Recently the winner of the Artes Mundi 7 art prize was announced as John Akomfrah. I had the pleasure of attending the artists talks the day before the announcement and found I was left with many questions about my own artistic/creative practice. Whether what I do is really art at all? What is art anyway? What happens at the border crossing between art and creativity? Is creativity merely a tool for art production. Art seems to be so much more than just the outcome of the creative process. What follows is an experiment in the appropriation of artists words. It may appear as a rambling right now. In time it will forma and shift and change, and something of meaning will emerge.
Hearing and seeing the artists talk about their practice helped define and give shape to my understanding. I made notes of some the things they said and overheard conversations, and I thought they were poetic, so I weaved them with my own observations to make poems/prose/groupsofwords. Here’s one:
Quite a playful human being
Thinking about the world
Spending time, standing in circles
Amy Franceschini from FutureFarmers had many wise words. As a group they were an inspiration. I’d like to make work like this.
Amy described a ‘Collective’ as a constellation of people, places, projects. She explained that the work was about how we might Deconstruct systems and Situational intelligence.
She said that an Archivist is someone who records things.
This made me wonder about my photos, what are they a record of? Humanity? I must
Attend to them…
She talked of
Making a collective skill set,
Activated through spoken word.
And the need to acknowledge
What’s important to be done in this particular place and time.
What feels urgent to me now.
Learning to grow food.
The work is Reacting to the spontaneity of everyday life.
What are you questioning? How are you questioning it?
It is a Demonstration of another way, a transition to a more sustainable future.
When asked how they find the people to take part she said the ‘Journey provokes and imaginary beyond ourselves’.
Seed ceremony ritualises the process
We need ritual to hold us together, now we have gathered.
We have our own ritual of Gwledd Lleuad Llawn/Full Moon Feast.
It’s such a rarity to experience presence
A persistence that measures the presence
(I have been present to this City and other places, taking photographs for many years)
Sublime and contradictory
Unmake our assumpions
What is your response? When challenged to talk about it the work is art, Amy said
Where does the art exist anyway?
She recognises the benefit of being involved in an art prize because Working in cultural institutions amplifies the work on the ground.
Doing what they like doing and spending time with people they like being with
Pushing and adding layers + layers + layers + layers of complexity
(The simplest thing is making food together. Sharing food and standing in circles. Moving + singing + learning + sharing + telling stories)
Position: system + self-awareness
Art, Social Change, Placemaking
Creative process, drawing, well-being
What questions does your art explore?
Narrating a personal lived experience
(Life is wonderful: being entangled at the growing edge)
Thought, thought, writing down feelings
Use of object as a device for unlocking personal stories
Located at the intersection of the personal and collective
The work only exists if it is shared. Actual work exists when it confronts itself with the other, that sharing makes the artwork complete
What is arts role in building community? (#getcreative is a good way to find out…)
[connect, communicate, collaborate, community, compassion, creativity]
(Start making art now, so then when you are 60 you can say you’ve been doing it for 3 decades).
Which artists write about/explore ‘visual pleasure’ in their work?
What is that?
Aesthetics – what’s that philosophy?
What is this image communicating?
What is the image saying to me?
What impact does the image have on the viewer?
Link between art making and expression of the psyche
(Grow your network in a new direction now)
Telling a story about the way art is going
Artist as storyteller
Narrative, image, vision – artists role in society is to do that
Questions about how your work works in the world
Reinterpreting + seeing differently because of things that have transformed me over time
Amy – Understand social, political + economic ecology, spending time in a place
Futurefarmers – work is about trying to be present + not representing
When you’re sailing, you can’t be anywhere else but now
THE FUTURE OF NOW
What very specific thing do you want to communicate with the world: stories of the new way. Maps to the future.
How do you define your art practice? (would you rather be talking about how you define your creative practice anyway?)
Interest in creative process and link to well-being
What is ART for me?
- don’t ever underestimate the value of just having conversation
- Complex conversation
- Many ways of viewing the world
- Gathering divergent voices
The artist, how they might be present in the work
Form & Gesture
What feels urgent?
*learning how to grow food
*using art to wake people up
(contribute to building CoArts)
How can arts be used to stimulate dialogue?
None of the artists were keen to discuss the ‘money’ side of the prize. Perhaps they were all just in it for the prestige. Doubtful. Bedwyr Williams gave what I thought was an open and honest response when an audience member asked what they would do with the money. He said that it would enable him to make the big work he wanted to, because money buys time and things like big projections. He actually said this without any irony or wit. Just an honest response to the question no one wanted to answer.
Why does this interest me?
I am a firm believer in basic income as the next phase for our economy. It appears to offer a wide ranging solution to a plethora of social problems and has proved to bring people out of poverty in places where it has been piloted.* It would also re-frame our relationship to money in some way. My vision is for a future based on skills sharing, barter and collaborative, local, community based food production. For most of my life I have believed that ‘money is the root of all evil’. For all of my life I have had enough money to be comfortable.
Until now. I sense there could be an art project waiting to happen here.
*See Basic Income Wales on Twitter for evidence