Elliot, a member of staff at aspex demonstrate’s Will Cruickshank’s drawing machine, a device which can follow the outline of an object and leave the mark on paper. Here, Ashley’s profile is traced, as Elliot runs through the steps of how to use it.
Is Working Title a ‘Big Society’ happening? No, honestly, I’m asking (yeah, okay, provocatively). The ambition of Cameron-Clegg’s B.S. is ‘to put more power and opportunity into people’s hands’. Isn’t that what Working Title aims to do – to allow its audience the chance to participate alongside so-called professionals in shaping a beneficial experience. Everyone has an opportunity to participate, to influence outcomes, to ‘do better’. Artists and audience are on an equal footing, they start with a mess (of bric-à-brac) and some resolve – to make sense and use of stuff. Now, I’m going to hack the Governments own document, Building the Big Society (hack it like a Texan Chainsaw Massacre):
We want to give [artists and audience] the power and information they need to come together, solve the problems they face and build [what] they want. We want [Art] – that form[s] the fabric of so much of our everyday lives – to be bigger and stronger than ever before. Only when [artists and audience] are given more power and take more responsibility can we achieve fairness and opportunity for all [in the gallery]
Do you see? Working Title is handing over greater responsibility to its audience, they get to facilitate what gets made, they can enter into discourse with service providers (I mean, really, isn’t that what today’s artists are meant to be), and they can take practical steps, make the art they want to see. All very B.S. to me.
Working Title isn’t a foisting of aspex‘s responsibilities as a gallery on to the shoulders of its audience. It’s the role of the aspex team to articulate the space, the variant approaches, to contextualize (excuse me, I do love to drop a ‘contextualism’) and to facilitate participation. WT isn’t a case of sink or swim (though, at first, it can seem pretty ‘not waving but drowning’). We’re all in this together. If you feel excluded, well, you’ve obviously not attempted to glue a moustache of feathers on to the upper lip of a broken badminton racquet, or given a pie tin twenty-seven Spork legs and a hunchback of pillowy satin. If you feel excluded, you’ve not explored the library of this, all the books that inform on those artist in the WT show and the many who’d like to be in WT (blistering with images and thoughtfulness). Aw, shucks, you can’t visit and feel excluded – we’ve even got an Animateur, Jo Willoughby, on Tues/Thurs, to bring the whole kit kaboodle to life for you.
What the artists get to begin with, the audience gets too. So, on day one, what everyone had to look at, to contemplate, was the compartment of bric-à-brac. We’re almost three weeks in, we’ve had five artists feed on our plate of leftovers (some feeding on the leftovers of other’s leftovers). Successful amalgams now exist, free of their maker, about the building. There’s Will Cruickshank’s ever-spinning parasol suspended above the café, his ‘Profile-Drawing Contraption’ situated (for now) in the workshop space. There are sketches of ideas as actual objects by Kate Parrot (an effective small-scale work hinged to the gallery wall, just inside the workshop area, will sustain itself, I believe – so, becoming an artwork). There’s still evidence of Paul Matosic’s object-scapes, eroded by the hunger of the other artist’s instincts (an Atlantis disappearing). Andy Parker’s succulent interventionist drawings are giving way to, what seems to be, a raft on which he can either escape or negotiate the clutter (a real Raft of the Medusa, made of cannibalized materials by a cannibal of stuff). All this is there, some made (kind-of) distinct of the debris of makings, the rest embroiled in the scraps they’ve been birthed from. Stuff has already shifted through the play of a number of the artists – we’re planning to track elements, document their adventures. What the audience gets to see, now, is the sex, the pregnancy, the birth and lifespan of idea-objects – all the action tucked away out-of-sight during ‘Open Studios’, the what if I stick this into that phase, the outtakes. What the artists get is an audience with question rather than expectations…
It isn’t hard to notice, as I spend time amongst these artists, that a lot of experimentation happens viscerally, perhaps much like an instinct. The making/assembling/creating process seems to speed along, an idea is had and an idea is followed through almost instantly, as if too much time spent pondering will ruin the piece before it has begun.
All this talk of ‘quickness’ may suggest a lack of thought, but these instincts don’t occur uninformed. Every artist in Working Title has something to say (you can find out for yourself if you take a trip to the gallery.) I think perhaps it is easy to assume that everyday-objects assembled as art-objects are created with naivety, as they appear as ad-hoc creations, amusingly opposing their usual function, yet it is common that art of this process will have strong links to concept and a knowledge that it can ground itself in theory.
