Friday, 2 December 2011

A Matter of Process: exploring the cyclical nature of creativity.
A presentation devised through collaboration by the 2011 Master of Fine Art group.'

Dear Friends,

We, the MFA group, have reached the end of term and have decided to challenge the assessment process and put on an exhibition where 'process' is the concurrent theme. We open up the process to you after our assessments by invitation to an evening event and a day-long public exhibition.

Come to see our work in process or simply mingle and enjoy the free refreshments.

There is a fourth year exhibition across the hall, on the same night, with live entertainment so it really will be buzzing.

For more information click here or here

Word is out, so spread it.

Hope to see you there.

MFA Students x

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Epilogue: The writers view.


Continuing in retrospect:



Prologue to Blog Postings: Thoughts Concerning the 
Epistemology of Space and Visual Culture.



Part 2

This is not a new concept. Irit Rogoff discusses ‘In the same way both feminism and post-colonial theory have insisted on the need for a multi-subjectivity, so does the critical process of geography spatialzation insist on the multi-inhibition of spaces through bodies, social relations and psychic dynamics’[1] So if this rhetoric has been called on before, in the very recent past, can it be called on again and insist on a multi subjectivity into the epistemology of space and visual culture? 

Art has the capacity to create the visual language to communicate concerns of the epistemology of social relations. In his discussions on Social Space, Henri Lefebvre goes into great detail of the early emergence of sub-urban settlements around Venice and Tuscany in precapitalist Italy leading up to the industrial era, namely leading into the renaissance. With the growth of productive forces such as agriculture, craft, early industry, brought forward by new technologies, a new type of social space emerged. Lefebvre describes that these spaces came about from a surplus in production creating a new social class, which led to luxurious spending on palaces and monuments giving artists and architect freedom (and the money) to express. What emerged from this was a new language for describing space, this ‘perspective’ first given form by architects and geometers was then ‘discovered’ [2]by painters. Here changes in spatial perception gave rise to changes in visual culture, not that the two can be distinguished completely as one rotates in motion around the other. One inspiring, then being inspired by the other and here ultimately ‘knowledge emerged from practice’[3]

Philosophical abstract thought has many times been be put under analysis to arrive at a concrete conclusion, can Lefebvre’s cyclonical motion be employed within contemporary visual culture? Can the thought and questioning of the creation of new social spaces be the impetus to change society? Not the invention of a new built object in which to dwell but a rethinking of the epistemology of space and spatialzations. By introducing questioning of critical epistemology, subjectivity and spectatorship into the arena of spatialzation we move away from the central systems of power to the fringes, Rogoff discusses this and adds another element to the argument, she calls on the development of what she calls the ‘curious eye’ [4]to counter the old bourgeois term the good eye to communicate a contemporary way of viewing which is influenced by the subjectivity of the viewer influenced by all aspects of visual culture and culture in general. Within visual media the inventions have occurred, new tools in hand, and ‘curious eye’ employed, what will the artist create?







[1] Irit Rogoff, Terra Infirma, geography’s visual culture, (Routledge, London, USA and Canada) 2000 p23
[2] Henri Lefebvre, The production of Space (Blackwell, Oxford and London) 1993 p79
[3] Henri Lefebvre, The production of Space (Blackwell, Oxford and London) 1993 p79
[4] Irit Rogoff, Terra Infirma, geography’s visual culture, (Routledge, London, USA and Canada) 2000 p30

Continuing in retrospect:



Prologue to Blog Postings: Thoughts Concerning the Epistemology of Space and Visual Culture.

Part 1

What is knowledge, how is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know? Who decides and normalises that knowledge into common knowledge? And how is Space concerned? These questions call for an exploration into different interpretations of space as a means of analysing and questioning how we draw knowledge from all aspects of contemporary society through social encounter and the effect which that has on social and individual consciousness. Space is integral to this question as this is where we dwell and in which all these social signifiers exist. The nature of space, as discussed in previous blogs, allows for a constant reconfiguring of use and an exploration of the knowledge gained from that process. An epistemological study into contemporary visual culture leads us to reconsider and to remake opinions between Space Place and Public Agency. How people perceive space and how it is ordered into place and therefore think and act accordingly.

