Cricical Evaluation can be found here.
Symposium 2 can be found here.
Reflective Journal overview (please accept y apologies for how many words are here, but this really helped me work through everything):
Present a resolved body of original creative practice that has evidenced the systematic enhancement of your knowledge and understanding.
It’s strange that looking back, at the start of this course I entered with the idea that I would carve out some kind of new road on which I would present work that fit within what I understood at the time to be relevant to the world I was entering, that of the ‘artworld’. Though I had a reasonably good understanding of the various creative spheres, and the web-like way in which they interconnect, overlap and feed one another, when considering my own practice, my outlook was still uncharacteristically rigid, and rather than embrace the difference of my professional background, personal history and perspective, was racked with frustration at what I considered a limiting environment within which to present work (the gallery).
I feel it’s important to address this first as the following two years of study for me has been, in many ways, feeling out how the work I’m interested in creating fits together, and ultimately how it fits within that system I seem to feel disconnected to, but seem to want to make sense of (one would assume, having chosen a Fine Art degree.)
[Below I’ve outlined and tried to contextualise all of the significant projects I’ve undertaken as part of the course, but have left analysis of each for the following question]:
Following on then from Unit 1, which looking back seems to have been a playground of research and experimentation awash with teasers and snippets, and a search for answers, the latter part of the course has seen me (without even realising prior to this period of reflection) explore what I’d discovered in that period of experimentation within the context of the other professional and creative spheres I’ve previously operated in – fashion, publishing, music, etc.
The first piece I worked on, made for the zine I co run, was The Cult Film. Utilising, for the first time, higher production values via the use of a crew I assembled through favours and the association with the zine which had by that point a small but dedicated following, that allowed me to explore a few ideas I’d had early on, but through a greater level of technical competence and ironing out the *perceived* quality of presentation, thanks to partly outsourcing expertise and getting a helping hand. In doing so, it reached a much wider audience and has actually opened up some interesting professional opportunities, allowing me to sign on to an agency and be represented as a director.
After this small success, and again through the platform of SORT, I made a film for Dazed at the NY Art Book Fair in September, which I took as an opportunity to be playful and experiment with a more straightforward editorial format, injecting into it ideas I’d had about changing manipulating the atmosphere of a piece using sound and other elements. This included a spontaneous spoken-word piece by artist Slava Mogutin, who has since become repeat collaborator, contributing to SORT Zine and our exhibition in Berlin last month, as well as extremely supportive in sharing my work and connecting me with other artists in dirt-covered our corner of the art world.
Similar to above, just before leaving my job at NOWNESS I was given the opportunity to make a film with artist Wolfgang Tillmans. After essentially stalking him for years and requesting interviews via various publications I was working at, I noticed he was giving his debut music performance at Noise and Art festival Atonal, in Berlin.
Via the agent I’ve acquired I got the opportunity to make a film on tour with a band, HMLTD – not my usual choice of music, but I figured an opportunity to attempt to work through ideas about the nature of documentary film and the fallacy of objective truth in that kind of filmmaking, including my wish to inject elements of fiction into real scenes to blur the boundaries of what was considered authentic documentation — the difference between capturing true experiences, and truly encapsulating lived experiences, and where the line between those things sits. Interestingly this project also introduced me to the person who does their graphics, who happened to be a final-year BA student at Camberwell, who has since helped me with the CGI chain in my final piece.
Via a company I work closely with, Strut, a fashion archive specialising Belgian and Japanese designs, I’ve workshopped a performance film with a butoh performer (they essentially gave me carte blanche to make a film with the archive). A teaser, played publicly at a screening I hosted for them, and a work-in-progress edit are both on the link.
A recent project on NOWNESS centred on Goth culture and how that appears today enabled me to work on a film about the London queer techno scene.
Most recently I was invited to show work in Berlin as part of a SORT Zine exhibition at Space 31, a gallery concerned with the relationship between art and commerce.
