Magazine: Issue 11
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Venue Spotlight: Flat Time House
In this interview Chantelle Purcell talks to Claire Louise Staunton curator and director of Flat Time House, (home and studio of the late British artist John Latham). We learn about how the space works to actively maintain an ongoing archive and research centre, what developments have been made and the forthcoming exhibition 'The Government of the First and Thirteenth Chair'. Preview: Last friday 30th March 6.30 - 8.30 Exhibition: 31st March—6th May '12. CP– You are distinct from a gallery space, as Flat Time House is the home and studio of the late British artist John Latham and acts as an archive and research centre. Can you describe what goes into actively maintaining Lathamʼs legacy? CS– Flat Time House is a unique space where we work with contemporary artists to understand the past better and to propose a new future. While sometimes we do exhibit work from John Latham and his peers from the UK?s underground cultural movements it?s not a museum rather it?s a living artwork, a gallery space, a home and a place that safeguards experimentation. John Latham's work and ideas dealt with major issues such as time, the universe, ecology, human interaction and the role of the artist. Flat Time House invites artists and students to engage with these ideas through artistic and research activity. We have a public programme of exhibitions and events both on-site and with partner institutions. Performance still from John Latham's Government of the First and Thirteenth Chair, Riverside Studios, 1978 CP– The name of the house derives from John Lathamʼs 'Flat Time' theory? For those of us unsure of this. What does this mean? From the mid-1950s onwards, Latham was developing a cosmological theory, formulated through his art-making discoveries that considered time and event to be more primary than the established means of understanding based on space and matter. Termed 'Time-Base Theory' (sometimes Flat Time Theory or Event Theory) it offers an ordering and unification of all events in the universe, including human actions, and allows an understanding of the special status of the artist in society. CS– Science works on the assumption that space and object are primary and are the fundamental building blocks of the universe. Time-Base Theory, on the other hand, assumes that time and event are primary, with objects existing as traces of events. Latham believed that our understanding of everything could be unified through this theory, from the existence of the universe to the behaviour of human beings. Latham believed that if a shift were to take place and his new cosmology were taken on board, in place of the existing world-view, then the divisions that existed within religion, science, the arts and all fields of knowledge would be unified and the Universe better understood. Our new exhibition looks again at Latham’s collaborative and evolving play, The Government of the First and Thirteenth Chair as a means to activating and illustrating these theories through performance. Performance still from John Latham's Government of the First and Thirteenth Chair, Riverside Studios, 1978 CP: Latham considered the house as 'a living sculpture' could you describe the unique division of the house and how each of the rooms take on the attributes of a living organism? CS– Most importantly, as a living sculpture, it must be lived in to exist as art. Allegorically, the rooms take on the attributes of a living organism designated by John Latham. At FTHo, a giant and colourful book-relief sculpture penetrates a large window on the front of the house, known as the Face, into a room called the Mind, in which a permanent installation of works demonstrating Latham's Time-Base Theory has been maintained. The next room is known as the Brain. Latham described it as the space for 'rational thought' and this is where he worked on his theoretical writing and correspondence. The Brain is the home to the John Latham Archive. The Hand, formerly Latham's studio, is the main location for the programme of changing exhibitions and events. The remainder of the house is taken up with what is termed the 'Body Event', where eating, sleeping and 'plumbing' take place. CP– Can you tell us about the forthcoming exhibition 'The Government of the First and Thirteenth Chair'? How do you seek to reveal new insights in Lathamʼs practice? CS– The Government of the First and Thirteenth Chair was the idea of a play first proposed by John Latham in 1978. He was looking for a way to publicly communicate his theories of time, the event and the universe. He did this by creating a play using a script written through a process of improvisation in collaboration with the performers using commonly found office chairs and a carpet. The first version of The Government of the First and Thirteenth Chair took place at Riverside Studios, London in 1978 as part of a week long events programme organised by the Artist Placement Group (APG). A later version of the play involving Latham was performed as part of the events programme surrounding his solo exhibition at Modern Art, Oxford in 1991 in collaboration with the Ruskin School of Art and at the Oxford University Performance still from John Latham's Government of the First and Thirteenth Chair, Riverside