Thursday, April 23, 2009

Altermodern: Movement or Marketing?

How was the last lecture yesterday in the series? Hope there will be some comments to share.

I am looking forward to hearing the podcast so I can engage with the content of the talk.

In the meantime today's contribution is to get us all to think about is the thought provoking
essay called

Altermodern: Movement or Marketing?

By Nickolas Lambrianou

Is the concept of 'The Altermodern', which organises Nicholas
Bourriaud's Spring art blockbuster at Tate Britain, anything more than
re-spun curatorial spin? -- asks Nickolas Lambrianou

Here's the link

Notice the number of textile metaphors used.

An interesting challenge to what is becoming an increasingly dominant orthodoxy in what to show and how to show
a diverse range of contemporary practices.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Textures of the everyday and the paradoxes of survival

It is great that Syvnia's comment and response to the blog of today notes the paradox and the excitement of re framing the everyday and the overlooked, the organised chaos and the textures of how 'we' might live (and indeed survive) in a our globally anxious world.

Any other comments here? Seems to have touched a nerve?. What do our anchors become? How do we maintain them?

continuing the blog but not the bog of yesterday

Shinique Smith's "Good Knot" exhibition was shown at the Yvon Lambert gallery in London, UK last December. I was interested in press release which announces that the ways in which she uses twine, ribbon, and string attempts to compress the lives of the objects she ties together—clothing, textiles, shoes, stuffed toys, and other materials often overlooked within the canons of high art and culture. It appears that some of these materials may also have sentimental value for the artist, who has spoken of taking elements such as sheets or handtowels from her grandmother’s house in Baltimore, USA. Perhaps she will speak about these experiences in her lecture tomorrow? I observe from the images of her work that, Smith’s bundles range in scale from human-sized towers to smaller and more portable assemblages. The assemblage gathering connects to yesterday's citation of Sze and Wilkes. Does anyone agree?

Quoting the Lambert gallery press release, "The sculptures reflect on the economies of excess and need within objects from 'everyday' life". Do people agree with this? According to Michel de Certeau, everyday life is distinctive from other practices of daily existence because it is repetitive and unconscious. His most well-known and influential work in the United States has been 'The Practice of Everyday Life' in which he develops a theory of the productive and consumptive activity inherent in everyday life. de Certeau makes the claim that, "everyday life works by a process of poaching on the territory of others, recombining the rules and products that already exist in culture in a way that is influenced, but never wholly determined by societal rules and products".

This got me thinking about the themes of the lecture series and the blog. If there are art works, like Smith's, that refer to 'everyday' life, how conscious are 'we' in our making of poaching and raiding the territories of other practices, like craft to shift the rules of what can be overlooked?

Returning to Smith's ' Bale Variants' series of works, do they refer to the inequities of a global economy? How far does the throwaway clothing from First World countries shipped in bales to the Third World countries, make a political statement?. How readable is this? What kinds of knowledge production might we need in order to decode the message or is it obvious to all?

Is it possible to say that there is an aesthetic combination which results in a controlled chaos in Smith’s work?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Everyday Trash

I have been quiet with my blog contribution since April not least due to family moves in London. The last lecture of the series is 22nd so hope there will be lots more posts after the talk.

In the last discussion on April 7th there were lots of observations about the value of skill and crafting which may seem to be in opposition to the idea of trash and spectacle. We talked about Mathew Barney and his spectacular, interdisciplinary work. I would be interested to know what other bloggers thought about Sarah Sze and Cathy Wilkes. Sze appear to make something marvellous out of everyday trash. Precariously towering and sculptural structures are constructed from the stuff some of us might chuck in the trash can: lengths of old rope, paper scraps and all manner of plastic containers. There is a childish sense of fun in her work; as her forms appear just about to topple, they also start to levitate with all kinds of mischief. Perhaps the uncertainty of what she makes is as thrilling as it can be dreadful. It is something we haven't touched on in the blog before, the ideas of fun and mischief? On the other hand last year's Turner Prize nominee, Cathy Wilkes picks up detritus and carefully arranges it to form sculptural assemblages. Could look like a monumental disaster has occurred but we don't know why or where from.

