Two years ago Antonie, Karin, and I set up an artists’ association* with the idea of creating opportunities for artistic research outside of Stockholm’s art institutions. Last Friday we had our AGM. It did not take long as the we have all been too busy with our own practices, careers, lives, to do anything under the group name. However we all want to keep the possibility of doing something so the meeting enabled us to fulfil the minimum requirements and keep the association “active”. Sitting around a table in the fifth-floor cafe of the Culture House the three of us quickly began to get excited about what we could do and how our own practices/research suggested a number of projects or events that the association could run. We are meeting up again (here in Enköping) next week to take this discussion further. Speaking personally (which of course the only way to speak!) it feels like the right time for me to be more engaged again – several ideas of mine could be strengthened and given focus by approaching them through the context of the group despite my recently re-awakened caution around the concept of artistic research.
One thing that I want to pursue is the possibility of organising a panel discussion looking at what artists have for expectations of artistic research. I am going to propose the idea to Supermarket for their Talks programme at next year’s fair. Not only would this be a great way of taking the group to a wider audience but it would also give me the opportunity to investigate my own feelings in an appropriate context.
On Tuesday I am going to setting up Brief Encounter for a group show here. This afternoon I unpacked it from the box where it has been since 2008, and I am pleased to say that everything (the transformer and the two locomotives) still works. Klas (Enköping Arts Development) wants the piece to be the first thing that people see when they enter the library (the main venue for the weekend’s activities). I am both flattered and a bit anxious! Perhaps anxious is not quite the right expression – I am intrigued as to what people’s reactions will be as the ‘story’ aspect of the piece is not immediately obvious. I guess this might be why Klas has selected it, I certainly think that he is raising the stakes for the town council’s commitment to contemporary practice and I am absolutely delighted to help with that!
Today has been spent slowly catching up on things that have been on (several) to do lists. The summer has been a fantastic mix of trips both abroad and around Sweden, having visitors, meeting old friends, and making new acquaintances. These happy activities have been both arts based and non-arts based (if such a distinction even exists)!
Today has been the first of my three-day working weeks that I have not had something else concrete to do – most recently spending time with a visiting artist friend, and returning to Norway to de-install Play and other pieces in the Immerse show. Since Tim is working on a number of smaller projects that do not have immanent deadlines we are testing a new way of working after the intense and nearly full-time months of the first half of the year. Both he and I want to pursue our own projects and develop our own work so I will be working with him three days a week which gives me two days to do my own thing. Tim wants to spend at least one day a week working on his own designs – something that he simple has not had time to do in the last year and a half. This is fantastic for me as I want and need time for my own practice. I know that I have missed a few opportunities simply because I have not had the time to follow them up, I also know that there things that I want to achieve that will take time and persistence – such as the collective studio – so knowing that I have time, and by that I mean “proper” time rather than a few tired hours one evening or at the weekend, is absolutely wonderful.
I am very grateful that I was able to return to Kinokino to take down Play not only because I prefer to take responsibility for packing such a tricky, tangly, dangly piece, but also because it was great to hear that the work received such a positive response from the audiences and the gallery. It seems that people really enjoyed engaging with it both physically and conceptually – which is of course exactly how it is supposed to work. And now I am facing an interesting question: what next to do with it. Without wanting to sound conceited or arrogant I know that the piece is good and that people like it, so it seems a shame if it just gets left in storage yet I do not really know how to move on with it. I guess that I could look for other exhibition venues and opportunities for it, this could be good for me as well as for the piece as it would be a new way of working. In the past I have tended to produce for specific sites or exhibitions and have therefore side-stepped the conversations and realities necessary for putting an already existing work ‘out there’. Taking on this new challenge feels as though it could introduce me to a different set of situations and contacts. The piece is not immediately commercial so it would make sense to start with looking at funded spaces, installation venues, and perhaps artist-run initiatives. To be honest I have never really understood how these spaces make their selections so perhaps it is time to meet them and learn!
Hopefully I have the opportunity to show another older work in (very) near future. Over a weekend in early October there are going to be a number of cultural events here in Enköping on the theme of ‘People’s Stories’. Without knowing what the exhibition venue might be I tentatively proposed showing Brief Encounter – the piece initially made specifically for Nordisk Kunst Plattform in Brusand, Norway. Again it is another work that people appreciated but which has been out of sight and in storage for several years. Perhaps as I begin to feel more settled I am also feeling more confident and able to see how things that I already have are able to work in new contexts. This is very interesting and potentially very exciting, in the past the idea of re-showing work has made me anxious – worried that I was unable to come up with something new, worried that I might be seen as simply wheeling out the same old thing. Now I see it as allowing pieces to have their own lives, to continue to function, to meet new audiences, to provoke new discussions and start new conversations.