These epistemological questions lie at the centre of all fields of study which strive to communicate within social culture. As visual culture and visual media has evolved to encompass vast sways of our lives the need has never been greater to question the epistemology of visual culture and for a critical analysis of the spaces in which it dwells if ‘Space is never void of social relations’[1]. This may give a cultural barometer into social structures, opinions and the extent of hegemonic influences which colour our view. Henri Lefebvre argues spatial analysis negates the illusion of transparency which enables hegemonic manipulation of culture. This idea of ‘transparency’[2] lulls society into believing its social structure is open and inclusive and therefore society does not need to question excepted norms hence exists within its own individual culturally specific realities. Spatial analysis however allows space to become a vessel in which analytical critical discourses can take place on how we perceive. Can this discourse be taken further to influence the art making process? If we relate to a work of art through our relations to others and those relations are shaped by the spaces in which we dwell, could this participation be seen as the actual process of the making of art, if no object or viewer exists in a void and no thought without forethought?

Integral in art is the viewer. The interaction of the viewer with the object enables agency of the viewer (if they so choose) therefore providing the ability to change how the work is perceived through individual subjectivity expressed in future actions. This may take many forms, be they in conversation, the forming of opinions, blogging or the future making of one’s own work (in the case of the artist), even if not in direct reaction to the information assimilated but subconsciously. Therefore under what influences we absorb that knowledge which will shape our future perception, vitally must me questioned on a multi subjective level. Artists generally are aware of this. However can this questioning and theorising of knowledge employed on a more practical level by the artist culminate in the formulation of art practices? Can these art practices then become socially inclusive through the understanding of how social relations are formulated and how we assign Place’s to the Spaces in which we place our work and in which we presume culture as a whole can identify. Or do we want them to identify, this culture which supports us and which we should support? Or should we even try in reality to be inclusive when we are making work which after all is a form of self expression?


[1] Henri Lefebvre, The production of Space (Blackwell, Oxford and London) 1993 p22
[2] Henri Lefebvre, The production of Space (Blackwell, Oxford and London) 1993 p22

Continuing in retrospect:




The Space as an Agent.


Exhibition in the cooper gallery,  22nd Oct - 5th Nov 2011


As one who has been witness participant to the previous actions of A Cut A Scratch A Score the feeling of absence envelops you as you stand and view the artefacts from the actions. However I suspect those that have not held vigil to the performances may guess that they are viewing the aftermath of a happening. You are struck by that absence and notice the space between the images and the objects. You consider not just the beautiful things but the positioning of those things around the space; you see how they relate to each other and the viewer. In that action the viewer becomes one of those objects. As you wander around the space you see the viewer’s reflection against the projection on the gallery wall. The stage dividing the performative space, interesting as the stage is normally the space where performance is done, you can walk right up to it, the distance between performer and audience is shortened. There is a feeling of playfulness, you again have free reign over your experience.

The script is being typed on projection; you wonder where the writer is, whether this is a live element continued in the work and consider that the writer may be watching you. You are being observed observing. Not the case though, it is a video of Savage’s live script writing and she is writing the movements of the artists. Agency of the artist returns. Standing in front of the video projection the viewers shadow appears on the gallery wall and is put back in the action. The silhouetted viewer reoccurring as with previous rehearsals, now giving agency to the viewer.

All these elements feel familiar however unobvious in their new configuration, you try and tick some of the boxes from past experience of the work; sound, movement, live elements, viewer interaction. The fan positioned at the end of the stage is inexplicable. Is it also an artefact from the rehearsal, an object from the making process when the viewer was not present? Does it simulate the outdoors, or is it there to add a live element to the work?  It stands like a person in the room humming its tune like the hum from the heating system in the botanic gardens. I went right up to it, invaded its personal space and then was shocked to discover my invasion was being documented. The process of viewing is in fact subverted. You realise you are being recorded by a camera out of view above the entry door, pointed directly at the fan. Did the artist suspect that you would be intrigued by the humming little figure? Or was it being documented as it hadn’t been documented before?

The whole experience feels disjoined and unusual, like stream of consciousness, but replayed and repeated, however each time slightly different as a new agent steps into the space and plays its part unknowingly. This space between the image the object and they idea comes into play captivating the viewer. The space holds silent vigil, passive jet nevertheless it is still an agent of the work. Holding charge of its little humming machines (projector, fan, camera) performing their actions rhythmically as the sounds from the performance take centre space. The room plays its role well, reflecting back that action on the brass of its doors. The aesthetic fits; the building designed by Architect James Wallace in 1937 reflecting shapes and colours reminiscent of Kandinsky, performing overlaid with a video of McLean and Bourret making movements; A little nod to modernism.

