Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2019

While New Contemporaries is celebrating its seventieth anniversary this year – having been initiated by the Arts Council in 1949 – as well as the fact that Bloomberg have supported the organisation for two full decades, this year is also the first in which new writing is properly embraced as a form of artistic practice. This is not me having a dig at the organisation, on the contrary: it is a sign that with the adoption of publishing as a whole as artistic practice, and the proliferation of courses dedicated to writing as art, writing by artists as (part of) their practice has indeed gone mainstream and is now fully acknowledged as such.

Once again, I am working on the publication as copy-editor (the sixth year in succession, for those who are counting), which by extension is becoming a more fully integrated part of the ever-expanding range of activities that New Contemporaries as an organisation is undertaking, all to nurture and make visible work by emerging artists. It’s been great to see how activities now comprise a wide range of partnerships for different strands of its programming, including studio bursaries, residencies, a mentoring scheme, engagement with The Syllabus, opening up submissions to artists from non-accredited courses, symposia, and, last but not least, a collaborative PhD that explores the organisation’s own history with Nottingham Trent University. This year the exhibition – with work by 45 artists selected by Rana Begum, Sonya Boyce and Ben Rivers – will open at Leeds Art Gallery in September, before travelling on to the South London Gallery, where it was shown for the first time last year. Like the last two years, Hato are the designers.

 

Advertisements

Three times lucky…

It’s been a slightly longer process than with the two previous books in the series, but Curating after the Global: Roadmaps for the Present is now off to the printers. This time the team of editors had expanded to four: in addition to Paul O’Neill, Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson, with whom I worked on How Institutions Think (2017) and The Curatorial Conundrum. What to Study? What to Research? What to Practice? (2016), Simon Sheikh was this time also part of the team of editors. Once again we worked with Valerio di Lucente from Julia, who is as pleasant and responsive a designer to collaborate with as one can wish for.

Although the range of contributions looks similar to the two previous books, quite a few of the essays/text/exchanges this time were significantly longer, some needing work in terms of structure and clarity, or serious expansions and/or reworkings from the presentation during the conference the book follows on from. All of which required more time than originally envisaged. In the end I’ve also managed to squeeze in a small contribution myself, about how anthologies like these are key platforms and mediums in the development of curatorial discourse, and my role in the care for words and the nuanced differences between the spoken utterance and the printed word on the page. Due out in the autumn, available via The MIT Press. Announcements about (a) launch(es) to follow in due course.

Cover open


 

PARSE 9 on Work

The ninth issue of PARSE Journal is now live, on the recently revamped website. Some further texts still to be added (and some texts still to be tweaked), but there is a lot to explore on issues related to artistic work, labour, working conditions, care and self-care through a wide range of texts. On the occasion of the launch, there is a series of events on 7 and 8 May, including a keynote by Martha Rosler. The issue so far includes contributions by Ciarán Finlayso, Dave Beech, Frances Hatherley, Patricia Sequeira Brás, Tero Nauha, Bruno Gulli and Josefine Wikström. Others to follow soon. Screen Shot 2019-05-07 at 19.11.06

Tinkering with text

I have known Isabel Nolan for about a decade now, and fell in love with her artworks when I first encountered them, and have been following her practice closely ever since. I have also been intrigued by the odd speech I have had the pleasure of hearing her deliver/perform.* I laughed heartily at her introduction during the inauguration of her work at the Mithraeum in London last year. So no surprise then to be delighted to be asked to work with Isabel on a volume that will contain a selection of her writing. Due date tbc, as we decided it would be a good idea to take our time and do it right. As it should be.Isabel-Nolan-Rock-founded-place

Image of the work Rock Founded Place as installed at Isabel’s solo exhibition at IMMA in Dublin in 2014.

If you’re interested in hearing/seeing her do a talk, try here.

Meta PARSE

In the course of 2018 the Faculty of Fine, Applied, and Performing Arts at the University of Gothenburg has shifted its publishing approach. Rather than publishing PARSE Journal via distinct issues in both print and online, as it had done since its inception, it has gone mainly digital. As the new website states: ‘PARSE does not undertake or conduct research projects, but exists as a publishing, dialogue and conference platform for high quality international research that links the fields within the Faculty’. In practice that means that instead of thematic issues, longer-term research arcs explore specific themes that are announced and made manifest somehow on the website.

Coming up on the new platform will be essays related to three research arcs: ‘art and work‘, ‘art and migration‘ and ‘intersectional engagements in politics and art’. Where the open calls for contributions ‘encourages experimental forms of research publication including artistic research and practice led research’ the platform ‘invite[s] academic research articles (6000 – 8000 words), essays, creative writing, all forms of graphic visualization, photography, audio work, videos, interactive work, and other creative works. All contributions will pass through an open peer review process.’ The fact that the research topics are engaged with over a longer of time and through different modes of interrogation means that they are engaged with in great depth.

