Tag Archives: The Field

Displacement

Maria Christoforatou: Displacement. Studio Crit #1. The Field New Cross, 20 April 2016. Photo by Maria Christoforatou.
Maria Christoforatou: Displacement. Studio Crit #1. The Field New Cross, 20 April 2016. Photo by Maria Christoforatou.

At the launch of the new [STUDIOCRIT] event series we explored concepts of displacement, home and belonging with Maria Christoforatou.

Maria prepared a detailed presentation with images of her work including drawings, painting, sculpture, installation. She also presented her research with mind maps and a collection of archival images.

In her work, Maria explores the relationship between the emotional and physical dimensions of belonging via the concept of “home”. This sense of belonging is tied up with “place” and characteristic of her approach is the association of the distinct concepts of “house” and “home” – both contained within the Greek word οἶκος. Maria identifies the figure of the home in her work with the self or the body. Referencing Alison Blunt, she suggests that ideas of home are nostalgically associated with imagined authenticity rather than lived experience. It is therefore a concern with identity that lies at the root of her project.

Scene from the 1953 Ionian earthquake in Cephalonia.
Scene from the 1953 Ionian earthquake in Cephalonia.

Focusing on the relationship between the structure of a dwelling and the body/self that occupies it, my mixed-media work, works on paper, sculptures, paintings, and installations bring to light paths to awareness and articulation of one’s own subjectivity.

Maria related her own experiences of trauma and displacement in relation to her childhood memories of home and its destruction in two house fires. She showed a haunting image of her grandmother’s family home in Cephalonia after it was destroyed by the 1953 Ionian earthquake, “leaving the stone facade intact, which is there to this day, resulting in her displacement and eventual move to Athens”.

Maria Christoforatou [2009] Collapsed. Metal strips, dimensions variable.
Maria Christoforatou [2009] Collapsed. Metal strips, dimensions variable.
In her research, Maria engages with narratives of home and displacement in contemporary art. Referencing the work of Doris Salcedo and Mona Hatoum, she explores the ways that art practice can “mediate the emotional connection of the self with one’s surrounding[s]”. This concern is also evident in her practice, where she engages with the question of how objects can convey a sense of displacement, becoming “agents of experience for the viewer”. She uses diverse materials in surprising ways to confound and displace the viewer. Collapsed (2009) is a small black metal sculpture that appears to be fragile and lightweight, as though it were made of paper or ribbons. At times, the house/home in Maria’s work has been stripped down to its structural elements. Here just the frame remains, as though it has been gutted by fire, crushed by an irresistible force or more often as a placeholder or token of home. In this incarnation the house is exposed on all sides, blending with its environment. It cannot provide shelter and functions either as a monument to the past or a diagram for something to build in the future.

Maria Christoforatou [2016] Dislocated series. Collage on paper, 21 x 14.8 cm.
Maria Christoforatou [2016] Dislocated series. Collage on paper, 21 x 14.8 cm.

More often the house appears to be a self-contained unit – a paradoxically closed system – cut off from its environment. At times it is a hollow shell, such as There’s no home for you here (2012), a small walnut wood house sealed on all sides, which emits intermittent sighs. At other times it is solid, such as Untitled (2013), which is made from a single piece of blue polystyrene. This sculpture is both monolithic and portable due to its small size.

Maria Christoforatou [2014] Constructing spaces series. Plywood, plastic pipes, rubber, 88 x 31 x 26.3cm.
Maria Christoforatou [2014] Constructing spaces series. Plywood, plastic pipes, rubber, 88 x 31 x 26.3cm.
A sculpture from the Constructing Spaces series (2014) breaks with this binary opposition between the hermetically sealed closed system and the gutted, emptied-out frame. It is a small wooden house, hollow inside and sealed throughout but for a plastic drain pipe sticking out of the bottom. The pipe is ravaged and convoluted as it doubles back on itself. The end of the pipe is flared, suggesting a mouth or an exploratory appendage of some sort. This house does not hide its fundamental dependency on the urban infrastructure of water supply and waste-water pipes. Was it part of an extended underground network of pipes connected to other semi-autonomous dwellings overground? Is the appendage searching for a break in the network to latch onto and become part of the network once again?

