Thursday, 15 October 2015

Cooper Summer Residency Exhibition 2015: THINGNESS?

Installation view of Cooper Summer Residency Exhibition 2015: THINGNESS?

In July 2015, Cooper Gallery hosted Glasgow based artist Oliver Braid, Brussels based artist Anouchka Oler and Edinburgh/Gateshead based philosopher Joseph Fletcher. During the residency, the artists and philosopher discussed and reflected upon the possibility of Object Oriented Ontology as a mode of interpretation with which to encounter contemporary art practices. This has led to a body of new works and an online publication which was presented in the exhibition at Cooper Gallery and on the Cooper Gallery website. 

Installation view of Are You Willing to Participate?,2015, Anouchka Oler.
For their exhibition in Cooper Gallery, artists Braid and Oler presented their divergent new works which were developed while on residency. Both artists' sculptural installations dominated the gallery whilst creating purposeful withdrawals from their shared space of cultural production. 

Anouchka Oler's installation investigates the precept of the performing and functional thing - object/body/mind - in contemporary society. Through multiple voices and several scenarios, her sculptural situation builds a multi-faceted hub comprising a moving-image installation, ceramic sculptures molded by the artist while in residence and at the top, a clay pot made on a pottery-wheel by the artist's mother. By mimicking a living system, the work manipulates, ingests and observes. The recurrent motif of destruction in this body of work displays the contrived obsolescence of these objects: by loosing their sensitive qualities, they are only left with the display of time invested in them. The inclination to disappear echoes the moving-image work in its attempt to remain opaque and inoperative. Moreover it questions the economy of an artistic practice and the life of an artist that is supposed to adapt and react efficiently to the possibilities cultural production offers. 

Installation view of, 2015, Oliver Braid.
A laptop, a white power cable, the Phew website, ten door handles, white tack dots and a distant sound; Oliver Braid has attempted to work as covertly as possible to construct an atmosphere which both withdraws from and fully dominates the gallery. Braid's work seeks to answer a question first posed by Quentin Crisp in 1981; "how, if at all, an object may express its maker to a stranger". Opposed to tackling Crisp's question directly, Braid is committed to utilizing oblique approaches in order to generate new modes of understanding. 

In September 2014 Braid expatriated himself to Phew, "an island off the coast of Glasgow" and the Cooper Gallery Summer Residency has been spent developing indirect portals of promotion for Phew's first seasonal events programme, Tell me Less & Tell Me More. This work included designing a new 'difficult-to-read' font for Phew related promotion, poetic texts for Phew's hard-to-access' online manifestation and exploring new ways of alerting audiences to Phew. 

Installation view of Notes on THINGNESS?, 2015, Joseph Fletcher
For the first time, this year Cooper Summer Residency invited the third resident to operate as a philosopher; Joseph Fletcher's role as this reflexive voice was confounding precisely because of the liberties that could be taken. Discussions unfurled the position of philosophical thinking in art practice and how to work across contexts, bodies of thought and models of practice. Fletcher's grounded in his ongoing research into community, opening up shared interest between the residency artists and creating a potential dialogue between debates around Object Orientated Ontology and the potential for a 'community of objects'. Fletcher's reflections have found their physical form through the Thingness? Online publication and via Cooper Gallery's online platforms. 

Cooper Summer Salon, 22 July 2015
During the residency Cooper Summer Salons were held once a week to amplify the making and thinking through conversations with the audience and to enrich the throughs of the participants. True to the informality of the events, they weren't recorded, creating an open public discussion that withdrew from the publicness of online conversational platforms. 

Cooper Summer Residency is a space for artists, writers and thinkers to reflect upon and experiment with new ideas and strategies that will extend their practice. It is also a social and discursive situation for dialogues and debates to take place between residency artists, writers, thinkers and interested publics, providing an alternative way to encounter, reflect and critique the plurality of contemporary culture. 

