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'Craft is an embarrassment for the construction of modern art'
- Glenn Adamson, Thinking Through Craft, 2009.

What would Frida think?

Image: Frida Kahlo handmade pillow on Etsy here

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via Frieze:

Unhappy Birthday, by Dan Fox

Tate – hardly a stranger to controversy – has this week come under attack from two artist groups, their criticisms centered around Tate Modern’s tenth anniversary celebration No Soul for Sale, which was held over the weekend of 14–16 May.

Making A Living, an anonymous organisation describing itself as ‘a discussion group of arts professionals currently active across the UK’, issued an open letter to the Tate challenging the museum’s treatment of artists during the ‘No Soul for Sale’ event.

The group write: ‘It has come to our attention that many participants are not being paid by Tate Modern for their efforts. In fact, most are self-funding their activities throughout the weekend. Tate describes this situation as a “spirit of reciprocal generosity between Tate and the contributors”. But at what point does expected generosity become a form of institutional exploitation? Once it becomes endemic within a large publicly funded art space?’

Arguing that ‘it is complacent for Tate to believe that their position is comparable to ground level arts activity’ and that it is ‘disingenuous’ for the museum to claim that this ‘spirit of reciprocal generosity’ is ‘somehow altruistic or philanthropic’, Making A Living go on to accuse Tate of not having paid artists ‘for some exhibitions, workshops and events, including last year’s Tate Triennial’, although no specific details are given in the letter.

They end their letter by calling on Tate ‘to make public its policy in regard to artists’ fees’.

Read the rest of this entry »

Unto This Last

20 May to 25 July 2010
With work by Thomas Bayrle, Sarah Browne, Andrea Büttner, Alice Channer, Isabelle Cornaro, Dewar & Gicquel, Pernille Kapper Williams and Běla Kolářová

‘Unto This Last’ takes its cue from John Ruskin’s eponymous book to consider the complicated relationships between contemporary art and craft.

Written in 1860 as a manifesto against the prevailing economic theories of the mid-19th century, Unto This Last summons a series of moral arguments to denounce what its author perceived as the devastating social consequences of capitalism. Ruskin’s writings on economy and art inspired the Arts and Crafts movement, which advocated the primacy of handcraft and opposed the division of labour that lay at the heart of the capitalist model. A few decades later the very notion of craft would be widely seen as adverse to the imperatives of modernity and its definition of art, a misconception which has to some extent subsisted to this day.

The exhibition suggests that a number of contemporary artists simultaneously abide by the codes of conceptual practice – autonomy, dematerialisation, abstraction and lack of skills, among others – and to various degrees draw on the critical potential of craft. By introducing supposedly anti-conceptual notions such as artisanship, skill, or emotion, craft effectively provides them with an opportunity to take an unconventional and enlightening look at a variety of personal and collective concerns.

An essay by Glenn Adamson, author of Thinking Through Craft and Head of Graduate Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum will accompany the exhibition, which has been curated by Alice Motard in collaboration with Alex Sainsbury.

Under the term ‘skill’ I mean to include the united force of experience, intellect, and passion, in their operation on manual labour: and under the term ‘passion’ to include the entire range and agency of the moral feelings; from the simple patience and gentleness of mind […] up to the qualities of character which renders science possible […] and to the incommunicable emotion and imagination which are the first and mightiest sources of all value in art.
John Ruskin, Unto This Last, 1860

Image: Pernille Kapper Williams, Matter upon Matter, 2008. Porcelain, 10.5 x 16 cm (Ø 12.5 cm) Photo: François Doury. Courtesy the artist.

Deller’s exhibition at Void Local Artist, will showcase new work which has never been seen before, alongside a film he made for the 2008 Sydney Biennale. The exhibition will run until 5 June 2010.

Address:
Void, Patrick Street, Derry, Northern Ireland

www.jeremydeller.org
www.manchesterprocession.com

KDamo interviews Irish art bloggers for the Visual Artist’s Newsheet.
My interview is below and full article is here. Other interviewees are the blogs/ online magazines Some Blind Alleys, SuperMassiveBlackHole, Blackletter, Fieldwork, and Paper Visual Art Journal.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  *
What made you start your blog/online magazine?
My blog started as a curiosity, a kind of experimental, public notebook.  
That’s still its main function really, it’s more an artist’s blog than 
a blog about art. I have a portfolio website and a blog/ RSS news 
feed attached to that, so it’s not about promoting my professional 
practice and I don’t link the two together explicitly.
What reasons do you think are contributing to the apparent lack 
of Irish art blogs?
I imagine the proportion of art writing to sport, politics and music 
correlates to mainstream print media (ie. not strongly)?
 
Though traditional print media is increasingly dying out due to freely 
available content online, critical art writing has been comparatively 
slow to move in this direction. Do you agree? What are the reasons 
for this?
The decline of traditional print media due to the ‘democracy’ of 
blogging is pretty bad news for most serious journalists, both in terms 
of earning a living and developing in-depth researched pieces. The 
quality of writing on blogs is a very mixed bag indeed, and the act of 
reading from a screen, scrolling through text, is a completely different 
engagement with a text than the sensory experience of reading a paper. 
It imposes a different form and structure.
Art writers usually work freelance, and it’s not terribly well paid, 
so I’m not sure I’d see how serious art writers would have the time or 
energy to maintain a blog – the majority of bloggers are hobbyists.  
Also, it doesn’t have the prestige of being published in print.
Art is everywhere on the internet (everywhere!) Yet the significance 
of blogs in the industry pales in comparison to music/sport/politics/etc. 
Why is this? 

