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By: Eldi Dundee
Where things are in my practice at this stage of my career as a human being and artist.
Some of the things I might talk about in this blog:
Research & development; funding applications; managing projects start to finish (or unfinished) & collaborations.
Things I hope NOT to talk about:
Existential angst, personal insecurities, romantic disasters, rants about bad service in this country & other pet peeves I might have
& I will try not to swear or gossip.
# 1 [17 February 2012]
Since starting this heretofore empty blog, I have been brainstorming with a colleague from our Byam Shaw days to come up with a viable proposal to fund the fabrication of a monumental sculpture for indoor or outdoor, temporary or permanent exhibition. The maquettes were included in 2009 at 1 Canada Square for a group show that my East London MA programme was invited to make proposals for. Then, more recently, the curators collated 10 years of exhibitions into a beautiful coffee table publication.
It was this surprise bonus that spurred me on to make the work at the originally intended scale. But it's gonna cost me... hence the need for funding. Fingers crossed.
I've never worked on such a massive scale before, hence calling upon two technician-artist friends who have plenty of experience working with steel at that size and weight. One of these technicians, involved in a consulting capacity only, has made work for one of this country's most illustrious living sculptors working in steel. The other had been a fellow student who worked alongside this technician on many projects. I'm not mentioning names because until the works are made, I'd rather keep things on the mysterious side and I hate namedropping unless to thank someone publically, and/or to promote work of people I admire. Though I do feel genuinely thankful for their help so far, a big speech of gratitude feels ridiculously premature and foolish. (So, guys, you know who you are. Thanks xx)
Speaking of publications, the Kress Project for the Georgia Museum of Art is collating 24 artworks from an open competition for inclusion in a book of artistic responses to the Renaissance works in their collection. Entered this: http://www.georgiamuseum.org/kressproject/view-ent...
Wish me luck, and best of luck to everyone else who entered. Maybe even YOU, dear reader! (If so, get in touch with a link to your page. I'd love to see your entry, too!)
# 2 [17 February 2012]
In addition to the publication adventures mentioned in the previous post, I've been helping other artist friends with their projects, in return for help they've generously given to my projects in the past, and also because it's just fun and stimulating to work collaboratively with people you like, bouncing ideas off one another and helping to bring their visions to fruition.
Two are currently in progress, so I can't share more than enthusiasm and commitment to helping see them through to the big Finish. I will name-drop on completion only to toast to their successes and do my bit to raise awareness of their work ;)
Another collaborative project is in the pipeline, at my local pop-up: a peer-mentoring project for a public programme entitled "Constructing Spaces" at the Construction Gallery in Tooting. Can't say much more until the process starts but I am told it involves exchanging feedback with other artists as part of the development of a new Live Artwork being presented the evening of 18 March. My proposal involved an interactive performative installation using home-made playdough-- a new interpretation riffing off certain bits of this performance: http://vimeo.com/11470500
Hopefully I will be able to overcome childcare clashes despite the bursary only covering materials. I'd like very much to participate, especially as it's a local project space.
# 3 [20 February 2012]
Using salt dough as sculptural and performative material...
Salt + flour + water = PlayDough
It also represents one of the most basic and primitive plastic artist materials (after perhaps: mud, dung and clay)
As children we played with the brightly coloured store-bought stuff that came in tubs and smelled kind of compelling and comforting... (Proust had madeleines and I had Playdoh!)
One didn't have to be a trained artist to use it and Grandmother could quickly cook up a batch in the kitchen to keep you busy and in her sights while she got on with stuff (or was that just my own Grandma?)
The point is, one merely needed to be Human and have a willingness to play.
So we have the Pleasurable Play aspect of the stuff.
(Squidging and Modeling)
Then we have the flip-side reality of World Hunger and Poverty where:
Salt + flour + water = Food
and the basic Human Need of Necessary Consumption (Eating)
Contrast that level of poverty and suffering with the Unnecessary Over-Consumption that a small percentage of the world's population can afford to indulge in... And a large amount of salt dough in one place starts to look disturbingly wasteful, as opposed to harmlessly whimsical. Especially if it is left to dry out, rot, turn to mould and get dusty or dirty on a gallery floor.
"If you can't eat it, what good is it?" (Maybe that should be the title??)
But then there are some people that believe ALL things relating to pleasure are evil, and/ or that all things relating to art are worthless, and perhaps that all of our resources, whether personal or collective, material or spiritual, should have a practical utilitarian purpose, and/ or go towards bolstering all people everywhere who are suffering from poverty, hunger and exploitation the world over, and that until all men/women/children are actually equals in health, wealth, opportunities and happiness, that nobody deserves to have any fun or pleasure whatsoever.
Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between these extreme ideals?
