Axisweb Curated Prize
As part of my research for the Axisweb Curated Prize, I interview the artists in my selection on their use of rubbish/waste/discards.
Interview with Maurice Carlin
AB: Why do you work with rubbish/trash/discards?
MC: I collect failed and discarded photocopies left behind at copyshops and publish these in a periodical called The Self Publisher. While the specific context of this material is very narrow in that it only forms a snap shot of those who have needed to use a particular duplicating service on a particular day, the array of material is broad and speaks clearly about a people and a location, about motivation, action and work.
My practice seeks out the peripheral view, exploring things that have often been missed, left or lost. In some cases these are actual objects or materials, in others it is a situation or simply a moment. I find the anonymous histories and unknown back-stories of these situations interesting. Beyond the materials and circumstances themselves, I am often more interested in their provisional and transitory nature, the factors that have created their existence and what this could mean for the present.
AB: Do you have a preferred term for those materials?
MC: I don’t really consider that I am working with ‘rubbish’ in the Self Publisher. It may just be a matter of what different words/terms might suggest but I would usually say ‘left’ or ‘discarded’ material. For a few early issues of the magazine, I experimented with other words/terms that could mean the same thing but that might open up the possibilities of potential meaning a little. So I used terms like ‘the leavings’ or ‘collected leftovers’
AB: Where do you source your materials from?
MC: Photocopy shops local to where I am at any given time. I have generally produced the magazine in Manchester/Salford where I am based but have also produced issues while on artist residencies or when visiting, Antwerp, Barcelona, London and Macerata in Italy. I have also produced copies in other circumstances such as the 2009 student protests at Middlesex University Philosophy department. Myself and a group of Islington Mill Art Academy members visited the campus to offer some support to the philosophy students who had occupied their building and were protesting at the proposed closure of the well respected Philosophy course at Middlesex. The students were producing an overwhelming volume of material on the buildings photocopier to get their message out to the world so I offered to catalogue some of it for them in a special edition of ‘Self Publisher’.
AB: What criteria do you have when sourcing your materials?
MC: The concept is that the material comes from a copyshop, a place where the (re) copying and distributing of information is taking place. I simply intervene and collect the surplus from this process. I collect everything that has been left behind.
AB: What processes do you apply to/with these materials?
MC: I usually publish everything that I collect. The breadth and dissonance of the subject matter is ‘equalised’ by the action of sequencing the materials together into the pages of a magazine, this combined with the black and white ‘sameness’ generated by the photocopying effect. Pages that have had no previous association start to ‘communicate’ with each other. I try to keep my intervention to a minimum and re-publish the work as I found it. Elements of unavoidable subtle ordering creep into the process, where I place one thing after another that might have some arbitrary connection.
AB: What context do you show your work in? (eg gallery space/public space/internet)
MC: I have shown this work only in galleries, usually in the form of a number of issues displayed to be read or leafed through. Sometimes I have produced a special edition for a particular show as in a show at Banner Repeater in London in 2011 and also as a result of a residency in Antwerp in 2010. I am open to showing it in other contexts but haven’t really had the opportunity as of yet.
AB: What happens to the materials/work afterwards?
MC: I keep everything!