Articles Tagged with: art

Bas Jan Ader – Embracing The Tempest

Embracing The Tempest – Bas Jan Ader.

Words and images by Benjamin Murphy

 

On the ninth of July 1975, the 33 year old Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader set off from Chatam Mass on Cape Cod, in a 12.5 foot sailing boat entitled Ocean Wave. His plan was to catch the Gulf Stream, and take this tiny vessel across the harsh and unforgiving environment of the Atlantic ocean, landing in Falmouth, UK, around ten weeks later. This arduous journey was planned and undertaken as part of an artwork entitled In Search OF The Miraculous, which has now become his most well-known, and arresting work. The reason for this notoriety is that Ader never returned from this journey that became his magnum opus, and is presumed dead.

 

Some think that the journey simply hit disaster and failed, but some believe that Ader never planned to return, setting into motion an elaborate and irreversible chain of events that would ultimately lead to his own death. Suicide in the name of art.

 

Bas Jan Ader

Portrait of Bas Jan Ader

 

Ader’s artistic oeuvre is modest, and many of his photographic and video works were completed in a single weekend. Most of these feature Ader himself, in somewhat comical, often slapstick interactions with his environment. Aside from ISOTM, his most well-known works are theFall series of videos – all of which feature the artist himself in an everyday location, falling, or occasionally dropping, to the floor. InBroken Fall 1 (Los Angeles), he sits in a chair atop the roof of his house for a few moments, before he rolls off the chair and down the roof to the ground.

 Unlike Yves Klein’s 1960 Leap Into The Void, Ader actually fell from great heights – often with nothing to arrest his fall other than the ground beneath him.

He never allows us the opportunity to see him emerge from where he falls to, as the artworks are over as soon as the fall is done. They are works from which we shall never see him return, and in this way they are the natural precursor to ISOTM.

 

The long and difficult journey of ISOTM was one that had never been attempted in a vessel so small, and the environment was one that was at best dangerous, and at worst, murderous. Many solo sailors are troubled by loneliness as well as the fatiguing need to never truly sleep, remaining in a waking state most of the time so as to man the sails. The weather must have been hellish, and the tiny cruiser would have allowed salt water into every corner. Some go mad attempting a feat such as this, and others, like Ader, never return.

 

After six months, a Spanish fishing vessel found Ocean Waveoff the coast of Ireland, floating listlessly with all but it’s hull submerged in the sea, six months after he had set sail. They recovered the boat and took it back to Spain, where it was examined and found to be Ader’s, due to three forms of ID being found on board. They estimated it had been floating partially-submerged for three months, due to the barnacles attached as they were. This means that Ader had been at sea for three months, before the boat hit disaster. The washboards to which his lifeline were attached had been pulled up, and his lifejacket was never found. Both of these suggest some catastrophe that resulted in Ader falling into the water. Many other mysterious circumstances surround the discovery of the boat. The Spanish authorities claimed that an explosion had caused the capsizing of the vessel, but when pressed admitted that there were no scorch marks anywhere within the boat. When Erik Ader asked to examine the boat for himself he was informed that it had been stolen. It has perhaps been refurbished, and is now serving some unknowing family as a pleasure cruiser.

 

This journey was the second part of an intended triptych entitled In Search Of The Miraculous, the first part of which was an exhibition of photographs in Los Angeles. The photographs were accompanied by a choir singing sea shanties, the lyrics of which spoke of an insatiable longing to be out at sea, despite the risks, embracing the tempest.

 

ISOTM is an exploration of this harsh environment, experienced only by one man – the artist. The artwork then, exists for us not in the physical, quantifiable world, but somewhere in the abstract. It exists for us only in our imagination, having no experience of the actual event taking place, save for a few photographs of the launch of Ocean Wave, and a few tragic relics that were salvaged unknowingly by a Spanish fishing vessel after the fact. We are left to imagine the conditions out at sea, and cannot fathom the complexity and extremity of such an experience, let alone try to relate to one in such a scenario. The loneliness must have been deafening. This solitary journey was by far Ader’s most profound and affecting work, and yet it is essentially unexperiencable by anyone other than Ader himself. We can only theorise, knowing only small details with which to attempt (futilely) to construct a larger picture of the work. It is a piece that we know little about, and it is these gaps in our knowledge of the work that makes it so powerful. It’s power lies in the negative space, in assumption and myth, rather than objective experience. His work is never strictly performance, for it is seen by the majority in retrospect, via photographs or video. ISOTM is one-step further removed from performance, (although it still has a performative quality), for it is more ethereal, and exists not in the real world, but within the minds of the ‘viewer’ only.

 

Like Seedbedby Vito Acconci or White Light, White Heat by Chris Burden, the public knows that what they are encountering is the private moments of a solitary individual, but although they know roughly what occurred, they don’t know the specifics of each experience. As these private moments are both private and on display, what happens is very interesting. There are ultimately two experiences, that experienced by the solitary artist, whilst they are being experienced by the viewer; and the viewer’s experience of being aware of, but unable to see, this hidden, solitary artist, experiencing his solitude. The physical presence of these artists is diminished in one way, but by this diminution, is enlarged greatly.

 

This Sisyphean struggle attempted by Ader in the name of art is arresting, for Ader has burdened himself with this almost-impossible task. It is as if Icarus flew too close to the sun on purpose, just to see what would happen once his wax wings melted away to nothing – not out of hubris, but more-excitingly, out of curiosity. It is these existential questions that give his work a large part of its power.

 

bas jan ader

In Search Of The Miraculous

Ader explains his interaction with the environment as if gravity made itself master over him, but this assumes that Ader had no choice but to fall from the roof or branch, for gravity was in control. This ignores the fact that Ader himself decided to climb up to these places so as to allow gravity to do its job. Ader allowedgravity to make itself master over him, and through this subjugation, Ader displays his absolute mastery, and absolute control. Only through his relinquishing of power was the environment able to display its strength, and so through giving away of his power, he displays the true strength of that power. Gravity is not his master after all, for he only lets it out of its cage for a moment. Much of his work is seen as an abandonment of free will, an exercise in determinism that uses his body as its apparatus, but it is the strength of his resolve when making such bold and seemingly reckless choices, that displays his power, and his absolute control over fate.

