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Observations & 

Mark Waugh

Sans titre



The naming of things foregrounds the perambulation of words that mediate and carry the autonomic structures of the material world in their ephemeral equations. The title; '#airedeturner' navigates the mind into the tumbling and orgiastic meteorology and pigments orchestrated by JMW Turner whilst connecting surreptitiously the borders of two parts of a continent split by geological tension. Into the fissures of communication the title draws us towards the rise of technologies that disseminate across borders, inviting travellers into virtual domains of domestic and public enclosure. 

Like the great 'Air Loom' imagined by Turner's contemporary, James Tilly Matthews, the London tea broker, who was committed to Bethlem psychiatric hospital in 1797: our nets haul nothing which is free from the madness of the moment. 


Social media 

Our moment frozen and yet still vaporous was November 21st 2015. The catalogue of the interventions curated by Waugh Office in collaboration with Venice Agendas and the Turner Contemporary Gallery began with these words:  "See and hear contemporary artists from around the world at Turner Contemporary, during a day of discussion and performance. As part of the Venice Agendas event series and in collaboration with Waugh Office, this event responds to themes of risk and boundaries, as well as cultural and personal borders, Experience live art, and watch artist interviews and performances from Dubai, London, Manchester, Cape Town, Budapest, North Carolina, Mexico City, Chicago and New York, onsite and live streamed through Periscope, screened in our Foyle Rooms and available via Twitter @TCMargate #airedeturner."


Once more with feeling

Within sight of Dreamland and the shelter where TS Eliot composed verses for The Wasteland, in the aftermath of World War One, we assembled contributions on the question of risk and the border a week after 'Kiss the Devil' by the Eagles of Death Metal was brought to a chaotic end by automatic weapons. Images of that audiences taken seconds before the music ended depict a typical paradox of our era. Those present look mesmerised both by the band on stage and their capacity to record and share this moment with the world. It was on social media including Periscope that the scenario in Paris was replayed. We the audience have arrived before the media and define the message with our emotional proximity to events. This is what Marshall McLuhan would have defined as hot media. 


The medium is the message

Of course as social media and emoji relayed the discourses around the terror of the attacks it also interrogated the silences or lacuna with regard to events beyond the borders of Europe. In Venice earlier in the year, in the context of the scene set by the 56th Venice Biennale 2015; ' All the World's Futures' by Okwui Enwezor, Venice Agendas explored the opacity and refutation of borders with a significant focus on the issue of a cultural boycott to highlight the ongoing dissonance of cultures. Such mappings have become the cipher for ethical interstices between the Art Worlds and the political order of the World. Our platform was destined to expand on new territories but the ennui of the intellectuals is always dreaming of total and shocking reality...the giddy screaming of the helter skelter...we lose ourselves in footnotes and references which are coming down fast! Even our advance warnings arrive as untimely sentiments," How do histories become transfigured through aesthetic reflection and why is the past so critical to marginalised artists? What are the particular issues for, say, diasporic artists? Dr. Felicity Allen, David A Bailey MBE and Ala Younis, discussed the risks the archive presents in their recent work at Turner Contemporary, the ICA and the Venice Biennale."






Are we live yet?

With Periscope the archive is contemporary for 24 hours and then is deleted, delegated to another system of cultural storage and archeology which is based on anonymity and aggregated algorithmic metrics. It is a rapidly proliferating channel acquired by Twitter which none of the participants had heard of before, #airedeturner However international users reveal a fascinating demographic with take up strong in South East Asia, Russia, UAE, Georgia, Brazil, Columbia and of course USA and Europe. Early research had established that users referred to their broadcasts as, 'Scopes'. So we were initiating #airedeturner Scopers and for a very Warholian 15 mins each session would be open to audiences everywhere.  The audiences would be both physical in the gallery and virtual online. Each session streamed simultaneously onto large screens in the Foyle Rooms at Turner Contemporary. Anyone with a mobile could throw in comments or questions although unlike seasoned Scopers our contributors were unlikely to say; "Hi" or answer anything not least, "What?"