A process of destroying and recreating over and over again is at the core of my practice, which often salvages and reworks remnants, fragments and debris. Images of, or motifs relating to, the physical construction of houses are arranged, and then rearranged; it is almost as an act of incessant reminder that one’s home is as fragile and transient…

Maria is a prolific artist and her recent work is a substantial collection of collages which feature the familiar house trope in all kinds of configurations and juxtapositions. She subjects the images to a process of degradation as she repeatedly photocopies the same image to “remove its history”, thereby producing highly contrasted generic images that everyone can relate to.

Maria Christoforatou: Displacement. Studio Crit #1. The Field New Cross, 20 April 2016. Photo by Maria Christoforatou.
Maria Christoforatou: Displacement. Studio Crit #1. The Field New Cross, 20 April 2016. Photo by Maria Christoforatou.

Maria’s studio crit highlighted a common interest in the concepts of home, (dis)location, identity and urbanity. We’re on the lookout for a venue to organise an exhibition or other event on these themes. If you’re interested in collaborating as an artist, writer, curator or editor please get in touch.

If you would like to show your work at a Studio Crit from June 2016 onwards please visit the page to read the guidelines and get in touch with a preferred date. The Studio Crit is a good opportunity to set some goals for your work. The purpose of a studio crit is to visit an artist’s studio for a structured viewing and discussion of the work.

[STUDIOCRIT]#01 Maria Christoforatou: Displacement took place on 20 March 2016 at The Field, New Cross. For more info please visit the event page.

Latour, The Field, Duchamp

Spring 2016 was a busy time at ART&CRITIQUE! We launched two new events the [GALLERY TOUR] and the [STUDIO CRIT] and we hatched new plans. For more details please read on.

[SYMPOSIUM]#5 Latour: On Actor Network Theory, 11 March 2016

Lloyd, John Uri & Curtis Gates Lloyd [1884] Plate XXIII. A fresh rhizome of Cimicifuga racemosa. In Drugs and Medicines of North America. Cincinnati: Lloyd & Lloyd.
Lloyd, John Uri & Curtis Gates Lloyd [1884] Plate XXIII. A fresh rhizome of Cimicifuga racemosa. In Drugs and Medicines of North America. Cincinnati: Lloyd & Lloyd.

The discussion of Bruno Latour’s essay On Actor Network Theory (1990) was chaired by Johanna Kwiat. Johanna animated this difficult text and provided several imaginative routes into its many folds. She summed up the discussion by pointing out that “Latour invites us to think in terms of associations / connections, which don’t need to be qualified as ‘social’, ‘natural’, or ‘technological'”. For Johanna this has the consequence of unsettling “humans or/and human networks [from] their traditionally privileged position”, inviting us to “question the Cartesian legacy (modernism as we understand it), and that in itself is a bonus of reading this text”.

[GALLERYTOUR]#1 From Hoxton to Mile End, 19 March 2016
Chris Alton [2016] Under the Shade I Flourish. Installation view at xero, kline & coma, London 2016.
Chris Alton [2016] Under the Shade I Flourish. Installation view at xero, kline & coma, London 2016.

In March we launched the first [GALLERYTOUR] which took us from Hoxton to Mile End. We visited xero, kline & coma to see Chris Alton’s exhibition Under the Shade I Flourish. Blending fact and fiction in an installation comprised of video, posters, music and diagrams, Alton sets up a compelling account of the ill-fated blues-band Trident. The video documentary centres around the figure of Michael Ashcroft, the band’s manager and former Conservative party member, peer and tax exile who has been been at the centre of several political and financial controversies. The documentary chases up a series of ostensibly inconsequential clues in a futile attempt to solve the mysterious disappearance of the band members in the Bermuda Triangle, a metaphor for British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies that function as tax havens, a “cornerstone of institutional corruption worldwide”.* If you missed this exhibition you can see it at Lewisham Arthouse from 17-22 May 2016.

