“It’s nothing new within art history to view exhibitions within houses. Playing on these historical roots within curatorial practice, Dis. Collective has chosen to host art events within student housing as a means to conceptually explore what it means to be a student artist and the position of students within the art world. Finding a niche within Plymouth’s art scene, Dis. Collective looks to exhibit the work of students, and bring those interested in art together to network and experience new artwork through regular art events.”
The above text is a paragraph I wrote for Dis. Collective to explain our decision to exhibit within student housing. Of course our decision is not purely due to a conceptual interest in the context of the house, but also due to finance and availability of space. To contextualise this decision, I looked at alternative spaces such as Thomas Hirshhorn’s creation of Musee Precaire and Hans Ulrich Obrist exhibiting in his kitchen. To quote Obrist “Exhibitions need not only take place in galleries, need not only involve displaying objects. Art can appear where we expect it least.”. Although heavily involved in the Serpentine, which is an institution, by saying this he clearly encourages curators and artists to place their work in spaces the audience would not expect. For example, in a 1916 exhibition of Duchamp’s work, As well as work in the traditional exhibition space, he placed readymades into the coat check area of an exhibition.
Exhibiting within student housing has been important within our work so far. It has provided a context and given us the opportunity to explore exhibition making in a way that differs from the use of an institution based exhibition space. The space has different rules and conditions that we have to work with and around. From limiting the exhibition time to three hours, to allow for the normal functioning of the house for all the tenants, to having to chose particular work because of the size of the space. I feel than the work I have done so far for Dis. Collective is very curatorial, but I also see where my art practice comes through, in the use of live stream to document events, in my own work being exhibition and in the concepts behind the exhibitions.
I would say the work i’m most proud of is the work ive produced as part of Dis. Collective. Throughout my artwork I question the roles of artist and curator to explore the blur between the two. But when it comes to working as part of an art collective I stop thinking about the roles, I stop trying to pin myself as one or the other. As a member of an art collective I can be seen as an artist, but our actions would often define me as a curator. But as part of an art collective I am not a fixed position but a member of a team, in which I have to allow myself the fluidity to fit any role required. Currently my role is primarily to handle our online presence, our promotion, find artists to exhibit, communicate with artists and curated exhibitions. These would most likely be considered curatorial actions but I also produce artwork that has been exhibited in our exhibitions. I would also say that on some level, creating art exhibitions is, in the same way as an artwork, about producing an experience, which I feel is something we have achieved through the exhibitions produced. That the artworks are objects through which we can create something new, to highlight each work and create conversations between artworks to ask questions.
The curating within our physical exhibitions is carried through in our blog that I produced. discollective.tumblr.com is a blog that exhibits documentation of each artwork, creating a digital internet version of our work. For each artist I produce documentation of each work and if their work exists online anyway, I publish a version of the original work as well. With each artwork I provide the name of the work, the date it was produced and the name of the artist. I also ask each artist if they would like to provide a text to go with the work, which can range from an artist statement, to text that is written for the artwork. I have curated the blog so that there are lists of exhibited artists, which link to each artists individual webpage and I have included links to our live stream channel and Facebook page. I have also curated the blog so the work from each exhibition can be viewed as a separate blog section.
One of the biggest struggles I have found within my practice this year contextualising my work. I have no trouble finding writing and theory about the subject matter I explore, as can be seen by the list I have produced: http://siobhanfedden.tumblr.com/reading but I find it hard to find artists who’s work relates to my own, which is why sadly none of the visiting lecturers work related to my practice. The only time I felt a visiting lecturers subject matter related was a talk given on copyright. To read my review of it click here.
Live stream is a medium that is very new and very literally blurs between art and life. It is also a medium that I feel is important within my art practice as it gives me the opportunity to exhibit in real time to a wide online audience but also it is something that is key in my curatorial practice as a means to give a wider audience access to exhibitions I host as part of Dis. Collective.
SPF 420 is a site that hosts live stream music events. With a live stream of a known act playing and a chatroom based feature so that the audience can communicate with each other and the artist. SPF 420 creates an online platform in which an audience can experience performance in real time from the comfort of their homes. Creating a way in which art exhibitions and artwork I produce can be viewed online in real time is the most powerful way I have found to explore the way we view art online. Walter Benjamin once wrote about “the beautiful ghost of a collective spectatorship”. I feel that live stream embodies that, a collective online spectatorship and yet each person is watching on their own. Spectators watching together but apart.