Our Scopers barely knew if they were live or not indeed some of the intrepid contributors were played in advance taking to the airwaves in premature #airedeturner sortie, relaying black box recordings from soundcloud files: 




Our target audiences

The impact of art on its targets requires the reporting of a particular type of collateral. We invited artists who were voracious in their ongoing affinity with risk. Who had an intimate sense of the borders aesthetically and ethically along which they could guide an audience.  The hosts for the day began in the cafe with fresh coffee and the bright blue harbour in the background. Near to this spot W.M. Turner would have looked out and seen a vision of post revolutionary worlds where the horrors of slavery were finally, with the help of artists acknowledged. In 2015 we expect no less of artists and Art Agency Director, Mark Segal, artist and curator Terry Smith, and Turner Contemporary Director Victoria Pomery OBE introduced the event and discussed, 'Risk' and 'The Right to Fail.'

For Whom the Bells tolls.

Over the course of the day 75 new video feeds would be shared with the public. The communications team at Turner Contemporary were mobilised to engage the full potential audiences for this supplementary intervention into is ambitious exhibition: Risk. Let us not forget that Margate is in South Thanet a contested seat and therefore the unfolding of a sod of turf was a apposite if eccentric gesture by Kimbal Quest Bumstead in his work, 'This Island of Me' which continues the journey of the artist into realms of vulnerability and communality. The slow tension and beauty of the Channel backdrop. A monitor on a pedestal. The movie narrated before us. This poem was not recited but is untimely, like the nouvelle vague:


No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend's

Or of thine own were:

Any man's death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee



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ala Younis and Dr. Felicity Allen

Mark Segal and Victoria Pomery OBE

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Kimbal Quist Bumstead


The world we encounter is increasingly defined by the paths of behaviour we display online. The net mirrors our desires and like Freud's 'pleasure principle' draws us towards repetitions and minor diversions. The artist Jon Adams trained as a geologist and explores the sedimentation of patterns. He has said of his work that: "I want to show others with Asperger Syndrome that anything is possible, but it is not about becoming a role model. Most people with Asperger’s are out of work, and sometimes society’s views and preconceived ideas are mostly to blame. If people changed some of their biases then maybe through more acceptance and recognition plus direction of unique gifts and skills, many people with Asperger Syndrome could find a ‘niche’ they have long searched for. Not long ago I was unemployed, unwell and all I desired was to be ‘useful’. I knew I could do better given the right opportunity or chance. If you believe you can, and the conditions are right, you can make that chance happen." It reminds us that the Air Loom Gangs so feared by James Tilley Mathews, are still at large and we tend to persecute those who alert us to parallel worlds of meaning.  In his Performance, 'Games with the Water Horse' Adams invoked personal narratives and those of historical fiction such as King Canute. 




The logistics of art production are sometimes underestimated. The ping pong of edits and revisions, scheduling and scrying for signs. It is obvious therefore that omens of coincidence and alignment should be observed closely. An uncanny moment is more than the sum of its parts. Two days prior to the event we were calling and posting to artists to check them into their flight paths through Aire de Turner. One call to Tony White went something like this;

" Hi Tony, How are you, are you all set for Saturday?"

" Thanks yes I am at Brunel today. I have just come into a cafe actually but I am really looking  forward to it."

"It should be fun there is going to be lots going on I just wanted to briefly outline the topics Julia and I hoped you Iain and Simon might cover?"

"Yes sure please do?"

"Well we though that it should be about the collisions between fiction and documentary as this would..." I continued to sketch out what territory might be negotiated in the 15 mins scheduled following Tony's performance of The Holborn Cenotaph. Indicating how his mode of deep research was aligned with the methodologies of Smith and Sinclair. However I suddenly sensed that his attention had shifted. I was talking into the air!


"Tony?Are you still there?"

"Hi Mark you won't believe who just walked into the cafe?"


"Iain Sinclair! I can't believe it? Hi Iain I am on the phone to Mark Waugh about the event at the Turner! 

" Wow how weird OK well I will say Caio for now. See you Saturday."

Victoria Pomery OBE and Iain Sinclair

Cultural agents.