Studios, 1978 debating Chamber. A third version was performed at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire in March 2012 with artist, Mark Aerial Waller as dramaturge and in collaboration with students from Norwich University for the Creative Arts (NUCA). The exhibition re-assesses this performance work through its materials and documents. It allows for us to re-address the centrality of the ʻeventʼ in Lathamʼs work and how these concepts and ways of working are dealt with by artists working today. The show also acts as a launch for a long-term project working with artists to create new versions of the play for a live audience, a screen and publication developed in co-operation with Gareth Bell- Jones (Wysing Arts Centre) and Hana Noorali (Run Gallery). CP– What developments have been made through creating an accessible and inquiry led archive collection? CS– The archive acts as a resource for a broad range of practitioners. Itʼs an information resource for historians, an asset for outside curators who are developing exhibitions, a research bank for students. Itʼs also a tool and source of stimulation for contemporary artists. Many artists working today are involved in research-led practices and in this ʻarchive feverʼ, historical documents act as both data and an artistic medium. Its our hope that the Flat Time House archive will draw in a curious audience and support artists in their work while also sharing the knowledge of Lathamʼs ideas. Ready performance, Wysing Arts Centre, 2012 Photo credit: Mike Cameron CP– Is there any forthcoming news you would like to divulge? CS– I have recently taken up post as Director of Flat Time House and I hope that in the near future we will offer a rolling programme of artists/researchers/students/open residencies in the house. This will allow for considered research to take place in the archive and to develop projects and exhibitions that engage directly with the site and support contemporary practitioners in creating new and exciting work. We will in the future open our programme more widely to non-arts practitioners and enact Lathamʼs unifying theories of art, bridging art and science and everyday life. CP– Thank you so much Claire To find out more about the Flat Time House, please visit: http://www.flattimeho.org.uk
Review: Adam Frank Walker
REVIEW: Adam Frank Walker WestLane South 1 March – 7 April 2012 Dalston, 7:30am. A wobbling grainy camera image in a dingy room. A menacing silhouetted figure. 'Anytime you do that again I will hunt you down until you are dead, I will rip your fucking head off.' Exhibition view © Adam Frank Walker, 2012 Dalston, 5pm. Coffee in a hipster café amidst the MacBooks and beautifully battered brogues. I'm waiting to meet Adam Walker. The awkwardness of assessing each new entrant only added to as I hear myself asking if they coincidentally have the same name as me. I'd been forewarned he went against the stereotype, and when I eventually found him he didn't have the elegantly disheveled air of those at the tables around us. Opposite me was an unassuming, balding, middle-aged man; precisely the kind of person you wouldn't notice. This is integral to Walker's work. His day-to-day life, personal politics and art are all bound up in one, and his artistic practice revolves around stripping away artifice and pretence. He confounds the cliché and confronts the romanticized image of the artist with the uncomfortable truth: he’s been homeless, living semi-legally in a caravan, done things about which he tells me ‘if the police knew, they’d want me locked up’. Uncomfortable viewing for the private view posers. Exhibition view © Adam Frank Walker, 2012 Back to the film. The same intimidating figure we saw now sits across from us, calmer. A conversation begins, Walker’s voice asking the questions unseen behind the camera. 'What’s your earliest memory?' 'I had a nightmare about tortoises.' 'When were you happiest?' 'Living in the children’s home.' 'I’d love to live somewhere warm with lots of people, Morocco perhaps.' The man answering is Mark, Walker’s tower block neighbour. He had come bursting in at 7:30am that morning seeking to carry on a fight from the night before. Walker had instinctively pulled out his camera phone and started filming, almost as a form of defense. Exhibition view © Adam Frank Walker, 2012 A lot of our conversation revolves around camera-phones and how they’ve become so ubiquitous. They’re integral to Walker’s practice, allowing him to start filming anytime and anyplace, documenting his life in the raw. Not only does he always have the practical ability to film, but equally importantly their ubiquity renders them inoffensive and unobtrusive. This is where the film gets interesting. It’s not just pure documentation: Mark has seen previous video pieces Walker has made and knows his interview will likely form part of an artwork. Some of the most emotionally engrossing parts of the film are when he looks directly into the camera and addresses his potential audience. Walker considers himself an artist not a film-maker, and the emphasis of his work is on presenting his reality, the artwork that he has made of his life. But some artifice is unavoidable: however much we might try not to, we all perform to some extent when the camera points our way. And the film has been edited, if only a little. ‘You’re going to edit the shit out of this aren’t you’ Mark says at one point. Mark inevitably performs in this film, but perhaps the more intriguing question is whether Walker performs in his art-life? That it is so very visceral: violent 7:30am wake up calls, homelessness and unknown other pains indicate not too much, surely it would all be too uncomfortable to optionally fake? West Lane South presents a powerful thought provoking show, continuing until April 7th. Mark might be the apparent interviewee, but Walker’s raw, grainy film shows us much more about the artist himself, and it’s uneasily fascinating. For more information on the exhibition please visit: http://www.westlanesouth.com/ Adam Walker www.adamwalkerart.co.uk