The artists and philosopher collaborated to make an online publications for Thingness? publishing their writings and work in relation to the residency:

Exhibition Preview & In Conversation Event

Exhibition: 18 September - 10 October 2015

Preview: Thursday 17 September 2015, 5.30 - 7.30pm

In Conversation: Thursday 17 September 2015, 4.30 - 5.30pm

On Thursday 17 September 2015 we held an In Conversation event with residency artists Oliver Braid and Anouchka Oler, residency philosopher Joseph Fletcher and Cooper Gallery Curator Sophia Yadong Hao. The In Conversation event was held as a forum for the artists and philosopher to reflect upon the Cooper Summer Residency and Exhibition.  

Joseph Fletcher discussed his reflections upon the summer residency; which were projected onto the wall on the stairs down to the Cooper Gallery Project Space. In his reflections Fletcher discussed the relation between the maker and the object, and how an object can tell us something about the maker. It was these thoughts which led to his investigation into Oliver's labour of carpentry & embroidery:
"This seems to be an important distinction to draw out. The heavy-labour of the philosophical carpenter, with his now exhausted hammer, properness of bearing and knowledge that is that is concentrated in each blow. This stands against embellishment: dextrous fingers, brevity and a sedentary patience. Not really two regimes of knowledge, but rather two contrasting figures of practice drawn out of an experience of the world."
'Useless object', part of installation Are You Willing to Participate?,
Anouchka Oler, 2015
Fletcher distinguishes between the two modes of artistic practice, and of the importance of process in cultural productivity. This very specifically relates to part of Anouchka Oler's installation Are You Willing to Participate? which includes a 'useless object', made specifically for the point of being made and not for its purpose. 

For more information about the Exhibition visit: 

To see photographs of the Exhibition install, Preview and In Conversation event visit our Flickr page at 

Cooper Summer Residency: THINGNESS? Reading List

To coincide with Cooper Summer Residency 2015, we asked the artists and writer to share with us a ‘suggested reading list’ of essays or publications that expand upon ideas related to their practice.

Below are the suggestions…

Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures by Graham Harman, Zero Books, 2010.
Object-Orientated Philosophy: the Noumenon's New Clothes by Peter Wolfendale, 2014.
The Democracy of Objects by Levi Byrant, 2011.
Collapse Vol. II: Speculative Realism edited by Robin McKay, 2012.
Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant, 1781.
Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction by Ray Brassier, 2010. 

Oliver Braid's Suggested Reading List

The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper, 2011.
Starry Speculative Corpse by Eugene Thacker, 2015.
Creepiness by Adam Kotzko, 2014.
Medieval Thought by David Luscombe, 1997.
‘Everything Is Not Connected’ (Essay excerpted from Bells and Whistles) by Graham Harman, 2012.
Self by Barry Dainton, 2014.
La Meilleure Part des hommes (Hate: A Romance) by Tristan Garcia, 2012.
The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory, 2010.
L’inexistence divide (The Divine Inexistence) (Translated excerpts from forthcoming publication) by Quentin Meillassoux, translated by Graham Harman, 2011.
BANK by BANK, 2001.
John Dies At The End by David Wong, 2007.

Anouchka Oler's Suggested Reading List

Neomaterialism by Joshua Simon, 2011.
Sexuality and Space edited by Beatriz Colomina, 1992.
Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama - Manhattan, 1970-1980 by J. Sanders, J. Hoberman, 2013.
Partly Unsettled by Lili Reynaud-Dewar in Petunia #3, 2011.
Guy de Cointet: Tempo Rubato by M. Arriola, J. Sanders, 2013.
Ettore Sottsass: a Critical Biography by Barbara Radice, 1993.
The Companion Species Manifesto Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness by Donna Haraway, 2003.
Le Corps Lesbien (The Lesbian Body) by Monique Wittig, 1973.
Le Guerrillères (not translated into English) by Monique Wittig, 1969.
La Beautè du Mètis: Rèflexions d'un Francophobe (not translated into English) by Guy Hocquenghem, 1979.

Joseph Fletcher's Suggested Reading List

The Inoperative Community by Jean Luc Nancy, 1991.
The Unavowable Community by Maurice Blanchot, 1988.
Being and Time by Martin Heidegger, 1962.
The Quadruple Object by Graham Harman, a Zero Books publication, 2011.
'The Confronted Community' by Jean Luc Nancy, Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 23-36, 2003.