Reading about one of the artists involved in Working Title, Will Cruickshank, I came across a residency he was involved in organised by August art named ‘Institute for objective measurements‘. The artists explored ‘the balance between the desire to have the unknown explained factually, the unquantifiable measured accurately, and the need to just be fed something that ‘sounds right’. We want to be satisfied by a reason why, perhaps if what we see doesn’t satisfy us, then the reasoning behind it may connect the dots.
It is this playfulness with the need to rationalise things that leads me to explain my own need to try and rationalise Will’s artwork. He messes about with functionality, re-assembling unwanted goods, an old pool cue, an umbrella, and gives them a different purpose. I say purpose, as ‘use’ doesn’t fit, as although he creates objects that can be ‘used’, it is more the notion of them being ‘used’, and less a need for them to belong in the world out of necessity. ‘Function’ is described as ‘the purpose for which something is designed or exists’, thus, creating a merry-go-round for Will’s work’s (having function- opposing function- giving function etc.)
I feel though, that the nature of making, the process in which the artists relate to the materials, supersedes the need to know why it is there. It is a case of an exploration into thinking, relating and translating the familiar into the unfamiliar, for both artist and viewer.
As Markus mentioned in a previous post ‘Kickstarting, fishing, participating’, questions are raised when viewing works such as the ones in Working Title. I believe this to be one of the most vital aspects regarding the everyday-in-art, continuously, there are questions to be asked, and they, perhaps, are more important than the answers.
This spinning piece by Will Cruickshank has been attached above the cafe. Hot air from the Cafe machines cause it to turn, slowly, quickly, continuously. Will returns to the gallery on the 27th July, but this piece and his ‘Drawing machine’ remain for visitors to view.
We’ve three artists in the gallery, being exhibited. As technician at aspex, I’m used to artists playing some part in the installation of their work – after the preview, they go away. In a way, this show is all installation – a prolonged transformation of the space – a slow-slow reverse striptease, ending up fully dressed. Still, Will, Andy and Paul (who are kickstarting Working Title) have spent the day doing what most artists do on day one in the gallery, they’ve been nesting. They’ve burrowed into the junk pile that’s accumulated in the space, nabbing what makes sense to them (no obvious squabbles, yet), and they’ve each defined themselves a space/den. Paul’s filming an expanding grid of stuff, a complex hopscotch chalked on the gallery floor with offcuts of MDF, bowls and wind-up toys. Will’s surrounded himself with toolboxes, he’s constructing a fishing rod – not a cane with string and a nappy-pin hook, no – it looks worthy of J.R. Hartley. Andy’s made his encampment right in amidst the scrap, using a tv stand for a seat and an upturned chest-of-drawers as a desk. Something’s happening, but what it is, well, I don’t know. It all seems to make sense to Andy, Will and Paul – which is the only sense you can expect of them right now.
Amazingly, the scrap heap of materials has shrunk from, well, heaps to scraps. So, please, bring us your ‘unwanted’ – gift the ‘done with’ or ‘done for’ with a new lease of ‘possibility’. Everything is latent, and the artists we’ve got working here are expert at tapping that latency. If you’ve any old vhs equipment or cassette tapes and players, old speakers, record players – old wool, cardboard boxes from domestic appliances, lamps, old computer hardware – anything really – bring it to us, become a genuine part of the process. The making of art is always so distant, secreted away in studios, in the mind’s eye of the maker: this is an opportunity to observe the journey from play to definition to object. Ask those questions you’ve never had the chance to – why have you done that? What is it you’re doing? What did you mean to occur? What? This isn’t an exhibition, it’s a show – though the artists aren’t performers, in this context they are. You, as visitor, as participant, become a principal too. You can demonstrate you’re own sensibilities by creating a work with the makeshift materials in the Interactive Area in the gallery space. There’s no hierachy in this show – everyone starts on an equal footing, with a load of old rubbish.
The experience of Working Title will be a plastic one – the makings of one artist seeping into those of another – sudden displays of ‘something’ bursting forth from ‘something else’. It’ll change with the weather, day by day – nothing is forever. So visit us a few times, as many times as you can. Bring your junk, bring yourselves, bring an inquiring mind. Participate.