This blog will form the basis of my contribution to ‘Lecture Hall. Free School.’ curated by Five Years and Ladies of the Press. It will be translated into a performance, which will be shown on Friday 18th June, 16.00 – 17.45 at Bethnal Green Library (

Artists joining me for the performance will be Christopher Collier and Trevor Kiernander.


Dear Sandra and Painting,

I believe your request for therapy is the first step to acceptance and healing. It seems clear that Sandra, you have an issue with Painting being so materialistic and ambitious; he wants to make money, doesn’t he? Although of course he’d no doubt deny it…I had de Kooning here last week and he was all like, ‘I don’t paint to live, I live to paint.’ A hopeless romantic and so removed from reality! I mean its all a socio-economic construct wouldn’t you say?

I think that part of your desire to explore your intertextuality Sandra, comes from a lot of influences that you maybe haven’t fully acknowledged. I mean a lot of Painting’s most vocal critics in the old avant guard, they never liked him because he was friends with so many aristocrats and with Captialism, they couldn’t stomach the way he seemed to sell himself to the highest bidder. I don’t know if it was ever about aesthetics, it was always political in a sense.

And Painting, he tried to change, he tried on so many different identities, dressed in so many different colours, there was even that time he tried on that all black, square number…or the times he threw his outfit together at random, but where could he go from there? I think that maybe he learned to live with himself, accept his limitations and moved on. Perhaps you need to do that too?

My friend Bourriaud was saying the other day that ‘art offers an immediate “right of asylum” to deviant practices which can not find their natural bed, so many forceful works … only arrived in the realm of art for the simple reason that they had reached a limit of other realms’. Sandra, it seems to me that you were searching for just such a natural bed and in the process ended up sleeping around! But that’s just it, it’s always a process with these things. So I guess what the pair of you need might be some Relational counseling?

I suppose the problem comes in that Painting can be a demanding partner, he insists on skill, practice, training…you have to give him the time that he needs to develop your relationship fully, but you needed to be free, transversal, he was always going to be too unitary, too formal for your tastes. I think that the likes of Installation gave you a way to live your life, they didn’t insist on that specialised level of commitment, they were all about life after all, they made time for you rather than the other way around. And so, with the introduction of time, art entered the realm of everyday life, its could take you anywhere, you didn’t need to get dressed up and visit his parents at the Gallery on a Sunday afternoon anymore, you could hang out at warehouse parties and on the streets, anywhere you liked and with whoever you liked, you could really engage with other people, enjoy a social life, maybe even a socially engaged life. Perhaps he just wasn’t the medium for you.

Marx might have thought ‘the subordination of the artist to some definite art’ is a consequence of the division of labour. He claimed that ‘in a communist society there are no painters but at most people who engage in painting among other activities’ but as we have seen Sandra, unless you are willing to put in a certain level of commitment to your relationship with Painting, the moral standards of this society, in which we live, rightly or wrongly, are never going to judge you favourably. Instead perhaps we could learn to live and let live, there need not be only painters, and we need not abolish Painting, this town is big enough for the two of you, so let’s lose the antagonism and if you bump into each other sometime at an exhibition opening, at least try to engage in a bit of grown up conversation.

Kind regards,

Dr. Terry Finger

(Christopher Collier,


Dear Sandra,

I have just finished reading your letter for the third time, and I would be lying if I told you that it did not upset me.

I know we have had our problems in the past, but as in all relationships, these things take time and take a lot of work. It was never my intention to be ‘difficult’ or ‘hard to reach’. I am my own medium, and I can’t give that up, I won’t give that up, and it is not for the sake of history, it is who I am through the fat and the lean of it.

Just as there are many different kinds of drawing, types of installation, and styles of music, you can’t say that all of us paintings are one and the same. I, for one, have never been one to lie about space. I would like to think I am as flat as they come. And I am never one to hide under layers; I always wear my wash on the surface. I want people to see me for who I really am, what I really am, and you can’t expect me to make apologies for that.

I remember so vividly, the first time we met. I could sense your excitement and curiosity from across the room, although I could tell that you were trying to fight your enthusiasm from the start. Maybe you didn’t want to jump in with both feet, or maybe your friend Text was all like ‘Sandra, that painting is oooold news, girl! And nothing but trouble with a capital T!’ So maybe it wasn’t just about you rebelling against your father Modernism, but maybe you were just trying to define yourself, and you can’t deny that we haven’t been through so much together. Funny thing, Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” has just come on, and I can’t help my surface from cracking over the thought that we’ll never be together again.

