A band formed in order to jump the lunch cue at school; an art practice that acts synonymously with gardening; a unique project that sees other artists come together to collaborate – Cornwall-based artist Georgia Gendall creates a myriad of happenings and brings them together using three Instagram accounts.

And whether it’s Forced Collaboration, her band Shagrat (named after an orc captain from The Lord of the Rings; also a member of the Dingle family from Emmerdale) or her personal feed, all the feeds display a strong sense of creative mischief.

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Instagram allows Gendall to be an artist when she feels “far away from it or being it”. If, for example, you hold a watering can as an additional armature all summer during gardening work, it’s going to fuse with the art you make.

The same goes for wearing bike helmets and using water-jet sprays to clean up cow shit. It’s the ability to photograph and film things around her daily work activities – “doing little micro performances” – which stops the artist from “floating away from agency throughout the day”.

“Instagram can legitimise these moments,” adds Gendall. “Some days I’m a gardener, some days I’m an artist – the platform acts as a bridge between the two.”

For Gendall, Instagram “allows for things to fly off the shelf” before they touch the surface; it makes art feel exciting and endless, giving it “vigour”. The platform also sets her work within a “flux of conversation” happening further afield.

In Cornwall, she comments, “it’s hard to be visible”. Instagram enables participation in wider discussions and research, giving her the ability to be “constantly engaged with art”.

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The Gardeners Comb. 2017. Picture by Magda Fabianczyk. @aillarok @lou_macnamara

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However, the artist retains an ambivalent relationship with the platform.

“It does give people a voice and makes our art legit. But there is a need for this to be critiqued – we can’t be flies on virtual walls without tending to responsibilities towards physical political action; by really listening, taking part and really being there.

“I try to stay physically engaged, not allow Instagram to build endless walls around me.”

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INSTRUCTIONS: Freya Dooley. ARTWORK: Freya Dooley and Michael Burkitt. @freya_dooley @michael_burkitt

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A way for Gendall to dislodge the bricks and mortar of virtuality is her project Forced Collaboration, which interrogates authenticity and ownership when two artists in different places make work together; one artist sets a form of instruction in order to make a joint work with a collaborator.

“Anyone can submit but every eight weeks I recruit six artists with loose similarities. So far my search has mainly been through Instagram and I always include a couple of artists from Cornwall.”

The project enables artists in the region to build ties with other practitioners, and the results are displayed on the Forced Collaboration website and as “snapshots” on the Instagram feed, which Gendall treats as “a separate thing for people to understand the work and engage with it”.

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INSTRUCTIONS: Madeleine Ruggi. ARTWORK: Madeleine Ruggi & Elena Boils. @madeleine.ruggi @elenaboils

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Gendall continues using her personal feed to post ongoing experiments, with the future promising a “wind powered, hands free, self-popping (over your head) party popper” experience.

It’s the global interconnectivity of Instagram that Gendall sees as most important, however. Having graduated in London in 2014 and returned to her roots afterwards, she has witnessed first-hand how you “don’t have to be in the bustle to be visible”.

She says: “People are migrating out, artists are able to live in smaller cities and towns and the countryside, and can still consider themselves artists. Things are happening and Instagram has a role to play.”

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11pm: a co star does a cross, safe hmmmm. Chimp annoys his dad Colin too soon. Every night. #beyondinstagram

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1. Georgia Gendall, Giro, 2016. Screen shot from Instagram post, @georgiagendall
2. Georgia Gendall, The Hands Free Gardener, 2017. Video documentation of Anna Hart modelling the work, posted 9 April 2017, @georgiagendall
3. Georgia Gendall, Multi tool (how not to get your hands dirty), 2017. Screen shot from Instagram post, @georgiagendall
4. Georgia Gendall, The Gardeners Comb, 2017. Photo: Magda Fabianczyk. Posted 14 August, @georgiagendall
5. Freya Dooley and Michael Burkit, Embarrassed, 2018. Instructions by Freya Dooley, part of Forced Collaboration. Posted 15 October 2018, @forcedcollaboration_
6. Madeleine Ruggi & Elena Boils, Bread, 2018. Instructions by Madeleine Ruggi, part of Forced Collaboration. Posted 15 June 2018, @forcedcollaboration_
7. Georgia Gendall, video posted from Mäntyharja, Itä-Suomen Lääni, Finland. 18 July 2018, @georgiagendall

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