Wendy Mclean

Wendy Mclean specialises in small, quiet paintings. With these paintings she explores how they inhabit a space. The work focuses on the ideas of how intertwining work are articulated differently. She focuses on many paintings at the same time which centers around her daily practice. Shes doesn’t feel pressurised in this space but settled in her surroundings that prompt an exploration of the particular architectural forms in her setting e.g glass in a window, a railing etc.  Her work often explores the tensions of a passage of writing or words. Repetition of her small paintings allows her to slow down and, at once, speed up making. She feels that it is important not to accept the first version  of a piece of work and to exhaust each motif thoroughly.

In terms of process, Mclean often makes an ode to one of her previous works, but not intentionally. She finds that it takes at least 10 minutes to become relaxed enough to actually produce work. She must overtake the thinking in the process of making and live with things for a while. She stated that it takes 10-20 times to get to know something.

She talked about a set of work that tried to give permission and allow for contradictions. A painting could look like one thing and in its next evolution, inhabit what it seems to go against in its initial phase. Mclean also tests paintings against the memory of object – drawing its focus and holding its attention.

Beyond the hand holding this book that I’m reading, I see another hand lying idle and slightly out of focus – my extra hand.”

This is a quote By Lydia Davis that was especially influential for the artist and I enjoy how Davis draws attention to the previously unnoticed, similarly to Mclean’s tender and understated paintings

When starting and finishing a painting, Mclean recognises her habits and strives to break them. The thin cotton casts a shadow of the frame that confirms that the canvas doesn’t want heavy treatment. The wooden panels have very little grain and highlights the subtlety of not only her work, but her materials as well. Additionally, small works are also completed on paper, creating a small, archival library of paintings. These are not subservient to her weightier objects nor is their scale limited by size.

Mclean is also interested in storytelling. One narrative she recounted was of a mother fascinated  by an event out of her window. There is a significance in the barrier that the window provides, whilst being completely transparent.

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Rehana Zaman

is an artist based in London working with moving image and performance. Her work considers the interplay of multiple social dynamics that constitute subjects along particular socio-political formations. These narrative based artworks, often deadpan and neurotic, are frequently generated through conversation and collaboration with others.”

Zaman explains that in the last 3 years quite distinct themes reoccur in her work. She showed us a tenderpixel video piece entitled “TELL ME THE STORY OF ALL THESE THINGS” which was an intimate snapshot into world of Farrah and her aspirations. She was born in Pakistan but lived most of her life in the UK. What was anchored into the piece was appropriated material from educational “prevent” government schemes. CGI animation was also interjected. Zaman explored a woman coded as Muslim and the instability assembling and disassembling with her trying to remain individual and navigate the world.

Zaman later showed us a piece developed in 2015-16 which was initially 22 minutes which she had shortened to a 7 min clip. There was a succession of female narrators which were made up and some scripted. Beauty salon scenes interrupted the video. It took the form of an audition tape where Zaman invited actors to read a text prepared that responded to devised questions. The idea behind this was the testimony and the sharing of accounts. The scripts were a culmination of experiences Zaman had.

Zaman then showed an early show from the first film. GIANTESS is multiscreen work which featured crude fetish animations. The body of the giantess emerges from a mining site and her developing precursor figure appears later. 

3 years ago was a strong turning point in Zaman’s work. A film she devised was ambitious in scale as it was a 6 part video 2004 at the tetley gallery. It tracked the earlier moments in the history of the brewery that explored parallel narratives. The workers narratives acted as a dramatization which explored a working class identity. It also explored themes of Immigration and women’s roles. Conversations of domestic workers  were interjected with drama and initially it was not clear how the immigration groups’ involvement in the film would be. They discussed what needs would be a campaign issue and how to raise awareness. The film sought to put questions on the table. The film emerged from the process of the continued work within the group. What was a running thread within the Melodrama was the character of Sue as everyone gets laid off apart from Sue which Zaman described as her smashing through the glass ceiling. She later becomes pregnant which describes that the moment feminism was achieved, labour is unrecognised in the home and gets outsourced. 

