speakers were: Joumana Asseily, Founder, Marfa Projects, Beirut; Rudy Tseng, Independent Curator and Art Collector, Taipei; Daisuke Miyatsu, Salary-man Collector; Tokyo Luba Michailova, Founder, Izolyatsia, Donetsk; and Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Founder, The Collection of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin.

 

The Post-Medium Collection

Contemporary Art Society Study Day

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2nd February 2018

Phoebe Cummings demonstration during the CAS study day.

The Contemporary Art Society invited me to put together a Study Day taking inspiration from my Collecting the Ephemeral programme.

I used the opportunity to explore a notion of the ‘post-medium collection’ as a starting place to think through ways of collecting that respond to the broad terrain of contemporary art

The title of the the day came from Rosalind Krauss’ definition of the ‘post-medium condition’, an single contemporary art work which includes an enormous variety of material and contextual considerations; multiple media and materials and ideas beyond physical objects. To Krauss’ list we might add the performative, networked and distributed as mediums and modes of presentation.

My keynote for the day argued that despite this, the notion of medium specificity has an ongoing impact within collection frameworks and methodologies. I articulated some of the issues that occur through this mis-match of artistic practice into collection, and asked what curatorial and collecting strategies approach a new relationship between commissioning, display and collecting of such heterogeneous artistic practices.

The other speakers were Dr Rebecca Gordon, Charlotte Keenan from the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool,  artists Phoebe Cummings and Ludovica Gioscia, and art historian and philanthropist Sarah Elson.

Phoebe Cummings : Model for a Common Room

Victoria Gallery and Museum, Liverpool

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19th January -
23rd June 2018

Phoebe Cummings: Model for a Common Room - installation shot (work in progress, January, 2018)

Model for a Common Room is the first of three new Collecting the Ephemeral commissions for the Victoria Gallery and Museum in 2018.  Each new commission takes inspiration from the Museum collection or building.

Model for a Common Room takes the idea of a ‘common room’ and its design as the starting point, exploring what activity and functions (practical, intellectual and even decorative) a common space might have, and what possibilities a shared approach to making might offer.

The room in which the work is made was formerly a Women’s Common Room.  The first purpose build women’s University education space in country.  What remains intact from that time is a fire place, designed and carved by a group of female students; a quietly radical object.

Contextualising the Common Room, Cummings also explored the University architecture more widely.  The interior architecture throughout the Victoria building is  covered with ceramic tiles and features a number of decorative columns.  Cummings has also researched the collection of architectural models of the University campus made at various times as the site has expanded, and a core earth sample taken from the ground in university square; a column of information about the landscape of the same site, extending deeper back in time. The room hopes to provoke discussion around who belongs and what making might offer us in common.

Made entirely from raw clay, the work is a temporary imagining of the room, and will be added to during the exhibition through public workshops and events that invite participation in the making process.

Phoebe Cummings studied Three-Dimensional Crafts at the University of Brighton before completing an MA in Ceramics & Glass at the Royal College of Art in 2005. She has undertaken a number of artist residencies including as ceramics artist-in-residence at the V&A in London. Cummings recently won the inaugural Woman’s Hour Craft Prize (2017) and is shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Awards (2018).

Collecting as Practice

Delfina Foundation

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8th January -
30th March 2018

Mark Dion : Thames Tate Dig (detail), 1999.

I have been invited to curate a second season of the Collecting as Practice at Delfina Foundation.  This new season brings together collectors, curators and thinkers to raise provocations around collections, museums and markets across the world. The talks programme looks at the development and presentation of collections, along with alternative ways of interpreting them through art historical revisionism and other forms of scholarship such as publications, interventions and exhibitions with a transnational perspective.

De-constructing Collections: Artistic interventions and Strategies in Museums
Following several short residencies by Mark Dion, Delfina Foundation hosts an afternoon of conversations and readings that takes as a starting point Dion’s long standing interest in examining the way museums construct knowledge through their objects and collections. The afternoon will explore his, and other, contemporary artistic and curatorial strategies to intervene in and interpret collections.

In Conversation: Mimi Brown and Haro Cumbusyan on Patronage and Social Change
On the occasion of their residencies at Delfina Foundation, collectors Mimi Brown and Haro Cumbusyan discuss their previous initiatives, Spring Workshop in Hong Kong and collectorspace in Istanbul, respectively, and explore what they might do next.

De-constructing Collections: The Colonial Past and Contemporary International Collecting
Inspired by the research residencies that form part of Collecting as Practice, this evening will explore the colonial history of collecting within the UK, the ethical status of objects in British museums, and curatorial and artistic strategies to continue to collect and create new international understandings.

Collecting Arab Art: Revising Western Art History Related to the Region and Beyond
During his residency, collector Sultan Al Qassemi uses Ala Younis’s exhibition at Delfina Foundation as a starting point to discuss the shared responsibility of artists and collectors in revising Western notions of art history through collecting and scholarship.

Collecting African Art: Developing the Market and Frameworks for the Future
This talk looks at current infrastructures to support the multiple and diverse forms of artistic production from the African continent. Prominent and emerging collectors, gallerists and curators explore the present situation, urgencies and possible futures in relation to collections, public institutions and art ecologies.

Events at Delfina Foundation, curated and moderated by Rose Lejeune.