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Choice blogs archive 2011
December 2011: Andrew Bryant selects Jennifer Picken
'Poly' means multi, or multiple, and it is used as a prefix, attached to many other words, designating them thus. The literalness of Jennifer Picken's blog title belies the complexity of her work and thinking. Or perhaps it suggests the matter-of-factness, the everydayness, of the awkward 'positions' being a gendered being can place us in. Poly is also, almost, a woman's name.
The process of 'sexuation', of taking up a position within the gendered symbolic world we inhabit, has long been a discursive field for art, psychoanalysis and cultural theory. But it is not, as many people seem keen to believe, an abstract area of 'research' (oh, hated term!).
If any of us took the time to think about how we see ourselves, in terms of our gendered positions, if we had any insight at all, it wouldn't be long before we came up against a vastly complex structure of beliefs, contradictions and ‘cover-stories' that combine to uphold our misrecognition of ourselves as one thing and not another, one being and not the other. Jennifer Picken is an artist who cannot help but delve into these complexities.
Andrew Bryant is an artist and freelance editor living in London.
Jennifer Picken is an artist living in Amsterdam. Go to Jennifer's blog »
November 2011: Andrew Bryant selects Nicola Dale
Many artists' blogs seem to fulfil the traditional role of the sketchbook or notebook, through which the artist realises herself in language, 'thinking with pen in hand', as Adorno put it. In these blogs, which I would say make up the largest proportion on Artists talking, the narrator, assumed to be the artist themselves (as opposed to a fictional character) becomes a researcher, the object of inquiry being their own work.
What we witness taking place in these blogs is a delicate unfolding, a fascinating and never ending becoming, as the artist engages in a dialectical dance between thinking and making, constantly getting away from themselves and then reeling themselves back in again. This following snippet sees Nicola Dale, having spent about 200 words chasing a complex train of thought that veers from a Mary Ruefle quote, through a musical face-off, to an Old Master, and finishing up with the realisation that, "I seem to be thinking about hands as the site where thought turns into action and hands as symbols of collaboration, connection, comradeship... hmmmm....". Even the 'conclusion' to this free play of associations is inconclusive - and so the dance carries on.
October 2011: Rob Turner selects Anthony Boswell
The quiet, watching and thinking man of the a-n blogs. Anthony Boswell is my choice blogger. His gentle thoughts and reflections about the contents of his drawings were so familiar and regular. I wanted a narrator with a soft voice to read them to me, or Alan Bennett could have used them in his series of monologues 'talking heads'.
Anthony's newest blog Et in Arcadia Ego translated: I too (was there) in Arcadia. Arcadia must be where that house is. I am whispering while I read this as Arcadia is a very still quite place where time goes slow and you've been in there a long time. It's where you stayed with your parents on holiday when you were very young; these might even be your earliest memories you're seeing. You stayed in an old fashioned guest house in a small seaside town. Or maybe it was your Grandmother's house with stained glass windows in the front door, it's so long ago you can't quite remember? In fact you have been here for so long you can't think of the names of the roads outside anymore and you can't remember the number of the house? Anthony's newer drawings no longer have the feel of a veil in front of them, so you can really see the actual door knobs you gently turned on the pantry door, when you were told to put the jars and preserves away after tea. You can watch a video Anthony made on his website called 'a very long time'. It's an installation depicting that quiet house; there are a lot of doors, so many doors. After having walked past the slightly open one hundreds and hundreds of times Anthony has completely unexpectedly walked straight through it into the gardens and landscape outside!
Rob Turner is an artist, community artist and blogger. To view his many blogs click here.
September 2011: Charlotte Norwood selects Nicola Dale
Without falling into the illusion of idealism or self-sufficiency, Nicola Dale doesn't expect readers to care about what she has for breakfast. By all means I'm not assuming blindness isn't consecutive of cultural experience, for neither aesthetics nor its critique can maintain dialogue without such displacement; but through raising the root of the social, political and economical ties of the displacement she interrogates, that of collaboration, we are not only forced to think about matters and ethics of reliance, but reminded of the critical role of the 70's counter culture who used such a methodology to accumulate aesthetic strategies in the demand for autonomy.
