How can a process based artwork, embedded into day to day emergencies and problems solving, be communicated?

I invite the three curators involved in this project to explore the transmission process.

Email conversation between Stéfanie Bourne and Ben Jones  (Curator)
3rd June 2010

Ben Jones: Stéfanie works so the act of art making and the art work itself come out of a process of questioning. The process remains the process and the art remains the art.

Because of the nature of Stéfanie’s practice, the question is how does a curator engage with and be a part of it, beyond the actual project management aspect of the residency? Stéfanie, because of her practice, keeps her cards close to her chest, also as her practice depends on the reaction of the participants, the final work is not decided until all this information is gathered and collated. How does the curator deal with this? How does the curator critique her work during the project process with no visualisation of the finished art work?

In terms of Red Herring, where is the art?

  • Possibly from the discussions (Stéfanie talked about having audio in each shop from conversations overheard in the ‘empty shop’)
  • The Photographs published in the newspaper and possibly printed large and framed
  • The Cloud, the final event which is still not known.

What is clear is, unless things change, it won’t be the shop. The shop is part of the process, a means to an end, which will hopefully allow for discussion and open up possibilities for the final art work.

Stephanie Bourne:  Why do you split process and Art? Why can’t the process of questioning be the art?

And if we consider the process as the art, there is no question of end product then.

The art is there already, so, how does a curator communicate over this process?

BJ: I believe the process can be art as well as the questioning, and I have worked this way in the past with projects I have worked on myself as an artist and curator. But from our conversation I believed you were saying that the use of the shop was not art, which is part of the process, but you would use the conversations that came out of this to develop something that could be “deemed” as art. Maybe the issue is really not what is art and what is not art, which actually can be quite a dull discussion, but what do you do with the process, what do you do with the information you collate?

I think sometimes artists do collate information, be it from conversations, the Internet, books etc but do nothing with it. Just present it and do not actually critique it. I sometimes find this annoying as I feel there should be more. You are right, artists shouldn’t be social workers, but should they not try and make a difference in some way as human beings, rather than just an artist?

Your art is more process based, allowing for it to move in many directions and not have a fixed point. Would this be right?

So maybe the position of the curator in this instance is to question the artist’s process, and ask them why they do each thing, add comments and suggestions, examples of other artists work, practice and information. I also feel if the curator is going to critique the art in this context they need to be involved in the process, if the boundary of art and process is blurred. Not just a case of turning up at the end but being involved throughout.

SB: This is often the question I am being asked to answer to from the art world. When you work with a majority of non art participants, this question is never asked, but when you start to raise the social based process close to exhibition event, you (as artist) is been asked to position the process as ART!

I speak from my experience, I spend so much time to raise this information that sometimes, the residency is too short to actually do something with it and you are rarely asked to come back later. In the past from each project, I have raised enough information to produce 10 art events! This is why now I am being very careful, although I want the piece to be lead by the process; I am trying to set up scaffolding that lead to a gathering moment. But I would like to hope that this moment is not seen as an end product but as something that generate the process further, event if it is something that totally escape from my will (i.e., in Banff the creation of Deveron Market)

But what if that moment is not at the end? That I decide out of the blue that the moment is today without announcing it?  

BJ: I like the idea of doing a residency which could actually end tomorrow, or a one that goes on for 1,2,3 years or for ever! Or the moment, as you say, (maybe not “final work” but “moment”) happens half way through the subscribed residency, and the rest of the residency is used for some other purpose, such as developing the next step, working on a new work, drinking wine. As long as the artist fits the brief then what’s the problem of having the work earlier rather than later. It makes it more interesting and spontaneous.


Feral Trade Cafe




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