Talks

Recently I had the pleasure of doing two talks outside my normal teaching context (Birkbeck, University of London): one for the current cohort of students at the Royal College of Art’s Curating Contemporary Art, upon the invitation of my wonderful former colleague Ben Cranfield, the other for BA arts students across programmes at Manchester Metropolitan University, upon the invitation of the equally wonderful Judith Winter. While the emphasis of the talks of course differed – Ben had specifically asked me to use my research as focus/starting point, whereas Judith wanted me to keep things broader to try and speak to a very diverse group of undergraduate students – I used some of the same material for both, with slight adaptations. At the RCA I talked specifically about publications as a space in relation to curatorial practice and discourse, and our expectations about its use in relation to art and exhibitions, whereas at MMU I focused on the use of publications as space for artistic practice and its mediation. Below the two opening slides: spot the difference…  

As I have done before, I used a facebook conversation Paul O’Neill and I had about five years ago, about the difference between curating an exhibition and curating a book, to kick-start my musings. Because I am in the middle of thinking and writing for several chapters in relation to my own research, doing both talks proved to be a welcome trigger to refocus.

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Book Works

After having worked as an associate editor on the series Fabrications for independent art(ists’) book publisher Book Works in 2006-2009, I am now a member of its board. I am looking forward to working with the organisation and the other board members in the years ahead.

This year has kicked off with a bang, with founding co-director Jane Rolo’s announcement she is leaving and the start of the recruitment for a new co-director (Book Works is, after all, a double-stranded organisation, with a studio and a publishing arm). A dream job, but definitely for someone else.

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More talk

I will be speaking at the upcoming John Berger Now conference in Canterbury on 12 September. The invitation for submission of abstracts was preceded by the following statement.

‘The death of the artist is a dividing line’ wrote John Berger in 1966. ‘Every artist’s work changes when he dies. And finally no one remembers what his work was like when he was alive … [His work] will have become evidence from the past, instead of being … a possible preparation for something to come.’

I will try and do justice to Berger’s legacy by approaching the seminal book Ways of Seeing – a book made by five of us, as the credits page states, and which followed the eponymous television programme in 1972 – from a curatorial perspective.

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For more information about the conference see the CCCU webpage and the facebook page. There is also a wordpress page for the event.

Last talk

Three times lucky for me: I’ll be talking at Birkbeck again this morning. Drawing on notions of authorship and translation, and making connections with ‘the curatorial’ and ‘the translational’ I will consider some case studies that I’ve been looking at recently, including the book Ways of Seeing.

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More talking…

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Not strictly talking about a specific book, but I will be in conversation with graphic designer Stuart Bailey this coming Tuesday, 20 June, about how we both approach our research around art books, and publishing about and in relation to art. Stuart finished his PhD at Reading in 2014, embracing Umberto Eco’s notion of the Open Work, something I am also interested in.

The talk will take place at Birkbeck, in a series of Corkscrew events that focus on practice-based or practice-related research. For more information click here.

Oslo workshop

Having spent two days in the very ‘koselig’ bookshop space of Oslo’s Cappelens Forslag (and its very intimate back room-cum kitchen), with a morning’s detour to the nearby Kulturhuset, my head is full of thinking about writing, editing and publishing texts and books about art. The discussions were generous and challenging, the exercises proposed by everyone thought-provoking, and the amount of reading we all managed to get in beforehand and during was enriching.

I’ve more or less invited myself back to any appropriate future workshop to be organised by Anne Szefer-Karlsen and the MA in Curatorial Practice (based in Bergen) who invited me in the first place. The range of students is diverse – all of them working in some curatorial capacity across a variety of arts organisations in Norway, or beyond. And despite departing from London sans cash and cards, the kindness of strangers, and a loan from Anne got me through and back home.

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For more on Cappelens Forslag’s publishing project, the conversational encyclopaedia, see this article that popped up in the Guardian two days after the workshop.