In the entrance space you sit and are absorbed by the song of The Choir, Lixemburg and Belinfante, it washes over you as you are afforded the space to ‘see the music’. Less of a distraction, the discarded shapes and silhouettes, remnants of previous performances, lean against the wall. They feel like ghosts, their energy still vibrant from pervious action. The bench suggesting there is indeed something to sit, view and contemplate. The yellow wall behind and bench below you indicates these objects may seem like an afterthought but on the contrary you are still under the influence of the artists. There’s a melancholia to the discarded cardboard cut-outs, cardboard that most disposable of materials. Outside the main gallery they are ignored initially as you travel straight towards the imposing sound, as the viewer spectator was drawn to the action by its audio in those previous public places.  As with before the audio completes the enveloping experience. With open gallery doors the sound travels and invites, however the passerby can travel by without interruption this time. It’s my turn to be interrupted, two girls chat loudly as they wander passed, jolting me from my experience. 

Museum of Loss and Renewal - Object becomes Subject Updates

The Museum of Loss and Renewal: object Becomes SUBJECT

Exhibition: 14 November – 27 November, Monday - Sunday, 12 - 4.30pm

Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen

In collaboration with The Highland Hospice

Public Studio: Monday - Friday, 12 - 4.30pm

Public Seminar: 22 November, 2pm (booking essential: exhibitions@dundee.ac.uk)
With Dr Paul O’Neill (curator, artist and writer) and Prof Arnd Schneider (social anthropologist) exploring notions of duration and context specificity in The Museum of Loss and Renewal project.

Public Seminar: 25 November, 10.30am (booking essential: exhibitions@dundee.ac.uk)
With Dr David Reilly (doctor, educator and researcher) focusing on the relationship between art practice, creative change and human healing.



The Museum of Loss and Renewal focuses on the interrelationships between death, memory, material culture and recycling. Through a period of engagement with The Highland Hospice charity shops Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen are investigating issues recurrent in their work; the value and significance of objects, life and death, and artist-led curatorial practice. By re-using and re-presenting material as still-life they invite reflection on the value we place on the ‘things’ with which we surround ourselves.

The project will feature another in Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen’s ongoing series of public studios, enabling the making of artwork in a live situation with direct engagement by a range of publics, arising out of conversation and participation in public discursive events.



Forces of Attraction and Repulsion, The Museum of Loss and Renewal, 2011,
Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen



More info and connections:

Visit the artists' own website...



Review of Loss become Object at HICA...



More about this project...



Tracy and Edwin on Facebook...



Tracy and Edwin on Twitter...





Daily updates from the Public Studio:

Tracy will be updating on the progress of conversations and research happening in their Public Studio (12 - 4.30pm Monday - Friday, Centrespace, VRC). Everyone is welcome to drop in and strike up a conversation and there is an excellent selection of reference books on display as well as the exhibition.



WEDNESDAY 16 NOVEMBER

The temporary public studio for the fusion of exhibition, production, education and research is up and running. Conversation raging on the interrelationships between death, memory, material culture and recycling. Sessions with students well under way, prodding and provoking issues including the value of stuff and curatorial positions. Blue-skies thrash with GSA's Dr Ken Neil on the impact on art education, by situating it at the heart of our practice. All welcome to hold discussions on related talks in The Museum of Loss and Renewal at Centrespace.



THURSDAY 17 NOVEMBER

Day of student sessions, considering 'ephemeral practices' and 'art, science & visual thinking'. Discussed the merging of art, research and education – the need for a radical shift in the function of learning towards a central position for art within collaborative approaches, the fostering of networks, partnerships and play – opening up and daring to fail.




FRIDAY 18 NOVEMBER

Day of conversation about art's ability to enable us to access grief; by showing publicly how creativity comes out of the chaos of life. Grappling with the materiality of language by making the blanket through translation of conversations into written words.



SATURDAY 19 NOVEMBER 

Different pace to conversations today; people more relaxed as stories slowly unfolded, ideas exchanged, notes made and words cut for blanket. Creative Scotland talking about possible meanings of 'place' for Scotland, referring to DJCAD-PAR+RS 2010 'Mapping the Future: Public Art in Scotland'; picked up and repositioned when the University's Architecture students dropped in, looking to stimulate the rub of disciplines through closer connection with art at DJCAD.