Preview: Zeitgeist Arts Projects
PREVIEW: Collectible and the launch of ZeitgeistArtProjects Chantelle Purcell talks to ZeitgeistArtProjects which comprises of artists Rosalind Davis (Director of Core Gallery, Deptford 2009-11) and Annabel Tilley. In this extended conversational interview we find out more behind ZAP's conception and the innovative partnership behind the highly successful DIY Educate programme 'Show and Tell' originally delivered at Core Gallery. ZeitgeistArtProjects is now based at ASC studios in New Cross and will launch with its inaugural exhibition 'Collectible' April 17th. Rosalind Davis has recently joined the South London Art Map team, as one our tour guides. And will be the tour guide on the forthcoming tour 'The Lewisham Olympic Ring Art Tour' 30th March. To find out more please visit: http://www.southlondonartmap.com/events/bearspace/1085 CP– If we start at the very beginning of this dynamic partnership. How was ZAP conceived? And how did you two started working together? AT– After I moved my practice from Hastings to Deptford, In March 2010, I read Rosalind's Becoming Part of Something blog on a-n. I found out about Core Gallery and got onto the mailing list. One day I went along and left my card, when I arrived back to the private view that evening, Rosalind was holding my card which had a drawing of Joseph Fritzl's house and invited me to do a drawing workshop. So that's how it began. I could see how Core Gallery was working and what they were trying to work towards (a programme) but nothing was definite. In Hastings I had been running a programme called 'Talk about the work'. Where I had invited people to come down to Hastings to share their work. I was hoping to get people to be more ambitious and involved in more projects. I had approached Fenton Arts trust and received some funding from them. With this we did a peer critique. When I saw what was going on at Core Gallery, I thought we could transfer what we had been doing in Hastings there. Meanwhile Core started to put together DIY Educate, so it coincided with them coming up with a plan and I came up with the funding. RD– Yes we combined the two. We were always doing curators and artists in dialogue at Core Gallery. Making exhibitions accessible so that the artist's could talk about their work, the curators could talk about their thoughts and ideas, we were creating networks and started to see how much people wanted to share that knowledge. © Edd Pearman, collectible exhibition 2012 Elizabeth Murton was running 'Engine Chat Chat' an informal,friendly peer critique. She had been running these in the studios, since she left Goldsmiths. What I was doing professionally in the freelance world for University of the Arts was seminars and talks on toolkits; about selling my work, moving from textiles into fine art, about being a portfolio artist, the various hats artist's have to wear, and realizing how much was lacking in Design and Art education in facing the real world. So I put together 'Nut and Bolts' started, a practical toolkit designed to aid in writing and talking about your work. There was this desperate need for people to learn about it. When the various components started to come together; 'Nuts and Bolts', peer critiques, role model artists talking about their works, we realized we also needed to have tutorials, a teacher. Which is how Graham Crowley was introduced. So it has started to form an alternative art school model. The programme is also about making new networks, a lot of people say they go to art school to make networks and you really need to constantly replenish and refresh your networks. Within the programme there are different strands and various contexts. Already there have been some incredible connections; people came to Nuts and Bolts and met a curator Karin Janssen who runs a project over in Hackney and went on to have a show. You really see how people start to connect with each other. AT– I just want to reiterate the various components of the DIY EDUCATE: Nuts and Bolts - Practical Toolkits Show and Tell - Sustaining your practice Engine ChatChat: Peer Critique Tutorials Tutorials with artists, So people are coming together and being nourished. RD– It can be incredibly isolating to be an artist. We get a range of people, some that have graduated 15 years ago, that want to reconnect and learn, because when they left art school it was a different story. And the marketing aspect that one has to incorporate into your practice now wasn't vital in order to get seen, which is now crucial in an over saturated art world. AT– I left art college in 2003, as