Bringing to the table a debatable and forever relevant concept, Nicola Dale not only dismisses the reduction of blogging to micro-utopias but both demonstrates and seeks an active curiosity into the materiality of dialogue, nudging others to explore the tool in the realms of their own happenstances. Maybe theorist Claire Bishop, reading from Lacan and ethics of artists Santiago Sierra and Thomas Hirschhorn can be of some use here.
Charlotte Norwood is an artist and writer based in London.
August 2011: Becky Hunter selects David Riley
David Riley's images drew me in, attracting my modernist art historian brain, which must have made some connection between the artist's colourful, linear outputs and mid-twentieth century painting and sculpture - both hard-edged and expressive. But I admit to being, at first, a little baffled by the premises behind all those alluring lines, dots and squiggles. Not being scientifically minded, it took a while to figure out. But, in this way, Riley's blog did what Artist talking blogs should do. It sent me on a quest across his websites, texts, images and historical references, in order to piece together the puzzle of his enigmatic work, motivations and background.
While I love reading about artists' personal struggles and triumphs, philosophical ideas, and legal wrangling in other blogs hosted here, I'm interested in Riley's "black box" persona, which regulates his posts, and prompted a stream of comments in June on the online self as "avatar"; what happens when you delete a post; and the balance between self-absorption and committed engagement in forums like this one. I also enjoyed Riley's discussion of the iPad as a playful device for "21st Century style finger painting." He appears to move back and forth between digital and analog with ease, seeking a gently human side to technological systems. On iPad finger painting, he says: "(Possibly) as near as you can get to touching the materials while making an entirely digital outcome. The closest you can get to feeling your way to an outcome."
Riley's use of Twitter, as recorded in his blog, also stands out. For example, he has been tweeting his followers' names back to them using an algorithm to produce the dots and dashes of Morse code, which formally is lovely. As someone who is used to coding my own web-based stuff, I appreciated his brief critique of the Artists talking blogging platform's limited possibilities, and his subsequent adaption of the Morse code system into regular keyboard characters. By dealing with this problem so simply, he also prompted Jane Boyer to comment delightfully on the "8" he used as a substitute for a Morse symbol - she called it "binary infinity".
Go to David Riley's blog
Becky Hunter lives in Philadelphia, USA, and writes for Art Papers and Sculpture. She is associate member of Core Gallery, London, and is organising a conference at Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia, on artistic-academic collaboration.
To see more of Becky Hunters activity go here
July 2011: Tim Ridley selects Hayley Harrison
Hayley Harrison touches a nerve with me when she tells us that she is starting to realise that she is an artist even when not in the studio. I suspect that it is universal for artists to have that, ʻeverything I do and see is artʼ feeling at some stage of their development. The compartmentalisation that engenders a great deal of our school based learning is a problem here. Setting up divisions at such an early stage of human development leads to a continuation of this idea into many facets of our lives. How could it be so that only when we are in a studio situation do we suddenly become able to create, or contemplate creativity. Every thing we encounter consciously or unconsciously feeds into our creativity. As Doris Lessing says, we are part of something very large, all of human experience, and when as artists we open up to the ʻterrible and marvelous possibilitiesʼ (Lessing 1972, p13) of this idea, that is when we make worthwhile art. Acknowledging a personal experience allows others to connect to our shared narrative.
LESSING, D. 1972. The Golden Notebook, London: Harper Perennial
Tim Ridley is an emerging artist about to graduate from Chelsea. Using assemblages, collages, photographs and performances he explores the subject of division in contemporary society. Dealing in metaphors for oppositions such as artificial/natural, human/animal and serious/humorous, he uses mainly found objects and prefers to work outside the gallery.
June 2011: Kate Murdoch selects Stuart Mayes
Stuart Mayes clearly has a tremendous passion and enthusiasm for his work. It was the honest, down-to-earth language he uses to convey it that made his 'Project Me' blog stand out when it came to making my choice.
'I don't know exactly what I want to do in the studio I just know that I need to be there,' Stuart writes in his blog.