Analyse and critically reflect coherently upon your own practice and its context:
Originally when considering the context of my own practice, I’d sought to make sense of its place through a number of things: the areas of interest it which I’m drawn to and have researched, experimented and explored, the conceptual approach, and the execution in terms of the technical means of production. However, what has become most pertinent in this examination, made clear through the recent reflection brought about by the final few weeks and months of the course, is something much wider, but also more personal — the area of my own practice in which it fits. As I outlined above I came onto the course viewing any output as something I could compartmentalise from the many other areas of my life in which I have a creative output – my professoinal work, the collaborative zine/studio (SORT) I co-run, the events I throw, the consulting and lecturing I do in the fashion world. To put it simply, I thought this would be a new avenue, something I could make work for and section off in a little white cube world.
This recent reflection has made clear that, though this course has provided a new avenue and a new context within which to show my work — one more anchored to what I’d consider a traditional ‘artworld’ context — that this new avenue is inextricably linked to every other aspect of what I do.
Commissioned work in music via the project I undertook with HMLTD is more relevant to early ideas I’d expressed on the blog (here and here), and the context of it being for a band, and for a record label, and being presented online, provided me with the resources and budget to be able to make it happen in a way piece of experimentation undertaken for my course with no other purpose would never have provded. And In actual fact, the intense connection to music that every aspect of my experimentation, from fake album covers, to my research into some of the wider concepts around music production and presentation (here and here) and artists whose work is similarly multidisciplinary (here and here at the bottom).
Projects undertaken that might otherwise have been merely ‘jobs’ allowed me to be playful with form, communication and presentation, such as the video I made for Dazed magazine at the New York Art Vook Fair in September 2017.
As with the above video, many projects undertaken under the umbrella of SORT, the collaborative project I co-run centred on a collaborative zine project, has allowed me to explore and analyse elements of my research, develop my technical competence aided by that collaboration and provide a platform to further my professional development that releasing as a solo practitioner may not. Made under the SORT umbrella as with the above project The Cult Film, the first instance in which I experimented with higher production values and working with a wider production team, reached an infinitely wider audience than anything I’d previously made previous had. This was due to a number of things, one I think being the production value – it “looks better” – as well as collaborating with a wealth of people, from the people in the crew to the cast to the noise artists that scored it, and, probably, to Rose McGowan, the celebrity voiceover we roped in to articulate underlying ideas that we shared, ideas of the abuse of power that, thanks to her and othrs, have literally swept and changed the world since. The SORT project also saw me invited to Berlin to put on an exhibition of work by me and others we’ve included in the project. This, or more the process of reflecting on this, is probably the most important moment to date in my understanding of the context of my work. This project enabled me to present myself as a solo practitioner, presenting work I’d made, but under the umbrella of a project I made to communicate and present things I couldn’t as a solo artist, and present this work in every context I’m interested in; beginning in the white cube space I always feel so uneasy about, but that I made sense of here, through the fashion world with our inclusion of merch and the fashion community that the space is connected to, through the sound and performance aspect that we injected into the space through curation and collaboration, down to — what most surprised and excited me — the realisation that the ‘party’ element, whereby we orchestrate situations to actually explore the boundaries of experience hinted at in the work in a real, live context, that this element is part of my work. This in particular has been so unbelievably eye opening that it’s basically changed my entire outlook on my work and the potential for it to be injected into spaces in ways I’d never imagined. And on reflection it brought to the forefront of my understanding that even more of what I’d been doing ‘counted’ as work, from work I’d made for events, like teasers and promos , to the events themselves .)
The most important part of my research has been, unsurprisingly, my research paper. This not only gave me the opportunity to explore ideas that had been in the back of my mind — not only through the whole duration of the course, but really, since I had an understanding of, and gut reaction to, the world of art — but a clear and coherent (I hope!) path with which to properly examine the wider context of these ideas and condense down into something tangible that I could at least try to propose an answer to. This helped centre my thoughts and really define what it was I was interested in. Yes, the work is always addressing certain ideas that relate to my personal identity and place in thew world, of existing in a shadowy corner of relative extremeity while the outside world looks on in bemusement, and yes this work readily references a whole historical thread of subculture, counter-culture, pop culture and beyond. However I’ve realised this is merely the conversation I’m always hoping to have, and the real point of interest is, to a lesser degree, the language with which I’m having that conversation — my practical approach — and most importantly, and most connexted to my research, is the manner in which that language is communicated, and the way in which it’s received.