MONDAY 21 NOVEMBER

Talking to a wide range of visitors every day emphasises the place of 'dialogical aesthetics', and the central position that listening to others occupies. A reminder by Murdo too, about the artist's role as someone who can highlight a community's issues; as Collingwood wrote in Principles of Art in 1938, 'uttering their secrets'.




TUESDAY 22 NOVEMBER


Seminar 1 oversubscribed! Fantastic amount of interest before, during and since the event, in Arnd Schneider's propositions on how to 'engage art and anthropology', and Paul O'Neill's question of 'how to produce the unplanned?' within the context of durational approaches to public art. Siting the seminar within the space of 'The Museum of Loss and Renewal: Object becomes Subject' brought together people with wide range of expertise whose comments, questions and conversation feed the project's future – a huge thank you to all for your contributions.




WEDNESDAY 23 NOVEMBER


Yesterday's seminar already impacting on the way we're thinking about 'The Museum of Loss and Renewal' – expanding thoughts about the Highlands as the site of 'The Museum of Loss and Renewal', and the Highland Hospice shops as The Museum's rooms - we work with objects from the shops' collections to curate an ongoing set of displays that focus on a range of subjects. And re-thinking artistic processes of investigation in relation to anthropology's critique of fieldwork – possible points of convergence?. This relates strongly to Paul O'Neill's proposition that there is a case to be made for the consideration of 'public time' rather than space – favouring an evolving process and being prepared to embrace the unexpected.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Progressing in retrospect;continual thoughts:



The Gallery Place. 

Culminating performance.

Cooper Gallery

Dimmed lights, panorama of projections illuminates the gallery wall, red carpet stage divides the space. Bruce McLean directs from sideline, Adeline Bourret and Lore Lixenberg react to the action from off stage, on and back off again. Sam Belifonte conducts The Free Voice Choir, Emily Savage writes the script as the action occurs, drums continue to roll from stage right. David Barnett documents and replays the action live through projection.

Choir is brought front of stage.[1]

They confront us. An odd confrontation, considering choirs generally do just that, sing on stage, however at the gallery’s altar their presence is all the more evident. Some appear uncomfortable. We blink up at them, they down at us, from a wholly unfamiliar perspective. We considered them and them us, a group of artist sitting staring up at another group of artists. We consider them artists but what do they consider themselves?

Herein lays the ever churning concern, the creation of an art identifiable to everyone. Consider the agents of the work, the thoughtfully balanced headlining artists and their carefully contrived plans. In their words the work was designed for ‘unintentional intentionality’ and deployed it seems, in the spirit of non-hierarchical inclusiveness. Designer, Curator, Janitor, Sculptor, Musician, Actor, Agent, Viewer; what is the difference anyway? The choir know, but equally they are not sure either. Their enjoyment in the previous rehearsals was evident, as I have mentioned in my previous blog, particularly in the Botanic Gardens event. Their interaction was moving, integral to the beauty of the work, occurring in that place which was belonging to them as Dundonian’s. In the culminating performance they appear uncomfortable, however the lines are blurred between where the discomfort lies. Is it the choir that is feeling uneasy because of their positioning in the gallery space or that they become an art object in the gallery, or even that they are inside that place at all?  Is it the viewer (more so, viewer-spectator in the case of the culminating performance) uneasy at the choir’s presence in the gallery? A feeling of spectacle ensues. Yet another oddity when we consider the communally inclusive nature of a choir and of art ideally, one would expect us all to identify with each other more easily.

Do the choir know who the artists are? Certainly they do, by recognising the innumerable social signifiers we all conduct our social relations upon, but are the similarities between the two as apparent as we would hope them to be? Bruce McLean is a non-hierarchical individual. Artists can identify this. They recognise artist’s hierarchies but do the public? Did the public realise hierarchies were being attempted to be cast aside; you could deduce not only Social hierarchies but within that hierarchies of Place. Do you know if someone is important in a particular world if you do not know that world? Inevitably the creation of a publicly inclusive ‘Live Artwork’ leads to the subjectivity of its participants being given free agency, which is to be commended. However within the context of a predominantly insular art world, which places work in the somewhat enclosed walls of a gallery, the insertion of the public into that world as an integral part of the work, for good or for ill, feels odd. Ultimately this leads the artist to question how, why, and for who are we creating and why is it placed, in a ‘Place’ which is identifiable to a minority if we wish it to be identifiable to the majority?

