Tether Studios
East Midlands

Alexandria Clark: Forecasts and Were you there when you read this?"

Tether Festival, Nottingham, November 2007

Review by Nick Simpson

Alexandria Clark's artwork has struck me as being some of the most interesting work I have seen in recent months. Clark featured recently in Tether Festival in Nottingham; jointly curating Throes with Charlotte Pratley, collaborating with fellow NTU Fine Art graduate Matthew Cooper in a live performance, Forecasts. The written work produced during Clark's past performances seems to have developed in to the form of a book, "Were you there when you read this?" for Beneath the Tarmac; the Grass exhibition in Bromley House, Nottingham.

A compelling aspect of Clark's work is her ability to convey thoughts emanating from the conscience into words, which are then emphasised and given clarity through the way they are presented on page. The longer one reads the more you can begin to see a kind of mapping process evolve. I found that this was made most effective in the simple format and presentation of the book. In the other work, Forecasts with Matthew Cooper, her words were projected onto a white stretched out sheet screen, and Cooper proceeded to build up, hinge, and clamp pieces of discarded wood together forming structures in front of the screen. The projected words were then highlighted, picked out and disturbed by his work. It seemed a constant tussle between them; Cooper was disturbing her words, spending time framing particular sections to create a different dialogue; and she would let him do this, only to press the spacebar or return key and the whole image and structure was changed. The struggle to be in power was always present, yet at times there seemed to be an interesting connection between them, as if in an ‘other world'.

A similar approach to the presentation of the text on the page was carried out in the printing of her book. This interplay worked well as the text and a narrative evolves. The author's thought process came discernible through of the layout of the text. Of course the artist is not talking to the reader but is instead giving an insight into her thoughts and the story she is creating through written words. This is perhaps more difficult than it first appears; Clark shows an ability to objectively articulate her thoughts into words, without being subconsciously influenced by the way in which an audience might read it. This is something I have ascertained from her work alone and I have not seen this in any other written subject. The relation between one's thoughts and what one writes is often, if not always, influenced by an impulse to modify those thoughts so that within the written medium they can relate to a specific audience. I find Clark's work refreshingly uninhibited because of the way she uses this process. Another angle can be perceived within Clark's live work where you feel the impression that you the viewer and the audience around you is affecting the author's words. I began to wonder whether my thoughts and impressions were being analysed and played around with by the artist. This adds another silent yet present dimension to the performance.

At times there seems to be a very personal quality to Clark's work and this adds to the intrigue of reading it and the attempt to understand who is actually communicating with you as the reader. A dialogue seems to build up within the author's conscience yet there are no other character's voice to add further dimensions or to flesh-out a spontaneous thought through conversation and response. This offers the reader more insight into the author's mind, and you can wonder if there are sub-consciences or alter egos influencing these words. Perhaps separate characters are being created as a narrative develops, so the reader can also be challenged into comprehending who is who within the text. Both the book and the performance make for very interesting reading and the levels that Clark's artwork exists upon are subject to constant variation depending, of course, on how it is read.