Like Flies On – It’s Time to Celebrate

It would be sweet on this the last day of the ‘experiment’ (as the aspex website categorises the past 3 months  of Working Title), be sweet if the junk pile was resolved, vanished/vanquished, with the final object created – like one of those satisfying endings to a cinematic game of checkers, where the last white piece jumps here, there and everywhere taking all the black counters in a single go – with the completion of that last ‘thing’ all the scrap would be gone, used up. Job done.

That will not be the case. Tomorrow, when Clive and I stand amongst the mix of ‘art-things’ and waste, we’ll be far more aware of the stuff we’ve got to get rid of, than the art made. This is an example of Art’s place in real life – putting out the bins comes first. Luckily, some of the scrap will be going on to Highbury College, for students to sculpt with.

That’s an interesting aside: has Working Title been a sculpture show? Well, about half the artists participating admit to producing sculptural work, amongst other kinds (drawing, painting, digital, installation etc). The rest ‘make’ – and, this ‘making’ includes 3-D objects. From a personal perspective, about half the work produced since July I’d describe as sculpture – the rest, mmm… I’d call it ‘art stuff’… work concerned solely with its becoming and existing. At best, we can call it a mostly three dimensional show. Objects will beget objects. Perhaps, had we been given a mangle or a road-roller, those objects could’ve been 2-dimensionalised. Paul Matosic’s work is 3D things submitting to 2D aesthetics – if his floor arrangement were transposed to a wall, well…

What I know will be sculptural, will be the mode by which the current workshop becomes an exhibition (the kind of exhibition it intends to become). We’ll need to hack away, excavate, to reveal the artwork. The environs in which the work was created cannot be dismissed, so we intend to exhibit something of that workshop in the coming show. In a way, this is Clive, Jo W and my opportunity to participate on a creative level in WT.

All forms of exhibition require a degree of curation, this week long show will be no different. Space will dictate some decisions, the success of artworks will be debated, the best manner of presentation will be decided, and some coherent discourse delivered. That is the nub of it, what is the story of Working Title – the unique story, its individuality?


Yesterday, I asked what is the story of Working Title? I had no immediate answer, beyond repetition of all I’ve written to-date. But, now, this is an end, a moment for reflection, for the answers (which are always in the back of the book) to reveal themselves. I’ve spent the day clearing what has now been designated rubbish from the gallery. My sense of the work produced during the three months is growing, as the unique nature of each creation (the personality of the objects – the thingness of them) becomes evident, extant from the detritus of their making. Just like an archeologist I’m unearthing artworks, and they are quite extraordinary – even those I’ve been aware of over the course of the studio-workshop phase, well, they’ve taken on a purity of being, their own light. It’s a birthing process, we’re delivering these babies by Caesarean (who’d otherwise continue on fully developed in the womb of the studio). Even the artist makers who generated the work cannot fully comprehend the success, the distinct quality of their objects – it is Clive, Jo W and I who’re getting to paint a margin between the works, a respectful and legitimate separation.

The parents watch as the fledglings head to the brim of the nest, to its brink, where they `cacophony’, uncertain of flight, and they fall into flight, because their sole sense is to fly – there are those birds who will not or cannot  fly, there are those denied flight (the instinct or talent for it) – but most capture the wind under their wings and beat upon it. They are not fledgling any more, they are all they will ever be, balls of muscle, feathers, song and flight – something we’ll look at with wonder or we’ll not look at – they’re birds, the sky is filled with them – wondrous and commonplace.

To establish if WT has been a real glimpse into the process of these artists practice, I’ll need to ask them – surprising what you cogitate, kick about in your head, when you could just ask. They’ve enjoyed the experience, they’ve told me so. They’ve thanked us (which is daft, when we must thank them) because they’ve been channelled (funnelled) into making, no procrastination. I think it’s the fun they’ve had, making without real consequence – playtime. I’d categorise the last few months of the studio, ‘playtime’ (not an experiment). Next week’s exhibition presentation of the work is not a consequence, not one like exam results or any judgement. It’s a real celebration, an opportunity, we didn’t plan for there to be a show, it has made itself a reality.

It is this exhibition I’d call an experiment. It isn’t a show of exquisitely honed art (not in the conventional manner) – it’s a here-you-go, I came up with this and I’m not ashamed of it. And none of us are ashamed of it, this thing called Working Title.

The story of WT has been making. ‘Making’ something in the same way flies eat, regurgitating, slurping back up, regurgitating, re-devouring. We’ve all been flies feeding on the substance of this heap of scrap – I’ll not elaborate further on the metaphor. But everything that remains extant of the crumb leftovers of that heap are a product of re-use, re-re-evaluation, restructuring, re-consuming – and I’m referring not just to the artworks, but to the animateur asides, the contextual context and the manner & presentation of the WT exhibition.

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‘Portsmouth gallery exhibits a load of old rubbish’

A piece on Working Title was recently published under ‘What Phaidon editors are clicking on this week’ on the website. Two books published by Phaidon have become important resources for Working Title, Unmonumental’ and ‘Arte Povera.’ These books represent a historical and contemporary view of the use of untraditional materials in art, exploring the ambiguity of assembling pieces of the world.

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Jason Taylor

With Jason Taylor, Amy Twigger-Holroyd and Tamara Van San in the gallery, there was bound to be an interesting video or two created today. I decided to show this simple, yet beautiful video of one of Jason Taylor’s creations. (Watch the video in full screen to see the objects he has used, rolls of stickers, bearings, microwave stand, record player) He seems to gather a hundred different ‘elements’ and assembles them in a hundred different ways, its amazing to watch, his energy for putting these things together is endless. It is easy to see why he came up with these cards as a tool for children’s workshops, he uses the same basis for his own artwork.

He also brought a book with him documenting Russian made artefacts during the collapse of the soviet union. Ordinary people created objects out of any materials they could come across. Out of necessity, they combined these materials to create functional objects such as toys, abacuses, baskets and doormats.

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Eva Hesse

Eva Hesse is a big influence on many artists who explore the process of making, experimenting and exploring non-traditional art materials. I find the experience of watching video’s and hearing a person speak about an artwork  very different to reading a book, as obvious as it sounds, it is nice to hear the words said allowed after spending so long seeing them in print.

The indeterminate object.

Items are beginning to accumulate in Gallery one already, with the space divided loosely into 3 areas, it is starting to take shape. With an area for the artists to create their artworks, a space for materials, and a visitors area, there is a real sense of the space just waiting to progress further, wanting movement and flux.

‘If asked, then: What kind of transformation actually occurs when the everyday object is recontextualised as part of, or the whole of, an art object? I would reply: none. The artist’s work is to engage with alchemical transformation. What occurs is a new entry in a kind of socialised dictionary of art forms. Actual transformation is neither sought or accomplished, but rather an object which we might term ‘indeterminate’ is allocated a new definition, where it rests in uneasy temporary repose.’

Nicholas de Ville, ‘The indeterminate object theorized and the discursive plastic form’, 1993

Jessica Stockholder

‘ Translating our interior landscapes to canvas may not be the most interesting subject in the world all by itself. We are, however, each of us, possessed of a unique subjectivity, and what we make of ourselves in the world might indeed be very important to others. I think it is misguided to believe that just because evidence of the hand is missing from the artwork, that feeling and evidence of subjectivity are erased. The gesture of placing an object in a room is not so far removed from making a gesture with a brush. ‘