Irit Rogoff questions ‘Can we actually participate in the pleasure and identity with images produced by culturally specific groups to which we do not belong?’ [2]

Here images are actions.






[1] The structure used here is normally employed in script writing. This is in reference to the live response of Beth Savage in the performance of A Cut A Scratch A Score, Cooper Gallery October 2011. Savage responded to the action of the performance live, which was projected onto the gallery wall, writing the script as the action occurred.
[2] Irit Rogoff, Terra Infirma; Geography’s Visual Culture. (Routledge. 2000) (30)



Monday, 31 October 2011

Engaged Response

I'm really happy how proactive and engaged the MFA students have been in A CUT and how perhaps the dialogues they instigated in such opportunities as Meet the Writer's in Residence and chairing a 5o'clock Salon carried on once they had left the confines and privacy of these sessions. I really hope that a collaborative exhibition does take place as part of their assessment. I always thought it a shame that in final degree marking in Fine Art and APCP that projects/collaborations could not be taken more into account alongside one's practice.

In response to Tracy's post, I do feel that out of most graduates from DJCAD I have a more well-rounded experience of curation and what it can mean in contemporary visual culture. I worked as an Information Assistant to Karla Black's Venice show for the 54th Biennale and in this time I met a collector of Black's work and Arte Povera historian and curator who asked me many questions about the direction my life and my involvement in the arts was taking. When we got onto the subject of my interest in curation, he said;

"Holly, do you like people?"

- "Yes."

"Do you like working with people?"

- "Yes."

"Then you can't possibly be a curator."

.... This left me quite astounded. And four months on, I don't think he's right. I think the notion of a curator is now a very loose term. I think curators are facilitators, producers, directors who enable artists to fully realise their creative and socially responsive ambitions and I hope this experience as Production Assistant has instilled the confidence in me to do this in the not so distant future.

There are many artists who work successfully as artist-curators and vice-versa and I do believe it is essential that curatorial practice becomes a more fundamental aspect of Contemporary Fine Art education, as no one can curate your work better than yourself. This brings me back to my wish that exhibition in the Cooper Gallery had been given time to breath, and that the artists had time to reflect on the immediacy of their sculptural performance, which could be conveyed in a series of dialogical, more logical outcomes for a fresh audience. 




Shadow prop cut-outs in the current Cooper Gallery exhibition

Nonetheless, what I think this project and a lot of performative-based works do is to emphasise the current obsession with documentation. The beauty of this project was its 'durational' quality, being the definable and seductive characteristic of performance art. Performance begs the questions - does is need documentation, and does there need to be an outcome? - and that is why wording was so important within this project. The performances were not a means to an end, the last performance was not the finale, it was 'Culminating' because A CUT A SCRATCH A SCORE not only remains alive in the minds of the artists, curators, team and most importantly participators/audience, but it has a life after Dundee when it moves onto London's RCA. It leaves me and Katie asking:- was the vibrancy of the week’s multiple scheduled but disorderly performances not enough, should there be an exhibition?


Sam Belinfante in the first of three Open Rehearsal's in the Cooper Gallery

Above: Sam and Bruce McLean at the City Square Open Rehearsal
Below: Bruce and Lore Lixenberg

Pics by Holly Knox Yeoman

Saturday, 29 October 2011

stage for recollection

I agree with Holly that the empty stage has a very different presence from last week. The potential for action has disappeared along with the artists. The fixed exhibition, with its film footage and re-presentation of objects, acts almost as a recollection of the performance from the week before.

The ‘durational’ of the open rehearsals week allowed for viewers to experience the constant change, with decisions being made and un-made by the artists so that even the Culminating Performance was not finite. Although it demonstrated some of the more finely tuned performative actions developed from the week, it also experimented in new ways, and involved the gathering together of previous and new participants who interpreted the artists’ directions in different surroundings from the open rehearsals.

In contrast, the static exhibition feels more clearly defined. The cardboard cut outs are neatly gathered together and face away from the viewer – almost as they were when not in use during the Culminating Performance – however, they have been delegated to the outside space of the Upper Foyer Gallery. We see them in use through documentation footage in the Cooper Gallery but by being separate and away from the stage they seem to be waiting to be moved/removed. Although last week I held the tree, moved the trousers, and picked up the cloud, I wouldn’t dare touch them now. Perhaps with the empty stage they (challengingly?) present too many options, so that no one act would be appropriate?