 

It would be erroneous (and yet very common) to assume that any of Ader’s works are explorations of failure, as in all of the works he is enacting processes that have only one possible result. In the Fallvideos, it is the fall itself that is the salient component of the works, and these works couldn’t exist in the same way without this fall that is prognosticated in the title. The subject of these works is the falling, or occasionally dropping, of an object or body, due to: the finite strength of the human body, gravity, and most importantly, the artist’s intent.

Ader created these works knowing that his strength was finite, and thus would eventually give out, and it was this that he explored so expertly. The only possible effect of his hanging from a tree inBroken Fall (Organic)for example, is that his arms would give way, his grip would loosen, and he would fall into the water below. In fact, he climbed up into this tree to test his resolve, but ultimately, to fall into the water. This work had only two outcomes, either he falls, or he hoists himself back up and climbs down – the latter of which would have resulted in the actual failure of the work, for the Fall in the title would have been absent. The same could be said, albeit in a slightly reconfigured way, for anyof the Fall series of works. Even in works that didn’t test the strength of the human body in the same way as Broken Fall (Organic), such as Fall 1 (Los Angeles), and Fall 2 (Amsterdam), the fall was both the medium, and the subject matter. In these, it is a direct result of a seemingly-irrational movement made by Ader that initiates the fall, and it is an action that is made intentionally.

 

This work (and indeed much of his other work also) is often read as a failure, as if he failed to succeed. This lazy reading of course neglects a second option, that he succeededat failure. This failure is not a true failure though of course (for to succeed at failure is an oxymoron), but that the failure is not a frustration, but the natural, and intended outcome of the work. The work could not exist without this ‘failure’, and as such, the word failure is indeed a misleading misnomer. Failure is not at all present within his works, as events proceed exactly as he intends them.

 

ISOTM is similar, in that it is often read as an abandonment of oneself to nature, the wilful neglect of one’s responsibility towards themself to mitigate danger, removing themself from any scenario that could cause them harm. This work reads as if Ader is neglecting himself, allowing fate to take its course. This is a slightly remiss reading though however, as through his very decision to attempt this journey, knowing full well the hazards such a feat would present, Ader is taking control of his fate in a very direct way – similar to his acceptance of his fallibility in the Fall series. In fact, the sheer gravitas of his decision proves that it is one that requires much deliberation, and indeed Ader planned his trip for months ahead of time. By his ownership of his own destiny, however dangerous, he has wrest back control from the forces of nature and the environment.

 

The particular environment in which, and with which, he chose to create this work was more than just a setting for an event, it was in part at least, his collaborator. He allowed the environment in which he was journeying, a part of the creative power, and the sea enacted its will upon Ader. This creative act was performed by the sea, but allowed by Ader, as it was his vision that decided to relinquish some power to another force.

 

It is documented that before ISOTM Ader was concerned, if not worried, about the relevance and significance of his work. Friends and colleagues at UC Irvine reported how he seemed absent, and some spoke of their last conversations as if Ader was saying goodbye forever. Perhaps it was this that made him feel as if he had to make this bold statement in his work, and that the potential power of this work made it worth the risk. The show itself seemed like it was a lament, or a melancholic goodbye.

 

It is very tempting to romanticise this tragedy, ignoring the facts so as to paint a better legend. There are irresistible parallels between the cult of Ader and the cult of other, similar lost heroes who died tragically, much to young. It is tempting to claim ISOTM as a wilful act of suicide, but that is to slightly misrepresent the facts in order to write the better legend. In fact, Ader made plans for his life and work post-ISOTM, that would have been asinine if he never planned to return. There are a lot of conflicting elements that surround this story however, like the discovery of The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurstin his locker, which details the story of another solo sailor lost at sea in mysterious circumstances.

Ader did discuss (and dismiss) the possibility that this artwork was in fact an elaborate and extravagant suicide. If we take him at his word, then why did he bring it up ‘often’, and to multiple people including his wife Mary Sue, and Tony DeLap? Another artist represented by Claire Copley Gallery stated that the last time she spoke to Ader on the phone, it sounded like he was saying goodbye forever. All of these conflicting occurrences only serve to heighten the mystique surrounding the work, and perhaps, that was Ader’s intent.

 

 

It would be easy, and somewhat romantic, to ascribe destructive and tragic motives to his creation of this work, but it would be to intentionally disregard the other evidence that suggests he spent a lot of time trying to make sure that the journey was a success. He spent months having his boat modified for the journey by a shipyard, adding reinforced fiberglass in areas. He also wrote multiple times to his galleries to request that money he was owed was paid in time for his return, and he arranged for his classes at UC Irvine to be covered only until he was expected back. The dutch performers who were to sing the sea shanties at his exhibition in Amsterdam had already begun practicing. For all of these reasons, we must become content with never knowing the truth, which in its own beautiful ambiguity, seems fitting.

 

Despite all of this, he ultimately knew, and accepted the fact that he might never return, and he made his peace with it. It was a welcome risk for the sake of something bigger.

He left on a quest from which he may never return, but lost he is not.

 

 

 

 

The romance is not in the dying, but in the mastering of the elements by submitting to them, by relinquishing power and allowing one’s environment to take the reigns, come what may.

 

 

Originally published in AfterNyne Magazine

www.benjaminmurphy.info

 

For more by Benjamin Murphy, see his article about the exploitative works of Santiago Sierra here


Gallery Spotlight: Collective Ending

Collective Ending is a an artist-led and collaborative curatorial platform based in South London. Collective Ending aim to support emerging artists by providing them with projects to explore and develop their practices in ambitious and experimental settings. Collective Ending is also an archive.

To-date, they have presented two of their intended 4 Absinthe exhibitions at the Spit & Sawdust pub in South London, including Delphian favourites Rhiannon Salisbury, Ralph Hunter-Menzies, Mitch Vowels and more. They also regularly work with our frequent collaborator Hector Campbell, who is hosting their upcoming arts quiz (more details below).


collective ending

For their   inaugural project, Collective Ending present ABSINTHE: a yearlong public programme of exhibitions and live events held at the Spit & Sawdust pub in North Bermondsey.

Absinthe. Curious love of the sordid and the extravagant. Muse of the weird, twisted and eerie. Throughout its short history, absinthe has passed from antiseptic to vermicide, honorary salute to morphological being. It is ghostly and mutinous.