The next stop was Cell Project Space for Iain Ball’s installation Praseodymium Intracrine Signal Aggregate, the ninth in his Rare Earth Sculpture series. Ball’s installation engages with the paranoia induced by sustained surveillance. Despite the obvious connections that we were able to make, we couldn’t work out how the different components of the installation – the sculpture, the camera and the monitors – were interacting. The final stop on the tour was at Chisenhale Gallery to see Park McArthur’s exhibition Poly. This installation was composed of plinths along one side of the room bearing found objects that reference the body (condoms, latex gloves, oxygen masks, heel cushions, elbow braces). On the wall hung two sheets of paper soaked with super-absorbent polymer, electric heaters were placed around the edges of the room and three massive blocks of black acoustic foam were wedged into a corner. Like sarcophagi stored in a museum basement these monumental black blocks skewed our sense of balance in this rather empty room. The air felt dry, as though all the moist air was being sucked out by the black blocks. We were not sure whether this was a physical perception or a conceptual one. One of the plinths carried a stack of redacted photocopies of a letter notifying users of the closure of the Independent Living Fund. This was an uncomfortable place, it reminded us that the politics of austerity are having an unequal effect on society by targeting groups that are least able to resist.

*Doe, John (2016). The Revolution Will Be Digitized. Statement issued by the source of the Panama Papers on Thursday 5 May 2016. For more details see Shane, Scott and Eric Lipton (2016). Panama Papers Source Offers to Aid Inquiries if Exempt From Punishment. New York Times, 6 May 2016.

[STUDIOCRIT]#1 Maria Christoforatou: Displacement, 20 March 2016
Maria Christoforatou [2009] Collapsed. Metal strips, dimensions variable.
Maria Christoforatou [2009] Collapsed. Metal strips, dimensions variable.

At the launch of the new [STUDIOCRIT] event series we explored concepts of displacement, home and the unhomely with Maria Christoforatou.

Maria’s work explores the emotional and physical dimensions of belonging via the concept of “home”, suggesting that ideas of home are nostalgically associated with imagined authenticity rather than lived experience. It is therefore a concern with identity that lies at the root of her project. To read more about Maria’s work and the studio crit please visit the event review or the event page.

Maria Christoforatou: Displacement. Studio Crit #1. The Field New Cross, 20 April 2016. Photo by Maria Christoforatou.
Maria Christoforatou: Displacement. Studio Crit #1. The Field New Cross, 20 April 2016. Photo by Maria Christoforatou.

Maria’s studio crit highlighted a common interest in the concepts of home, (dis)location, identity and urbanity so we’re on the lookout for a venue to organise an exhibition around these themes. If you’re interested in collaborating either as an artist, writer, curator or editor please get in touch.

If you would like to show your work at a Studio Crit from June 2016 onwards please visit the page to read the guidelines and get in touch with a preferred date so we can start planning. The Studio Crit is a good opportunity to set some goals for your work and it takes time to organise and promote, so we need to work towards it. The purpose of a studio crit is to visit an artist’s studio for a structured viewing and discussion of the work.

[SYMPOSIUM]#6 Duchamp: The Creative Act, 8 April 2016
Marcel Duchamp [1914] Pharmacie.
Marcel Duchamp [1914] Pharmacie.

On Friday 8 April we discussed Marcel Duchamp’s paper The Creative Act (1957). Many thanks to F.D. for chairing the discussion and Penelope Kupfer, who fulfilled the role of respondent.

F.D. contextualised the 1957 Convention of the American Federation of Arts where Duchamp delivered this paper, providing a great deal of intricate background information and a set of questions to facilitate the discussion. The discussion centred on questions relating to the role of the artist as “mediumistic being” in juxtaposition to the mediating role of the spectator who “brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications”. We discussed Duchamp’s use of the mysterious terms transubstantiation, transmutation, aesthetic osmosis and especially his concept of the personal ‘art coefficient’.

Sketch of the personal 'art coefficient' by Stephen Bennett.
Sketch of the personal ‘art coefficient’ by Stephen Bennett.

Stephen Bennett made a diagram of how the ‘art coefficient’ works which helped us visualise the process. We wrapped up with responses to F.D.’s question on whether “found images can be considered readymades” by focusing on Pharmacie (1914). This is probably Duchamp’s first assisted readymade or appropriated found image, a technique that the Situationists would later call détournement.

Richard Burger and the Symposiastes at The Field Kitchen, 13 April 2016
Springtime at The Field, 385 Queens Road, New Cross, London SE14 5HD.
Springtime at The Field, 385 Queens Road, New Cross, London SE14 5HD.

