Friday, December 25, 2015

The Aesthetics of Resistance

We have started our long-awaited reading group in late October. Struggling though the first chapter, reading one by one aloud about violence failure animality and art. I enjoy going though pages that become a scene of a dialogue about the history of the left and our art practices and art world be inhabit here in London. Our voice, our generation of political prisoners and policing, violence imposed on the people in the countries we experienced life in, resistance in those countries. Despite the text being heavy and dense, language being all too often unfamiliar even to a native speaker it contains rewarding beauty. One encounters a mass of liberating thoughts thrown at us in the kitchen arguments, in young men's reactions and coping mechanisms, in that Weiss gives us freedom to travel or rather co-inhabit antique world and the world of 1930s.

I dearly enjoyed most recent reading of critiques and thoughts about the works of Repin, Yaroshenko, Savitsky, Courbet, Millet, Meunier,  and looking at artworks they produced depicting world of work in 19th century.

"Very seldom in this century, when the worker became a foreground figure in art, were they shown with gesture of resistance, attack. Still, their emergence as a new class, their lifelike appearance in front of the flabbergasted spectator, those were artistic feats enough. Behind them lay a string of revolts and revolutions, and although driven back each time, and perhaps they would be better  equipped for the next charge. By approaching them, by seeking motifs from the workaday world, the painters showed that art too was freeing itself from old obligation, that energy coming from the populace was forcing itself on art, energy that had to be articulated at first by those capable of speech, of expression that mediated." p53

"Just as thought of revolution was not yet the revolution but only demanded its deeds, so too the pictorial idea called for its implementation in form." p55

"Art has always convinced us only by filling the painted frame or the written pages with a life of it's own. Whenever precautions are taken to steer art, they merely confirm that it has a mind of its own. The more tightly art is bound the more people fear the danger of its explosive energy." p58.

Here is a glitched-up comment on 1978 painting by Nikolai Yaroshenko called Prisoner. With solidarity to imprisoned mates Alexei Gaskarov and Ildar Dadin and all those prosecuted by Russian state for their tireless resistance.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Commoning in Deptford Town Hall

Some good work done, we jumped above our heads in New Cross Commoners, and I fell in love with our industrial estate and people I work with. The first ones feed plentiful populace of London with finest food and the second ones are best to work with.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Aesthetics of Resiatance

We have started a new the Aesthetics of Resistance reading group. Most of the meetings are currently held at the Field, New Cross.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

winter and academic year

Academic year is structured around the negation of winter. There's Autumn, Spring and Summer terms, and winter does not exist on paper. It's equally divided between Spring and Autumn. I'm sure its not due to weather being mild on the British islands, (this Autumn is nearly Russian, sad murky fresh and ideal for firs) - but some cultural thing, I'm not quite able to pin down. Something like rule of three in writing or restatement of acts in triplicates in law? ("I give, devise and bequeath ...") Or maybe neo- liberal avoidance of antagonism, avoid acknowledging cold, lack of comfort and extended darkness that's right there in the middle of our lives, like inevitable failure. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS WINTER. It is political question.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Artists’ and Cultural Workers’ Dinner: Cultural Work and Urban Displacement

During the ArtLicks weekend, alongside Nomad School and Houserules' new project The Guided Tour Daniella Valz Gen and myself hosted Artists’ and Cultural Workers’ Dinner at the Field, a community space and a social centre at New Cross that I have been involved in since summer 2014.

We have cooked together dahl and a crumble. Admission fee included bringing drinks and fruit for pudding. Above is a photograph by artist Donna Riddington inscribed "Artists' hands preparing communal grub at The Field while discussing displaced communities across Peckham."

The programme of the dinner started from a walk beginning at Holly Bush Shrubbery at Peckham that was led by Daniella. 17 artists and cultural workers attended a conversation that started shortly after a walk, cooking and having a dinner together. Different opinions were raised and heavy disagreements emerged. Further I would list questions and statements that I have noted down during the conversation. 

Developers are not interested in artists, but creative professionals and their disposable incomes who come alongside.
Cutting though social classes artists have access to different people and spaces or know how to get it.
It is planned that by 2033 there would be no council estates in London.
Problem is the undemocratic planning policy that is not controlled by people who live in the city.
Regeneration is about moving social problems to other places.
Community is about sharing space.
People who make change are desperate.
All areas of London have community hubs, this is how local communities can be joined.

Why are we [artists] attractive to developers?
Is this about blame or rather accepting our position as artists?
Maybe gentrification is not a bad thing really?
Do we have a choice?
Do we have time for political interventions?
Are there better ways to create?
What are different communities around us? How to engage with local community?
What can artists offer to local community that faces displacement?
Would artist become a social worker?
Is artist the one who points at things?
Should artist jump a fence and become a community activist?
Is being ethical a hard work?
Is that a question of having to go and find community? Building relations with the community?
Are art practice and social work polar opposites?
Is there a  drive to abandon aesthetic practice and take art practice into different direction?
Can our practice include all several aspects, being socially responsive and self-reflexive at the same moment?

I am so very grateful for the contribution of ideas, time and presence of artists who came to share food and space and be open and honest about their positions and knowledge about processes we are living though. The Field became instrumental in opening this conversation that brings together artistic work and political. Hosting a dinner there reassured me again that working alongside community activists and caring for the space is somehow unarguably important for my understanding of my own practice, and to some extent of roles that artists could have in the community.