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White Pube

White Pube stemmed from the experiences of the duo when confronted with a formal art review compared to what friends have recommended regarding art shows. They questioned the star rating system that existed in countless reviewed and to what extent they held meaning. White Pube sought to provide more honest reviews, free from academic authority. They replaced the conventional star rating with emojis that changed for each review, making it more personalized while subverting what was deemed as normal. Artist Jesse Darling commented that the review White Pube made regarding her work was:

“not facetious or ironic, this might b the harshest most true review bc @thewhitepube channels somatic currents not jus fuxxin w dyscourse”

Comments such as these are not uncommon for White Pube which depicts just how appreciated and need they are in the art world, almost acting as mediator between artist (through text) and critics themselves. They said that often they do not research the artists before attending exhibitions, nor do they read the text that is so commonly found next to exhibitions and installations, instead they approach the work only through their own interpretation allowing for the most purity of thought.

White Pube began to meet fans or people interested in their work process in what they call “Anti-networking”. This has recently become a way of interacting with their fans as well as breaching the disconnect normally seen between author and reader.

What was especially interesting was the fact that White Pube broke down their expenses and cost of working/travelling to different events and exhibitions. They stated that they are fascinated by money because no one talks about it. This really put into perspective the reality of working as an artist or to something of similar effect.

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Joey Holder

To start Holder showed us a video where research, images and work were displayed on her website.these, along with screengrabs played throughout the talk. This continual flow mirrored continually transforming nature of Holder’s work. Joey Holder describes herself as a Multimedia artist and the essence of her work acts as a constellatory network.

Holder is influenced by Network theory and Complexity theory which diverge from our mutating reality. Shd focuses in the contrast and entangldment of the Organic and the manmade.

Holder is interested in the systems of language communicated in the world around us. Her work features clips of sea creatures with diagramatic things overlayed to breach the gap between nature and the analytical. What I hadn’t considered is the organisational system that exists within world. The example Holder gave was that our eyes have 100 million detectors in the retina but only 1 million go to brain which is where reduction light patterns happens and  categorisation occurs.

Hydrozoan was birthed from a residency with The Internet of Growing Things which introduced Holder to working with scientists. She began researching new farming methods into the idea of how humanity feels the need to control nature.

Biostat – explores the digitisation of bodies and the collection of data that exists online of peoples’ genetic data. This biological information will, no doubt, have considerable value in the future.

Other influences of Holder science include The Cosmic Serpent DNA, The Origin of Knowledge, Shamanism and molecular biology. 

A Solo show Holder created was a Sci-Fi style medical room. She created things such as a genetic sequencing machine. At one point she considered creating apps analysing genetic data to work alongside this piece. For the show she made up a pharmaceutical company namss Ophiux that had dark untertones, as she mentioned, like the Illuminati. Here, she hoped to comment on the speculation as to what a large company can do under such grand claims that they make.

Paul Clinton

“Paul Clinton is a writer, curator and is the associate editor of the magazines frieze and Frieze Masters. He has taught seminars on art, stupidity and queer theory at Goldsmiths College and the University of Manchester. In 2013 he edited a special issue of the philosophy and critical theory journal parallax on stupidity, and in 2014 the South London Gallery staged a day-long event around his research on this subject. In the same year he organised the conference Shimmering World, which featured presentations by artists Ed Atkins, David Panos and Hannah Sawtell. In 2015 he co-curated the exhibition ‘duh? Art & Stupidity’ at Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, and in 2016 he co-edited a special issue of frieze devoted to class politics, which lead to a study day on the subject at the Royal College of Art, London, co-hosted with Nina Power.  Recent articles include on the queer sociologist Didier Eribon, the artist Gustav Metzger and on the queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Previous speaking engagements have taken place at the Frieze Art Fair, ICA, Tate Modern, Whitstable Biennale and Whitechapel Gallery, amongst other venues. He was also a founding member of the band No Bra, co-writing several songs on the album Dance and Walk, and with Patrick Wolf he formed the band Maison Crimenaux.”

Paul Clinton acts primarily as a writer and a curator bu has participated in a range of projects. He initially started in bands and formed the group ‘Maison Crimeneaux’ with Patrick Wolf which satirized figures around them. His most notable band was titled ‘No Bra’ whose most popular song entitled ‘Munchausen’ tackled pretentiousness and the process of showing off that at once depicted superior knowledge as well as revealing an insecurity and the need to be accepted. ‘Munchausen’  acted as a kind of delusion yet the band itself was included in this parody as they themselves acted as the voices in the song.