This is exactly what I hope to explore at the Construction Gallery between now and 18th March, where I plan to develop and perform a live art piece involving this food stuff/ modeling material. (However, as it is a peer mentored project, and I've not been in the space yet, this may evolve into something altogether different. I'm very impressionable, you see)
# 4 [4 March 2012]
Well, I intended to blog about the peer-mentoring performance programme meet-ups down at the Construction Gallery a couple of weeks ago, but got sidetracked by the duties of motherhood and preparations for a soon to be 8 year old's birthday sleepover party. Apart from: I survived relatively unscathed, I will say no more about it. (Those of you with young kids will give a sage nod here).
As for the residency...
We were asked to prepare a Pecha Kucha presentation for our first meeting. I had to look that up. A "Pecha Kucha" presentation is a slideshow consisting of 20 images with each image showing for a length of 20 seconds. Normally, I get quite stressed out when someone gives me a task like this and I treat it like I'm back at school or college with my life depending on doing it perfectly. I needn't have worried. While others kept faithfully within the confines of the "rules" others went with the flow. The purpose was to show and tell a bit about ourselves and our practice. Some had notes, some winged it with panache, and I fluffed mine with great awkwardness. But no matter. We got a flavour for each other's personalities and artistic concerns. Then we got a little taster of what each of us was called together to explore. Exercise: a 1-3 minute off-the-cuff site-specific performance and a mini crit all round.
One artist was interested in exploring the quality of silence and the space between breaths; another in games systems and grid patterns involving colourful jelly sweets; another in cabaret and sleight of hand with a bit of intimidating menace thrown in for good measure; another in playful communication with her audience while playing a sort of hide and seek behind a two way mirror; and another wondered if it were possible to draw using his video camera on the surfaces throughout the space. Me, I was interested in playing with the physical and aural spaces under, over and inbetween throughout a particularly contained site of the gallery.
Crits involved an objective and/or subjective description of what each of us witnessed, and ended the presenting artist asking a question of the viewers, which were purposely left unanswered until next meeting...
The following week we were asked to perform a slightly longer piece, whether building upon explorations from the week before, or trialing something new, or perhaps experimenting with the original proposals for participation in the programme and adjusting them to the current site.
I had originally thought about doing a performance involving saltdough in large quantities -- wellies, overalls, kilos upon kilos of flour, buckets of water, a shovel -- but at this point, I think that because we are only going to have the gallery for two hours one evening (on a Sunday) logistically, it would not be that feasible... (cleaning up all that gloopy mess would take hours and a lot of help. I can't see it working under these circumstances... but... who knows. There's still time to decide.)
I had different idea revolving around the central column of the gallery, entailing a ball of twine and some singing...
The exercises for this second meeting were mostly done in pairs: Pair up and present work to one another, and then make an intervention or suggestion which they then had to somehow incorporate into their second run of the performance. After that, present to the group as a whole. Next, come up with a very short piece in response to one (or more) of the performances presented. And finally pair up again, with a different person, and, again, present a piece and give one another direction (or directly interfere/intervene) to give it a new take. This week was much less about discussion and much more about performative action.
Some very interesting and high quality experimental work is developing and some surprising and unexpected uses of the space have been taking place.
I won't say what anybody is working on at this stage, in case it ruins the surprise or changes in a way that disappoints, but I will say that I've found it incredibly enriching and stimulating being exposed to other performative artists' practices and have felt privileged to be party to these processes and evolving live works.
# 5 [10 March 2012]
I'm afraid I'm going to have to be a Moaning Myrtle here for a minute or two. I won't describe all my woes as it's boring even to me, but tomorrow is the deadline for telling the curator what we're doing for the show on, well, it turns out it's on Mothering Sunday...
Nevermind that. The performance I thought I would be able to do on the night, won't work. I've done some tests today-- the first chance I've had in my schedule to do so-- and it won't work. It depended on chocolate setting at room temperature in a mold made from freshly cooked salt-dough (needs to be cooked in situ). The heat from the dough won't allow the chocolate to cool and set. Four hours after the test, it's still not set. Therefore the performance idea I had been developing in my head for the past week, will not work. Other aspects didn't work as well in practice, which was very frustrating, and poor me, I've now got blisters on my hands just from churning all that dough on the hob with a wooden spoon for hours on end. Talk about bummer of a major fail.
Plan B idea involved a low tech film which I would still have yet to make (this week, in between other obligations). But the gallery hasn't got monitors or plinths to spare. I might be able to improvise, but they need me to tell them what I'm doing, by tomorrow. Doesn't look like I'm going to know. And Plan C was a bit like Plan B, but with No Tech. Just a quiet unassuming performance piece, that I'm not sure I'm feeling up to performing as it feels very tender and vulnerable, and frankly, I'm a bit a-scared.
Not sure if I will need to pull out or not. Or if it will be ok to wing it on the night. (Maybe not if they want specifics set by tomorrow.)