It is no surprise that absinthe has long persisted in the underground, from Joyce to Baudelaire, Rimbaud to  van Gogh. It was prolific amongst artists and writers of the boulevards of modern Paris: mystic visions of the Moulin Rouge, images that bled from their canvas with an emerald sorcery: hypnotic, aberrant and erotic.

Comprising 4 major exhibitions of emerging artists over the course of 12 months, ABSINTHE is a hybrid, eclectic, and at points inexplicable presentation of the weirder side of London’s emerging art scene.

Located at the Spit & Sawdust pub, Bermondsey, each exhibition will present a mandala of artists that cut and splice between mediums and styles; a kaleidoscopic trip into the city’s current alternative art practices.

 

Free Art Pub Quiz on Tuesday the 13th of August > Please come join us for the activation of @jimwoodall concrete sculpture, @nataliajanula and @georgialaurenstephenson installing within The Parasite (@victor_seaward) and the chance to take home a bottle of absinthe! We will also be releasing a limited run of the show 2 publication, with interviews conducted by @campbell.hector with @lillynejat_@mariejacotey@thomaslangley86@toni_brutal@elizabethprentis@janehayesgr@jimwoodall and @juanmasalasv

 

 

Looking for more?

Listen to the new episode of the Delphian Podcast HERE


Bitnik Interview

!Mediengruppe Bitnik is a two-person art collective comprised of Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo. Their Fluxus-inspired work is primarily concerned with digital technology and the way this is so prevalent in modern society – subverted in some way by their intervention.  Their work is a reflection upon the world we find ourselves in, and the hierarchical distributions of power that we are powerless to alter.

The technology with which they create their works is often so ubiquitous that we become blind to it, from physical objects such as security cameras, to digital media like the Internet. They hijack control of these technologies, and manipulate them to critique the systems themselves, highlighting the removal of freewill that these things rely upon to exist.

bitnik

In Surveillance Chess, they hijacked surveillance cameras in overly paranoid pre-Olympic London, and presented the unseen security guard with a chessboard upon the viewing screen. Text then appeared that informed the guard that the game was being offered by the person whom they could see on screen, sat on the floor with the yellow briefcase. The guard was then given the instructions over the loudspeaker that they were white (and thus had the first move), and that to make their move they must text the phone number provided.

In doing this, they turned the existing power dynamic on its head and took back control from the security guard, making them then the subject of the cameras gaze rather than the watcher of it. The dominance/ subjugation has switched polarity, and there is nothing that the security guard is able to do to regain control other than leave the digital system that has been hijacked and physically arrest the perpetrator. By way in which Bitnik identified themselves (placing themselves in front of the camera in question rather than in some hidden location), they presented the security guard with a way to stop the game. This is only possible however, by abandoning their post at the camera desk and the now corrupted digital system they inhabit.

This work is, at least in part, a critique upon the inferred permission we give to the owners of closed circuit video cameras when we enter a particular space. We are not consulted as to whether we give our consent to such an abuse of anonymity, and we must acquiesce to their infringements if we wish to lead normal lives. To avoid entirely the ever-present cameras we would have to burden ourselves with such a level of inconvenience that it would be completely devastating to our lives were we to forgo it. This is a reference to the way we are given a choice as to whether we are filmed or not; we can either go to a specific place and accept that we will be filmed, or avoid the camera by avoiding the place. We have physical ways to avoid being watched, but never digital ones. The only way we can avoid the intrusion of the faceless state and private landowners is to inconvenience ourselves, and never the despot. It is essentially an opt-out system that exists to favor the powerful.

In the current climate of Snowden, Manning, Wikileaks, and The Snoopers Charter, it is all the more poignant a topic for us to consider. Global governments are abusing the power afforded to them by the masses, via channels that they have convinced us are for our own protection. In this way, they succeed in removing much of the criticism that they could expect when violating such fundamental human rights. It is for our own good they claim, and therefore we must acquiesce. This sentiment is summed up perfectly by the following two quotes:

“I am disturbed by how states abuse laws on Internet access. I am concerned that surveillance programs are becoming too aggressive. I understand that national security and criminal activity may justify some exceptional and narrowly-tailored use of surveillance, but that is all the more reason to safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms”– Ban Ki-moon.

 

“Surveillance technologies now available – including the monitoring of virtually all digital information – have advanced to the point where much of the essential apparatus of a police state is already in place.”– Al Gore

 

What makes these two quotes all the more poignant is that they are both by incredibly high-ranking politicians who are very much a part of the ‘state’ that puts such systems in place. If they, with their advanced knowledge of such things, are critical of the governments snooping, as so should we be.

 

Not surprisingly, statistics on how helpful this level of interference with public privacy is are obscure, as brilliantly explained by Heather Brooke in the following quote about how CCTV is a tool for the powerful to control the weak. “CCTV is seen either as a symbol of Orwellian dystopia or a technology that will lead to crime-free streets and civil behaviour. While arguments continue, there is very little solid data in the public domain about the costs, quantity, and effectiveness of surveillance.”

bitnik

Surveillance Chess

In 2015 British public authorities made 1119 mistakes with communications data acquired by police, leading to 23 ‘serious’ errors (involving the arrests of innocent people). It is difficult to quantify how this intrusion is beneficial, but shocking statistics such as these cannot be ignored.

 

It would be hard to write an article of this kind without mentioning George Orwell, whose seminal work 1984 was incredibly prescient of the future we now find ourselves in. As well as the chilling similarities between his fictitious novel and the very real present, there is also something to be said for another post-war classic of modern literature, that of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

In 1984, an oppressive and totalitarian state controls its people by intrusive surveillance and repression of freedom. In Brave New World, the population is bombarded with stimuli in order to keep us captivated and therefore captive. Both of which seem to have come true.

 

As well as reluctantly acquiescing to the state-sanctioned intrusions into our privacy, we are also complicit in it. The use of convenient location-tracking apps, fingerprint scans, handy facial-recognition, and faster payment methods, we are providing those in power with metadata with which they can build up immensely detailed caches of information of our lives, and perhaps sell it to other, more malevolent parties.

As artist Richard Serra once suggested, if you are not paying for a service, you are the product being sold.