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 11.01.26

Over the summer I have been proofing (and copy-editing) essays mainly in relation to the last ‘normal’ issue, focusing on exclusion, led by Dave Beech, Erling Björgvinsson and Kristina Hagström-Ståhl, which is now online (see the introduction here) on the revamped website. More recently I have worked on texts related to the first research arc, led by Dave Beech, with editors Marina Vishmidt and Benjamin Fallon and Kirsteen Macdonald, and of which the last event took place on 5 December, titled ‘Never (Off) Work!‘. Watch this new space!

 

 

The Lie of The Land

Throughout 2018 I’ve been involved as with a catalogue for MK Gallery in Milton Keynes. Following an expansion project by 6a architects, in close collaboration with artists Gareth Jones and Nils Norman, MK Gallery will reopen in March 2019. The opening show, titled The Lie of the Land, explores how the British landscape was radically transformed by changes in free time and leisure activities. Tracing a line between Capability Brown’s aristocratic gardens at Stowe and the social, urban experiment at neighbouring New Town Milton Keynes, the exhibition teases out the aspirations that underpin our built environments.

The catalogue includes essays by Anthony Spira, MK Gallery’s director, Jane Rendell, Jes Fernie, Owen Hatherley, Tom Emerson, and Cora Gilroy-Ware and Paul Gilroy, which explore aspects of landscape design and urban development, land ownership and access, housing, and how these are all interwoven in Milton Keynes’s history. It contains shorter texts by Claire Louise Staunton, Sam Jacob and Fay Blanchard. The book is designed by Mark El-kathib.

MK_Gallery_expansion_Rear_Facade.2e16d0ba.fill-1200x850

The book is also a ‘proper’ catalogue, with many images of works in the show, accompanied by extended captions. Artists and designers whose work is part of the project include: Edward Alcock, David Alesworth, Archigram, Edwin Beard Budding, John Berger, James Boswell, Boyd & Evans, Thalia Campbell, Canaletto, Philip Castle, Ithell Colquhoun, John Csaky, Jeremy Deller, Sarah Ann Drake, Malcolm Drummond, Susanna Duncombe, Peter Dunn, Tracey Emin, Rose English, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Norman Foster, Elizabeth Frink, William Powell Frith, Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Gainsborough, Walter Goodall, Walter Greaves, Richard Hamilton, Emma Hart, Ebenezer Howard, Julius Caesar Ibbetson, Evelyn Grace Ince, Helmut Jacoby, Bob Jardine, Gertrude Jekyll, Gareth Jones, Michael Kirkham, Laura Knight, Mabel Francis Layng, Ann Lee, Loraine Leeson, Lawrence Lek, Linder, Joan Littlewood, Errol Lloyd, Jane Loudon, John Loudon, Laurence Stephen Lowry,  Edwin Lutyens, Andrew Mahaddie, Robert Medley, Brian Milne, Henry Moore, William Morris, Marlow Moss, Joseph Nash, Paul Nash, Balthazar Nebot, Nils Norman, Marianne North, Eduardo Paolozzi, Joseph Paxton, Olivia Plender, Ingrid Pollard, Cedric Price, Project Art Works, Jacques Rigaud, Bridget Riley, John Robertson Reid, William Patrick Roberts, John Ruskin, Benton Seeley, Yinka Shonibare MBE, David Shrigley, Alison and Peter Smithson, Jo Spence, Thomas Struth, Superstudio, James Tissot, James Walker Tucker, Joseph Mallord William Turner, John A. Walker, Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, Ed Webb-Ingall, Carel Weight, Stuart Whipps, Rachel Whiteread, Althea Willoughby, Audrey Weber, Stephen Willats, Harold Williamson, John Wootton, James Wyld, John Yeadon.

Gems

In the course of the last decade I have on and off worked on publications with writing by artist/jeweller Leonor Hipólito, designed by Arne Kaiser. I knew Arne through publications I’d worked on with curator Jürgen Bock, so via this string of connections I was invited to work on Leonor’s texts. The first one, überstein, published in 2009, was followed by Beyond Emotions (2012), 22 Reflections on the Dissolution of the Self (2015), Looking at Us (2017) and the next one, titled Writing Pad, is about to be published in January 2019, making it five in total. Where the first few showed the writing alongside single examples of material work, in the more recent ones they are interspersed with photographic imagery and installation shots.

Similar to her material work, which I see as a poetic spatial practice, Leonor’s writing is a kind of spatial poetics, with a strong philosophical undercurrent. Each publication takes shape at its own pace, with the writing evolving alongside Leonor’s material practice, following by often months of slow tinkering and toing and froing between us over choice of words, sentence orders, commas, semi-colons, etc. It is a delicate and collaborative process, but one that is suffused with strong decisions, and clear thinking. Working on Leonor’s texts offers an interesting change of scenery from the often long, much more academically inclined texts I tend to work on and with, although they may engage with similar topics.

pages_view5