Updated: May 5
Observations and misperceptions.
The naming of things foreground the perambulations 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 meteorology and pigments orchestrated by JMW Turner whilst connecting surreptitiously the borders of two parts of a continent split by geological tension. These fissures of communication as the title Crossing Borders suggests, draws us the dominance of technologies, inviting travelers into virtual spaces of domestic and public enclosure.
Like the great Air Loom imagined by JMW Turner's contemporary James Tilly Mathews, a London tea broker who was committed to Bethlem psychiatric hospital in 1797, or nets haul nothing free from the madness of the moment,
Our moment was frozen, yet still frozen November 21st 2015, the catalogue of interventions curated by Waugh Office in collaborations with Venice Agendas and Turner Contemporary began with these words:
"See and here artists from around the world at Turner Contemporary in Margate, during a day of discussion and performance. As part of the Vencie Agenda's series and in collaboration with Waugh Office, this event responds to the themes of risk and boundaries, as well as cultural and personal borders. Experience live and watch artist interviews and performances from Budapest, Cape Town, Dubai,Chicago, London, Manchester, New York City,, North Carolina and Oxaca. Online and live streamed on Periscope in the galleries Foyle Room and available via Twitter @TCMargate #airedeturner.
Once More With Feeling.
Within the sigh of Dreamland and the seaside shelter where TS Eliot composed verses for the Wasteland, in the aftermath of the First World War, we assembled contributions on the question of risks and borders. A week previous to the event The Devil by The Eagles Of Death Metal was brought to a catastrophic terminus through weaponry in Paris.
The images of the audience taken seconds before the music ended depict a typical paradox go our era. Those present looked mesmerised both by the band on stage and their capacity to record and share a moment via social media, we arrived before Newspapers or Television could define meaning. Perhaps, this is what Marshal Mcluhan described as "Hot Media".
The Medium Is The Message.
Of course as Social Media and Emojis relay the discourses around the attacks it was also witness to silences and lacuna in regard to Europe and it's borders. Earlier in that year the context of our scene was set at The 56th Venice Biennial.
In 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 The Cultural Boycott to highlight the ongoing dissonance of a globalised culture. Such mappings have become the cipher for ethical interstices between art and political order of other worlds. Our platform was destined to expand on new territories, but the ennui of intellectuals is always dreaming of total and shocking realities. With the giddy halter skelter we loose ourselves in the footnotes and references are falling fast.
Even our advanced warnings arrive as untimely sentiments, how does the past become transfigured through aesthetic reflection and why is the history so critical on marginalised artists? What are the particular issues for diaspora artists? Dr Felicity Allen, David A Bailey MBE and Ala Younis, discuss the risk of an archive and architectural frameworks of storage with reference to The Venice Biennial, The ICA and Turner Contemporary.
The impact of art on its targets requires reporting of a particular type of collateral, we invited in artists who are interested in their ongoing affinity with risk.
The hosts of the day shared coffee and the bright blue harbour, near to the spot where JMW Turner would have see the view of a post revolutionary horizon, in 2015 we expected no less a vision from the participating artists and critics.
The Art Agency director Mark Segal, artist and curator Terry Smith, Turner Contemporary curator Fiona Parry and it's director Victoria Pomery OBE. introduce the events with a discussion on Risk and The Right To Fail. Through the course of day 75 new video feeds were shared with the public. The communications and technical team led by Andrew Shedden, Poppy Andrews and Clare Warren mobilised to engage with the full potential this event could have on an audience.
For Whom The Bell Trolls.
This was to be a supplementary intervention into an already ambitious exhibition, let us not forget that Margate is on the South Coast of England in Thanet a Constituency with much media attention. This Island Of Me, a performance by Kimbal Quist Bumstead with its unfolding of a piece of Astroturf was an appotite, if not eccentric gesture to the artist's communality and vunerabilty. The slow tension and beauty of the North Sea through the window of the gallery mimicked a monitor of ceaseless marine turbulence.