 

 

Although Bitnik may not offer us a way out of these systems of surveillance, their intelligent critique of it encourages us to not take this intrusion at face value. Surveillance is so ubiquitous that we often don’t notice it at all, and perhaps therein lays the greatest danger.

 

 

Bitnik

Random Darknet Shopper

 

 

Benjamin Murphy – Do you consider yourselves to be activists as well as artists?

Bitnik – We consider ourselves to be artists. Not that we are opposed in any way against the term activist. We just think that artist more precisely describes what we do. Artists have the freedom to ask questions without having to know the answers, whereas the world tends to expect answers and solutions from activists.

We concern ourselves with the aesthetic of creating situations that we do not have under control; of unleashing the powers of the found, the random, and the discarded. We confront our every-day and the craziness of the world by tickling and sometimes beating an aesthetic experience out of it.

 

 

BM – Do you think that more traditional mediums such as painting and sculpture will ever be replaced by more technologically advanced artistic mediums, or will they both continue alongside one another?

B – We don’t think painting and sculpture will be replaced. But like all artistic mediums, they will be influenced and updated by contemporary aesthetics and approaches. Art is art, whatever the medium. We don’t believe that any one medium can be technologically more advanced. In the sense that there is always technical, conceptual, and aesthetic skill involved in any artistic process – be that process mediated by a pencil, a computer, or any other type of device. In this regard, the medium or technology you work in is not decisive.

 

BM – Do you think virtual reality will ever become so ubiquitous that it comes close to replacing reality?

B – Well, that’s hard to predict to be honest, especially if you’re thinking of the immersive VR headsets. We’re sure that VR headsets will get better and better becoming more and more attractive and engaging.

Just recently we came across the account of someone describing “Post Virtual Reality Sadness”. He describes it as a kind of “hangover”, a “strange feeling of sadness & disappointment when participating in the real world” which he thinks is due to objective reality not being able to live up to intense experience that virtual reality can provide. Where the colours are brighter, the sound is better, and where you can be a kind of God and change anything you want in an instant. We are not so much worried about people preferring VR to the objective reality we share now. At least for the moment, virtual reality can still be positively ascribed to fiction. Whereas we are seeing our contemporary disintegrating into post-factual shards of parallel realities, where it is becoming hard to agree on the existence of even the most basic facts. This retreat of whole parts of society into detached realities with their own histories and facts and hardly any exchange with other realities seems worrying to us.

 

BM – With your Surveillance Chess work, was that a critique of the Orwellian state we find ourselves in, or was it simply an artistic creation inspired by its situation?

B – We regard the contemporary as our artistic material. Surveillance Chess is an intervention into the surveillance camera systems you typically find in urban areas. Like many of the systems today, they are a closed circuit system. Large parts of our surroundings today are actually closed circuit systems, elite systems, and surveillance systems. From an artistic point of view, if you want to work with what’s around you, you are bound to work within these types of systems. So for us, the question becomes ‘Where can we find potential for interesting narratives within these systems even though they’re closed, or, how can we misuse them?’ If you think of technology, a lot of technological systems you buy in shops are also very closed. You don’t have access to them. You can use them in a certain way. You buy a television, you can watch TV if you plug it in the right way, full stop. But there’s not a lot else you’re allowed to do with the thing. That’s probably where our curiosity starts, with the question: ‘Can’t I do something else with this?’ Why can’t I use surveillance cameras to talk to the people who run these cameras?’ There’s no way of reaching them. I don’t know where they are. They may be in some remote place. But if I take over their video feed and they cannot do what they’re meant to do, which is surveil a certain space, they will probably come and complain.

With Surveillance Chess we use the system in a way it wasn’t intended to be used, and we do this in a way that takes the hierarchy out of the system. We, as the surveilled, position ourselves at eye-level with the person watching us. We do this by enforcing a game, by enforcing our rules and by misunderstanding the closed circuit system as a communications system.

It’s this type of misusing very deterministic systems and making them into communication systems and sort of using or abusing them for that. For us, I think the aesthetic lies in finding ways to use systems in ways they were not meant for but doing that in a very precise way. We think there’s a certain narrative that you can then uncover within these systems, and that’s what we try to do.

With Surveillance Chess we definitely did start out from a curiosity for the situation we all find ourselves living in. In our view the work does have an element of critique, but it stays ambiguous in its readings. Between 2008 and 2014, we invited people on Dérives through their surveilled cities. We built CCTV video signal receivers and video recording devices and have given them out to people at events. Using the devices, they could wander through the city in search of hidden – and usually invisible – surveillance camera signals in public space. Surveillance becomes sousvellance: The self-built tools provide access to surveillance from above“ by capturing and displaying CCTV signals, thus making them visible and recordable.

These walks provide access to these images that usually you never get to see. You got to see surveillance camera images when something really bad happened and it was released on the news. In these walks, you get to see yourself walking through the city. It gives you access to a very different experience because it’s also interesting to watch surveillance camera images. A lot of people have participated in these walks and they have told us that, for them, the most horrifying thing about the walks was that they began to enjoy looking at these cameras, looking at other people. So, Surveillance Chess and the Walks especially have this element of ambiguity: Many people, even if they view surveillance critically, are still drawn to the images.

 

BM – When do you think that an artwork that had its genesis in political didacticism loses its status as art and becomes propaganda?

B – When it loses its plurivalence, the ambiguity of meaning.

 

For more about Bitnik – see their WEBSITE

For more interviews

Agony and Tenderness – The World of Daisy Parris


Rosalind Davis top tips on Surviving after Art School and maintaining a practice long term!

Rosalind Davis top tips on Surviving after Art School and maintaining a practice long term!

Photo courtesy of David X Green

Be professional 
If you are offered an exhibition or opportunity galleries and curators will notice your professionalism, or lack of it! Remember the success of the exhibition is not wholly down to them. It is a collaboration. Being professional, engaged, present and enthusiastic is much more likely to advance your career and networks. You need to be organised and meet deadlines and then nurture these relationships. It is really important to also say thank you and be appreciative to anyone who works on the exhibitions from the front of house to the Director.

Nurture Relationships 
Keep in touch with fellow artists and your tutors an anyone who has ever exhibited your work. Support others in the art world by attending their events and identify new mentors in your field of interest. Be proactive in creating a critical peer network. Nurture these relationships, be generous and it will reward you intellectually, creatively and inevitably create opportunities.

