Holly Pester

Pester introduced the talk by stating that she explores poetry, research and her sense of self. As an author she actively participates in her work taking the form of Subject. She introduced us to Map she created that acts as a cosmology to her practice: in the middle are the objects/things that are the focus of her obsessions.  Outside the middle column are the methods or modes that have are followed to explore the central topics. Pester is particularly fascinated with the relationships between these things that she is drawn to and how she can engage with them in her practice. Some of these Methodologies include cadence and hallucinations and her interests include bogs, clairvoyance, posture etc. Through this pursuit, Pester does not attempt to emphasis the self/the person.

Pester has touched on various artists and writers that have enabled and provoked particular ways of thinking. She found it important to acknowledge and locate the lineage of thinking and honour the texts and works created in line with her interests.  Hannah Weiner’s “I see words” – and the practice of Hannah Weiner –  was a particular interest. Weiner suffered from schizophrenia and an example of a symptom of her condition is that she sees texts coming out people heads. Weiner claimed this symptom as  clairvoyancy and logged her findings in her “clairvoyancy journals”. What Pester is intrigued by is the archiving of a bodily state into a mode of composition and how the text negotiates with this very particular, personal language.

“The Fast” is another text by Weiner that Pester studied and is interested in. Pester traveled to San Diego to read this piece and Pester traced the entries of Weiner as she starved herself, locked herself in the room and documented her experiences. Pester noticed how a strange attachment is formed when you study a persons very personal account of events. Pester told us how Weiner was seeing witches coming out of the taps and found herself (after time) agreeing with Weiner when she thought it was a good idea to move into the kitchen sink so it would allow her to drink and piss simultaneously . Pester found that Weiner’s voice within the text was haunting the material and also Pester herself.

telephone Holly Pester

Pester read snippets of essays that she has written. She described her work as “hallucinatory lyric” despite the fact she does not hallucinated but does experience Hypnogogia (the vibrant space between sleeping and waking). When Pester hears things during this state, she is interested in this arena as a research space.

“Voices confuse a sense of myself”

“Voices of an expression as a different state of being”

“Mad utterances to be not mine”

Moving from Hallucination to gossip, Pester showed us a clip, that was quite old, installed inside telephone box on the gates of the Royal Academy. The piece was titled An Epic of Gossip and acted as a  “a storage tank of reserved otherness”. Some snippets of dialogue include “Its coming apart”and “you or the phone?”. Pester here was interested in this described otherness and the Lacanian idea of letting the other into your unconscious space of speech. As two people were on the phone, the friendship between the duo is a a space that allows the rehearsing of politics within our speech; after all your friends are the closest version to you.

Pester later worked on a book project after taking a residency ins the Woman’s Art Library at Goldsmiths which focuses on woman’s literature  mainly from 60’s through to the 80’s. She focused on an archival reading strategy centered around gossip which is the connector of data and information. The result of “Fan Fiction of the Archive” was a book of poetry, short stories and experimental fictions.

Holly Pester Archive Research

Pester then read from her poem “Two Sculptures” and these lines, I felt, were especially poignant:  “Everyone works in memory of victims”, “can anyone cut this cream cake”, “my birth chart is braided”. Here, the fact that someones birth is predetermined and woven to already to an already specified design is what especially piqued my interest. This action is a very feminine practice and suggests that care has similarly been woven into the creation of life.

Within Pester’s group Common Rest project, she and seven other artists used lullabies as method to draw on – and to think about – care, friendship and the politics of care and labour. They composed lullabies outside of the domestic normative space whilst attempting to maintain the spellbinding magic of the lullaby (that perhaps acts as a curse as well). Each song was a duet and they worked together to create an immersive, surreal piece. The group tackled themes such as: activism, mental health, abortion, love, the sea, spines, money, dogs, education and beds amongst other things.The piece we listened to called Rush was very repetitive, immersive and surreal and featured the layering of one specific sound which were in fact “elevated particles of speech”.

Pester than told us how she then focused on nervousness as a state of being and how she hopes to convert this into a mode of knowledge. She questions how this nervousness can be transformed into resistance. Below are some snippets of Nervousness as Style.

