At just after 8.00 this morning I signed a contract on a studio that Klas and I are going to share.
The space is a former garage, and has most recently been the clubhouse for a motorbike club! It needs cleaning and painting but is a good solid building with the basic facilities that we need. It will easily accommodate two medium size studios and in addition there is amble storage, a small kitchen, and toilet. We might sublet the largest ‘store room’ to another artist who is interested in having somewhere “dark” to work, if he is not interested then we could perhaps have it as a shared workshop area, hire it out on a daily or weekly basis, or even have it as a gallery/project room.
Although it is not as central as I might have liked, it is very affordable(!) and right next to the train station which makes it more attractive for Stockholmers to visit. The contract is on going with a notice period of three months which means that I/we are not too bound. There is another vacant space directly above, and hopefully some of the other artists who expressed an interest in having studios will take that on.
It feels like a significant step forward not only for me but also for establishing a bigger and more accessible ‘art-house’ in town. Cycling away this morning I noticed a rather large and completely empty industrial unit not far away – the sort of place that could easily offer fifteen good size studios, material workshops, an exhibition space and education room ….
This time last week I was at Supermarket art fair. I was there as both a participant on their PNP (Professional Networking Participants) programme, and as part of the Talks and Performance programme. The two, quite distinct, experiences were both incredibly enjoyable and rewarding.
The PNP programme is in its second year and is aimed at individuals working independently and those who do not have (or do not wish to represent) a physical gallery/project space. There were about twenty of us on the programme though we rarely if ever were all together at the same time. Those of us with shared interests and ambitions quite quickly found each other and spent a great deal of the fair in each others’ company at the various talks, discussions, and meetings. Being actually involved with the fair’s programme and other attendees is very different from simply being a visitor. Being a ‘PNP’ gave me a framework for speaking with the various exhibitors, projects, and speakers that initiated conversations that went far beyond the often awkward dialogues that I have had when approaching them as an artist – the awkwardness is entirely my own and probably stems from feeling that I should talk with them rather than wanting to talk with them. It perhaps also reveals that I find it easier to present myself as a ‘professional networker’ than as an artist!
I particularly enjoyed meeting, and speaking with, Jasmin Glaab of Kunsthallekleinbasel, who runs a gallery in her apartment. Having listened to her and several other artists who use their homes as showrooms and project spaces I am seriously considering running a similar kinds of thing here. It could be a nice way to continue working with other artists once my year with Konstfönster Joar is done. I really appreciate all the tips and advice that I received as opening up my home to both artists and the public seemed a bit daunting to start with, but I am starting to imagine how it might be possible. It would be very interesting to see how it works in a town such as Enköping. If I do do it then the number of venues for contemporary art here would have increased by 300% in two years. And if Klas and I show other artists at our studios the increase would be 400%. If nothing else that should be newsworthy and perhaps generate even more artistic interest in the town!
My participation in Supermarket’s talks and performance programme was as one third of The Artistic Researcher – along with Antonie Grahamsdaughter and Karin Gustavsson. We proposed, and did, was something that we called ‘Hothousing‘, which was more live research than performance art. Each of us was interested to invite people in to our ‘research process’ so we devised ways in which to do this. We each had our own greenhouse that we re-fashioned according to our particular interests or project. I created a quite private space where my guest/visitor and I made mono-prints directly from each other’s bodies. The guest selected where we would take our ‘companion’ prints which give them authority to determine the level of intimacy that would occur between us. Having said that the close proximity that we had to each other in the small interior – curtained in vintage bed-sheets – evoked (in me at least) a heightened sense of intimacy and gave making even the simplest hand print a very particular sensibility.
The piece was the fourth iteration in the Following Eugène series. Although I could not name my expectations for the event my feeling immediately after the first time were somewhat mute and subdued. However reflecting on it during an early morning run the following day I was able to identify thoughts and ideas that would not have come to me without the evening before. In this the piece functioned exactly as it should have done – opening up previously unimaginable possibilities for development and extension.
The second time I did it my first guest turned out not only to be a very interesting curator but also someone who works part-time at the Royal Library and knew of the archive that I referred to (without naming) in my introduction to what we were about to do. We continued to have interesting conversations over the subsequent days when I was not in character (Mr Dandy Blue).
It was only on the third and final time, on the Sunday morning, that I had two men as guests. Immediately that we established that they wanted to take part I became very aware of how different I felt about what we were about to do. I did my best to behave as I had done with my women visitors however I think that I was very unconsciously conscious of another kind of feeling knowing that I would be speaking about and touching these men’s bodies. Both of them chose places that required different types of interaction than any of the other visitors up to that point (my last visitor was a woman who chose to do prints of the upper middle part of our backs). As the print process is mutual the choice of where the print is taken is experienced both actively and passively, as both artist and model, as both subject and object. Neither man chose particularly intimate places, the first chose the outside of the right ankle, and the second the soft area just below the elbow on the inside of the right forearm. However both these places resulted in us resting our limbs on each other as we first applied a light lotion, then the ‘ink’, as we took the prints, and as we removed the excess and drying ink after taking the print. I did not ask any of my visitors / collaborators for feedback on their experience – though many freely gave it by saying ‘that was fun’, ‘that was interesting’, and by thanking me for spending time with them, one said that it was something she will remember for a long time. For me it has been interesting to reflect not only on doing it with each person but also on doing it with different people on different days.
Two children and one adult decided to keep the print of their own body, the others elected to take the print that they made from my body. Those prints are now out there in the world, and here beside me I have a collection of prints of those people’s bodies – traces of a few moments that we spent together one spring weekend in Stockholm ….