The cultural border is explored in contemporary fictions such as; 'The Wire' and 'Turn', wherein listening to details at a distance and surreptitiously moves both plot and a political subtext forward. The details of conversations reveal what is obvious on the surface. Those speakers and cultural agents participating in #airedeturner grappled with a complex series of issues. Whether occupying the Margate Museum or the Ladies, the location of our speakers was curated to amplify certain theories of space and politics which can go unnoticed. On an Island such as Thanet after an election one might ask what are the political stakes in art? Certainly with the instrumentalisation of education and the marginalisation of Art in the curriculum one might wonder if such question are either conspicuously obsolete or untimely meditations  in a Nietzschian sense. Our scoping sessions perhaps recalled, Frantz Fanon, as such ideas are essential to address the aftermath of the Paris attacks against 'cultural' targets. Indeed such is the complexity of the cartography of the border of subject and identity that we might assume our subjects speak with an urgency because they feel the importance of art as tool to transgress the phallocentic spaces of order and violence.



The words of others

And so to the smuggling of subversion through the delicate array of skilful craft of performance and wordplays. Our international guests came from diverse latitudes but all spoke eloquently and passionately about the types of borders which they encounter in their work. The Korean curator JW  Stella joined us via Periscope early in the morning after opening her exhibition in Sharjah, 'Ana, please keep your eyes closed for a while.' Of her title she explains that as her exhibition crosses the cultural interfaces between Arabic, South Korean and the globalising idioms of English, she too is: " In pursuit of questioning the notion of identity and the condition of the individual being, أنا [ana] acts as an artistic forum from which the artworks facilitate a broader debate on the varying cultural conditions across different geographical boundaries; and more specifically of cross-cultural societies which have adapted and evolved into hybrids. The Arabic term, أنا [ana] means ‘I or oneself’ in English, whereas it is written as ‘나’ and pronounced as [na] in Korean. The three words, ‘أنا’, ‘나’ and ‘I’, signify the same meaning within semiotics. The signification of the characters, however, can vary in accordance with the different ideologies, paradigms and value systems of the diverse cultures and societies from which they are derived. To what extent is أنا or 나 capable of defining her/his own identity rather than being identified by her/his surroundings?" The complex array of meanings in the works deployed in the exhibition mirror and extend the moment of Risk.

It is not too great a claim to say that this type of pop up extended gallery via a virtual interface is new and entirely post Internet as is the capacity of the software to effectively pronounce a multiplicity of I. This multiple is the space we now inhabit. A whistle sounds that a new scope has started.




Post Internet art

The velocity of culture is such that although Rhizome is still a powerful agent for digital culture it is no longer the centre of the debate on digital aesthetics. It's position like those of theorists who pursued the depths of minimalism as if they might reveal the God of the detail, now seem to be voices off stage. As Twitter loses its grip on the word count and collaterals of textual violence we progress into more extended conversations on aesthetics, ecology and politics. I am reminded that everything is branded and on replay on YouTube and Vimeo. It matters not when or where this was said but there is a significance to the idea Jennifer Thatcher shared that there is perhaps a nostalgia for the easy binaries of the kitsch and avant grade in art. Whereas now the reality is that the mainstream is splintering into new and indeed  crowded peripheries which the net has accelerated, whilst the capacity of the centre to authenticate its importance begins to look like a crisis. Again Jennifer Thatcher has suggested new political strategies are emergent such as Occupy who now claim to. Voice for the 99%. In the powder room of Turner Contemporary in conversation with Yasmina Reggad, Prof Jean Wainright and Fiona Parry this conversation was continued despite the sonic disturbances that occur when theory and curatorial ideas are spoken amongst the populous. That the equality of voices in the artworld is unbalanced is underlined by a discourse which whilst having both wit and weight is deliberately situated beyond the the official gender divide but is obviously broadcast to erase this border. Such slight resistance is the essence of a seductive strategy. This is how ideas evolve into traps and amorous arrows. There is a drama of the gaze which knows no borders.

The position of observation.