It's a straightforward statement on the surface, one which rings with a deep resonance for so many of us, juggling the demands of everyday life with finding the time just to be an artist - in the studio, getting on with it, making and creating. But it's also a statement that for me, sums up Stuart's commitment and drive. His work ethic is strong and while he acknowledges the hardships faced by today's artists in the current political and economic climate, he maintains a keen sense of optimism and hope, which I find uplifting and inspiring.
There is an underlying sense of humanity in much of what Stuart writes. He loves art, he tells us; 'art saved his life.' He writes from the heart and there is something poignant about his comments when he talks about his parents really - no but really - liking a piece of his work. It's this honesty, openness and vulnerability which for me makes his blog special, instantly likeable and - most importantly - inspires me to want to see more of the work he creates.
Kate Murdoch is a self-taught artist who works primarily with found objects. She is a member of The Memory Collective, a London based collective of five UK and international artists formed in September 2009.
Go to Stuart Mayes' blog
May 2011: Elizabeth Holdsworth selects Marc Renshaw
The selection I have made for this month's Choice Blog, Marc Renshaw's The Sporting League, may seem an unexpected choice considering my usual lack of enthusiasm its subject matter. A self-confessed vilifier of all things sporting, perhaps for the most part through my own physical ineptitude, I am the enemy of ball, turf and whistle; the foe of track and field; the adversary of statistics, rackets and any kind of functional footwear. Anything which requires accurate timings to anything less than the nearest whole minute is rarely worth the effort.
Since the age of 11, in what appears to be the longest ongoing artist's project covered by an Artists talking blog, Marc Renshaw has devised, embellished and honed an imaginary world of sports. The fictional league, with teams, a city and a whole host of player and pundit characters, is meticulously documented in an archive of statistical information, supplemented with Renshaw's illustration and handmade props. Demonstrating a fanatical attention to the creation of this world in its most minute detail, Renshaw has built and sustained a repository of his own boyish imagination. This almost obsessional and childlike delight in the constant stream of league statistics - wins, losses, goals scored etc - is further highlighted by their presentation in a handwritten scrawl.
In a procedure which defines our way of producing and retaining factual knowledge, Renshaw appropriates and transforms the historical document into a cultural fantasy based upon that spark of childhood imagination which we all at some point shared. Converted to the cause of this particular fantasy sporting world, I cannot help but remain attentive and interested in the future wins and losses of teams such as Bayerns, Novia and Athletico - from the safety and comfort of my desk, that is.
Elizabeth Holdsworth is a writer based in Leeds. She is co-founder of Millpond, an online contemporary arts journal, and the current curatorial intern at South Square Gallery, Bradford.
Go to Marc Renshaw's blog
April 2011: E.H. Cocker selects Alison Craig
Anatomy and Drawing by Alison Craig made my Choice blog. As a title it may seem fairly self explanatory, referring as it does to the life classes Alison has been asked to head up at Medical School, and the on-going process of drawing she undertakes as an artist in her own right. But there's something more wonderful and subtly delightful about Anatomy and Drawing than the unfolding content of its label. Through an honest and uplifting blend of humour and observation, Alison's writing delves into the quizzical, dissecting and drawing out the questions that arise in her world.
When it comes to her role at the school she muses on the inevitability of administrative work with a lightness of heart and throws in commemorative comments about the education system, referencing her nephew's school report at the age of five which stated that he had “a lot to learn”. With regard to her creative practice, Alison records a matter-of-fact commentary on her findings, including “Colin” the locally excavated votive figurine with no feet. “At least he still has a head”, she says in one particular post, (a significant feature for any anatomical study, I imagine), thus re-instating her sense of positive affirmation. Work has its ups and downs in Alison's blog, but she handles the fluctuations with an earthy sensibility and engages her audience without presumption.
Conversational in tone and generous with information, this blog enjoys the rally it generates between the practicalities of her class and the ups and downs of fulfilling an artistic practice. There is a true enjoyment of blogging here which demonstrates an individual and capable grasp of the informality of language. But most importantly, you just can't help but feel the warmth of someone who genuinely loves what they do.