I'm in a bit of a pickle.
Anyway, whether I'm there or not there, come along to see the mesmerisingly fabulous five (fellow peers taking part in the show):
Cradeaux Alexander, Rachel Gomme, Heather Jones, Allan Taylor & Joe Stevens.
Cradeaux Alexander http://www.cradeaux.com/
Heather Jones http://www.heatherjones.net/
Allan Taylor http://www.allanstanleytaylor.com/
Joe Stevens http://www.tenderpixel.com/stevens2010.html
# 6 [12 March 2012]
And we have a Plan B (and a Plan C) for Sunday's performance... now to get cracking...
If you're on facebook, here is the link for the show.
And the blurb on Construction Gallery's website:
Constructing Spaces - new live art in Tooting - presenting performance works from…
Rachel Gomme Heather Jones
Sunday 18 March
5pm - 7pm
Over the few weeks, six artists have participated in a process of creative exchange to develop a set of live art pieces, working with the physical spaces and context of Construction Gallery in Tooting. Join us for a special showing event on Sunday 18 March from 5pm.
About the artists:
Based in London since 2003, Cradeaux Alexander currently explores live performance, video and installation in his practice. Originally from Los Angeles, he studied performance at the Strasberg Institute, becoming involved in the experimental theatre scene in New York in the 1990s.
Eldi Dundee's current artistic concerns include inhabiting a female form, feminism/anti-feminism, beauty, violence, carnality and transcendence. Her practice consists of painting, photography, assemblage, performance, installation, writing, drawing and sculpture.
Rachel Gomme works in performance and installation, focusing on time and process as experienced in the body of both performer and viewer. She is interested in the immediate moment of performance, and to what extent it is possible to create a shared space of experience between performer and viewer.
Heather Jones makes video and performance work and is concerned largely with cultural norms and behaviour, looking at how these are manifest in specific spaces and how we experience them as individuals and collectively.
Joe Stevens is an artist who is concerned with the grid as a methodology for artistic production. He uses the grid to provide structure to his life and art and to provide freedom from sensory overload.
Allan Taylor’s work ranges from one-to-one performances and performance lectures to durational performance. Using themes of repetition and ridiculousness, he asks us to look again at concepts that are perhaps taken for granted in the modern age, such as success, love and the Western ideal of beauty.
# 7 [17 March 2012]
On to Plan C or Plan D for Sunday's show at the Construction Gallery!
For the POST Artists ‘Constructing Spaces: Live Art’ programme, Eldi toyed with a performance of cooking saltdough, imprinting her face in it, and pouring molten chocolate into the mask-like impression. The chocolate didn’t set until the following day, hence, the unfeasibility of performing the piece in situ during the two hour long exhibition on the 18th March.
She also experimented with stringing a web throughout the whole of the main gallery space, anchored to the central column, whilst singing a halting rendition of “I put a spell on you”, literally entangling visitors and, in the end, herself inside the web.
In the end, she presents a work in progress entitled ‘Make Up / Un Make Up’.
‘Make Up / Un Make Up (I & II)’ 2012
Eldi presents two versions of a work in progress developed for the ‘Constructing Spaces: Live Art’ programme. The first sees Eldi performing via a two-way mirror in the gallery’s toilets, the mundane ritual of making up her face. Visitors to the toilets will be privy (excuse the pun) to her everyday cosmetic ritual, or can opt to voyeuristically espy her gestures from the privacy of the obscured glass inside the observatory, where a version of a similar ritual plays out simultaneously on the television screen. The second version will be performed at the café bar, where Eldi gazes "as if in a mirror", at the video of her own 'Make Up / Un Make Up' performance, touching her face in response to what the recorded version of herself is doing. Issues of the male gaze and the female's adoption of it in relation to herself, the labourious artifice of natural-looking makeup, the hiding/exposure of one's true face, the women's relationship with her own face, especially as it develops throughout the aging process, the ego ideal, and the designation of everyday life as "art" are silently touched upon.
# 8 [28 April 2012]
A song for your listening pleasure...
That ol' Cor Blimey crew is back together again at Core @ Nolias Gallery for a show entitled
(A)Wake was prompted by losses of loved ones by some of the artists involved.
I imagine it will be part art exhibition and part memorial celebration for those gone but never forgotten.
When I heard about the exhibition's theme, I immediately thought that a dear friend of mine should take my place in the group show: she tragically lost her fiance a couple of years ago, whilst pregnant with their baby. This April would have marked his 42nd birthday, and did in fact mark their beautiful, healthy, happy little girl's 2nd.
In the decade and a half I've known her, my friend went from being an artist to being an actress, and I went from being an actress to being an artist -- we swapped passions, I guess! I wanted to give her the opportunity to revive her art and to honour her almost-husband's life and death, by showing some of her sumptuous and truly inspiring canvases, from long ago, and also creating some new work, if she wanted.
