I applied to a-n in order to devise a programme of mentoring. Post-PhD completion I was feeling the need to gather myself and try to knot together the frayed ends that are perhaps frequently the result of too long spent with a certain type of language and approach. I had spent a fair amount of time researching a particular area and felt the need for an injection of something other than ‘methodology’. A Dr Feelgood re-entrance into what passes for the art realm. I felt (do we all feel??) that the mentorship would need to be verrry specific as I had lighted on a verrry specific way of working during my PhD. I was trying to work out what kind of support the methods I had researched would need in order for them to be possible beyond academia.
I’ll outline those methods here:
The trip was ‘expanded reading’. I was trying to see whether a book could be read in lots of different ways. Whether it could be absorbed via an atmosphere. Or edited into a song. Or papier-machéd into a small, mantle-piece sized sculpture. Or compressed into a score and put into motion. I made little essays with various books and one big essay with Karen Barad’s wet n wild text Meeting The Universe Halfway: Quantum Entanglements of Matter and Meaning. I say ‘I’ but it was actually ‘we’ because I worked with a group of artists to realise the page-to-atmos translation. The result was Reading Room: meeting the universe halfway. It was a collaborative venture in lots of ways but with the reins held by me and held as far away from an art world as I felt able to toddle. The work load was pretty intense and after it was over I found myself wondering how not to do that again. How to make the work better but not burn out. It seemed to me that a particular system of support would need to be in place that went beyond the regular curator/artist relationship in order to stay faithful to the ideas behind Reading Room and any further versions.
As a group of co-creators, we spoke a lot about what this might look like. It felt like trying to find an answer to an ill-defined question. Which, actually, felt very reminiscent of Reading Room in general. Something I wasn’t entirely unhappy with! I will transcribe one of these circular, hazy conversations for my next post.