Artie Vierkant rightly states in ‘The Image Object Post-Internet’ that “Art is a social object.”. So what does it mean to watch art with other people, whilst isolated from them? Could the art object no longer be considered a social object if it is viewed in isolation? or does the online responses to the artwork through sharing and criticism uphold the art objects ability to be social tool? Furthermore, when viewing exhibition space via live stream, the ability to view the physical audience within the space is given, allowing for social interactions with and around the artwork to be seen, perhaps even giving the online audience even more of an understanding of art as a social tool.
This leads on to considerations of social experience and personal experience, the two blurred through the medium of live stream via the internet. Is it a personal experience when viewing a public space from the privacy of the home. Erik Zepka’s essay on Giselle Zatonyl’s exhibition ‘Discreet Systems’ asked the audience to “ask again what is personal experience" and as the internet changes and integrates ever more with our lives I feel we need to keep asking ourselves this question.
The final step I have taken within this module is to curate my blog, the online representation of the work I have completed throughout this year. Curating my blog is important so that the viewer understands which posts are most valuable and so they are able to easily navigate through my work.
When my blog address is requested I supply this link: http://siobhanfedden300.tumblr.com/
This link leads the viewer to a page solely containing a image of my work. The same image I used in the catalogue, on my business cards and that is featured in the Guardian. I have used to same image so that there is a flow through my work. With this in mind the colour scheme is also important, with the grey and white image as the focus point, I have used a grey and white blog background and for the curation of my work for summer show, the pattern of grey and white follows through.
Clicking upon the image in http://siobhanfedden300.tumblr.com/ leads the viewer to this page: http://siobhanfeddencura300.tumblr.com/ which contains links to the key sections of my art practice and the films I have produced but also links to my research and reflection on working as part of Dis. Collective and the blog I produced for Dis. Collective. Each link opens out on a new page for ease of access. I have also supplied a link to my work as a whole and to the reading list I have been producing since the start of the year to document the key research and contextualisation that I have done, in a way that will assist my future art practice. The reading list is one part of my blog that I am most proud of, it does not exhibit every text, article or book I have read but highlights the ones I felt had an effect on my work and supplies a hyperlink to the original text so I can easily re-access the works.
Throughout this module and throughout the course as a whole I have aimed to tackle the subject of artist as curator, to ask where the line between them sits or if there is no line at all but a grey blur to merge the two. Along the way I have also brought up the question of audience and their role into this, but I consider that a curatorial question.
I have looked at this as a subject through the means of producing artwork, curating exhibitions and through research and reading into it as a subject matter. From physically producing sculptural and moving image based work that looks into the artist as curator, to commissioning new works and to curating my own works as an exhibition within itself for Summer Show, I have artistically looked into this subject topic. With the work I have produced and new work developed from the process of commissioning work making up half of the artwork I am exhibiting for Summer Show. It was important for me to choose to curate four works for Summer Show, rather than just display one artwork, because of the way the works push each other forward and converse with each other within the space as an exhibition but also as an artwork in itself, constantly questioning the blur between artist and curator, especially when utilising the alcove space to section my work off to create a miniature white cube.
As a curator I have explored it whilst producing exhibitions as part of Dis. Collective. Both myself and Harry Watson exhibiting our own work in the exhibition we have produced could be considered as questionable curating. However, whilst we are still students, aiming to highlight the actions of students and student artists working within student housing we felt that it was fitting but that once either of us are no longer students, it is not necessary to exhibit our own work.
To contextualise this I read texts ranging from copies of the Artist as Curator publication provided with Mouuse Magazine, to Post-Internet by Gene McHugh which contains parts that I feel broach the topic of artist as curator. The Image Object Post-Internet by Artie Vierkant is also a text I would consider important when reflecting on the line between artist and curator but also when considering a change in space and viewership of both artistic and curatorial gestures due to the introduction of the internet. Pushing further back into history, I would consider The Artist as Producer by Walter Benjamin, a text to be added to the discussion.