a mature student, I studied at the University of Brighton. In our third year we had one day on tax and national insurance and being a freelancer. There wasn't really that much on websites either. Although having a website isn't enough because how do you get people to come to you website? So mailing lists, social networking sites such as twitter all help, it's making all those connections and bringing your work to the attention of other people, in a professional way. They're very simple ideas. We have just done our first seminars at Goldsmiths and 100 people attended and we had fantastic feedback,;with people just saying thank you for telling us these very obvious things, but it means we can go forward now and promote our practice in a positive and professional way. RD– I was always talk to artists about that last (sometimes difficult) hurdle, after having made the work, you need to get it seen. I always feel I can't fall at the last hurdle of trying my best to get my work or my projects seem and I have learnt various ways of doing that- using social media etc. It's only ever led to positive things in promoting my work. So part of what we advise artists about is about using social media etc to help them to reach and engage audiences in their work. © EJ Major, collectible exhibition 2012 AT– One of the important things that you said was: 'I didn't want to fall on the last hurdle'. You say it in such a simple way that the audience can relate to, to hear someone who has got the success from working so hard, to understand that connection is very important for people and then to have the programme that is then backing it up. These things are obvious and very simple but we support people to do it. I don't know what it is, about art college, but there's an ethos or negative attitude around the idea of promoting yourself. However if you are studying as a graphic designer or illustrator, this is natural. What is it about fine art, where that connection is not taught? CP– I agree, it’s much more integrated into the programme, if it’s in the context of design or architecture. RD– Art schools will have to address this under their new inflation of tuition fees. They will have to connect Artists with the market place, they will be answerable to a lot of people, if they don't give students those tools and equipment to actually sustain their practice beyond their degree show. AT– So that's where something like DIY Educate comes in, this year it works out as approximately £120 pounds to come to fourteen events and hear all these organisations, all these talks, peer critiques and a tutorial over a period of nine months. Compared to 9,000 pounds its pretty good value. It's an interesting time given the current climate, new art school models are arising, new things are happening. It will be exciting to see what happens. When you discussed earlier Chantelle prior to the interview about positive and negative working models of 'Do it yourself education programmes'. I believe this to be a positive working model, because we were lucky to get the funding, we can charge a minimal amount of money for a maximum amount of really high quality, positive things. Comparitively if you were to go to some of the other organisations who charge a higher amount, where you have to pay say a £100 pounds a month for instance, your expectation is already so high, and already you begin to quantify the experience. The ethos behind ZAP, is not about making money it's about emparting information, exchanging, supporting, more experienced artists passing on their experiences, the high the lows, if you don't hear about the lows, when you are stuck in your studio and you have six rejections in a week, if you have found out that Susan Collis, Freddie Robbins for instance have gone through those similar things and are still there, that is part of the course, not taking it so personally. I haven't been on these other courses, where you pay £100 a month, but I expect so much of it's about success, success, success. The difference in ours is not about trying to be a successful artist, which is different things for different artists, it's about trying to sustain your practice long term and that's what we are both really passionate about. © Tom Butler, collectible exhibition 2012 RD: One of the key things at ZAP, is that we are also passionate about paying the invited artists to come in and give their talks and valuing them. So it's always been our goal to get this programme funded. So it's not for profit, it's to pay the artists to come in and get postcards printed to market the events. It's always been really important that we just don't do this for free, so it has legs to be sustainable and grow. Part of moving forward with ZAP is that was really important to become an independent organisation to have freedom of movement, to be allowed to, grow and become more sustainable so that mine and Annabel's shared vision which is different from where we were previously ar Cor Blimey Arts. CP– The scale of ZAP is a lot bigger than the piloted programme at Core, and it seems like it's going to expand more this year, how do you go about trying to set up such a model that will have that sustainability,? I know the funding has helped, but how do you continue to manage this working process? AT– We give a day a week free basically, and a lot more