TateShots ‘A bigger splash’

Video from TateShots.

In this, curator Catherine Wood describes how Pollock’s work was seen as a key point in the history of performance, because “the film of Pollock making the painting became as important arguably for the next generation of artists as the finished object.”

Describing the current generation of artists, she says “paint and the canvas are still present – it’s just in a more performative way; a more theatrical way.”

Ethical considerations with artists’ materials

I’ve been hunting around the web for information on sourcing artists’ materials ethically.  It is extremely difficult to find any information.  From what I’ve managed to find, here is what I could do to mitigate potential impacts (environmental, social, and animal welfare).  I’ll update this post as I find new information. Continue reading

Climate Change Paintings

An exhibition held at Metro Gallery in Melbourne – Climate Change: The Wonder and the Dread.  “Their creative process was filmed over several months as part of a long term documentary by award winning film maker Alan Woodruff and Deakin University Professor, Ann McCulloch.”

“We are investigating audience response to the art works (and whether the art persuades in a manner not otherwise achieved through intellectual means), and the processes involved in the art making itself.

We think insights communicated in images and metaphor might contribute to the development and implementation of environmental policy by communicating in ways that have not been achieved by science communication.”

From article by The Conversation.

Related project Artistic Representations and Perceptions of Climate Change

Valley of Lights

valley of lightsValley of Lights was a series of three parade-centred events held in the Upper Calder Valley towns of Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd coinciding with the Christmas Lights switch-on.  The aim was to give the towns a boost after the devastating floods of Summer 2012, and to celebrate the Valley’s recovery.  So yes, it was about showing everyone that the towns are very much open for business, and retailers and stallholders were open to delight shoppers.  But it was about something much more.   I think its real power was in strengthening the community through a collective reflection, healing, and moving on together.  It did this in three ways – through bringing people together to physically make things; through the healing power of collective storytelling; and through a performative connecting of the three towns.

1. Making things

Handmade Parade has been delighting the communities around Hebden Bridge since 2008.  It is a community parade with three simple rules – no logos, no motorised vehicles, and everything made by hand.  Community workshops are held prior to each parade in which people are invited to make their costumes, or help to make large scale puppets which will be carried.  As one of the volunteer helpers in their first year, I know that this involves a lot of hands-on messiness, up to your elbows in papier mache, paint, glue and cardboard.  For Valley of Lights, participants made lanterns in symbolic forms representing the three towns, with higgledy piggledy town houses out in force.  But I think the strength of this activity is the collective making of things – coming together to work materials with the hands and craft forms.  This is a timeless community activity, whether it be basket weaving, coiling pots – or making lanterns.  There is something about working with the hands that enhances quality of conversation, and indeed that has a language of its own.

2. Collective Storytelling

These handcrafted puppets and costumes then take to the streets, together with handmade music from the valley’s home-grown samba and street bands.   The parade is hugely celebratory with the crowds clearly delighting in the spectacle.  But it is about more than just marching and looking.  The parade sets into play a narrative which is developed through the parade finale.  For Valley of Lights, the fire finale told the story of the great floods of 2012, through large lantern puppets of town houses and landmarks such as Stoodley Pike, Hebden’s bridge, and the Mytholmroyd clock tower.  Clouds appeared and danced over the towns as the flood waters advanced.  A huge shadow puppet display showed people arriving to rebuild the towns (I think – being short I was struggling to see, so if anyone can fill me in on this I’d be grateful!).     Finally, a dazzling display of firework fountains and fire dancers celebrated the recovery and the power of community.  As a participant I felt that I was taking part in a ritual healing retelling of our story, and a passing of that story into myth – so that we can move on with light and hope.

3. Connecting the three towns

On the middle event in Hebden Bridge, the finale was followed by the arrival of 200 cyclists who were cycling from Todmorden, via Hebden, and then onward to Mytholmroyd.  They made quite an impression with bikes and bodies blinged-up with LEDs, and bells merrily ringing – a river of light and sound running through the valley.  For me, this was a performative act (an action that does what it says).  In the very act of cycling between the three towns, they were making the connection between them.  The meaning was in the cycling.  As a spectator, this was literally moving, bringing tears as well as smiles and cheers.  I found it profoundly affecting.

As a beautifully conceived celebration, recovery, stimulus and remarkable demonstration of the creativity and strength of the people of the Upper Calder Valley, it couldn’t have been better.  Huge thanks to Valley of Lights organisers and Handmade Parade for giving us all something to be proud of, and some sparkling memories.

and it all comes down to this …

Beautiful piece of immersive theatre at stage@leeds last night.  David Shearing’s and it all comes down to this … made my throat ache with the beauty of it.  It offered nostalgia, melancholia, and a deep reflective sense of the expanse of time and space.  David’s voice invites you to explore a world both inside and outself yourself, where text folds in on itself, becomes form, and takes flight.  Like being led into a lucid dream.   A real gift.

These Associations – Tino Sehgal

Arriving at the Tate Modern, I look down into the Turbine Hall.  There is a group of people scuttling around like ants or atoms, avoiding each other, in constant motion.  The ‘milling’ seems to be busy, without purpose.  Bodies walk quickly in random movements, individuals ‘bunched’ into a group, related to each other by their inexplicable behaviour.  I shrug, and go and look at some art.

Photo: ‘Active’ by a princess on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Later, I exit into the Turbine Hall.  Several rows of people jog past, down the length of the hall.  I follow them at a more sober pace (although I feel a strange urge to jog after them).  I stop as they turn and start to run back towards me.  I want to feel the current of air as they pass, to feel the strangeness of being amongst these purposeful bodies.  I’m a spectator, but a ‘sensing’ one – the spectacle is an embodied experience.

A figure breaks out of the group and runs with purpose towards me.  She is breathing heavily, and sweat shines on her face.  She smiles, makes eye contact, and talks breathlessly about the place she calls home.  A body, a living, breathing, sweating body confronts me with the intimate details of a lived life – the place she calls ‘home’.  I find myself wondering what place I would call home.  I’m plunged into intimacy with a complete stranger, and yet she seems not strange any more.  Her look is warm, her smile engaging.

Suddenly, her face goes blank.  She turns and joins the mass of bodies now walking past; is swallowed up by their glassy stares.  I am alienated, reduced to observer.

This experience is repeated several times as the Body of bodies slows to a shuffle.  As it advances – slowly – the lights switch off one by one.  By the time they reach me, we are in darkness.  The feeling is undead, uncanny.

The repeated alienation juxtaposed with intimate personal encounter makes me reflect on the ‘alienation of the other‘ – the amorphous Body that we don’t know personally – whether they be ‘bankers’ or ‘hoodies’.  A body that emerges from the ‘Body’, with real lungs and sweat glands to tell me their most personal stories about their homes or mothers, can challenge that alienation.  A Body of strangers can move with purpose or seeming randomness – but that one individual can suddenly spin out and confront me reminds me that the ‘Body’ is made up of people who share the humanity of being a physical body in space, with purposes and passions.  What makes the ‘Body’ behave the way it does when it is a collection of individuals?  It is probably a function of some rules the individuals have agreed, and affected by the responses of the participants that they encounter in the ‘performance.’   Sounds kind of familiar.

‘These Associations’ is an artwork created by Tino Sehgal and can be found in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern until 28 October 2012.