I would like to say in sick and tired of Duchamp references every time the subject of Artist as Curator is brought but if im honest im not. The truth of the matter is that its amazing that an artwork dating back to 1917 is so relevant in contemporary curatorial discussion. Artworks such as ‘Fountain’ (1917) Duchamp and ‘One and Three Chairs (1965) Kosuth, use the display of readymade objects as a form as art. It is the curatorial action of the artist that qualifies them as art objects. But it is not just ‘Fountain’ that qualifies Duchamp such a status in the history of curating.
When Exhibitions Become Form: On The History of the Artist as Curator, one of the Artist as Curator publications that are supplied as part of Mouuse Magazine covers Duchamps role as president of the hanging committee for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, that lead to the exhibition of ‘Fountain’ and follows on to discuss his involvement in exhibitions, such as the ‘First Papers of Surrealism’ and ‘Exposition International Du Surrealisme’.
Another artist that I feel is important to consider when discussing the artist as curator is Thomas Hirshhorn. His work sits within the blur between artist and curator. In particular, within works such as ‘Musee Precaire’ In May 2004, artist Thoman Hirshhorn created an artwork, that in itself exhibited works by Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Kasimir Malevich, Le Corbusier, Piet Mondrian and Fernand Leger. He created a museum as an artwork with artworks exhibited within and a program of events. Using wood, nails and construction tape, Hirshhorn erected a space for the community, a way of bringing the work of these important artists into the community, in a space they felt they could access.
In all honesty I would say that if I hadn’t taken the step to produce the work I have as part of Dis. Collective I would not feel that I had gotten the most I could out of my degree. I am lucky in many ways that myself and Harry Watson work together so well in producing exhibitions and it is something that we aim to push further in the future. The two exhibitions we have produced so far have been very different and will probably be very different to future exhibitions. In part due to their context within student housing which lead to particular time frames and types of work only being suitable. But also due to the ways each exhibition has taught us different things from which we can grow and change.
Dis. Is Serious taught us how to do it the first time round, how difficult artists can be to work with and that you can still carry a clear conceptual theme within an exhibition outside of the white cube. It taught me personally the power of the internet, that even an exhibition outside of an institution can gain a physical audience of 80 and a live stream audience of 141 in three hours. It also proved to me and Harry that we can work together and create an exhibition, even though we argue and disagree we can see from each others point of view and finally produce something we are both proud of.
Dis. Supine Dossier taught me how to manage an open call. Which included a larger amount of artist, including artists I had never met, how to properly word emails and how to deal with the negativity that can stem from turning an artists work down but also how to make sure that artists who’s work I am interested but their work wasn’t right for this particular exhibition, will keep in touch. It taught me that sending out open call outs for artists are really good for finding new work but take a lot more time and commitment that I had realised. It also taught me that if we choose to do one in the future, me and Harry need to find a way to share the web based work, rather than just myself doing it, as it is so time consuming and often very difficult. Dis. Supine Dossier taught me a lot more about file formatting and working with moving image and that having a technical consultant with us full time, even at this small stage, is vital.
To conclude, I would like to think this is not the end, but just a step towards pushing this further. As a collective we are already discussing our need for a more solid exhibition space, to be able display art outside of the context of housing, because we can see how easily this type of event especially within housing can turn into a party which is not what we want and because we aim to one day profit from this venture and not be limited within our current confines.
In preparation for Dis. Collectives latest exhibition, Dis. Supine Dossier we chose the spaces we wanted to exhibit in. In this case the living room, back garden and the front of the house. We then needed to find the best possible ways to exhibit six moving image works, including one dual screen work, one photograph and one audio artwork.
Due to my preparations for my graduate exhibition, I already had in my possession five Sony Trinitron monitors. To use them for the Dis. Collective exhibition I just had to gain permission to use them outside of university. This meant that we had enough monitors to cover the dual screen work and three other works. I also own a projector, so we had that available for use for the exhibition. Joe Briars had also arranged that he supply the equipment for his work to be displayed upon, so that meant all video works were covered.
