Brook and I have had several interesting conversations during the past few days – I’m finding it hard to make time to edit them, but have uploaded the second today on Vimeo (Vimeo.com/patwilsonsmith Conversation#2:Self, Feminism & the Anthropocene)
Negotiating this collaboration has been extremely interesting, because it’s deliberately open-ended. The implicit ‘brief’ to ourselves was to each produce a self-portrait during the three-week period, as well as talk with visitors about self-portraiture: sculpture (on Brook’s part) and identity and selfhood (my interest). As it is I’ve found myself playing more of a curatorial role, as I record various conversations between us and with visitors, and write notes for the blog. Having made work prior to the ‘residency’ I’ve not made anything much at all – a few drawings…it’s all been feeling a little ‘unsatisfactory’ and as the end draws close, I wonder what it’s all been about. I feel I want to make something surprising for the closing event on Sunday – but there’s very little time, and I’ve two more interesting conversations to edit and upload.
Brook also feels slightly dis-satisfied – having nearly completed the self-portrait, there’s something else she’d like to do…will she have time?
Our life drawing day was productive: four women acquaintances were invited to a day of drawing, with myself as (unclothed) & Brook as clothed models. I haven’t modelled for about ten years, and was reminded quickly of how important strength and stamina are. I felt uncomfortable too, about being naked in front of not-quite–strangers in a rather intimate situation – somehow the anonymity of a life class always protected me from self-consciousness before. During the class we hoped to explore other people’s ideas about the role of the model – I’m not sure if we achieved that, but interesting talk developed.
Brook had agreed to take a ‘male role’, as it happened, and I found this suddenly discomforting. I had to find out why I did. Somehow the clothes she’d chosen made her look vulnerable, and I realised that I had to adjust my internal perception of who she is. This has given us plenty of thought for our final conversation on Self and Sexuality, to be uploaded later this week.
While this has been a slightly unstructured event, we’ve had plenty of feedback from visitors who are fascinated by the work and the project. This is socially-engaged practice that doesn’t measure and isn’t dictated by category boxes: it’s instinctive and exploratory, and humble – sometimes people don’t want to walk into a show and see objects on plinths and pix on walls. Sometimes they prefer to find out how and why it’s all being done, and that has been a very worthwhile discovery.