The chaos, exhilaration and excitement of the Open Rehearsals week has dissipated but the exhibition provides a platform to recall it in part.

I am intrigued to discover more about the MFA collaborative exhibition, it will be interesting to see what choices are made that perhaps wouldn’t have been without the experience of A CUT and An Action.

durational fixity

Good to read of your experience Holly, as a participant in A CUT ... and as a recent graduate who has first-hand experience of a very different type, form and approach to the presentation of art and the art of exhibition-making: the Venice Biennale. I wonder how your immersion in these two projects has impacted on your thoughts on the role and place of the artist, and curation? And what about the manipulation of time as medium – the ‘durational’ within performance versus the ‘fixity’ of the exhibition?

MFA students who participated in A CUT … and An Action … have subsequently proposed staging a collaborative exhibition as part of the MFA PGCert assessment – students, what are your thoughts on the questions here?

http://djcadmfa2011.blogspot.com/

Friday, 28 October 2011

"see the music and hear the image"


This past two weeks has been an absolute blast and given me real insight into artists’ collaborations and the inherent tensions of many people combining in a large scale project.

My introduction to the musical, sculptural, performative, theatrical, dialogical process of the efforts of Belinfante, Barnett, McLean, Bourrett and Lixenberg has been truly inspiring and often perplexing when people come together to create something unique.

Belinfante's and Lixenberg's input has reaffirmed my personal interest in the notion of musicality in contemporary art and the versatility of the voice as an instrument, as a way of engaging with the public and as an identifiable form between artist and participator - whether as performer or audience member.
The complexities of this project enabled a breakdown of the restrictions that exist between viewer, artist, the unaware public bystander, and who or what can become sculptural performance. The intensity of Performance week is now over, where the artists, curators and production team battled with a schedule that included meetings, discussions, Open Rehearsals, actual rehearsals, 5o'clock salons and the Culminating Performance. And so we are now left with remnants of this chaotic but fantastic time in the form of an exhibition in the Cooper Gallery.
The exhibition gathers attention through the unusual sounds which echo from the Cooper Gallery, and then captivates the viewer further through Barnett's geometric graphic based movement recordings framed by glimpses of performances from the previous week. The long stage diagonally disrupts the space leaving the viewer with a longing to have witnessed its orginal and live purpose - as a place to perform.

I am incredibly happy to have played a part in this collaboration between five diverse artists, Exhibitions at DJCAD curators, and the other members of the production team. It is always hard to have a clear opinion on something you have been so heavily involved with, and I do believe that those who attend the exhibition will come away unsure of the gallery experience presented and it will be interesting the response it receives. However, I believe the performances that many witnessed last week were beneficial in engaging people from various backgrounds, with the majority of singers, drummers, audience members enquiring about other opportunities to participate and learn more about the work. Those who participated went away feeling positive about their new experience, widening the appeal of contemporary art and of the vibrancy artists can bring to a cityscape such as Dundee.



Members of Dundee Drum Academy and individual drummers spontaneously drumming at the top of Crichton Street after the City Square Open Rehearsal.






Margaret Mather's and The Free Voice Choir practicing before the Open Rehearsal in the Botanics Greenhouse.

Vids by Holly Knox Yeoman

Friday, 21 October 2011

Doodles from Wednesday's 5 o'clock salon.


Doodles from Tuesdays 5 o'clock salon.


I saw a Sculpture







Photos by David Aitken

Thoughts from Thursday's rehearsal.