What the embodied gaze is motived to survey and comprehend may be impossible to determine in the face to face encounter. Periscope for 24 hours allows a replay of these scenes like reality TV. Our culture jumps forward in such scenarios. The conference and debate can always descend into rigid rules - not unlike courtly etiquette. Everything can remain unsaid. In this circumstance we can replay to better understand the distance of a conversation. When we spoke with Jen Wu she had returned from a break supporting the protests and occupations of the homeless of Manchester. In the gallery we had used YouTube to relay her experiences and brutalisation by the police. Families entered the space and watched the video as if it was Peterloo the movie. Those family's did not seem to flinch and somehow the context encouraged them to contemplate the violence of the state for a second too long. In this peripheral of perception a radical position of observation is possible. An artist and curator can become a heroine struggling to support those whose options are more limited than ours. Although our conversation was about the aesthetics of rave its subtext was the impossibility of speaking without arousing the interest of the Air Loom Gangs. On Facebook Jen Wu had kept a circle of friends informed of her thoughts and actions. This was perhaps the most public manifestation outside of Manchester of what her experience of austerity in the North of England feels like. It is a long way from Madchester and The Summer Of Love.

Yasmina Reggad and Jennifer Thatcher

Jen Wu

Office of communications

The distortions and reality of filming scopes from iPads renders everything artry. This is mediation and it is full of smudges and drips. Just like the Bolex camera used by Warhol our technology has a syntax of its own. We love the hearts that ascend the screen and the random names of those who have joined the scope. The comments are like interludes in our thoughts and those of our participants. The FakeRichardPrince was the most disciplined of our guests. The gallery and its maquettes of the sculptures and works of Richard Prince and others were immaculately relayed. In a play on the tropes of representation and reproduction the 15 minutes of his performance revealed the subtle nuances of power and hierarchy in the artworld. This is a masterpiece of post Internet art. All of the scaffolding of representation and value are toyed with. We saw this in advance of the day as Waugh Office was in communication establishing the rules of connection and exhibition.



This is new and this is now

There is an occult precision to the programme. Each line is measured to amplify another in order to create a revelation of connectivity. Thais Lenkowitz applies gold leaf to augment the memory of painting and taboo. All the devils are here indeed. Political ideas of gender from South Africa in its post colonial present brought to us by a group called Siyaziwa, Mfundo Tafeti, Ncediwe Nama, Velisa Jara, Nosizwe Dumo and Farhana Jacobs who challenge stereotypes in an interview with deaf cyborg broadcaster writer and performer Sophie Woolley. It is an opportunity to give voice to notions suppressed by the South African regime as it is not tolerant or supportive of radical gender identities. This is the works that Apartheid left behind. There are borders and differences everywhere. It is our ethical demand that these are seen. The periphery must bear witness against the impotency of power. Power as Michel Foucault cryptically warned us is revealed when it declares victory and control of the territory. In defining its borders it invites attack from within and without. Sex as a pleasure and of often used as a means of subjugation and oppression.

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Nosizwe Dumo, and Mfundo Tafeti 

This sounds dangerous

The border is a place if exploration. Between the inside and the outside. The scents and traces of the body invite enquiry. From North Carolina Sheena Rose performs an operatic tour de force as one of the many male and female stereotypes of black diasporic culture. This majestic Diva is furious as the invitation is rescinded.  We are bewitched a glamorised fury and yet this is just another kitsch soap. The surfaces are sweet but the bitterness of their veneer is what we must come to enjoy.

Artists cannot occupy the solitude of a studio forever and must accept that the medium is the message, Sheena Rose has risen to this and channels  phantoms of culture relayed in popular culture.



Provenance and tape

We interviewed Robin Deacon about the recent show, White Balance and explained the role of portapak VO 8300 in the development of video art. The act of remembering is now reliant on technology that shifts as the media develops..


Richard Parry on art practice often question the economics of representation in galleries, n these moments the spaces become a scene between scenes, and the artist revealed a fascination for the imagery of the Stock Exchange. Later that night after the reading of the book Short Notes by Hiromi Nakajima, Richard Parry event simply known as Land Art witness a series of fireworks that accidentally blew exploded across the pavement from the beach. Colours, sparks and smell of gun powder hung in the air like chem trails of #airedeturner



The space of exhibition extends beyond the gallery and the spectacle of art contests with other channels of politics and entertainment made ubiquitous by mobile technologies. #airedeturner follows previous exhibitions including: the World's first online exhibition in the 90s called Shot, curated by Julia Waugh.


We all  are moving with the velocity of cultural transformation, we are live and before we will inevitably become phantoms.

Short Notes - Hiromi Nakajima

Waugh Office was established in 2011 by Julia Waugh and Mark Waugh,

 as a hybrid platform curating exhibitions, events and publications internationally

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