NAN in conversation with Notations
Notations is a group of four artists based in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands who describe their practice as psycho-geographic. They were awarded a NAN Go and See bursary in June 2008 to travel between the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium for research and development. Here, Emilia Telese talks to Notations artists Rebecca Birch, Sara Bjarland, Florencia Guillen and Karien van Assendelft about their work and their bursary.
ET: Tell us about your group's work.
Notations: Our practice makes use of photography and film, drawing, text and sound. We have exhibited together in Utrecht, The Netherlands and collaborated in a workshop in Skoki, Poland. Since meeting in 2006 we have been communicating regularly to compare notes: to share experiences, ideas and impressions. A major theme in our work is the taking note and noting down of everyday stories of ordinary people in their environment. We are often personally present in our work, using performances or through our own voice or handwriting. Our works are mainly time and space based. Travelling is an important factor, as a topic as well as in the working process.
ET: What did you use your NAN bursary for?
Notations: The bursary was used to make a journey from and to each other between Oxford, London, Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam by train, as a ground for meeting and inspiration. Spending time together that we normally never have ' a few intensive days together to explore each other's methods. 'Comparing notes' to see how we turn the same experience into different notations.
ET: Did your trip turn out different from what you expected?
Notations: One of the goals we originally had was to further develop our blog 'A Kind of Writing' into a vibrant platform for our ideas and our work. As it turned out, we focused more on crystallizing our ideas and tuning in on different approaches to our communal theme, than on working towards a specific future exhibition. So we came up with a new concept, where we, on a monthly basis, will have an online review of our work, using the blog as a space for sketches and ideas, but also a place for discussion and feedback.
ET: What did the bursary allow you to achieve?
Notations: It enabled us to physically reunite as a group, to re-articulate the aims of the group and discuss ideas for future projects. We took a lot of time to share recent work. The visit also made us realise the importance of physically meeting up every once in a while for face-to-face communication.
ET: What effect do you think NAN will have in the long term?
Notations: Most significantly: we were given an opportunity to spend a few days instead of only a few hours together, focussing solely on our work and collaboration. That was great experience that 'sealed' the future of our group that has to work together whilst being physically/geographically in different places. Through online communication and discussion, but hopefully also through 'physical' meetings like this we will continue our collaborations. We are very grateful to NAN for this opportunity to bring Notations to a next plan!
You can see a NAN organisation profile for Notations on www.a-n.co.uk/nan/organisation/57962
To know more about the NAN Go and See bursaries, click here
First published: a-n.co.uk June 2009
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