There were multiple calls to continue conversation that had started that evening, we'll have to see what we can do.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Utopia is not in the past

Ceramics studio co-op banners as shown in Office sessions IV: Soho.


40 Beak street

While Office Sessions IV are still on, I am tempted to make few notes about the space I was invited to show my work in as a part of the basement group. Office Sessions IV are taking over the space at 40 Beak street in Soho. The space is a former police station that was empty for couple of years, and later in 2013 it was squatted by anti-G20 protesters, and made into Anti-G20 HQ. The space was violently evicted. (Reports from Independent, Mail, BBC, Metro).

Artists accepted the space differently. Some sought to neutralise it, and bring it closer to the white cube, others played with symbols, painting Anarchy symbols over into a star... What we reached downstairs was an interesting consensus. A lot of care went into installing the show around the trace of history of the space and keeping signs of political protest. Most of the work wasn't reacting to the space as most I understand had a last minute notice about the exhibition. I think it felt right to keep the traces of G20 HQ, think about work in relation to them... They are signifiers of the space, its history, where we are just temporary visitors, as much as squatters were in 2013.

One of the important decisions was installing Every Day is May Day banner in the small courtyard filled with rubble. Victoria Burgess (who we worked with together on the show in Berlin) recognised the space gesture that repeated in this show as it happened on Glogauer Strasse. There I took a photocopy of the Oranienplatz image to the window across the road. This tension between external/internal. Public, people's and confined to artistic space is important. We hanged Mayday outside, and my work hardly ever had better light, and companions. The scribble "Good people break bad laws" made me pay attention to the courtyard from the very beginning, and it feels that having the work out there may tell the story of the station and squat better than if we've left the wall empty.
It seems with 40 Beak street, art is more of a tool to tell history of dissent and violence, enclosures of commons, gentrification and money.


I have taken some images on the preview day when I went to see the space. I did not know it's history, and I was shocked to see I am going to make a show in ex-squat. Histories of violence in these spaces are intense, and it seems pointless to bring one's de-contextualised work made for hopeful spaces of liberation (like my worker co-op) to spaces like this.





Caitlin Mavroleon, director and founder of Office Sessions, facebook:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Office Sessions IV: Soho aka 40 Beak Street Exhibition

Join me for the Beak Street Exhibition opening. A show with a group of marvelous most promising up and coming mostly London based artists, which is a part of Office Sessions founded and directed by Caitlin Mavroleon.

I am showing some new and old work made for ceramics coop studios, so excited to see it recontextualised, as some sort of advertisement. Come and see our co-op adverts at an art show!
28 July 5-8pm , 40 Beak Street, Soho W1f 9RQ

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thursday 26 March: WORK and ART: How Artists make a living SYMPOSIUM at UCA Canterbury

You are warmly invited to the Work and Art: How Artists make a living Symposium at UCA Canterbury on Thursday 26 March 2015, presented by Collaborative Research Group and CRATE Studio and Project Space.

Image: Tatiana Baskakova, Co-operate or Die, 2014 (photo: Tristan Lathey)

@ UCA Canterbury, New Dover Road, Canterbury, Kent CT1 3AN

Work and Art: How Artists make a living

Tatiana Baskakova, Emma Braso, Collaborative Research Group, Sam Curtis, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Susan Jones, Hurley and Thornton, Sarah Jones, Shama Khanna, Robert Laycock, Jasmine Pradissitto, Holly Rogers, Angus Sanders-Dunnachie, Tania Skakun and Carlos Noronha Feio.

With a *reading room & exhibition consisting of publications, films and artwork by:
Fani Bitou, Catterall/Martin, Jason Haynes, Alice Kemp, Sophie Mallet, Antonia Meile, Rose Parish and The Public Zine Library.

This symposium will investigate and examine the multiple ways in which artists, curators and writers sustain themselves economically. Very few artists work solely as artists and this symposium will focus on the variety of ways in which artists supplement their incomes, looking at the relationship between economic activity and creative output. The symposium provides a space for considering the backstage aspects of being an artist/arts practitioner, considering the various ways in which artists earn money or labour (as non-artists) to support their artistic careers, and what it means for artists to occupy these multiple roles in society. We aim to sample a breadth of current artistic economic activity, and have invited practitioners to present innovative approaches to survival as an arts practitioner.

The event is the culmination of Collaborative Research Group, a post-academic programme supported by CRATE Studio and Project Space in Margate and University for the Creative Arts Canterbury, focusing on the practicalities and pluralities of contemporary visual arts practice.
Collaborative Research Group is funded by European Inter-regional Culture-led Regeneration and Kent County Council, with support from CRATE Studio and Project Space and University for the Creative Arts.


COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH GROUP have worked directly with over 260 thinkers including artists, directors, curators, builders, students, writers and researchers, have presented and commissioned artworks by over 120 artists, and presented lectures, workshops and activity to approximately 9600 members of the public, students and arts practitioners.
All this activity has unearthed research and practice around notions of collaboration, exchange, economy, professionalism, strategy, institutional/organisational practice, modes of working, hierarchical networks within the art-world among many other things.

* The Herbert Read Gallery at UCA Canterbury will house a Work and Art reading room and film exhibition running Thursday 26 and Friday 27 March 10am - 6pm, which will be free to attend.