Build your confidence 
You need to be articulate and engaging when promoting your work. This can take a bit of practice and confidence which can take time but spend time on this too. Take part in networking events. Make sure you get feedback into your work where you can and understand what others read from your work.

 

Build your profile and Network!
Online networks are also hugely important to connect with new networks; curators, galleries, press and most importantly other artists.

How you get opportunities:

  • Research
  • Networking (online & offline)
  • Building Relationships
  • Promotion
  • Seizing / creating opportunities
  • Word of mouth
  • Being creative about space.
  • Being organised and professional
  • Being present and memorable
  • Being kind and polite!

 

Create a mailing list from visitors books at your exhibitions/ online mailing list sign ups and then send out invitations to your subsequent exhibitions. People in the arts want to know you are active, progressing, dedicated and professional. You’re unlikely to get interest in your work if you don’t tell people about it! Also ensure you give people enough notice about your exhibitions, telling people about it on the day or night before is unprofessional.

 

Have all these things ready and use them for marketing:

  • Website
  • Business cards & postcards
  • Newsletters
  • Social Media

 

  • Do not spam anyone or cold call with your work. It does more damage than good and will build you the wrong kind of reputation.
  • Spend time on marketing and your artists statement – both are more important than you might think. Marketing is not just for someone else to do for you, it should also be seen as a collaboration to promote the projects you are involved in. An artist’s statement can be a deal breaker on whether you might be selected for an opportunity. Spend time on these things!

 

When you get an opportunity consider all the possibilities that opportunity brings (and be proactive in making them happen!)

  • Creating / realising new work
  • Introducing new audiences to your work – who do you want to invite?
  • Expand your networks, from the artists in the show as well as curator, gallerist etc
  • Collaborate
  • Build your professional reputation
  • To get other exhibition opportunities
  • To learn
  • To teach
  • To inspire

 

Occasionally if you are lucky you might also sell work. This is really the one area you have no real control over so it is really important to focus on these other aspects in order to realise how much you can accomplish and can achieve. After every opportunity reflect on this.

Rosalind Davis and Justin Hibbs – Border Controls


Rosalind Davis

Artist, Curator at Collyer Bristow Gallery, Teacher and Writer.
www.rosalinddavis.co.uk

www.collyerbristow.com/gallery
Twitter: @rosalinddavis  | Instagram: @rosalindnldavis


What They Didnt Teach You in Art School.

‘Essential Reading for Artists’ The Observer.
Further info here.

 


Jerry Gogosian – art world satirist and illusive commentator

Jerry Gogosian is the self-styled “TMZ of the art world” Instagram account. It’s creator is anonymous, and much speculation surrounds the account.
No art-world figure is beyond satire, and the account pokes fun at everyone from collectors and dealers, to artists and gallerists. I decided to find out more, so we had a little chat…

 

Benjamin Murphy – How anonymous is your identity, and is it anonymous out of self-preservation?
I’d imagine you upset a few thin-skinned people from time to time.

Jerry Gogosian – I keep telling people that the identity behind Jerry Gogosian is the least important part of this project. Of course (and for the first time) I’ve got haters…why I’m not really so sure. They insist on speculating about my identity and “outing” or “cancelling” me, but ultimately they matter so very little to me. I started this account for my own personal satisfaction and a way to blow-off steam. This was never meant to get as big as it did.

BM – Yeah I get that, ultimately it’s not about you. Perhaps the hate is coming from people who take themselves much too seriously?

JG – I think the hate comes from people who are personally and professionally frustrated. Ironically, the higher up on the food chain the subjects of my jokes tend to be, the less they seem to care themselves and will usually play along with the joke. Last week I made a joke about Marc Glimcher of PACE. He loved it and played along in the comments section.

BM – Thats great. I think across all walks of life, those that are the most afraid of critique are those that are the least comfortable in themselves, and least confident in what they’re doing.

JG – Yeah…
Art is deadly serious, but the Vanity Fair behind it is hilarious. That’s truly where the jokes are directed.

BM – I think there is a lot of “The Emperors New Clothes” in the art world, and people are perhaps afraid of being called out on their bullshit, or, people are afraid of being labeled as being a bullshitter when they aren’t one.

JG – Maybe this is cruel sounding but I don’t really worry about the psychological make up of those kinds of people. People in general can have a lot of fear, I acknowledge that. If I sat around and worried about insecure people, I’d be insecure.

BM – Good choice of words – I think those that can’t take a joke are the insecure ones.
I suppose what I’m getting at, is do you think that people in the art world are less willing to be satirised?

JG – No they love it. People dm me asking me to make jokes about them…

BM – Oh that’s good, that’s not what I, and I’d imagine many others, would have expected.

JG – Well I make relatable character profiles that a lot of people see themselves reflected in.

BM – Maybe its validation in a way, being significant enough to have jokes made about you.

JG – Yeah in the beginning some other artworld meme pages were giving me a hard time, and then someone was like, if they aren’t talking about you, then you’re not doing a good enough job.

‪BM – Exactly‬‬.

‪JG – So I don’t really let it bother me and neither should it bother anyone else. ‬‬‬

‪Memes are mostly throw-away entertainment anyway. HOT today. Gone tomorrow.‬‬‬

jerry gogosian

BM – So did you start the page out of some kind of frustration with the art world – is this a way of you taking people down a peg or two‬‬, or is it much less malevolent?‬‬

JG – I don’t think of it as a take down… maybe just a hot take on the art world.
It has turned into a community at this point with high net followers and young emerging artists with everything in between.

BM – That’s nice. I think the world needs satire now more than ever.

JG – We need to laugh, right?

BM – And we need to be able to laugh at ourselves.

JG – Yeah it is healthy. When I started this, I just assumed it was already happening.

jerry gogosian

BM – In a wider sense, do you think people are less willing to be satirised, less willing to be disagreed with, and less willing to be offended than ever before?
It seems like no-one is willing to listen to opinions that conflict with their own anymore.

JG – We live in a culture addicted to outrage. Period.
I do not operate in that realm.

BM – That outrage only serves to shut down debate, and keep people all the more separate.
I think if people were a lot less quick to offend, a lot of the political strife that the EU and America find themselves in would be less extreme.