Summarise and evaluate your overall progress and formulate a constructive plan for continuing Personal and Professional Development:
With my final exhibition piece Covers Vol. 1, and connected merch and zine, I feel, as I’m sure I was always expected to, that I’ve only scratched the surface of what I’d intended to. From the very beginning of the course my plans for the final show were ambitious, which I knew at the time of writing each update of my project proposal, but by doing so provided myself with a goal to aim towards — even if that eventual completion was years down the line. What’s happened since — via my decision to turn this project into an organic one, show it in its unfinished form without pretending it’s anything other than, and plan to add a new section with each exhibition of it like a mutating organism — is that for the first time I’ve seen a way in which this particular thread of my practice, connected to but not explicitly part of any the other spheres of music, fashion, etc. stated above, can continue beyond the end of the course. For the first time I want to continue working in this way, as an artist, and present work in a way that might make sense in the gallery context – though if I’m honest i’m already thinking of ways to present this in a club…
In terms of my overall work, in relation to my realisation above of how every sphere my work operates in connect to make up my practice as a whole, I feel I’ve now reached a point where I can confidently move forward and utilise the opportunities provided by each of these different areas to continue to better my understanding of both the form and content of work. This will involve seeking out opportunities for commission within any parameters and, as I’ve begun to do already this year, attempt to push the boundaries of what’s possible in terms of my own art practice and the ideas that come within that, in these different contexts, ones that are often ruled by their commercial potential.
Also, now I have a much greater understanding of the practical application of certain methodologies, I can better utilise the language of each to further collaborate with outside help, those with more specialist knowledge for instance, to realise ideas I have in ways I’d be unable to do alone—including both collaboration with other artists, identified due to their specialist interests, as well as the opportunity when working professionally, and therefore with budget, to seek service-type assistance, which will allow me to tackle ideas of much more advanced technological application than I have before (like that I’ve only scratched the surface with by use of the the CGI graphic element in my final piece).
Beyond the work itself, I feel now that I can explore each of the professional avenues I’ve identified above – the music world, fashion, digital publishing, etc. – centering my attention on video projects. I’m going to start immediately by finishing a few things that hangover from projects I’ve begin during the course (notably the Strut Butoh film).
As stated in my Critical Evaluation, though I feel really confident in how I’ve developed my technical competence in video in particular, my research skills, and my personal and professional development, the main development for me has been more of a reshuffling. Moving forward I see myself going back into the fields I initially emerged from with a renewed sense of purpose, to inject into these spaces the same vision I would present in the gallery, but in the hope that there is greater capacity to reach and connect and spark questions in an audience. That’s my essential goal, and everything else is an aside to that. If this output – which I plan to continue at the same rate, with the same bredth, and with increasing level of production value – then leads me back to the gallery space, which I hope it does, then I feel I’ll have the perspective, and the necessary tools, to appropriately navigate, and of course question, that space once more. Also, as the collaborative projects I work on, notably SORT, have weaved almost without mention in and out of my personal work, and with the continued enjoyment and benefit gained from collaboration, I plan to continue in this spirit. Each project moving forward will be a new opportunity for collaboration with other artists, crew, musicians, producers, graphic designers, engineers, and anything I can possibly imagine, and that’s more exciting to me than any solitary pursuit. Also, though I’ve tried to refrain from explicity discussing it too much, the course of the last two years have become more and more convinced of the power of collectivism, and reconciling that with the possibilities of indivudual expression. This process has solidified that stance, and has me more inspired than ever to attempt to work out my own personal work within the context of collaborative projects, be that SORT or others.