Off Limits: 40 Artangel Projects

Surveying 40 projects realised over the previous decade by film-makers, writers, visual artists, composers, choreographers and performers, this book was more or less my parting shot after nearly 5 years working on publications for the arts commissioning organisation Artangel. Published in 2002, the aim of the book was to provide an overview of the range of projects realised, and to give an insight into how they materialised from multiple perspectives. It is a book in which the notion of multiple layers of information being present and working in conjunction with each other was thoroughly explored and eventually embedded.

One of the key challenges was to consider how the book should be organised, thus throwing up questions around order, hierarchy, selection and juxtaposition. Chronology was considered, but deemed maybe not the most interesting approach, although a timeline does feature. As the projects were so diverse, with as common denominator that they had all been temporary (at least they were at the time) – in respect to site and context, concepts and materialisation, as well as art form (with Artangel working across disciplines) – a thematic approach seemed a much more obvious one. The themes around which projects were eventually clustered are: motion, past, navigation, pulse and time.

Most projects are represented through multiple reflections, including images, memories from the artist, and/or a brief framing text by either of the two directors (James Lingwood and Michael Morris), and one or more press responses. Each thematic chapter is preceded by an essay that places the projects, but also Artangel and its specific approach in a wider frame. Authors commissioned include Jonathan Romney (motion), Lynn MacRitchie (past), Joe Kerr (navigation), Alan Read (pulse), and Adrian Searle and Alex Cole (time). The book is introduced by a co-written text from James and Michael, and a larger essay by Claire Bishop.

I remember spending a lot of time considering the images – many were simple 35 mm slides, where only certain projects had large format slides – and also eventually travelling with a big lever archer full of the visual material to graphic designerMark Diaper , who was based in Berlin. The eventual format of the book (29 x 24 cm) – which to a large extent came from Merrell, the co-publishers – proved too big for many of the smaller images available. Therefore to come to a balanced visual representation of such a diverse range of work, much of which was to some extent ephemeral, was quite a challenge. The older projects proved in that respect the hardest. I also remember coming up with the title – Off Limits – in the back of a taxi. It’s often conversations in situations like that that prove most productive.

The collaboration withMark Diaper was the last of a range in relation to Artangel publications. Although they all bear his signature, each has its own logic and autonomy, which is entirely in keeping with how each publication was conceptually approached: on the basis of the specificity of the project it related to.

Artists whose projects are included are: Motion – Douglas Gordon, Matthew Barney, Richard Billingham, Steve McQueen, Shirin Neshat, Atom Egoyan, `Melanie Counsell; Past – Gabriel Orozco, Rachel Whiteread, Juan Muñoz, Neil Bartlett, Jeremy Deller, Stephan Balkenhol, Giya Kanchelli; Navigation – Rachel Lichtenstein / Iain Sinclair, Richard Wentworth, Janet Cardiff, Scanner, Mary Lemley / Graeme Miller, Francis Alÿs, Laurie Anderson/Brian Eno; Pulse – Michael Clark, William Forsythe / Dana Caspersen / Joel Ryan, Bethan Huws & The Bistritsa Babi, Deborah Bull / Gill Clarke / Siobhan Davies, Alain Platel / The Shout, Hans Peter Kuhn, Susan Hiller, Michael Landy, Augusto Boal; Time  – Jem Finer, Tatsuo Miyajima, Gavin Bryars/Juan Muñoz, John Berger / Simon McBurney, Helen Chadwick / David Wojnarowicz, Tony Oursler, Emilia & Ilya Kabakov, Hans Peter Kuhn / Robert Wilson.  

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