On Wednesday 13 April, regular participants of the book club ran the Field Kitchen, a collaborative meal prepared every Wednesday evening at The Field, New Cross. Richard Burger cooked an exquisite pasta dish with peas, beans and sage, topped with pepper cheese and accompanied by a delicious home-made white wine from Greece.

Join us on Wednesdays for a home-cooked meal, catch up with some familiar faces, meet new people, help us cook and support this experimental community space. Food is served at 7:30pm, it’s pay what you can and the income goes towards expenses for the running and maintenance of the Field. If you would like to help out, setup is from 6pm and there’s always something to do until everything is cleared up at the end of the evening. You can also volunteer to cook by adding your name to the list on the wall.

[GALLERYTOUR]#2 From Whitechapel to Liverpool Street, 30 April 2016

On Saturday 30 April the group visited the Whitechapel to see Parallel I-IV, a video installation by Harun Farocki and Imprint 93, an exhibition of prints from the 1990s by then lesser-known contemporaries of the YBAs. The next and final stop was at Raven Row to see Channa Horwitz, a neglected and excluded artist in her own time. This exhibition has been compared to the current exhibition of a similarly neglected female artist, Hilma af Klint at the Serpentine.

We’re visiting the Serpentine next Saturday 14 May on [GALLERYTOUR]#3. But first up is [SYMPOSIUM]#7 on Friday 13 May where we will be discussing a review of Tate Triennial 3 (2006) by Brian Sewell. This session will be chaired by Richard Lloyd-Jones.

All [ART&CRITIQUE] events and free and inclusive so please feel free to invite your friends or bring them along. The London Event Calendar is jam-packed with exhibitions, events, courses and deadlines. Browse some of these below or follow [ART&CRITIQUE] on Twitter or Facebook for irregular event updates.

Food for Thought

UPDATE ON THE [SYMPOSIUM] BOOK CLUB & RELATED ACTIVITIES

First page of An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment by Immanuel Kant, Berlinische Monatsschrift. Dec 1784, pp. 481-494.
First page of An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment by Immanuel Kant, Berlinische Monatsschrift. Dec 1784, pp. 481-494.
[SYMPOSIUM] was launched on 13 November 2015 with a discussion of Immanuel Kant’s 1784 essay An Answer to the Question What Is Enlightenment? We considered Kant’s early modernist utopian ideas, recognising that they are built into the fabric of our everyday lives; from the institution of free speech, the conventions of professional practice and public discussion, to the role of critique and the responsibilities of the individual in society. Using Kant’s criteria, we addressed the question: Do we live in an Enlightened society? Considering the wars, atrocities and escalating violence since 1784, we asked whether Enlightenment ideals have had a regressive effect on modern individuals and social structures, a question that Adorno and Horkheimer take up in Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944). We skirted a question regarding the consequences of Kant’s thesis for art education, and we might want to come back to this question later.

Also in our first meeting, we began a discussion about how the group will function and we made a number of decisions. We found a name for the club and we decided that we would meet on every second Friday of each month from 6pm – 8:30pm. We also selected the text for our next meeting.

Omar Joseph Nasser Khoury [2011] Silk Thread Martyrs. Ccollection of 22 garments, each unique. Embroidered, fabric, coloured and dyed by hand using natural materials (indigo, tea).
Omar Joseph Nasser Khoury [2011] Silk Thread Martyrs. Ccollection of 22 garments, each unique. Embroidered, fabric, coloured and dyed by hand using natural materials (indigo, tea).

