This is what I’m doing at the moment:
like-when-you

I’ve got hold of an art space on Vyner St for the fortnight and I’m using it to generate ideas and work around the process of art-making. The process is often a solitary and rather fraught one, which tends to be supplanted by its object as soon as it’s over. Since the artwork is the thing left over from all the making, it often becomes the result or accumulation or culmination of the working process. Like many artists I’m interested in the bit that comes before the culmination, while everything’s still a mess and has yet to yield anything coherent. How does the process remain (in the mind? in the air? in the wood shavings?) after it has conceived an artwork? Which bit is the artwork? When does the art work?

I’m also interested in the more practical question of how it feels to have a day-to-day practice of spending most (or all) of your working hours inside this messy, incoherent making process. I want to know whether artists do what they do because of or in spite of the mess. I want to know if some artists don’t have the mess problem at all, or have the mess but not the problem, or problems other than the mess.

And I want to find out about the strategies artists use for sustaining this kind of practice, if there’s even a feeling that strategies are needed. Some people talk about the need for strict routines, or the need to potter around the house thinking things out, or sketching or writing or doodling before ‘really settling down to work’. Where do you draw the line between pottering and working? Is there a point at which activity becomes legitimate artistic practice, and does it matter?

These are things I’ve been racking my brain about since I left art school and started learning to live with my practice. With no hope or intention of reaching any definitive conclusions, I’d like to use Vyner St to gather personal reactions to these kinds of questions from other practitioners.

I’ve been working with Helen Cocker to invite artists and writers into the space to this end, and to do this we’ve divided the project into two week-long segments. For the first week (5-12 June) we’re inviting people to drop in and use the space as a shared studio, doing anything they like in response to the general question “what’s it like when you make artwork?”. The second week (13-18 June) will be more structured, with a series of workshops, discussions, crits and events that bring together the ideas that come up in week one.

We anticipate that the eventual outcomes of the fortnight will be a small run print publication and a radio programme or series of programmes. No doubt a LIKE WHEN YOU blog or website will appear somewhere down the line. We’re also thinking about setting up more formal discussion meetings after the fortnight, and additional screenings, talks or performances to document what we’ve been up to.

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