So, are we talking about skill as a set of conceptual moves through the selection of the right kind of trash to be made into assemblage form? How far does fun and mischief enter the work? For a very different set of ideas about skill see: Fort example see Peter Dormer, ‘Thoroughly Modern Making’ in Arts & Crafts to Avant Garde: essays on the Crafts from 1880 to the Present, published in 1992 by the South Bank Centre, London, to accompany the exhibition, Arts & Crafts to Avant Garde, held at the Royal Festival Hall, London, UK, 1-31 May 1992 and David Pye, designer and woodcarver, analysed the confusion between moral and craftsmanly principles in The Nature and Art of Workmanship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968).

David Pye’s 1968 text, which struggles with the meaning of “handmade” and “machine made” and opts instead for the “workmanship of risk” as opposed to the “workmanship of certainty.” Williams argued that Pye sets out , unconsciously, to propose many possibilities and starting points for critical making practices. This is embodied in the application of process and material revealing core territory of debate. Pye’s ideas led him to consider that extreme cases of the “workmanship of risk” are those in which a tool is held in the hand and no jig or any other determining system is there to guide it”. What is being drawn on here? Perhaps it is Pye’s notion that work depends on judgement, dexterity and care as opposed to predetermining results in advance of something being made.

Another set of ideas about skill and the arguments that it causes can be found in Christopher Frayling and Helen Snowdon in the UK magazine called "Crafts" No. 56 in. 1982. All the essays are republished and can be found in Harrod, ed; Christopher Frayling and Helen Snowdon , 'Perspectives on Craft," ... Craft Classics, UK Crafts Council, 1997.

What do people think?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

From Trash to Spectacle

This has been an interactive session to contribute to the blog. Questions, comments and images have come from the 12 advanced and material studies class at the Art Institute Tuesday 7th April 2009. The questions emerged from the lecture series and round table sessions that have happened over the last week in the School. It has been a great and informative session which we hope will continue with new posts and comments, web links and other images so that this interactive and collective enterprise continues.

With thanks to Amy Honchell and Karen Reimer for engaging in this process and to all the fibre students who directly participated.

Brain drain: Interdisciplinary Fashion/Fiber studies in the US

Why do conceptual fashion/fiber students have to leave the country in order for advanced wearable studies? Why is New York our only domestic option? Why are fiber and fashion departments so segregated at US art schools?



What makes trash a spectacle?

Come on.

Isn't everything DIY at art school?

Post-BFA: What do they want from me??

What should BFA graduates do before applying to an MFA program? If you're looking at applicants, what would you want to see? What's overrated?

- NV


Is sloppy craft considered and respected as much by the viewer?

The value of work

Does work have any inherent value?
how do we know what skill is?

Minimal Spectacle?

Can a minimal piece be more of a spectacle than a busy piece?
Everything from vegetarian recipes to building your own medieval gauntlet: DIY instructions to suit your every whim.

Posted by Anne Chino

Authenticity: "Outsider" vs. "Trained" Craft artist

Q: Is the craft of an "outsider" artist more true than that of a "trained" craft-artist?

Craft International

Are similar conversations about craft happening internationally?
what is the connection between skill and concept?


Photography, identity, self representation, sameness vs. individuality, dress and garment.

Cole Chickering posted this, okay?

"Pure" Craft

Question: Can craft exist as "pure" craft without any negative repercussions/connotations?

"Intentional" Sloppy Craft

Question: How can you tell "intentional" sloppy craft?  

Gender in Craft

Is gender still a relevant part of the craft discussion?

The "Hand"

Question: When does the "hand" need to be seen in artwork?
Do you think your earlier experiences with craft have colored how you aproach craft now?

Hand vs. Machine

What changes when a machine is used to accomplish a project? Does craft become compromised?

Matthew Barney - Spectacle or what?

Q: Where does Matthew Barney's work fit?

Da Rules

Does one need to be an expert at something, like painting, in order to deviate from the rules?