JG – We live in rough times, but I think we’ve lost something…the notion of love in our daily vernacular. I’m not talking about “OMG I love you” bullshit but rather practicing love and compassion towards those around us on a daily basis.

BM – Even to those whom we completely disagree with.

JG – In that sense I am a Christian (omfg Jerry Gogosian is a CHRISTIAN)

I just like what Jesus taught.

BM – As a philosopher he was great.

JG – We lack a redemptive allowance in our culture for people to make mistakes, instead these media outrage cycles tear the person down and leave them in the dust. I do not believe in this.

BM – Yeah, and if you approach people in an aggressive way you just put them on the defensive, and then there’s no way you can change their opinion.

JG – And you underline that YOU are THEIR enemy, it doesn’t work.

‪ ‬jerry gogosian
BM – Why is art valuable?‬‬

JG – Because it is the sacred expression of a life lived and reflected through the moment in which it passed. My favorite teacher once said “art is the one place where there are zero laws”‬‬

‪Science is rules and laws that you work with and within.

BM – That’s very liberating‬‬.

‪JG – And in terms of education, yes, learning and understanding history are essential, but the other component that cannot be intellectually taught, only emotionally learned is that we are completely free to create. ‬‬‬

‪BM – Perhaps that’s why certain people become artists; it attracts rule breakers because there are no rules‬‬.‬
That’s probably why I became interested in it in the first place.‬‬

So if you could give one piece of advice to someone at the very start of their art journeys, what would that be?‬‬

‪JG – Go to business school. Become a nurse. Become a teacher. Get a hard skill that you can fall back on when shit gets hard‬. ‬
‪An career cannot be plotted like a doctor’s career…‬‬‬

‪You’ve got to be ready to endure some extreme hardship. ‬‬‬

jerry gogosian

For more interviews:

Diabolical – Valerie Savchits

For more by Jerry Gogosian

Instagram


Divergent Motion – New Show Announcement!

Delphian Gallery is pleased to present Divergent Motion, our first annual summer group show featuring artists working across painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture.

Our summer show provides the opportunity to continue a visual conversation with previously exhibited artists by showcasing their new work alongside other exciting contemporary artists whom we have yet had the pleasure to show.

divergent motion

Artwork by Florence Hutchings

Join us for the private view by clicking THIS LINK

In this exhibition, divergent practices are unified by a sense of unruly expression. Participating artists include:

Florence Hutchings (https://www.instagram.com/florencebh/)
Jesse Draxler (https://www.instagram.com/jessedraxler/)
Francisco Mendes Moreira (https://www.instagram.com/franciscomendesmoreira/)
Cannon Dill (https://www.instagram.com/cannondill/)
Benjamin Murphy (https://www.instagram.com/benjaminmurphy_/)
Beth Rodway (https://www.instagram.com/bethellenmorganrodway/)
Klaus Is Koming (https://www.instagram.com/klausiskoming/)
Lou Ros (https://www.instagram.com/lou_ros_/)
Jerry Kowalski (https://www.instagram.com/jerrykowalsky/)
Cathy Tabbakh (https://www.instagram.com/cathytabbakh/)
Paul Weiner (https://www.instagram.com/poweiner/)
Galina Munroe (https://www.instagram.com/galinamunroe/)
Jake Grewal (https://www.instagram.com/jakegrewal/)
Claire Johnson (https://www.instagram.com/clairepony/)
Tess Williams (https://www.instagram.com/tess_williams_studio/)
Mike Ballard (https://www.instagram.com/mikeballards/)
Nick JS Thompson (https://www.instagram.com/nickjsthompson/)
Rusudan Khizanishvili (https://www.instagram.com/rusudan_khizanishvili/)

***RSVP for the guest list in the ticket link above***

Exhibition graciously supported by theprintspace, London’s premiere fine art printers.


Printing process video – Envy For The Living

Benjamin Murphy‘s most-recent print Envy For The Living was released a few months ago, and sold out in just 24 hours.

We made a printing process video so you could see all of the hard work that goes into making a woodcut print.

 

Sadly all of the prints have now sold, but there are still a few works from his current show ANTIHERO in Helsinki available

 

EMAIL US for more information – INFO@DELPHIANGALLERY.COM

 

 

Video by NickJSThompson

 


We asked 46 artists which was their favourite art-based Instagram account at the moment, here are their answers…

Paul Weiner (@POWeiner) – I love Clyfford Still. Check out @Still_Museum.

Charley Peters (@CharleyPeters) – There’s a lot of great artist accounts, too many to choose a favourite. I do always look forward to posts from @GerryBonetti, he consistently presents an elegantly curated selection of contemporary work. He’s very generous and supportive of artists; obviously passionate about what’s being made now and the legacy of what has been made before. It’s an intelligent feed with a strong authorial voice.

Remi Rough (@RemiRough) – @dezeen or @designboom

Jonny Green (@JonnyGreenArt) – @drawingcocksonthelocalpaper @ambera.wellmann @van_minnen @jakechapmaniac, these are all pretty similar.

Richard Stone (@Artist_Stone) – I don’t have a favourite, but I do like artist (and curator) accounts that mix it up visually and textually and it surprises you or you learn something.

Kevin Perkins (@Kevin_Perkins_) – @bathersbytheriver is great

Sally Bourke (@Justondark) – Probably @jerrysaltz or @whos____who

Lee Johnson (@LeeJohnson.eu) – I always like to see what @stonertim and @paul.housley are painting. Also @rhyslee_ and @jerrysaltz, and my buddy @dellyrose

Jenny Brosinski (@Jenny_Brosisnski) – @davidkordanskygallery

Andy Dixon (@Andy.Dxn) – You can’t go wrong with @painterspaintingpaintings – I’m inspired by pretty much everything they post.

Klone Yourself (@KloneYourself) – I think my fav Instagram accounts at the moment are actually of cartoons and short comics, there’s some realy good ones and the fit the phone screen format much better then art that never realy translates well.