But, you know, the more I think about this as I write, I wonder if you were ever really fully committed to this relationship as you once pretended to be? There were numerous occasions when you would go on about how great our relationship was to our friends, but even then, I sensed that you were not fully invested in making us a life-long commitment. But I stuck with you. And not because I felt that I was important, but because I felt that you were important, and through time, maybe you could become a great painter, and I could become a great painting: together. I see now, however, how I was blind then, by that thing called ‘love’, but I can also see only too clearly how it was never meant to be. Oh! And how about that time I caught you with performance!?! You, hopping all around a room in the dark, and on a foot that wasn’t even yours no less! Thought I forgot about that didn’t you? Well, truth is I had, until your letter brought it all back.

Sandra, I do not think you are a terrible person, nor do I think you are a terrible painter, but you have said some very harsh things that I would have never thought could have come from your mouth. You have made some extremely hurtful accusations that I can’t bear to get into.

As you can probably tell by my ramblings, I really can’t think straight right now. I can’t even say if this comes as a shock or if I saw it coming all along. I should probably stop writing before I say something that I might really regret.

Maybe this break is for the best.

Forever yours,



(Trevor Kiernander,


Dear Painting,

There is something I need to tell you, I can’t hold back anymore; I need to be honest with you and myself.

I can’t see you anymore.

When we first met, it was love at first sight. I remember you looking at me from a distance across this huge empty room with white walls. I got weak in the knees and my heart started racing. But I played your game, walked past you very slowly briefly glancing at you with feigned indifference.

There was something so alluring yet impenetrable about you.

But how could I have known under just how many layers you hide. I think in all those years I have never been able to penetrate your appearances and gotten to know your true self. You remain a mystery to me, so close yet ultimately removed and unavailable.

I guess this is part of what attracted me to you. But it is no foundation for a healthy relationship – I know that now.

I have to admit you’re hot, which has made me stick around for so long. In the beginning, I was totally infatuated with you but now there is nothing but unfulfilled longing and eternal frustration. The thing is that you do not even seem to notice that you are living in your own separate reality stuck in a constant self-referential monologue about your history. You never engage with those around you, nor are you open for dialogue.

Yet you’re always trying to keep up appearances by creating an illusion of space without having any actual awareness of your own relationship within space. Have you ever noticed how manipulative and immature you are?

I guess we have already been living separate lives for a while. I feel that we do not understand each other anymore. And when you open your mouth, you only speak about yourself, the quality of the paint, the brush strokes. I can’t tell you how bored I am. It is always ‘me, me, me’, but what is beneath your shiny surface? Nothing! You are self-absorbed and shallow. It’s all about selling yourself: you’re a slave to the system.

Every time I wake up next to you, I just feel empty inside. I feel crushed by the whole weight of your history, put off by your arrogance, your emphasis on status and claims to totality. You are arrogant thinking that you are better than everyone else, just because the collectors and dealers are all over you!

I know if I just stuck with you, talked your talk I would have an easy ride. A few pretty colours, cool, slightly detached abstraction, some sweet talking about de-construction this, semiotics that and I would soon be invited to all the cool parties. But I just can’t compromise myself any longer.

We have such different emotional needs, which we will never be able to meet for each other. Right now I just want to be free to see other people, like installation, drawing, maybe even sound. Do I have commitment issues? I just don’t want to be put in a box or defined in relation to your history anymore. It makes me feel like I am nothing without you, like I have no existence outside of you.

Perhaps I have a love-hate relationship with you. In a way, I am addicted to you. My therapist calls it co-dependency. She says that I need you because my anger and disappointment drives me, that my identity is intrinsically caught up with you as I am defining myself against you. Perhaps this has to do with my relationship with my father, modernism. I am trying to rebel against him by rejecting you, yet I know I am a part, a product of him. Maybe I need to accept this before I can move on.

I have no regrets about us. I have learnt a lot about myself while we were together and it’s all about process, growth. There are no shortcuts. I still love you and I always will. But love is not enough. Perhaps at some point in the future we can be friends again. Right now though, I have to move on.

Take care,