Well it seems keeping up with my blog is not something I excel at. Just a year or two between posts. Do I now go back and fill in life since the last post or just start from where I am? Haha that was rhetorical, it will be from where I am now. Still full of my wonderful experiences in India the images of the studio and work are already posted. Rather than finished works I thought it was interesting to post images of what was happening in the studio to show the process. Naturally finished works are posted too, a first for me as I turned to photography at that time. Being practice led I allow the work to do the talking, so although I was in the studio making, I felt the images of the people I met and spoke to in India far more of a representation of what the 6 weeks were about, a cultural exchange.
A somewhat belated blog, but better late than never. After the gruelling task of essay writing was finally completed I needed to be free of the confines of a studio or a desk. The day was gorgeous so set off to occupy some public space with my art. An artist friend of mine Louisa was in the studio that day too and knowing a lot of her work is performative and relating to the interactions of people I asked if she would like to collaborate, she said yes.
Just opposite the studio are the medieval city walls with a small tower, well small from the town side, extremely high from the dock side. The public can access the open space at the top of the tower. It is rather uninviting to be honest, as you walk up the steps to this wonderful space, it has no seats or anything to encourage you to go into the space. A few empty beer cans lay on the floor, with an empty wine bottle. Louisa and I cleared the small space of litter, and set up an impromptu public art happening. I laid out 'The Hands' on the wall, symbolically claiming the space to use as a free public space. Louisa set about plans to hold a food sharing event as part of her work. We met with a fair few members of the public and encouraged them to use the space too. We were even fortunate enough to meet with a travel writer who later than day wrote a blog on us as local artists...somewhat more promptly than I with my blog.
The first night of 'Open' was interesting. A quick brief on the concept; to open a locked public space to the public for them to use as they wish, the thinking being how people view public spaces. Most are 'owned' by a local council, which in turn is funded by people. So it does question ownership of these spaces. The aim was to not project my personal views, but to get others to form their own views unencumbered by political propaganda.
So the opening night arrived and in came people. I have a small tent set up in the corner of the space to keep dry if it decides to pour down and to keep paper work dry. Flyers, press release and my comment book. Which simply asks: 'What do you think?'
At the begining of the evening a local group of musicians came in to the space to play for everyone which made it a rather spectacular opening. Lots of singing and dancing. Being evening though meant the light faded quickly and it became too dark for them to continue to play. So my thoughts were; should I have provided more light. I came to the conclusion even though more light would have been very beneficial that would have been me taking control of the space, which contradicts the point of allowing the space to be, to relinquish the idea of ownership of a space. No ownership means nothing provided.
For a while I played with the portable projector using an ipad app to write in light on the walls, which I then let the children of the band members scribble on, they rather enjoyed making marks that lit up. The mayor was making a tour of all the exhibtion venues, and arrived, watched and went.
Once the band had gone the space became relatively quiet for the remainder of the open night. Which then left me wide open to da da da da....the critics. I was char grilled over the concept: "Isn't that somewhat of a cop out? Is it art? All you have done is just opened the space!" Yes. I explained a little behind the concept but could see by the facial expression he was still unimpressed. "They are locked with good reason" came the reply. I decided the best response really in that situation was to accept that his view was valid, as was mine. Art is subjective. I offered him the use of my comment book, but to be honest it was so dark, that was not happening. The man looked to my tent: "Are you sleeping here?" "No I am not, I have a very comfortable bed at home, it is not a performance". He then asked if I was locking the gate at night. To which I said I had proposed it was left open all the time, but the official hours of the exhibition was all that would be allowed. "So hasn't it failed then from the off?" Well at this stage I really cannot say if the project was a fail or not, far too early, but he was right in the respect it was not open 24/7, but...and here is the but, baby steps, the aim was to allow people to think about the use of these spaces, so being denied the opportunity to keep the space open full time is also under that banner.
People have made the comment: "I think you are very brave"...after that cross interogation, (which went on far longer than I have written about), I now see why that was said. Critiques and convenors at university prepare you for such, the; 'Justify yourself and actions!' I will never fear another convenor after last night, the public can be far more brutal than anything said at uni, but with conceptual work it has to be expected and a big old double layer of thick skin was applied prior :)
Back to the night, another artist came into the space and introduced herself, she then used the one small light to the rear of the space to practice her drum, so was a pleasant end to the evening.
Not quite the final frontier, but an exciting opportunity none the less. As part of our 2nd year exhibition 'Indentity 14', I put forward a proposal to use The Weigh House. We were fortunate enough to have the choice of four ancient buildings, all of which will be used. The Bargate Monument, The Undercroft, Castle Way Crypt and the Weigh House. It is a ruin with no roof but 4 high walls. A medieval structure that as the name says was once used as a place to weigh the goods coming into the port of Southampton so the king could take his share in taxes. It is a beautiful space, which inspired me to think of the space, a public space but locked away. Anyway long story short because too much writing is annoying here is the final write up to use the space:https://www.facebook.com/TinaLaneArt/photos/a.574390392575678.153354.574046875943363/821583544523027/?type=1&theater
In thinking about what is an object of desire, (assuming it is tangible for now), I began looking at artists who challenged what art is. The obvious is Duchamp, who in turn was one of the artists who inspired Eva Hesse. Hesse called her work absurd, non art. She stated her work and life were inexplicably entwined, her life had been absurb and so she applied that to her art, (very brief overview).
Building on the initial idea of what is an object of desire, and what is art, I began to look back to my childhood. I recall reading Louise Bourgeois saying her childhood had never lost it's magic. This is something I can relate too, I had a wonderful imagination as a child and often escaped into my own mind with fantastic stories of beautiful places. So I too began to work on a kind of non art, going back to a time when imagination was the best thing ever. I decided to make small sculptures that do not take on the shape of existing things, they are my nonsensical minuments. By attempting to allow the materials to just be, in the form of drips or expansion of foam, they can take on a life of their own. In this way I am trying to entice the viewer to relate to each piece on a personal level, to stimulate their imagination to decide what they want of it.
Who is to say what is an object of desire? To one it may be a gucci bag, to another it may be food. Some collect ornate thimbles and display them with pride, yet this began life as a functional object. Is an object only of value if it has been given value on a large social level? Yet for most of us, (ones with children), a child can give you any item they have made from scraps and it instantly becomes an object of great value to the parent. I find the condition of materials in certain situations highly desirable, so therefore does it stand to reason I have given it value? Answers on a post card