Stockholm is my PhD

It’s Tuesday morning and I’m surrounded by packed and half packed boxes, bags of things for the charity shop, a pile of “essential” paperwork, another pile of paperwork that needs to be dealt with – somehow. In the midst of this I’m having breakfast and starting to read the 20th anniversary edition of Frieze.

It is only in the last three of four years that I’ve appreciated and looked forward to opening to each new Frieze. I particularly like the editorial and regular columns. This month’s contribution by Jörg Heiser and Jennifer Higgie is a wonderfully succinct piece reflecting on 20 years of contemporary art and (what I think are probably peculiarly) British attitudes towards it. I found myself agreeing with their counter-claims; that contemporary practice is deeper than the headline grabbing spectacles of certain household name artists, that good writing is widely available, that art is more diverse than before, and finally (and most importantly as far as I’m concerned) that good art will out.

I love it when what I read confirms that my own thoughts are in line with those of who make a living from their opinions. What occurred to me this morning is that I too understand what and where (British) contemporary practice is. And perhaps this understanding is an aspect of my re-location to Stockholm. I might not be a ‘successful’ artist in terms of recognition, sales, position in the art world and the like but in terms of ‘understanding’ I am very successful. I understand a great deal of the British contemporary art scene. I am someone who loves learning, I love learning for it’s own sake. I am about to move somewhere with an art scene that I don’t understand. I know that I need to do the next thing in/for my practice, a PhD might be one way to do it, moving to Stockholm is another way. Stockholm will be about learning a new way to be an artist.

I’ve just realised that when I’ve moved (any great distance) in the past it was to go to college – re-locating has been bound up with learning, so even if I’m not enrolled with an academy I will say I am continuing with this …