Monday 14th November
Rode the East River Ferry from Brooklyn to the Dumbo area this morning, enjoying the bracing cold wind combined with hot sun (travelling this way definitely beats taking the underground). After disembarking, I wandered along the riverside, taking in the views of the Manhattan skyline across the water.
I met G and my room-mate Ash for lunch at a place called The Archway, near where they both work for the artist Jenny Holzer. Later I had a meeting with David Terry at the New York Foundation for the Arts, to discuss the possibility of me giving a talk there in January.
Above: The New York Foundation for the Arts
Tuesday 15th November
Quiet day in the studio today, followed by attending a talk by a couple of ISCP’s resident artists in the evening.
Curator Rael Artel spoke about the group exhibition If This is The Museum We Wanted, that addressed her position as director of the Tartu Art Museum in Estonia. Her curatorial work relates to topical issues in contemporary society, such as transformation and identity politics – and I particularly enjoyed her talking about the decision-making process for artists and curators.
Above: Rael showing the art museum where she works in Estonia – discussing how bizarre it is to work in a leaning building.
Thomas Taube then spoke about his artistic practice alongside the power of images. He finished by opening up the floor to a discussion on American politics, which I think was very therapeutic to a lot of the residents, who were able to vent some feelings about the events of the last week or so!
Wednesday 16th November
A full day in the studio today (images to come soon), with a little break in the middle of the afternoon to meet my friend Sarah for lunch.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, Sarah is one of my friends from the Glasgow School of Art, who happens to be in New York at the moment studying film.
During lunch at a great noodle place in Greenpoint, we made the truly bizarre discovery that for the last couple of nights, we’ve actually been living right beside each other on the same street without realising. It turns out that Sarah’s brother who she stays with sometimes is my next door neighbour. Considering NY has 8 million residents – almost twice the population of Scotland – this is a pretty major coincidence, so I thought it merited a mention in the blog!
Thursday 17th November
Great field trip today organised by the ISCP. Started out in the New Museum, where we saw the exhibition Pixel Forest by Pipilotti Rist that spanned three levels of the building. It was an atmospheric show – a sensory, interactive experience in which you’re free to touch hanging constellations of lights and dangling material, stick your head inside triangular sculptures to watch hypnotic videos (reminding me a bit of Alex’s brainwashing session in A Clockwork Orange), and lie back on beds to view projections on the ceiling – all against an audio-backdrop of meditative, ambient music.
This was followed by a walk through South Manhattan to The Drawing Centre, where there were exhibits on by Cecily Brown and Olga Chernysheva. The Drawing Centre itself is a very interesting contemporary space that focuses mainly on the exhibition of drawings, whilst also displaying artists working in other media who use drawing as an inspiration or basis.
After this, a group of us went to a little local Italian restaurant, where we dined on authentic Italian food – very enjoyable after a day going around galleries.
In the evening, I took the underground out to Chelsea, to attend the opening of an exhibition by the painter Jon Schueler. Magda Salvesen, Jon Schueler’s wife and the manager of his estate, had kindly come to visit me during my open studio event 2 weeks ago, and invited me along.
Schueler’s perhaps best known for his abstract skyscapes that he initially started painting in the fishing village of Mallaig in Scotland. The exhibition Women in the Sky, however, concentrates on his figurative work, which is grouped together at the Berry Campbell Gallery for the first time. The works on display, painted from life, contain a massive amount of gestural energy, making me want to return to the life room at some point. On the subway back from the opening, I coincidently met another artist from Greenpoint who’d also been to the opening, and we were able to discuss the show on the way home.
Friday 18th November
Quiet studio day today – I’ll be posting about my new work very soon!
Saturday 19th November
This morning G and I went to the Hauser & Wirth Gallery on 18th street to see an exhibit by Paul McCarthy, enjoying the monolithic sculptures of the Seven Dwarves from Snow White, warped, distorted, distended, deformed and mutilated to become sad and monstrous in equal measure.
We then went around the corner to Hauser & Wirth’s other location to see Philip Guston’s Laughter in the Dark exhibit: a series of satirical political cartoons featuring President Nixon. Couldn’t help but wish Guston was still around to make satires of current political figures!
Afterwards, we headed to the Chelsea Flea market so I could seek out more objects for use in future collaborative sessions. Genevieve and I were also able to do some Xmas shopping for each other, though it was hard to keep our purchases secret from one another.
This afternoon, I went into the studio to meet Alaina Claire Feldman, a curator and Director of Exhibitions at Independent Curators International (ICI). She had some great insights into my project, along with some tips about what exhibitions I might find interesting in relation to themes I’m currently exploring.
Alaina suggested that though the models I’ve been collaborating with do have a degree of authorship when it comes to choosing props and determining poses, this process could perhaps be extended to the titling process in my work. With my recent pieces, I’ve been titling compositions through a sort of free-association, seeing if the images call any phrases or words to mind and working from there. Alaina thought it might be interesting to send the chosen images to the models I’ve been working with and have them free-associate some phrases instead, so that they are part of the process of creating the artwork from its inception all the way through to the final title. With this in mind, I’ll be sending images on to models Z and C next week to see if they have any ideas.
Alaina also thought that there was a link between my work and games, due to the elements of chance, interaction, and spontaneity involved in my collaborative sessions. She recommended that I visit a show at The New School called Push Play, that explores the work of artists who borrow from play and games to expose social, cultural and philosophical issues. She thought I’d be particularly interested in the show because of its participatory element, encouraging the public to take part and interact with the gaming elements displayed in the space.
We also talked for a while about elements of symbolism, chance, fate and an interest in the occult & mysticism that’s beginning to emerge in my work, with Alaina also suggesting that I look at Allan McCollum & Matt Mullican’s divining game when I visit Push Play.
Sunday 20th November
Another quiet studio day, making a final selection of images from my photo sessions, ready to send to models Z and C next week.