I guess this relates partly to the above question, in that art still 
relies pretty heavily on traditional cultural gatekeepers and 
arbiters of value. There are cultural institutions that use Facebook 
for publicity purposes, but that’s mainly a communication/ marketing tool, 
I doubt it’s effected the programming! There isn’t a visual art equivalent 
of MySpace where artists yearn to be 'discovered': there isn’t the same 
“fanbase” – a more appropriate word to use here than “audience”. 
On most of the blogs that do exist, there is a noticeable lack of debate 
and/or discussion amongst the readers. Why has this not taken off, 
when you consider so many of the heated debates that occur in 
colleges, galleries and other social situations?

Commenting on blogs, or websites in general, does not typically bring 
out the best of discursive skills (see: misogynistic, racist, homophobic 
bile on YouTube for example). So that might be one reason people in 
general are circumspect about participating. Also such comments may 
have a wider or potentially more embarrassing public than a discussion 
in a gallery or a college – you do have to put your name to such 
comments, even if it’s only an alias. And everyone knows everyone 
else in Ireland…


Crochetdermy by artist Shauna Richardson.
Image held here

Amateur Hour is a showcase for exciting new learning, skills,
entertainment and public actions. Submissions in any form welcome
to selfinterestandsympathy@ gmail.com.

Utopia Matters: From Brotherhoods to Bauhaus

January 23–April 11, 2010 at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin
Following World War I, avant-gardes turned to the utopian notion of harmony they saw in abstraction and optimistically endeavored to ameliorate society through art and design. Utopia Matters: From Brotherhoods to Bauhaus will examine a sequence of international case studies from the early nineteenth century through 1933, when the Bauhaus closed in Berlin and the ascendancy of Fascism and Stalinism curbed or negatively reframed artistic endeavors, and investigate the evolution of utopian ideas in modern Western artistic thought and practice. It will address the movements of Primitivism, the Nazarenes, the Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris and Arts and Crafts, the Cornish Colony, Neo-Impressionism, De Stijl, the Bauhaus, and Russian Constructivism. This exhibition is organized by Vivien Greene, Curator of 19th- and Early 20th-Century Art at the Guggenheim Museum. This exhibition will travel to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice on May 1, 2010. A fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Greene, noted historian Russell Jacoby, and design historian Victor Margolin will also accompany the exhibition.

Utopia and the Everyday

27th November 2009 – 14th Fenruary 2010 at Centre of Contemporary Art, Geneva
This exhibition invites various local players (associations, schools, etc.) to collaborate with artists and collectives who work within the contact areas between art and educational methods. These knowledge exchanges allow contemporary art and its institutions to become a privileged space for emancipation, transformation and educational experiments. Collaborations between artists and partner publics will be carried out in different projects, outside the Centre’s premises, and presented subsequently at the Centre. They will highlight the social, political, and environmental dimensions of these practices.
Curators : Katya García-Antón and microsillons
Image: László Moholy-Nagy, AXL II, 1927 held here

the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

Paulette Phillips at NCAD Gallery, 100 Thomas Street, Dublin
29 January – 6 March
Inspired by the poetically tragic aura that surrounds E 1027, a villa on the Cote d’ Azur built by architect and designer Eileen Gray for her lover Jean Badovici in 1929. Having built the house as a romantic getaway, Gray eventually walked away from her labor of love. For a period of time it then became known as Le Corbusier’s house, while Gray languished in obscurity.
Above: Touché
Magnetized books, nickel plated bronze structure
9.25″ x 9.25″ x 3.5″
“Touché traps two magnetized books, Le Corbusier’s The Poetics of Metaphor with Gray’s monograph Eileen Gray within a cage. One book hovers over the other repelled by its negative energy field.”
Artist website
Image held here
9 January – 13 March 2010
Main launch event: 4 February, 6-8pm
Construction from 19 January
Gallery open to the public 5  February: 1pm – 8pm Tuesday - Saturday
Updates and info on events here

Temple Bar Gallery & Studios is pleased to present re : public, 
an exhibition and series of events through which the crucial question 
will be asked – can something happen in public again?
  Read the rest of this entry »

There are certain sectors of the art world that crave a useful social role for art. Others see art as an activity making important contributions to intellectual discourse. Many look to art for pleasure. And then there are those who appreciate all of this seriousness, but crave the trappings of the entertainment industry too – fame, power, money, glamour, hierarchies, cultural parochialism. One year the art world is interested in this, the next year it’s interested in that. It wants to party, it wants to be scholarly. Markets go up, markets go down. At the same time as the Serpentine Gallery is showing Gustav Metzger, people are posing for photographs licking a giant chocolate facsimile of a Jeff Koons sculpture and throwing themselves on giant mounds of peanuts at the gala opening of PERFORMA 09. America elects a mildly progressive president and suddenly people scream ‘socialism’ as if the year is 1954 and Senator McCarthy is on the warpath. Everything changes and nothing changes.

Dan Fox in Frieze, January-February 2010. Full article here.

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