This poem was not recited by the artist but here it reads like nouvelle vague:
"No man is an island, entire of itself,
everyman is a piece of continent,
a part of the mainNo 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 any manner of thy friends 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. Olde English Version No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee." MEDITATION XVII Devotions upon Emergent Occasions John Donne
Are We Live Yet?
With Periscope, the archive is contemporary for 24 hours then deleted, delegated to another system of cultural archaeology based on aggregated algorithmic codes. It was a rapidly proliferating channel which in 2015 none of the participants of #airedeturner had heard of. However, international users reveal a strong base in South East Asia and South America, early research established the term for the broadcasts were "Scopes".
So we were initiating #airedeturner Scopers into a very Warholian ten minutes of live streaming, for everyone everywhere with access to the internet. Our audience would be virtual and physically present in the gallery to witness each session from a MacBook Air and two synced projectors onto a large screen in The Foyle Rooms at Turner Contemporary in Margate. Periscope allowed everyone who downloaded the app to comment or question, but unlike the seasoned Scopers our audience seemed reluctant to say "Hi!"
We prepared the broadcasts with Eric Lesdema's Drowning The Moon, taking to the airwaves from noon in the gallery via: https://soundcloud.com/practicevonstroheim/drowning-the-moon
The logistics of art production are sometimes underestimated, a ping pong of edits and revisions, schedules and the scrying for signs. It is obvious that the omens of coincidence and alignments should be closely observed, uncanny moments are the sum of their parts.
Two days prior to lift off we were calling and emailing artists to check their flight paths to #airedeturner. A call to author Tony White " Hi How are you, are you all set for Saturday?" "Thanks yes, I've just arrived at the cafe at Brunel, really looking forward to Saturday." "it should be lots of fun, I just want to briefly outline the topics, Julia and I hoped that you Iain and Simon might cover". "Yes sure please do" "Well we thought it could be about collisions within fact and fiction and this would ... Hi Tony? are you still there?"
I continued you sketch out what territories might be negotiated int two 10 minute discussions following Tony White's performance of the Holborn Cenotaph and how this research was aligned to the writings of both Dr Simon Smith and Iain Sinclair. However, I felt I was talking to the air.
"Tony, are you still there?" Hi Mark, you would not believe was just happened" "What happened?" I replied in anticipation. "Iain Sinclair just walked into the cafe!"
Says Are Us.
The cultural border and technology has been explored in such fictions as The Wire, The Lives Of Others and The Imitation Game, listening to details at a distance move plot and political subtext forward. The proximity of any conversation reveal what is obvious on the surface, but too much space between things create dilemma.
Those speakers participating in #airedeturner grappled with a complex series of issue whether occupying The Ladies Toilet in the gallery or it's exhibition rooms on the first floor, the location of each session was curated to applify certain ideas of spacial dynamics.that go unnoticed.
On an island such as Thanet in Kent post election one might ask what are the political stakes with art. Certainly as education outside schools and colleges, despite the marginalisation of Art and creativity within the National Curricula, however are these questions untimely and obsolete or prescient in a Nietzschian sense.
Our Scoping sessions perhaps recalled the writings of Frantz Fanon, as such ideas are essential to address when confronted with such realities as the Paris attacks on a cultural target. Indeed such is the complex cartography of any border both subjective and external that we hope artists can transgress occupation of space with violence.
The Words Of Others.
And so the smuggling of subversion through a delicate array of skilful crafts and performance wordplays. Our guest came from may latitudes but spoke eloquently about the types of borders they had experienced in their work.
The South Korean curator JW Stella, joined us early in the morning from Sharjah UAE, after having just opened her exhibition Ana, Please Keep Your Eyes Closed For A Moment. She explained that it crossed cultural borders of South Korean, Middle Eastern and English idioms questioning the sentience of being, "In pursuit of questioning the notion of identity and the condition of an individual being, Ana acts as an artistic forum from which the artworks facilitate a cross border debate on varying cultural conditions across geographical boundaries and more specifically of cross cultural societies which have adapted as hybrids. The Arabic term Ana means "I or Oneself" in English, whereas written and pronounced as "Na" in Korean, the three words signify the same in semiotics."
