A visit to three separate arts organisations over two days last week has reinforced my Speculative Studio Spaces body of work. Enthused with it’s positive reception, I now need to spend time thinking about the exact shape the different outputs of Speculative Studio Spaces can take, as well as any other events or talks I could host.
One thing that I like about Speculative Studio Spaces on a personal level is that, quite apart from the ridged, tight, research-lead residency at Bank Street Arts, Speculative Studio Spaces is malleable; I can play loose-and-fast with it as it’s a wide-ranging brief. But it is a theme that is affecting of all artists as all artists have some kind of connection with a studio space: They may be embracing or dismissive of it; it may provide solace and moments of personal reflection; it might be a space where ideas can be placed and left to crystallise; or it might even be a place of intense frustration. This is great because it means I can present Speculative Studio Spaces in several different ways, and ways which may compliment the spaces in which I present them.
What struck me through the conversations I had last week, at Neo:Artists, Bolton, at Basement Arts and at East Street Arts, Leeds, is that the studio space is able to be arrived at from the view of critical assessment – analysing the very processes that occur whilst the artist is at work whilst also exploiting the personal nature of the studio space. My work could provide a visual critique that deals, not with an exhibition piece, but the very practice of working.
A studio space that speculates what would happen if an artist who investigates our relationship with materials instead arrived at his work by investigating the concept of chance.
An assembled studio space, then, can assume the position of critical review – assessing how the artist works as if their actions bear more value than their finished articles. Indeed, the identity of an artist is highlighted far more potently in a working environment than an exhibition space, due to the fact that it functions based on personal preference. An exhibition needs to be crafted to ensure your audience is able to perceive your identity in a desired way. A studio speaks of your identity through every choice you make within that space. It is when that choice is relinquished – when a studio space starts to behave more like an exhibition space – that the artist can reflect on their practice whilst an audience can reflect upon the concepts of identity, ownership and authorship.
Though if I wish I can be more abstract than all that. I could, for example, take an artist who I know to be a performance artist, then reassemble a space around a performance piece of theirs that would speculate what their work space would look like if they were, say, a visual artist. If an audience witnesses an artist that associates themselves with one discipline being completely relinquished of that discipline, then what effect would that have on the artists’ identity? Would they examine the importance of the choices they make within a workspace? Would they be left feeling vulnerable, dis-armored? Or would it reinforce their creative directions? And would an audience see this deconstruction of an artist and re-assembly towards something abstract as exploitative to an artist, or as a means of visual analysis?
I suppose this post has simply allowed me to place a few of my thoughts. As I mentioned, Speculative Studio Spaces is able to accommodate many avenues of inquiry, so getting a few thoughts down helps me refine and understand those avenues. Overall, I would hope Speculative Studio Spaces would assume the role of a visual assessment of how artists work and how their work has a direct bearing on their perceived identity. And through deconstruction and re-assembly, I would hope that Speculative Studio Spaces would assess the nature of how we work in relation to who we are.
I’d like to thank Neo:Artists, BasementArts and East Street Arts for the opportunity to work with them and to explore different avenues of Speculative Studio Spaces. Looking forward to working with all of you!