Space is in a constant state of reproduction, issues of space and the spacialization of social relations and conventions of epistemology within this sphere are in constant flux. Henri Lefebvre in The Production of Space argues this, and Wednesday’s rehearsal in Dundee’s Botanic Gardens exemplified it beautifully.
The public places chosen as venue for the past two rehearsals, the city square and the botanic gardens are public places with socially assigned functions, this being the nature of the notion of Place. They are also social spaces, which by the nature of Space, allows for a constant reconfiguration of use and an exploration of the knowledge gained from that process.
The Botanic Gardens was the most striking example of this when we consider the reaction of the public. The members of the public, who did not attend specifically to see the event, appeared to have stumbled upon the process in a very different way to the public at the city square rehearsal. In the square the viewer encountered the rehearsal passing through the space. Stopping if they wished, continuing on with their way with ease in an open space which is frequently reassigned different functions. A Live Art event does not happen often but is not inconsiderable within a city square.
Within the context of the Botanic Gardens, the resulting feeling was altogether different. Most of the public were there for a specific reason, to see the plants, their encounter with the rehearsal was met with surprise, intrigue, and on one occasion I witnessed annoyance. (One gentleman was ‘just there to see the coniferous plants, not this shit’...I quote) Those that stayed cut statuesque silhouette, motionless with their heads peering out from behind trees, becoming parts of the artwork unbeknownst to themselves. We were moved by the musicality of the space and the artist interaction to it. However there was a feeling of peering in, of being uninvited, creating a strange tension within the viewer participant.
Perhaps this is due to location? This event being in a public place with a strongly defined function, is it that when the functionality of a place is subverted, uncomfortably we must rethink? The space is also extremely enclosed, closely defining the route of movement, prohibiting the agency of the public. The artists were intruding into a public place yet the public felt it was the one intruding.
End of the first act of the rehearsal. Clapping. Exit choir, and the insularity of the rehearsal becomes even more apparent. The artists move to a different mode of action as the second process of the work is employed, the artists working with their environment and props to create a more contrived aesthetic for future development away from this space. The public is not required here, silence is needed. The feeling of intrusion prevails. Perhaps the disordered new function of this place could have been more clearly defined, but is that possible in a work that does not wish to be defined and where the artist is striving for, in the words of Bruce McLean, unintentional intentionality?  
The culminating performance returns to the Cooper Gallery on Friday, this time differing from Monday’s events with the addition of the public. It will be interesting to see how the notions of place, space and public agency, develops within the very specific context of the gallery. Shall we all feel more comfortable?

Central Station

The volunteers on the A CUT! project have contributed to Exhibition's Cental Station Blog, which gives further insight into what has been going on this week in the Cooper Gallery, Board Room and our events in the City Square and Botanical Gardens.

outy.

Them and Us

The artists didn’t turn up to the salon last night in the interests of continuing their own work. This heightened the sense of them and us, which added to the week’s constant contradiction of the term collaboration. They may not turn up for tonight’s exhibition, but we should accept that, right?

I’m not going. Is that acceptable? Why can’t I help but feel that I should go after being so involved in the week’s events?

Darian Leader says that 'what one sees with one’s own eyes is mixed up with the question of what someone else sees.’ (Stealing the Mona Lisa, 2002, pg 15) My ‘someone else’ would be disappointed in me not going tonight, but that ‘someone else’ has been the person I’ve been performing for all week as I’ve participated in, A cut. A scratch. A score. My ‘someone else’ has forced me to push past an initial personal reaction and cause me to be critical, resulting in me to having to connect with something I would perhaps not have chosen to engage with. When are we completely experiencing something for ourselves?

To me, this whole week has been a performance, the very thing the artists seem to be trying to avoid, in the sense that everyone seems to have been playing a role and mixing up what they see with the question of what their ‘someone else’ sees.

It was interested in last night’s salon dialogue between those who had been to the rehearsals and the individual who hadn’t. She was experiencing the rehearsals only through what was talked about as she attended the salon discussions. I feel the barrier she presented herself with by not seeing the rehearsals were not dissimilar to the barriers viewer’s faced who did attend. Boundaries, that I thought would be broken through performance in a public place, were present in each location.

Tonight’s culminating performance is not to be seen as a conclusion yet we have been viewing events called rehearsals, which suggest the anticipation of a finished outcome. I am not going tonight because I didn’t book a ticket. Surely the booking system contradicts the intent of tonight not being final performance.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

And here is a page for you from my 1997 book BULK (Barbican, London), the drawing made in response to the man I passed daily on a Rotterdam street, miming an operetta whilst spinning an LP on his finger, endlessly seeking perfection.

the note as site for ...

Able only to join you at tomorrow night’s Culminating Performance, my comment is an observation on your postings and a continuation of my perpetual thoughts about the ‘note’ as a site for the crucial place of failure in art.

I am reading the current Metropolis M (NL) magazine Survival, and thinking about what Chus Martinez says about Documenta (13)’s reasons for publishing the series of notebooks 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts: that notes and notebooks …”move between drawing and writing, and between the collecting of ideas and the naming of them. But they are also about the search, the arguments in their raw form, about the temporary rupture with the discursive form they represent. Notes and notebooks point up the way that writing and reading are bound to one’s self, and thus say something about the relationship between the private and the public.” (my translation from Dutch).