I hope very much that it will be a positive and fulfilling experience for her and her family.
My own link to the theme of death and loss (so far) is through my paternal grandmother. She developed Alzheimers disease and died 15 or so years later, meaning, her body was present for 15 years, but her mind was trapped inside her shell, where her long-term memories were stronger than her medium-term, and her short-term memory was nonexistant. Still, tapping into and drawing on those long-term memories was a way in, and would bring her back to Life. In that I would sing to her the songs I knew she loved, and play her tapes of her favourite singers (Pavaroti, Streisand) and 'shows' (Cats) and she would engage with the music-- her face would brighten, her head would sway in relation to the emotions expressed in the music, and her hands would wave as if conducting an orchestra. It was so sweet and touching to witness.
Once, after my dad and I visited the private hospital that cared for her, which honestly looked more like a posh hotel than a hospital, she turned and looked straight at me and she exclaimed: My goodness, your hair looks beautiful! and she had said my name! So she knew I was there! My father and I looked at eachother in amazement. She hadn't said my name for at least 5 years at that point, and when she used to, it was usually after naming every other girl cousin I had-- she'd get to me last! Before the Alzheimers, she did remember my name, maybe on the second try. (There were a lot of cousins!)
So I'm making work in her honour, because, by the time she finally let go her mortal coil in her native NY, I was living here in London. I didn't get to go the funeral and never got to grieve and reminisce appropriately with my family. It was awful.
And so, I'm taking this oportunity, another 15 years or so later, to place her in the forefront of my mind again, to remember how much she meant to me growing up, and how much she still means to me to this day.
Information about Core at Nolias Gallery can be found here:
# 9 [7 May 2012]
"In memory of creative souls who are no longer with us"
Core at Nolias Gallery
52a Gt Suffolk St, London SE1 0BL
11th - 16th May 2012
(see poster for times)
Marcia Martins de Rosa
Clive Hanz Hancock
Russel Shaw Higgs
# 10 [25 June 2012]
Not much to report these days... busy reading up on a totally obscure Italian Renaissance painter who actually lived in Valencia most of his working life. Everything on the subject, post-, say, 1908, is either in Italian, Spanish, French, German, Catalan, or, to make matters as complicated as possible for a non-linguist such as myself, Valencian-Catalan. Research for my paper in the artist is very slow-going, to say the least.
Also, not having a studio has slowed down my own art-production. Painting or sculpting at home with a kid is challenging, but so is trying to produce art during a kid's school hours, after set up time, clean up time and travel time enter into the bargain. And keeping a studio on a zero budget is even more so. So home it is, and the fallow period is a bit inevitable. There's always so much to distract you at home, too! Laundry, waching up, hoovering. (ANYTHING but that gaping blank canvas!) Excuses, excuses, but really: You can't really get messy with oil paints and solvents in a kitchen you cook and eat family meals in. It doesn't work out for the best. Biggest excuse is that the subject material of my work is more often than not a bit child unfriendly and it would be completely inappropriate to leave it out on view for the kiddies while drying!
This next show, for instance, is a case in point: all about sex (the shock, horror kinky stuff!). And even though it's true that the sex act is where babies come from, "babies" certainly don't need to see it all hanging out there until they are of legal age to be enjoying it themselves! This is my beef with raunch culture in general, and yet... in my attempt to "figure it out", I am contributing to it in some way... But that's for another post, I think.
Anyway, a link to "La Petite Mort" at the Others, Stoke Newington:
In case you can't open it, it says:
"Roll up roll up, ladies and gentlemen we have for you at The Others, a gloriously decadent night of art, music and performance.
Curated by the artist Billy Byrne, this event promises 19th century style decadence, a Boudoir atmosphere, erotic imagery, characters lost in ...vice, all conveying a city and it's corruption.
A 2 month long exhibition featuring the work of Danielle Dewitt, Ricardo Sleiman, Eldi Dundee, Kris Wlodarski and Billy Byrne himself.
Opening night event:
Friday 6th July 2012.
6 PM - 1 AM
Free before 10 PM, £5 after.
FREE PRE PERFORMANCE COCKTAILS FOR EARLY BIRDS, PERFORMANCE COMMENCES AT 8PM
DJ: The Right Rev Norm
BAND: Birds of Paradise
6 & 8 Manor Road,
Feel free to invite others, Be there, or be a prudish square...
End date: 26th August 2012."
Oh wait... I will be there 11pm til 1am on the opening night (I went and double-booked myself, didn't I!)... so, friends coming to chat with me, please stay til the bitter end! xxx
I am a NY born, London based artist with an interdisciplinary approach to my work using painting, assemblage, installation, sculpture, photography, text and performance. I studied art at Central Saint Martins / Byam Shaw / University of the Arts London and at the University of East London (simultaneously).