hours during the week, we have a small fee from the Fenton art Trusts, but this doesn't cover us attending all the events and us working. So it's at the beginning stages. And I suppose when you feel passionate about things, then you give your time to make it work. One of the good inventions at the beginning was to start the membership fee. RD– The membership fee acts as part of our core funding, it supplements the rest of the programme, it also gives us match funding, we need to look at it as a business as well, that is sustainable. We also have our assistant, artist Charlotte Norwood who helps us administratively and is fantastic, we also have assistance from our studio group at ASC. We have already had separate projects that exist outside 'Show and Tell' like the creative practice seminars for Goldsmiths that are supported by Lewisham Arts service. Because of what we are doing with the whole of the programme, there are other opportunities to make it sustainable, by running separate or satellite events and create new partnerships, which make it a bit more sustainable. Although I don't think we will ever be fully paid for our time. However it's not commercially driven in that way. Although we do have a very keen eye on making it a sustainable business. AT– I think the key things are, it started from a passion and it has grown this way, and because we have decided to do it independently. One of our sort of barometers is: is it a heart sinker, if people come to us with an idea or project, if either of us have that heart sinking moment where the demand or work out weighs the love, it's not worth doing. So the positive things is that we have that sort of freedom. It's a really good question, although last year was officially a pilot for it, in a sense because we are launching ZAP, this is technically our first year of doing it together. So it is a case of getting to the end of this year and seeing what works, what doesn't work and what we can tweak. There may not be funding, perhaps from the Fenton, for ever, so it's a year by year thing, to try out new things, to work out what will best sustain it over a period. RD– To put it into facts, we have only opened less than six weeks ago and we've already got 32 annual members signed up, last year at Core we had 57 members over the entire year, so if you go for projections, if we get twenty members each month we would have already doubled up at the end of the year which actually looks very sustainable. CP– Do you think if you grew too large, it would be difficult to maintain that balance of something that is quite personable? AT– I think the question is answered by the fact that we are both really committed to our practice, we are both artists, and there is a limit to how much we can do. RD– Something that we haven't mentioned is that ASC have given us this fantastic space to use for the talks, it's a space that will comfortably fit 40 or so people, but once it grows beyond this you have to start booking other venues and the business model becomes more complex. © Clare Mitten, collectible exhibition 2012 CP– How did you come up with the name ZAP? RD– We were evicted from our space at Core Gallery last year so our funding was up in the air, because we no longer had a building, or organisation or bank account at that stage. However we had already lined up our programme. AT– Can I just add one sentence before you continue. The two funders we had, said 'We really love what you are doing, but go away find a building, get an organisation, and we won't desert you'. That was great to have that, but we did have to rush. RD– ASC gave us this hub space, which was great, but we were still thinking what to call ourselves as what had happened after the loss of the building where Core Gallery once was, was that I and the rest of the management team at Core went our separate ways and started up independent projects, So, in order to come up with ideas, we had to think, what are we? What are our values? And what the name abbreviates to? We wanted to also try to make things sound like how we are. We started to ask other people on social media sites such as twitter, especially artist led organisations such as Sluice, Karl England, Ben Street, David Dipre and Coexist. We started batting back and forth ideas, and opening up the conversation. I remember talking to Jack Hutchinson from a-n magazine about it. And he said 'You guys are really direct, honest and quick'. And we was talking about electricity and quick ideas. This was over a three week period. AT– I was writing a blog post (about two seminars one with Aliceson Carter about 'Blogging versus Tweeting' and Sluice Art Fair, on 'How to emerge' and the ALISN conference for arts organisations that was held at Goldsmiths. And I thought this is a real 'zeitgeist' this is a great time for possibilities, so we need to think of a name that sums up zeitgeist. So I came up with Zeitgeist Projects, then I sent it to Rosalind, and she immediately came up with 'ZAP'. RD– Zap is quick, its snappy, its direct, but it has gravitas. It sums up the kind of exhibitions that we have and artists we are involved in. There's a new generation of artists who are committed to their practice and have a real generosity of spirit. That is the new zeitgeist. In the overall art scene, people are tired of capitalistic commodification of