Daisy Parris (@DaisyParris) – @CodyTumblin

Jake Chapman (@JakeChapmaniac) – None

Benjamin Murphy (@BenjaminMurphy_) – @Daily_Contemporary_Art

Tom Anholt (@TomAnholt) – @PaintersPaintingPaintings

Spencer Shakespeare (@SpencerShakespeare) -Anything Richard Ayoade

Rowan Newton (@Rowan_Newton) – @18.01london

Hayden Kays (@HaydenKays) – I love seeing factory production line videos on Instagram. I love factories. I love nifty machines. They remind me of Heath Robinson creations. Art is reduced to postage stamp proportions on it, that are then viewed in an infinite conveyor belt of imagery and noise. It’s certainly not the white walled, calm space I think art often thrives in.

Matthew Allen (@Matthew__Allen) – It has to be @Work2day, it has a similar aesthetic to my own interests, but has a much broader scope so I often find new works/artists via their account.

Rae Hicks (@Rae_Hicks_On_Gangs) – @Sean.Steadman’s feed is always a flow of gems.

Jonni Cheatwood (@Jonni_Cheatwood) – I’m a big fan of @TaylorA.White as a person, definitely as a painter but he’s just so so funny.

Andrew Salgado (@Andrew.Salgado.Art) – im trying to spend less time on instagram as it feeds into bad self-image. but i like @painterspainterspaintings and @topainterstopaintings or something like that. i forget.

Soumya Netrabile (@Netrabile) – I really like @Jitjander’s page. It’s this evolving survey of evocative images from which you can draw so much inspiration.

Hedley Roberts (@HedleyRoberts) – @the_chopper_lifestyle is my favourite Instagram account right now. It isn’t art based, at least not in a obvious way. For art, there’s loads but @painterspaintingpaintings is one I go back to regularly.

Nick JS Thompson (@nickjsthompson) – @brush_uk always have an excellently curated feed of contemporary painting.

Justin Long (@_JustinLong) – @arthandlermag

Erin Lawlor (@TheErinLawlor) – @painterspaintingpaintings.

Tony Riff (@TonyRiff) – It’s always changing but Probably @Spencermann he knocks out so much work but it’s always super consistent, thanks for making me feel lazy, dude.

Justin Lee Williams (@ArtJLW) – @Greatartinuglyrooms – it’s gold

Jordy Kerwick (@JordyKerwick) – @Daily_Contemporary_Art (of course). If not DC, @FreudMonkGallery

Wingshan Smith (@wingshansmith) – @thewhitepube always.

Fiona Grady (@Fiona_Grady) – One of my favourites is artist @nickyhirst63 she doesn’t tend to share photos of her artworks but instead things that capture her attention – in some ways it’s more insightful. I think she has a really great eye for detail and her feed has a subtle humour.

Obit (@LazyObit) – I’d love to say something highbrow but in reality it’s @saucypostcard

Kenichi Hoshine (@Kenichi_Hoshine) – I really like @painterspaintingpaintings, @yngspc and @collecteurs

Bertrand Fournier (@FournierBertrand)– I don’t want some to be jealous.

Anthony Cudahy (@AnthonyCudahy) – I would say Cheyenne Julien, but she’s taking a break from Instagram. @PeterShear has a knack for finding the most unexpected and unusual paintings from an artist which I truly appreciate.

Johnny Thornton (@_JohnnyThornton) – I follow a lot of amazing artists but right now I’m enjoying the work of @POWeiner. His work is just fantastic.

Jesse Draxler (@JesseDraxler) – @davidvonbahr

Richie Culver (@RichieCulver) – @Abstract.Mag

Martin Lukac (@Martin.Lukac) – @JanCerny_

Gabriele Herzog (@Gabriele_Herzog) – @annetruitt – An amazing combination of images with incredible writing by Anne Truitt

Cannon Dill (@CannonDill) – @Sauerkrautmissionary22

Mevlana Lipp (@Mevlana_Lipp) – @the_art_estate, @painterspaintingpaintings, @art.viewer to name a few.

Danny Romeril (@D_Romeril) – @florencebh @mickhutchings @ferguspolglase @greatartinuglyrooms

Florence Hutchings (@FlorenceBH) – @mickhutchings, @d_romeril and @art.kids.art

Catherine Haggarty (@Catherine_Haggarty) – my friend @eleanor.k.ray who shares so many amazing photos of her travels! – @ej_hauser

 

For more, we asked 45 artists

What They Did To Relax

What Was The One Thing About The Artworld They Wish Would Disappear Forever

What One Piece Of Advice They Would Give To Young Artists


SoEdited interview with Benjamin Murphy ahead of the opening of ANTIHERO

With a hint of Art Nouveau’s Aubrey Beardsley black lines and detailed patterns, Benjamin Murphy uses electrical tape to create and glamourise the female form. Creating a snapshot of a moment, a fleeting glimpse of inner thoughts via the gesture of a figurative movement.

Murphy is a stable part of the London art scene, yet not affiliated to any particular scene, and has forged out his own niche in the past 10 years.

SoEdited caught up with Benjamin to chat about his developing style.

 

SE:
Some of your early works document social situations. What was behind these ideas?

BM:
I try to depict people in unposed scenarios, as if we are seeing them during their private moments of inaction and introspection. For this reason I try to keep the actual action to an absolute minimum so as to leave the figures to be shown in contemplation rather than in the process of doing something. I want the work to feel very slow and quiet, but with the suggestion that more is going on in the characters mind – that’s where the action sits. These kind of scenarios can naturally look quite melancholic, and people can read into that whatever they like. I prefer to give the viewer as much scope to interpret my work as possible, and I think that any interpretation of an artwork is the correct one.

SE:
Some high-profile portraits have been part of your work. How is it to work with a subject, rather than just your imagination?

BM:
The actress Olivia Coleman commissioned me to draw her and her husband a few years ago, and they were both the loveliest people to work with, so that was an absolute pleasure. I went round their house photographing lots of patterns and objects to include in the background, so there were lots of sentimental items represented. They were very happy with the piece.

On the whole though, the portraits I’ve been commissioned to do have usually been much stranger subjects, which I think suits my work quite nicely.
I was asked a few years ago to draw Fred & Rose West, which meant that whatever I did, the work was going to invoke strong reactions. A few serendipitous and coincidental things happened, linking myself to them at the time I was making it, which was interesting.

soedited

Photograph by Nick JS Thompson

 

SE:
The male portrait and figure has very recently become part of you concentration in portraits. Why now?

BM:
I decided that I had been working very much within my comfort-zone, and so as soon as I identified that, it was time for a course-correction.