Clinton showed us his work entitled ‘Inches’  (2001)  a short film that was created collaboratively with Susan Oberbeck. Clinton described that the work lacked ‘subtlety’ and a clear plot line. He was influenced by the Cinema of Transgression whose films were often shoddily produced and the explicit aim was to question social norms and to offend. Clinton told us that he was suspicious of the idea of transgression and subversion and his influences include Richard Kern ‘You Killed Me First’, 1985 and Jonathan Dollimore who focuses on containment and subversion. An interesting comment that Clinton made was that often, through protest we are defined by the thing we are trying to resist.

Other influences to Clinton include George and Mike Kuchar and the band Throbbing Gristle in which their industrial music fit into a certain genre yet subverted the norm due to the fact that sinister undertones were often present.

During the end of the talk Clinton ran out of time but tried to tackle topics that he has worked on such as Queer Stupidity. I didn’t quite grasp some of the concepts discussed but it seems very in depth and would be interesting if more time was assigned.

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Simon Bedwell

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“Simon Bedwell lives and works in London and was a founder member of the art group BANK (1991 – 2003), who made a series of sprawling installations involving their own work and others’ in independent gallery spaces including DOG and Gallerie Poo Poo, and in a mode which today might be called curation (it wasn’t, it was art). Since the group folded he has shown work ranging from altered found posters, through to installations of furniture, painting and décor made and found, through to large scale ceramics; the areas of concern have moved from pseudo-politics, through gender issues and more recently towards an interest in long-discredited ideas around originality, form and autonomy.”

During the artist talk, Simon Bedwell took us through a tour of his work starting from his political posters that were manipulated, pre-existing candidate posters from the 80’s. after, he – and others – started BANK which was an art group that found old buildings and out on shows that exhibited their own work and others including: known artists, unknown artists and students. The group explored how group shows differ from individual ones; Bedwell commented on how he preferred group shows as it built momentum and the variety provided more interesting dynamics.

A selection of work I found interesting and humorous was the ‘correction’ of the press releases that galleries wrote to represent BANK named ‘Faxbak’.

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During the talk Bedwell played a few answerphone messages in response to the faxes that were both full of frustration yet simultaneously hilarious.

Following BANK, Bedwell collected tabloids, posters from pop culture and advertisements and painstakingly altered them with spray paint with text. In this body of work, Bedwell hopes to communicate something sinister whilst also hoping to communicate the possibility of parallel worlds. Although he recognises that some of the humour in the world may not maintain relevancy in this age.

Bedwell then went on to discuss his selection of works: “The Researchers” (which focused on the apparent need for work to have research), “The Furnishers” (which explored the difference between art and decor)  and “The Receivers” (Which was a follow on from the room sets in the previous exhibition)

The final work he Bedwell discussed in the talk was his ceramic pieces that were misshaped pots and vases that he developed after his residency in Holland. These clay pieces were very interesting, often with elongated necks or blobs that were stacked on top of each other. Bedwell commented that his later work echoed his earlier pieces that he designed in his teens. This was particularly interesting to me as even throughout his broad body of work, Bedwell was drawn to his past: his work has a cyclical history.

Rosanna McNamara & Laura Prime

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Mcnamara and Prime opened with a performance piece that was separated into sections from a speech, to a radio show and finally to a lip sync performance. The first part of the performance focused on humanity and our own lifespan, as well as the afterlife and where our beings go, if anywhere at all. One part from a quote from their initial speech that resonated with me especially was: “….dictated life by the rules set by death.” That our actions in our life are made due to our belief of what happens to us after death, despite the fact this is not necessarily the truth.

During this speech, both McNamara and Prime transformed into their personas by putting on makeup and drawing forked tongues trailing from their mouth to their neck. Ideas of originality were discussed with the example of Frankenstein being remembered as the monster itself, not by Doctor Frankenstein or the fact these characters are created by Mary Shelley.

duality was explored throughout the performance, especially with the motive of the ‘forked tongue’. As they act as a duo and are separately concerned with various topics (“McNamara’s research surrounding cyborgs, lip-syncing, and (dis)embodiment with Prime’s investigations into the hive-mind, homo-Curatus, and our escape from death”)  this motif is prominent and repeated throughout.

the second part of the Artist Talk mimicked a radio show and explored themes of imitation which was displayed through language and through Prime and McNamara imitating the guests that were introduced in the show (simultaneously portraying a sense of irony).

The final part of the performance explored layers of imitation. The song ‘I want Love’ by Elton John was played where Robert Downey Jr. lip synced in the video. Adding to this, McNamara recorded herself on her Mac and Prime performed a live rendition. These layers really delved into what it means to imitate, questioning: how far is too far?

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