art, they want art that means something. I know that our work means something and I know everyone who is in the upcoming exhibition 'Collectible', their art work has meaning and value, and it could be that it is looking at how society is working, it could be political, or satirical or melancholy. This is really considered work, It's about the reality of what's important in our lives, and how that has become ever more striking and precious, fragile, loaded, everything the 'Home' exhibition represented. Its a continuation of the Curatorial conversation Annabel and I started with Home. AT– If anything sums us up it is being meaningful and making meaningful relationships. Whereas other parts of the art world are really known for their detachedness and not getting involved. Whereas we are much more about the people, current attitudes, and caring about things and meaning. CP– That's a crucial point you make, the art world can be very closed off and alienating at times, here it is open and accessible. So perhaps this leads onto finding out what artist's you have in the communal studios, how it works as a space? And how does this extend beyond these studios to ASC members? RD– We have nine artists here in the ASC hub, whose practices range from painting, drawing, installation, film to photography. Because it is a communal space (ie no doors), it had to be people who had a similar passion to ours, people we can trust, people who had similar values, who encapsulated the ethos of ZAP and we always wanted it to be a knowledge sharing initiative. All the artists that are resident here came together in quite an organic way, though connections and relationships we had made before, for example Michaela Nettell is an artist I have been exhibiting with for the last 5 years, Graham Crowley has been my mentor since I was at the RCA, We are lucky to have studio artists with a range and variety of experiences. By situating experienced artists alongside emerging artists they can mutually benefit and support each other. What is naturally present in the studios, is what we are trying to reproduce in the programme. Studio artists are; Kate Bowen, Graham Crowley, Rosalind Davis, Julie Henry, Kate Murdoch, Michaela Nettell, Charlotte Norwood, Annabel Tilley and Rachel Wilberforce. How it will work with ASC? We met with Julia who is a project manager at ASC, and they feel that, by us being here it will work to create a new energy to what was quite an isolating studio space, where no one knows each other. Julia said 'The effect is already happening, people are feeling more involved, people are wanting to be here by association, as there is something exciting happening here. Rather than it just being another faceless studio organisation, so it's a nice symbiosis. I know that when we set up Core Gallery it had a radical impact on Cor Blimey studio members just by association and their ability to access exhibitions and curators. That has the potential to develop into a great relationship, that can only grow. AT– Here in the studio group there's already a really good feeling of it being very relaxed, everyone has their own lease, so everyone is independent, and wants to be here. CP– Can you talk about the forthcoming show Collectible and all the relationships and everything is coming together? AT– We wanted to have a launch exhibition, and we came up with numerous ideas, and Rosalind said something like 'Why don't we do something collectible' where we have a set price range. From £50 - 500. The name 'Collectible' really stuck, it's a strange use of the word, It sits really nicely as a name for an exhibition. We started to think of everyone we knew and who would want to be involved. And everyone said 'yes'. There are 67 promising, mid-career and established International Zeitgeist artists from across all disciplines; including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and print. Exhibitors include new graduates Wieland Payer, (Channel 4 & Saatchi New Sensations) , Iain Andews (Marmite Painting Prize Winner 2010 ) Claire Mitten, (Jerwood Painting fellow 2011), alongside the eminent Virginia Verran (Jerwood drawing prize winner 2010), Fiona Macdonald ( British School of Rome) painters Graham Crowley and Guy Allott (John Moores) These artists in an act of generosity and accessibility have made their works available for affordable prices so that art collectors old and new are able to invest in some of the most promising and established collectible artists whom normally usually sell upwards of £500. RD– For most of the artists, they are artists I respected and who I have already shown with or who have exhibited at Core Gallery as well as some artists who I really admired but had not exhibited with. AT– It confirms our ethos of things that you approach people and everyone has said 'yes'. It comes back to the personal relationships generosity, trying to make artist's practices sustainable. RD– It is a way of saying thank you to those artists that have really supported us, through a somewhat challenging 4 months when we lost our previous building. And we wanted to produce a really high quality curated exhibition. CP– Thank you so much Rosalind and Annabel For more information on DIY at ZeitgeistArtProjects, please visit: http://www.zeitgeistartsprojects.com/
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