I was awarded one of the A-N review bursaries, which is exciting. Here I will document my interactions with various artists and curators as I visit them, and talk about my work and how it might achieve a higher profile. I am hoping that being one of the bursary recipitants will make people receptive to meeting me, and might help open some doors.
So, I have received all my feedback and information from my wish list of people. I found the bursary really useful in getting me face-to-face meetings with people who had interesting and useful information in relation to my work and how it can be devloped, which in turn I hope I shared to others and that they also found useful. Now I am going to put this information and critical analyses to good use and hopefully steer a steadier course for my practice. I have made some good contacts and this bursary has been very valuable to my artistic development. It has enabled me to take what I do more seriously. I hope to continue this blog with other news as it happens. So watch this space.
Had a meet with Jane of VARC which is an organisation that works in and with rural communities in Northumberland. They have a base in High Green where they sometimes show work. They have a residency program and a project fund, though it is best to check the site as they may be changing the project fund and what they do. http://www.varc.org.uk/ . I had a good chat about digital work, and if that might fit into their schemes. She thought if the concept was right then there is no reason why digital work couldn’t be part of the rural art scene. It also started to make me think about residencies, the VARC residency scheme is for a year, and you have to live there, which made me wonder how this could work if you were married, with kids or had rented accommodation somewhere else. Just the practicalities. I also talked with her about on-line distribution, and I felt it could be exciting to make something very specific and local about a place and people but through it’s specificity it had a kind of universalisim that would mean it could work on-line and appeal to a large global audience, because they recognised something of themselves in the work made. So I think there is the possibility to use performance and video in a rural context and then distribute that to a wide audience as well as showing it locally.
So, spoke with Mike Stubbs on Skype. Mike is the Director and C.E.O. of FACT in Liverpool, and is a really knowledgable curator dealing with digital media. It was a very involved discussion. One aspect that came up was that I call myself a video artist. Mike thought this was a bit old fashioned in today’s culture. He is right, thinking afterwards I realised I started calling myself a ‘Video Artist’ mainly to be clear with the public who are in my work. I wanted them to know if they got involved, it wasn’t a film, they were involved in, but an artwork, and that I wasn’t a film maker, but I used video. If anything I think of myself as more performance or installation, my last project were flipbooks in libraries in Gateshead and featured no technology beyond the printed books. But the point being is give a thought as to how you describe or label yourself when talking to curators etc. probably just the tag artist will do, without a defining prefix, as art is about ideas often independent of medium. FACT are also producers on the Channel 4 scheme called Random Acts, which are short interventions on TV. Mike began in making artists work for broadcast TV and the Random Acts strand looks like it could be a good opportunity for artists, giving them a platform to reach a large audience and to work in the televisual sector. Mike said that such schemes working with curators such as FACT meant they were able to steer the commissioners in new and different ways and enable artists to find and complete their vision. I have done a little TV and radio work and it can get you a greater level of exposure, so it might be something worth exploring, though much of it is through pitching and often they want it done and completed Yesterday. Recently I was rung up by Radio 4 one Thursday and told that Ray Harryhausen was dead, ‘I knew this’ and they wanted to do stop motion on the radio, and had I any ideas for the Sunday morning show ‘Broadcasting House’!, fortunately I did. Artangel did a series of audio interventions on BBC Radio 4 earlier in the year, and the reception was mixed. Often these slots are short, a few minutes long, but this structure can benefit artists who aren’t confined by narrative and story arc. These slots are also seen as interventions, artists disrupt the normal narrative flow of the schedules.
Mike did comment that while he is aware of the importance of showing video work in the gallery he is also considering audience perspective, about the time it takes to see the videos, about developing experiential and installational works beyond the looped video, and if the videos are lengthy to provide seating.
Does showing your work in gallery spaces get you cultural points, or working in different arenas such as TV and radio attain you greater cultural capital, or equivalent cultural capital to a gallery show?
Sometimes it is all about the press coverage, the reviews, the views online. With a good approach and a strong concept I believe an individual or group working outside of the accepted gallery context can create as much, if not a greater cultural awareness amongst the public than in a gallery. Saying that though, FACT is celebrating it’s tenth anniversary and their show at the moment of commissioned work is very strong. We touched on the idea of the work as an art object, artists that sell DVDs or media files of their work in limited editions to collections and don’t enter the social distribution model. Mike felt if you could do that as an artist, then that is fine, but in today’s climate, with the cuts etc, an artist needs a plethora of ways of supporting themselves.
This is the balance, when your work becomes audience focused. I often wonder, do I lack integrity, am I only making projects to get attention and reach the mass audience, does my work lack substance, has my practice become corrupted by the need to be entertaining. Am I a Youtube baby?
images animated on palms for Angel of North anniversary
Had to rearrange things a bit, so didn’t get to FACT and Mike on Friday. Instead I looked into whether ‘To have a studio or to not have a studio’, I do the thinking in my head, the work on the streets and the editing on the laptop, but would I benefit from having a studio. I spoke with Justin Keeper who is the Creative Development manager for Mushroom works, which runs a artist studio complexes in Newcastle and Gateshead. They have a number of film makers in their studios. He thinks I would benefit from having a studio as it would give me access to a creative community, peer to peer support and raise my visibility and I would come across as more professional as I could meet people etc at the studio rather than in town at coffee shops. He feels that yes the studio would be an added expense but it could be just what I need to make me more business minded and help me develop commercially. It is difficult. Are artists in todays world a business. I think I read too much Foucault when young, as I feel much of what I do is about anti professionalism, and breaking down the discourse of exclusion and it is hard to be commercially minded when the work I make is kind of anti establishment. More to ponder. Can I make the work I make but approach it with a greater level of career building awareness. I think of the projects as one at a time,and that every work might be the last opportunity I get, so I don’t plan ahead. We spoke about a a work such as ‘bus station sonata’ and how maybe I could tour a work like that, create it anew for a number of festivals. I am not sure I have the mindset for such a way of working, I normally make a work, then move on to another idea driven by a need to see how an idea looks when translated to reality. I know how ‘bus station sonata’ looks. Though if I keep going from idea to idea, will I in end exhaust myideas, maybe I should try and develop the bank of ideas I have already made and that I know work. So do multi-media artists working in the digital realm need a studio?
commuter play Beethoven