I wrote about my exasperation at all the positive hype around Steve McQueens’s Year 3 project, in the current issue of Art Monthly.
The unanimous praise for Steve McQueen’s Year 3 photographs at Tate Britain, a collective portrait of a generation, has been overwhelming – garnering plundits such as ‘profound’, ‘celebratory’, ‘deeply moving’ – but, if this is the sum total of our response, are we not denying the power of art? Yes, there is much to celebrate here. Year 3 is an inherently hopeful statement: pick any school photo of seven-year-old children from across the world and you will experience the powerful looping effect of projection and reflection. Hairstyles and uniform policies may change, but those desperate grimaces and carefully choreographed seating arrangements remain the same. And, as McQueen has said, the photographs provide those kids with a rare and precious opportunity to step outside themselves, to see themselves through the eyes of others. On my various visits to Tate Britain the atmosphere was electrifying, with huge groups of children rushing around trying to find themselves.
I’ve been invited by Manchester International Festival to develop a programme of temporary commissions for the entrance area of their new building - The Factory - due to open in 2021.
Since its launch in 2007, MIF has developed a considerable reputation for its ground-breaking programme of commissions, performances and events. The Factory, designed by OMA, will house the festival, as well as an on-going programme of new commissions, gigs and exhibitions.
I was invited to give a lecture about public art in the UK at a conference in Seoul in Oct 2019. It was organised by the Metropolitan City of Seoul and involved speakers from the US, Canada, Germany and South Korea.
While I was there, I visited the North Korean border. Here’s a photo of the many messages from friends, family and well-wishes that are tied to border fencing.
Alice Channer invited me to write an experimental text in response to her exhibition at Turf Projects in Croydon, London (25 July - 31 August 2019).
I assume a reptilian stance and crawl through the facade of the gallery on my belly, viewing the sculptures from a low vantage point.
Picking up on themes in Alice’s work, it’s about environmental catastrophe / plastic / fossils of the past and future / end times.
There’s a lovely reading of it here + the text.
Please join us on 29 August 2019 for a celebratory closing event at Turf Projects. I’ll be doing a reading and there’ll be drinks.
18.30 - 20.00
Units 46-47, Trinity Court (Ground Floor)
Whitgift Shopping Centre
Croydon CR0 1UQ
You are warmly invited to an evening talk by Geir Brendeland at Skissernas Museum, Lund on 5 September 2019.
Geir will present ‘Hage’, a new public garden for Brunnshög in Lund, due to be completed next spring. The walled garden will be open to all and will provide a space for local people to congregate, cook, talk and exchange ideas.
Norwegian architects Brendeland & Kristoffersen have developed an international reputation for their body of projects including innovative housing, exhibitions, and public interventions.
‘Hage’ is part of the Råängen programme of art and architecture commissions, organised by Lund Cathedral, curated by Jes Fernie & Jake Ford.
Thursday 5 September, 19.00–20.00
Skissernas Museum, Lund
Image: Råängen event, Skissernas Museum 2019
I was invited to contribute to ‘The Annotated Reader’, a publication-as-exhibition conceived by Ryan Gander and Jonathan P. Watts. Launched during Frieze London 2018, the project has now embarked on an international tour, with the aim of disseminating knowledge freely and equally.
‘Imagine you’ve missed the last train. Is there one piece of writing that you would want with you for company in the small hours? Perhaps this text transformed your thinking. It might be a mantra continually returned to. Perhaps it is a text you felt should be read by younger generations or that you wish you’d encountered as a student.’
This question was posed to 300 artists, academics, writers, musicians, and designers, inviting them to suggest a piece of writing and then annotate it. The annotations add a further layer to the texts, demonstrating and suggesting ways of reading, displaying thought, complicating the relationship between image and text, reading and looking.
I annotated a chapter called ‘Being Chased’ in Annie Dillard’s book ‘The Abundance’ (2016).
MK Gallery is hosting a symposium which will consider the potential for art in new and expanding communities. It will explore the legacies of art and culture in the first generation of New Towns and consider what might be learned from such examples.
I’ll be chairing a session that looks at post war new towns such as Harlow and Milton Keynes, and the role that public sculpture played in their development. More details here.
Image: Henry Moore’s Harlow Family Group 1954–5 outside St Mary of Latton Church, Harlow. Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
”What I want to do is intervene in the fabric of society” Stephen Willats
How can artists contribute to a discussion about the way we live in the 21st century? What are the mechanisms that artists, curators and commissioners use to make democratic, active public spaces that address urgent, political and social issues? Can such projects bring about societal change or just a shift in perception?
I’ve organised this afternoon event at Moderna Museet Malmö, 28 Feb 2019. Artists and curators from Sweden, Norway and Britain will present a series of international projects that create a framework for discussion.
More info here.
A synopsis of the seminar can be read here.
Image credit: The Bower of Bliss, Linder, 2018, Southwark station. Commissioned by Art on the Underground. Photo: Thierry Bal, 2018.
I’m chairing a session with Amalia Pica and 6a Architects at a Whitechapel Gallery symposium on 15 February 2019.
The event is part of the public programme for Is This Tomorrow? - the current exhibition at the gallery which takes as its model the landmark Whitechapel exhibition This Is Tomorrow (1956).
More details here
Image: Amalia Pica + 6a Architects, Is This Tomorrow?, Whitechapel Gallery, 2019. Photo: Rafael Ortega