Min(d)ing the Gaps

A couple of years ago artist Anthony Shrag and I walked and talked for an entire day (see a previous post). The upshot of that extended conversation was a collaboration around a text, which is now a blog.

The text reflects on an artist-in-residence project that Anthony did, and that, despite all best intentions from everyone involved, for him was a ‘failure’. While failure is something we’d rather ignore or not talk about, doing the kind of in-depth soul-searching about why the project failed that Anthony does here ended up being very productive. It is, as he underlines, not a matter of pointing a blaming finger to individual people or organisations, but trying to really put a finger on how systemic underlying factors and mechanisms, or lack thereof, contribute to projects actually never standing a chance of reaching their potential. Rather than writing a manual on how to do it better, he ends with a series of ‘questions to ask yourself’.

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The text that sits on the blog is written by Anthony but it is one that evolved through shifting ideas of what the text could or should (not) contain and how they could be written up as they emerged and solidified over time. In addition, questions as to who the text was for and how it could be disseminated, and of course what the ultimate aim was weighed in too. The essay as you can now read it was also strongly influenced by our close collaboration through ongoing conversations and editing rounds, the introduction of metaphors, which led to drawings, which in turn pushed the text in new directions. In its final form it is also very much the blog as medium, with its range of mechanisms of interaction and display, that has allowed the different narrative strands to be accessible in multiple ways.

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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.