I met Beth Emily Richards at a Theatre Fandom conference in Bristol last Summer. We had already been in contact with each other over our mutual fascination with fandom as a nerdy participatory network, amateur expertise and subversive world-making practice. There are many crossover elements in our own art practices that we are exploring with the aid of the A-N Artist Bursary 2018, including several ‘studio’ meetups, dialogues around our individual projects, including me writing a critical essay as part of Beth’s exhibition ‘Poor Copy’ at Northern Charter, Newcastle in April and Jerwood Staging Series 11 September 2018, a presentation of ideas at The Fan Studies Network Conference in Cardiff in June, visits to The Michael Jackson Exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery in August, and working towards a joint exhibition at Transition Two in London, opening on 1 November 2018, curated by Cathy Lomax.
I initiated the Fan Riot project in 2015, which explores the intersection of art and fandom since the internet and includes a fan club series with contributing artist and fan practitioners, publications and a series of artworks and performances including ‘Larry!Monument‘ – a fictional monument to the Larry Stylinson fandom (a fandom dedicated to the speculative romance between One Direction boy band members Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson) at Jerwood Visual Arts 2016.
Beth’s work investigates contemporary mythmaking, often exploring popular culture and its associated idiosyncratic subcultures. Past works have engaged with personae such as Harry Houdini, Robert Falcon Scott, Francis Drake, Arnold Schwarzenegger and William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody; as well as with social trends such as ‘tombstoning’ (teenagers jumping off cliffs into the sea), Mexican telenovelas, ‘80s-‘90s action films, roller derby, Western movies, scouting, and motivational speaking.
This Blog will document certain aspects of our dialogue that we feel will benefit from sharing with a wider community of artists, or what we might call or imagine to be an ‘art fandom’.