SE:
From your perspective. What is the difference between the male and the female as a muse?

BM:
The male figure is a lot easier to draw in general, as any slight diversions in line just appear as musculature. It’s harder to capture things like tenderness with the male form, but it’s important to challenge oneself with things like this, and to think about why these challenges may exist in the first place.

SE:
If we at SoEdited were to give you a commission, what would it be?

BM:
People keep asking me to do a self-portrait, which I always avoid. Perhaps it’s time.

SE:
When working in your studio, are you more comfortable being isolated or is it a social atmosphere?

SO:
My studio needs to be a very solitary place. Often I’ll spend days on one pattern, which can be unimaginably repetitive and my brain needs to pretty much switch off from it so as to be able to repeat the same action over and over again for hours at a time. The slightest distraction makes this progress very hard.

Aside from that my studio is less like the Baconesque studio most people imagine all artists to inhabit, and a lot more like a study or an office. There are lots of plants and books, and obviously lots of art works on the walls.

SE:
We have seen you grow into a very handsome man. What would you consider the attributes of being a handsome man?

BM:
“I am not an artist I’m a fucking work of art.” – Marilyn Manson

SE:
What was the last thing that offended you?

BM:
Offence is a very loaded term these days, and it’s been given more power than it deserves. People are so worried about offending or being offended that they completely shy away from debate, and opposing groups never interact. I believe that all topics should be on the table for discussion, even abhorrent ones, as the most successful way to tackle intolerance and bigotry is to undermine them in serious debate.
There are a lot of things politically that have been pissing me off recently, but for reasons stated above, I’m reticent to use the term offended.

soedited

Photograph by Nick JS Thompson

SE:
Have you been upset in the last 6 months. If so why…

BM:
I’m an eternal optimist, so not really no. I’ve seen a lot of sad things like everyone does, but I try to accept them and learn from them where possible.I’ve seen people die and relationships break down, but I am very much of the belief that we are not defined by things that happen to us, but by how we respond to such things.

SE:
You have an ability to be quite blunt. What is this bluntness?

BM:
Haha this is something I try to combat daily. I’m often quite indelicate! My friend Nick described my demeanour the other day as ”northern stoicism”, which is probably pretty apt – and absolves me from any responsibility, as it’s inbuilt and genetic.

SE:
What five songs define you?

BM:
The last five artists I’ve listened to on Spotify are:
Motörhead, Iggy Pop, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Slayer, Alice In Chains.

SE:
IS there a film that you wish you could have lived?

BM:
Nymphomaniac.

 

 

Benjamin Murphy – ANTIHERO
Delphian Gallery

Private view 03/07/19 18:00-2200
Paja&Bureau
Korkeavuorenkatu 7
00140 Helsinki

Show runs every day until the 11th.

Exhibition graciously supported by Paja&BureauCreat, and drinks for the private view supplied by Suomenlinnan Panimo

Tape kindly supplied by Cre8 Tapes


ANTIHERO – Benjamin Murphy in Helsinki

ANTIHERO is British artist Benjamin Murphy‘s 6th solo exhibition, and his 2nd in Helsinki following 2016’s ‘Vile Oblivion’.

 

To enquire about available works, please click HERE
Antihero

Black electrical tape on glass (encased in clear resin) FRAMED

ANTIHERO, however, marks a stark departure from what we already know, or think we know, of Benjamin and his work. Having spent much of his artistic career occupying a rare and liminal position within the conventional art world at large, his work bearing the hallmarks of many artistic movements and trends and yet never being fully identified or categorized within them, Benjamin has decided to eschew all preconceived expectations and assumptions about his work. The unconventional nature of Benjamin’s chosen medium (black electrical tape on glass) defies easy classification by being neither drawing, painting, nor sculpture has often seen him the outlier of many a group exhibition. But not dissimilar to the journey of maturity experienced by the titular character of Hans Christian Anderson’s 19th-century morality tale, it is after many years of honing his skill and singular vision in the artistic wilderness that Benjamin is able to thrive when given the platform of a solo exhibition. ANTIHERO, therefore, is Benjamin’s most earnest attempt at encapsulating his work and presenting it to the audience in exactly the way he deems fit, away from any outside influence.

ANTIHERO also marks an arrival, as, after many years with a sole focus on depicting predominantly female forms, Benjamin is presenting works portraying other genders for the first time. This change is due in part to growing frustration with the subject matter of his work, as well as an increased awareness that he’d had ended up operating from within his comfort-zone, and in part Benjamin’s realisation that he was representing only one type of beauty. By creating artworks that were popular and yet artistically safe, Benjamin was not only struggling to evolve as an artist but also neglecting the aesthetic beauty of other body-types ANTIHERO, therefore, can also be seen as a creative course correction for Murphy, away from his comfort zone and towards more challenging and rewarding lines of artistic enquiry.

Benjamin carries this anti-establishment and individuality through into his other artistic endeavors, principally among them Delphian Gallery, which he co-founded with friend and fellow artist Nick JS Thompson in 2017. Delphian manages to circumvent the traditional gallery model by operating as a nomadic curatorial practice, presenting the most exciting and innovative emerging and early-career artists on a national and increasingly international stage. They are also pioneers in harnessing the creative potential of social media, and their most recent annual open call competition garnered over 10,000 submissions from a global community of artists.

Benjamin’s prolific lust for learning, achieved through both a BA, MA and multiple online higher education courses, as well as his own personal autodidactism, not only sees his work imbued with many literary, art historical and philosophical references, but also sees him occupy the position of Associate Lecturer at University of the Arts London. Benjamin also writes extensively on art theory for a number of periodicals and publications.
ANTIHERO, finally, should be seen less as the presentation of a new body of work and more as the culmination of Benjamin’s last 7 years navigating the pearls and pitfalls of maintaining an artistic life, continuously experimenting and innovating whilst enriching his solo practice through a pervasive programme of reading, writing, curating, creating, lecturing, and most importantly, learning.
Hector Campbell, Art Historian, Writer and Curator

Private View – 18:00-22:00 03/07/19
Korkeavuorenkatu 7, 00140 Helsinki
The show then runs until the 11th.
To join us for the private view, please click HERE

For more by Benjamin Murphy, go HERE

 

Exhibition graciously supported by Paja&Bureau and Creat.