To get the Sony Trinitron monitors to function I had to source three types of a adaptors for each monitor, power cables and media player per monitor to run the moving image works from. Myself and our technical consultant James Sergeant, then had to spend four days working getting all of the video files to function correctly, working to change file formatting, resolution and work around glitches caused by faults in files, all whilst I was in constant contact with all artists updating them on the progress. In this time we were constantly worrying if we could pull the exhibition off and trying to find ways to work around the possibility of the monitors not working. We found we could exhibit one film based work through a media player onto a regular television screen, which resulted in the way we finally chose to exhibit Wet & Warm & Tight (2014) Lisa Davison. We then constructed a projection screen in the garden using the sign we used for Dis. Is Serious and a white cloth we used for the hallway in Dis. Is Serious. This gave us the option of exhibiting most works on a loop, if need be. The creation of this screen lead to the exhibition of Just Spoke To Landlord Chris (2013) Alethea Koos on the screen and the idea of putting the livingroom sofa outside in two parts, so that there would be outside seating that pushed the notion of bringing what is usually seen inside, outside and exploring the idea of exhibiting within a house further. It also saved us time in terms of exhibition install and deinstall as we did not have to get the sofa upstairs.
Luckily we got the monitors to function and the exhibition went smoothly. However even after meeting with an expert on live streaming events, who professionally live streams large festivals, who gave us access to his software sadly we were not able to stream Dis. Supine Dossier due to a last minute equipment malfunction. Another issue was that the artist Joe Briars did not drop of his artwork after agreeing to be exhibited and provide equipment, so we could not exhibit his work.
Following on from the way we gave out bananas at our first exhibition to play on the sexual themes, we made homemade popcorn to serve at this exhibition. We chose not to provide drinks at this event due to the expense of the equipment in the house.
Our forthcoming exhibition by Dis. Collective is Dis. Supine Dossier.
Both definitions are sourced from the Oxford dictionary and are used in the title to serve a purpose. As the exhibition is a display of video based work, we want to explore the idea of our overexposure to televisions and our passive viewing of it. The way we watch tv and are “failing to act” or do anything else except stare at a screen. Unable to move as though lying “flat on one’s back”, an almost sleep like experience of passive viewing. The word dossier refers to the way we have created a collection of moving image works to exhibit, bringing together artists from different areas via an Open Call out.
In preparation for Dis. Supine Dossier I produced a Open Call for artists. Which can be seen here. As a collective we decided to keep it open rather than specifying a concept or theme to allow a wider range of artists an opportunity to apply. The result was 22 applications from a wide range of artists. The applications came from artists who solely exhibit online, to artists with many exhibitions under their belt and from artists who produce performance work, to graphic designers. The process of applying only required artists to submit their name and a link to their work online. This allowed me to look through all of their production to find works that would best fit together.
Due to an influx in video works, we chose to have that as the focus of the exhibition, whilst considering what it means to view and exhibit moving image works via television screens. Considering this within an exhibition context but also within a house, looking at the way televisions exist within our homes.
I feel like I learnt a lot from the Open Call process. As part of Dis. Collective I manage all of the internet based work, from promotion to creating contacts, With the Open Call I had to write the application and promote it. Then once submissions can in I had to record all of the submission details, look at the submission which was often one, if not two full blogs of work and reply to the artist to confirm submission, which often lead to full email conversations with the artist about their work and the exhibition to gain a full understanding of the artists work. Once I had done this I showed the works to the rest of the art collective and we chose the artists we wished to exhibit. I then had to email each artist, confirming their place within the exhibition or informing them that they were not successful, but with many artists asking them to keep in touch as we would be interested in their work for future exhibitions.
Creating contacts and keeping in touch with artists who’s work I am interested in is vital as part of growing Dis. Collective and being able to bring in artists from different areas. Bringing artists together is something that is core to what we do. For example, for Dis. Supine Dossier we have artists ranging from Helen Billinghurst, Jack Parrott and Alethea Koo’s whom are all studying Masters Degrees, myself being in the third year of my Undergraduate Degree, Lisa Davison is in her second year of her Undergraduate Degree, Harry Watson and James Sergeant are in their first year of Undergraduate Degree’s and Joe Briars has just finished his Foundation year, before he starts a degree in September. As it can been seen we are keeping to our ethos of exhibiting students. So we are showing a range of artists in that way, but we are also bringing artists together geographically, with artists location ranging from london to plymouth. I am also yet to meet Alethea Koo’s and Joe Briars, so for myself I am creating new connections and contacts.