“I do include worry pressure anxiety and apprehension”

“Becoming a body in a sea/scene of bodies and functions”

“To be this much in love is to be sick and I love to be sick”

“Being a out exuberance and material together”

Pester than spoke about how she explored de-creativity to cultivation. Charlotte Bronte’s Villette was influential to this mode of thought. During the novel, the protagonist is so overcome with emotion regarding some love letters she has received she cannot bare to read them. Therefore, she wraps them in a handkerchief, dips them in oil, puts them in a glass and seals them with wax, and then they are finally buried in the ground resembling a grave. It is this raptured obsession that Pester finds so engaging and the archival quality of the protagonist’s actions. The letters inhabit a space that is not destructive but not creative either, they are placed in stasis.

Common Rest Holly Pester

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Artist Statement – Things That Matter

Rebecca Uffindell and Eleanor Slaney work as part of a collaboration and throughout their practice challenge notions of worth mostly concerning materiality. During the external project “Things That Matter”, the title serving as the project prompt, the collaboration have explored notions of projected value and identity found in objects inhabiting a liminal space. Through this, they have also engaged with Anselm Franke’s theory regarding “Animism” and have questioned whether an object can truly possess an identity and, if this is true, is the object’s memory and previous existence a determining factor to its worth?

In the exhibition #ThingsThatMatter, Rebecca and Eleanor installed a variety of objects, retrieved from charity shops, and suspended them using wool over the beams within SPACE Gallery. The collaboration were mainly intrigued by the existence of liminal spaces, this being present in the setting of a charity shop. At once the found objects adopt a role of the abandoned and the salvaged and, until they are bought or discarded, will remain inhabiting that identity. By hanging the objects Rebecca and Eleanor hope that the audience will truly be confronted by the rejected and are able to navigate the features of each item and consider them in the open. In the centre of the exhibition lay cards posing questions such as: “Do these objects change when they are placed in a gallery setting?”, and “Ultimately, do these things matter?”. The intention was to pose unintrusive questions to the viewer, to allow them to acknowledge and consider these found objects and determine if their worth has changed. As the cards are placed centrally in regard to the installation, the viewer is forced to navigate the space in which the objects exist: in this instance, they refuse to be ignored.

Artists that have influenced Rebecca Uffindell during this process include the filmmaker Agnès Varda and Jeff Koons. After watching The Gleaners and I, Varda served as an interesting starting point to the collaboration and allowed them to consider the worth of what has been neglected by humanity. Varda, within this documentary acted as mediator to the observed and observer and was an active participant to gleaning herself. This instigated Rebecca and Eleanor to consider the liminality that is often present in identity as well as space. Jeff Koons was influential in establishing an arena in which the ordinary can take centre stage. This is present within his Banality series, as well as repurposing pre-existing objects, Koons transfers these ordinary ornaments into a space that was previously not inclusive to them, therefore permitting them to be acknowledged as something worth viewing.

Rebecca Uffindell and Eleanor Slaney intend to continue working collaboratively and further engage in materiality, perhaps expanding off of the external project. Ambiguity and whimsy remain as strong elements to be featured in their work and they hope to expand upon their current practice and continue challenging their audiences – and their own – perceptions of identity, place and belonging.

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De-Install and Reflection

One day after the opening we came to de-install all our work and “make good the space”. As our work was relatively easy to dismantle we had a lot of time to assist with others work and make sure the space was left as it was found.

As our work deal with liminal spaces we thought it would be interesting to re-donate these objects and return them to the threshold they came from. Just as we were making good the space, we allowed these objects to have the potential of being recovered, we hoped that at some point someone would see the value in them.

below are a few images from the de-install:

 

Reflections:

As a whole, the external project “Things That Matter” was extremely beneficial to me. I really enjoyed coordinating and taking part in a group curated show outside of the university setting. Not only has it allowed me to interact and communicate with people I perhaps wouldn’t have on my own accord, it has taught me how to engage with and execute a wide variety of skills. This project has made me realise how lucky I am to have the resources that we do at the university and has taught me that I should  fully utilise them. Kirsten has been a big help as well and the meetings in studio has really helped solidify what was to be expected of us.

Looking back over our installation I would say I am fairly happy with how it turned out but I think maybe collecting more objects and hanging them in a wider variety of way would have made the piece stronger. I do felt that it fit the theme well and fit in with the exhibition as well but I definitely think there is potential to grow. Perhaps this is something myself and Ellie can pursue next term.

