I am starting to get that ‘itchy’ feeling that I get when it has been too long without getting my hands dirty with the actual making of art. I thought that this week, being half term at my language school, would be an ideal opportunity to be at the studio – which it has been, and it has been very productive however not in the sense that I thought that it might be. What I have produced is space and order, well a good few steps in their direction with a new set of shelves. It is amazing how different the studio feels.
New work needs space to come in to being and the studio, particularly the floor, was so cluttered with boxes of books and materials that it was not an effective working space. It is as if I need space in order to fill it (with new things).
I also spent a great deal of time on an assignment for the course at Konstfack. Each of us was asked to work with another student and make a short presentation about one of six ‘key concepts’ in artistic research. As one response that I received about my presentation of my work was that I failed to make any “claim” for it, I decided that claim would be my subject. It turned out to be an unexpectedly interesting and fruitful topic. Having been out of the academic context for a long time I am no longer used to explaining work in art-school terms and certainly not in artistic research terms. I now think that I have a better understand of the term (though no means exhaustive), but almost more interesting to me was thinking about language – I feel as though I am learning two new languages at the moment; Swedish and 21st century academic language. Thinking (or content) is the easier part, the harder part is being able to use a language appropriately to communicate those thoughts. The things that I got wrong presenting my work ‘through the lens of claim’ today are not dissimilar to things that I often get wrong in Swedish; attempting to translate words rather than meanings, trying too hard, a lack of familiarity with the language making me sound like a foreigner … The more that I use the languages the more integrated they become and the more natural my way of speaking will appear to the natives!
Looking at what artistic research might be, compared to artistic practice, is fascinating and I really do not know if what I do is research or not, nor do know if I want my work to be more research rather than practice (if I accept the distinct between the two has something to do with improving outcomes and testability).
The art fairs already seem to have happened in some distant past rather than just two weeks ago. The stands at Supermarket continue to be a truly eclectic mix that probably quite accurately reflects the diversity of what might constitute an artist-led initiative and demonstrates the breadth of artistic ambition. Participants include ‘membership galleries’, radical collectives, theme based spaces and thrusting young artist/curator projects that could easily turn commercial as their artists become more established. For the most part though, they are groups of artists working together trying to find ways of surviving outside of the market. As the European economic crisis deepens even in Scandinavian countries (obviously not in Norway!) it is becoming apparent that funding art for art’s sake is becoming a tougher and much reduced field, a (sub)text of transferable and applicable skills is almost tangible.
Interestingly Market, the commercial fair, felt less exciting than it has done. A sense of cool despondency pervaded many of the booths. I was delighted that Galleri Andersson SandstrÃ¶m took the opportunity to show Alyson Shotz’ The Shape of Space piece that they had previously shown in their Umea gallery (in northern Sweden) and which has also been at the Guggenheim in New York.
The days are getting lighter and it feels as though spring is on the way …