The artist and curator can become a heroine when struggling to support those whose options are more limited than hers. Although our conversation was about the aesthetics of Rave, its subtext was the possibility of speaking without arousing the interest of others, like James Tilly's Loom Gangs and unwelcome ears.
On Facebook Jen wu had kept a circle of friends informed of her thoughts and actions, this was perhaps the most public manifestation of outside Manchester of what her experience Northern austerity felt like, a long way from 1989 and "Madchester's Summer Of Love".
Post Internet Art.
The velocity of culture is such that although the website Rhizome is still an influential agent for digital culture it is no longer at the centre of debate, its position like those theorists who pursued a depth in minimalism, as if God was in the detail, seem like voices off stage. As Twitter looses its grip on word count and collateral of textual violence progress into extended conversations.
I am reminded that everything is branded and replayed on Youtube and Vimeo, it matters not when or where this was said, but there is significance in nostalgia for binaries of politics, avant garde art and gender. Whereas now the reality of mainstream media has splintered into new and crowded niches which the internet whilst the centre's capacity to authenticated an importance begins to look like crisis.
Jennifer Thatcher suggested new political strategies are emerging such as Occupy movement also claim: where are the voices of the 99%? In The Powder Room of Turner Contemporary she continued the conversationwith Fiona Parry, Yasmina Reggad and Professor Jean Wainwright, despite the disturbances that occur when art and theory enters public spaces. Loos being flushed and the sounds of hand washing added to the speculation of risk and boundaries.
Equalities in the art world are unbalanced and were underlined by this discourse that have and wit and weight but deliberately situated beyond the institute gender divide. Obviously. this Scope was intended to question such borders. Can a slight resistance be the essence of a seductive question, where ideas evolve into traps perforated by amorous arrows? What is the risk in watching a scene that desires no boundaries?
This Is Now Is This New?
There is an occult precision in the programme, each line is measured to amplify the other in a revelation of connectivity. Thais Lenkiewicz applies gold leaf to augment the memory pf painting and taboo, all devils are here indeed. Political ideas of gender in a post colonial South Africa are brought to us by performance group Siyaziwa, who challenge stereotypes in an interview with author Sophie Woolley, know for having lost the ability to hear but regaining some audibility through an implant. This was an opportunity to give a voice to a community expressing complex issues of gender, difference and exclusion within the legacy of apartheid.
There are borders everywhere and an ethical demand that they are recognised, the peripheries are witness to the potency of power. Michel Foucault cryptically warned us that power is revealed when it declares control of territories that are personal and political. In the defining a border it invites attack from within and outside, as with desire and sexuality, pleasures are subjugated to oppression.
Smart Phone Calls.
We interviewed Robin Deacon about his new performance Colour Balance, where he narrates memories evoked through early VCR tapes and photo albums, are these recollections specific to a late twentieth century identity, as previous generation conjured private histories without such technologies? He explained the importance of the Portapak VO 8300 in the development of video art and production of Video Art and his ongoing quest to not use a mobile phone.
Richard Parry was interviewed in the gallery with a mobile phone, talking about the economics of representation in the art world that inspired the work Art Zimbabwe. In these moments the exhibition spaces at Turner Contemporary and the art works that filled them became the scene between scenes. Later that day after Hiromi Nakajima's reveals intimacies from the book Short Notes, Richard Parry's Land Art fireworks explode across Margate seafront, sparks flew in colours like the vapour trails of broadcasts from #airedeturner. The boarder is a space of exploration, where its scents and traces invite inquiry.
From North Carolina Sheena Rose performed an operatic version of an online project that profiled community members in situations of the everyday.. "So Why You Didn't Invite Me?" illustrates the fury at an invitation being rescinded, we engage with the anger despite the kitsch storyline, the removal of a wig suggested the increasing requirements for daily performances. Artists cannot occupy the solitude of a studio forever they have to accept the medium is the message, Sheena Rose has risen to this challenge through multiple phantoms of identity.
The space of exhibition and performance extends beyond the gallery, the spectacle of art will always contest other cultural channels made ubiquitous through mobile technologies.
Moved with a velocity of transformation, we are all live before becoming spectres.