Exhibition – Installation!

We began by making sure that everything was set up before hanging, this included attaching our objects and making sure the wool was strong enough to hold the weight of each individual piece, as well as the middle being strong enough that it would not snap. Whilst it was difficult to thread all the pieces together the main challenge was getting the individual threads over the beam we were using! as it was quite wide and relatively high to the ceiling it was hard to find an angle that would make it easier to pass them through. Eventually we just had to take the plunge and lob it over and hope for the best! This plan actually worked rather well…surprisingly.

Later Ellie and myself helped Beth with her installation and helped her find some more hooks in order for her work to be moulded and fastened into the shape she wanted. This ended up in us making a little excursion to the nearest building supply shop where we felt wildly out of place. after helping Beth she filmed a Ellie and I and interviewed us about our work for the show-reel in studio for a couple of weeks time.

Throughout the day everyone pitched in and helped eachother with installation and clearing the space. Myself, Ellie, Beth and Athina ventured out to use the bar money to get beverages, cups and Ice. This was a heavy trip but we managed to get everything set up par the cups and ice which I had to get a little closer to the opening due to the fact that Lidl didn’t have any at the time.

During the crit with Jon he discussed our method of hanging and he said that it turned out better than he expected. I liked the height we hang everything at as they were at varying levels and played with your eye level so that you had to consider the height and placement of each object. He looked at the text piece we had included which had questions such as “do these objects change once they have been placed in a gallery setting?”, and “Ultimately, do these things matter?”. It was discussed that the paper did aid with the understanding of the installation. It was interesting to see that there was a discussion to what some of the objects original purpose was which i found intriguing and a successful part of the installation as it struck up a conversation about belonging, function and place. I spoke briefly about why we chose to display this work this kind of way and talked about how initially we had thought about giving the objects human names like Bob or Dave or Frank. Jon told me he liked that idea and it might be an interesting springboard for next term. This is definitely worth considering.

I had to leave the crit early in order to retrieve cups and ice as the exhibition was starting soon. Me and Ellie took first rounds at the bar and helped direct the public to the printed handouts about the exhibition.

 

 

Hanging with Ellie

I visited Ellie to discuss hanging our objects. She thought that draping the objects over the beam in SPACE – like I had practiced – was effective and we tweaked with the order of the objects so it was ready for installation.

Here is our chosen layout, we will judge on installation day the heights to position the pieces at and what works well within our work and as a cohesive exhibition. Here are lots of images of Ellie gracefully modeling our pieces!

We decided that we should a little text piece so the audience can really consider the title “Things That Matter” and what we were trying to address. We wanted the written piece not to reveal too much about what are intentions were and instead felt that posing questions to them might be a good way to get across our main themes and thinking without spoon feeding the audience.

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Things That Matter – 4th Meeting

During this meeting we discussed the intricacies of the exhibition and consulted what each team has managed to contribute so far. Inbetween the meetings in studio, all members of the Things That Matter group have been very active on our closed Facebook group where we discuss the images of the flyers and press releases, also what equipment and who is bringing it down, and making sure everyone have what they need ready for installation. This has been very beneficial as mostly everyone within the group has access to social media, and instead of checking emails and replying that way, everyone can be notified and can contribute.

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Here is the completed flyer for the exhibition, it features an altered version of Vanessa’s work and was completed by the press team:

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During this meeting we also decided that I would be in charge of the bar donations. We decided that each member of the group would pay £3 in order for us to get £75 worth of beverages. After researching this at home I debated using Go-Fund-Me as a method of payment but after looking at the fine print withdrawals of the deposit would take too long and they take a small portion of the money donated. I then later looked into PayPal but there was a similar issue with that. After consulting the group on Facebook we decided that people would pay the money into my personal account – of course I added that if anyone was uncomfortable with this then we could find an alternative method. Everyone seemed happy with that method and so we began collecting money this way.

Bev, Ellie, Nina myself and Kirsten stayed after the meeting to help choose who should be chosen to represent the show on social media. We didn’t want to include everyone as then some of the intrigue of the show would be lost. Therefore, we selected the most aesthetic pieces that would attract viewers.