[SYMPOSIUM] #2 took place on 11 December 2015 with Writing against Culture (1991) by feminist anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod. This discussion was led by designer Omar Joseph Nasser-Khoury who is currently studying for an MA in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths. Abu-Lughod couples feminism with post-colonialism to address the pitfalls of anthropological methods of research and analysis, which often construct generalised and over-simplified assumptions based on cultural difference. Abu-Lughod proposes strategies of “writing against culture” to counter ethnographic accounts which present culture as something that is static, discrete, homogeneous and coherent, ignoring the cross-over between societies, social and cultural change, subjectivity and everyday contradictions. Omar provided an introduction to the text and a context for us to think through these ideas by discussing his collaboration with a group of Palestinian refugee embroiderers at INAASH, Beirut. Despite (or because) of this grounding, the text proved quite challenging due to the sheer breadth, complexity and slipperiness of the concepts that Abu-Lughod extracts and skilfully connects. Once again we came to the conclusion that what we agree on in theory is very difficult to apply in practice, and that we have a long way to go before we can align intentions and outcomes – largely due to broader social, economic and political circumstances. In this case, it might be helpful to consider the recent surge of projects that privilege cooperative ways of working, alternative economies, and ethical sourcing of raw materials or energy (Transition Network, Remakery, Institute of Network Cultures). Socially-engaged or participatory projects initiated by artists and collectives such as Suzanne Lacy, Ellie Harrison, Wochenklausur and Assemble have also developed collaborative models for social change. Grant Kester’s Conversation Pieces: The Role of Dialogue in Socially-Engaged Art (2005) provides a theoretical perspective on this together with a discussion of case studies. There are also various forms of institutional support and funding for these projects (Situations, Robin Hood Coop and Radical Renewable Art + Activism Fund, which will generate funding for activist art through renewable energy).

Sherrie Levine [1980] Untitled (After Edward Weston). Gelatin silver print.
Sherrie Levine [1980] Untitled (After Edward Weston). Gelatin silver print.
Continuing with with similar themes, [SYMPOSIUM] #3 took place on 8 January 2016 with The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Postmodernism (1983) by Craig Owens. Owens explores the intersection of the feminist critique of patriarchy and the postmodernist critique of representation, in search for a way to conceive difference without opposition. His starting point is a definition of postmodernism as a crisis of the cultural hegemony of the west. For Owens postmodern cultural production is characterised by pluralism and indifference, with consequences for our sense of cultural identity. Owens considers the absence of discussions of sexual difference from postmodern texts alongside corresponding feminist and artistic critiques of representation. From the outset we encountered in practice what Craig Owens means by The Discourse of Others, as our situated identities informed our nuanced interpretations of the text. We read some passages closely, stopping to discuss definitions and examples of the various concepts that Owens weaves into his argument (postmodernsim, pluralism). We focused on his insistence that critics ought to address (sexual) difference, and we evaluated the dilemmas he sets up in the reading and interpretation of art. We examined the possibility that if we consider the artists’ (sexual, ethnic, class) identity as a defining element in our reading of the work, this may produce another kind of master discourse or essentialist reading of the work. We came to the conclusion that all these different perspectives can coexist simultaneously, sometimes giving way to others as subsequent experiences modify our viewpoint.

[BOOKCLUB] #4 Barthes: The Death of the Author Friday, 12 February 2016, 6:00-8:30pm.This sets us up for The Death of the Author (1977) by Roland Barthes at [SYMPOSIUM] #04 on 12 February 2016. Led by Henrietta Ross, this session will consider the reader, context, authority and authenticity, focusing on the essays’ influence on a contemporary understanding of cultural production and the role of the individual with in it. For more details please visit the [SYMPOSIUM] page.

There were no new proposals, which is a relief as we already have 7 pages of them and we ran out of time before we could discuss Studio Crits and Gallery Tours. We will address these topics and select texts for April-June at next month’s meeting.

THE FIELD KITCHEN

Ratatouille and pasta with wine at the Field Kitchen, 20 Jan 2016. Photo by Maria Christoforatou.
Ratatouille and pasta with wine at the Field Kitchen, 20 Jan 2016. Photo by Maria Christoforatou.

In December 2015 and January 2016 we helped out at the Field Kitchen, a collaborative meal prepared every Wednesday evening at The Field. Richard cooked a delicious ratatouille with pasta. Highlights included Toby’s squash and apricot tagine with pomegranate seeds, Florence’s red veggie curry with rose shortcake for dessert, Dales’ fiery bean and sweet potato chili and Isobel’s subtle squash curry with aromatic rice.

If you’re free and hungry on a Wednesday evening pop into The Field for a home-cooked meal and good company. Food is served at 7:30pm, it’s pay what you can and the income goes towards expenses for the running and maintenance of the Field. If you would like to help out, setup is from 6pm and there’s always something to do until everything is cleared up at the end of the evening. You can also volunteer to cook by adding your name to the list on the wall.