Go to Alison Craig's blog
E.H. Cocker is an artist and writer living in London.
March 2011: Andrew Bryant selects Linda Duffy
Art is so often thought of as made up of a group of individuals each with their own singular perspective, their own way of thinking and making, that ignores all others, both past and present. Perhaps there is some truth to this perception, especially since the 1980s valorised a kind of 'branding' of the artist as the most individuated of individuals. Of course this trend is much more insidious, with its roots in capitalist productions of subjectivity, our desire, in a mass-produced world, to be different, a desire that ironically makes us all the same. Everyone, it seems, wants to be a someone.
In fact, art usually isn't like that, it's just that when it is like that it helps to sell things. When you scratch the surface you see that most people engaged in the making of art are having a conversation, with history, with culture - with other times and places - and not to mention between themselves. Linda Duffy's blog 'Mapping the Women’s' Art Library Collection' exposes the kind of artistic practice that aims to foreground exactly this sort of engagement with and production of art. It asks the question, What is an artist any way and what is their role in society? And it answers that question by proposing that an artist can be a researcher, an archivist, and above all, a conduit for the works and ideas of others.
Go to Linda Duffy's blog
February 2011: Nick Kaplony selects Jonathan Moss
I’m quite a novice at engaging with blogs, either reading or writing them, so I very much welcomed the chance to spend some time exploring the content on Artists talking. Listening. There is so much. So many practices. Such variety. (This shouldn’t surprise me, but somehow it did). So much (good) noise. Multiple harmonies are audible in the subjects and concerns being dealt with.
The blog that really stood out for me was Rivesaltes Project by Jonathan Moss. This is because, for me the blog, while having the focus of a specific project covers a broad range of concerns and activities relating to working as an artist. There are insights into making, and the nuts and bolts of realising his video work; St Louis Path 1 among others. Jonathan works with painting and video and I was interested to read about his approach to working in these different disciplines and how they support each other. (Sales of painting generating income that helps sustain less commercial elements of his practice). The project and work has a particular setting in a part of France and the blog touched on how artist and practice relate and fit into that setting, and how they are situated, connected and promoted more widely.
Ultimately it feels like a ‘Renaissance Man’s’ blog that demonstrates how multi skilled artists are and how this supports their careers; achieving the difficult balance of organising or initiating their own opportunities as well as responding to existing ones. It’s an inspiring read by an artist maintaining a career on their own terms.
Go to Jonathan Moss' blog here »
Nick Kaplony is an artist and Freelance curator: www.nickkaplony.com He is also exhibitions officer at Pump House Gallery www.pumphousegallery.org.uk and Project Coordinator at Artquest www.artquest.org.uk
January 2011: Melanie Stidolph selects Susan Francis
I’ve chosen Susan Francis’ blog ‘Flesh on the Bones of the Belfast Child’. The title grabbed me immediately, standing out as something poetic but gritty. It seemed to offer the possibility of being a work in itself, and made me think that she was going to reveal something about herself, which is part of a blog’s appeal.And it’s just a great title.
So I started reading, and following links, which led me to the Rolling Stones’ video of ‘Faraway Eyes’ which reminded me of their ‘Factory Girl’, which gives me as good a state of well being as any to enter 2011 with. So, I’m grateful already. Then I followed links to her works, and the video ‘I want a Leotard’, with what seemed like precise levels of artistic pre-planning and awareness clashing with snottily raw pleading from a child. I really liked the jarring of motherly duties and trials of strength with art world presentation and picturing.
I was a blog novice, and being invited to select one from many I quickly found myself making conscious decisions about what I wanted from spending time browsing. It had to grab me as being a bit honest and personal (feeling like you’ll read something here that you wouldn’t anywhere else). I wanted something to connect with, something I could disagree with (because it shouldn’t be all insular and cosy) and most importantly something to point me to new things. ‘Flesh on the Bones...’ had all of these.
Go to Susan Francis' blog Flesh on the Bones of the Belfast Child »
First published: a-n.co.uk January 2011
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