Just been reading J.J. Charlesworth's article on sustainability in May's Art Review. The text suggests a misconception of the positive effects of the current recession, and in particular the 'crisis breads creativity' attitude that many artists tend to adopt. Operating within economic constraints is 99.9% of artists situation. I have to juggle a number of different activities – art making, writing and working in a museum (the bulk of my income). I continue to practice within a tight budget and would consider myself relatively successful at it. But do these limits improve my creativity?
The arts are in a unique position in that instead of simply illustrating current political, economical and ecological trends it has the opportunity to actively impact on the networks and systems that underpin the current economic crisis. Perhaps it is through an understanding of how these processes operate in the first place that we can move forwards.
Having a rather manic weekend so far. Far too many deadlines to meet and slightly concerned about finances. Nothing new there then! Just finishing up the July August edition of a-n Snapshot, absolutely love writing this article as it gives me more scope to structure my writing around my own interests. Also had my first two articles for Dazed and Confused published in the June issue which was fab. Got two more for the July edition that I am just finishing up tonight. On top of this I have to get my press release and jpegs off to Yara at the Red Gate Gallery…so juggling a few things at the moment! I love it how multi-faceted artists have to be to survive. As Manfred B. Steger has noted, 'the recession is a result of the ultra-networked character of the modern economy, with financial markets stretching around the globe and electronic trading operating around the clock'. In order to survive the current financial disaster people are being forced into a multiplicity of professions – who better to adapt to this format than artists?
Oh and I just paid my studio rent via online banking…
Last night I attended the latest AIR Open Dialogues event at Rivington Place, London. Presenters included Goldsmiths final-year student Aliceson Carter and 2008 ceramics graduate Laura De Benedetti who shared their thoughts on points of departure and reflection. It was a fantastic event and a good chance to meet interesting people. If I could liken it to anything I would say it was the artist equivalent of Loose Women…! One strange thing I noticed was the lack of male attendees. Maybe men really do find it hard to verbalize their feelings…!
There was a dialogue regarding how well art education is structured and whether it prepares students for the 'real' world. I felt my education beyond BA level was flawed and left me completely unprepared for that initial post-MA period. I was grateful for the emphasis on theory – it still informs both my practice and writing now – but a few lessons in business management would have been useful. One member of the audience noted that in most subjects you do not receive business training but I would argue that art is quite a unique subject that, whilst developing a whole range of skills applicable to many jobs, it often resists any specific training that leaves you completely suitable for a specific industry.
Well, four months until the show opens. I attended a talk by T.J. Demos at the newly refurbished Whitechapel Gallery on Thursday on ecology. He spoke about sustainability and its relation to the expansion and stretching of social relations, activities and interdependencies. Human-induced climate change has been a mojor focus of domestic and intergovernmental policy over the past few years, and it is interesting to apply these concepts to a sustainable art practice.
Sitting in my studio I am aware of how much I overconsume as an artist. The energy used in this complex is incredibly wasteful – currently I have 2 lamps on, dehumidifier as well as a fan – quite shocking. Out of the 10 studios in this building only 2 are occupied yet all the lights are still on. I am interested in adapting this infrastructure to be more sustainable as I work towards my exhibition.
On a seperate note, I'm just trying to work out the practical elements of the exhibition. I had intended on including 8 drawings and a video piece but this might result in an oversaturation of the space. One thing that really irritated me about the new Whitechapel is its policy of cramming as much art in as possible. Someone really needs to edit that space!