Last week I got to see the Group Therapy: Mental Distress in a Digital Age exhibition running at FACT in Liverpool. I’d read quite a bit about the show and been impressed by the event programme running alongside it. The show was curated across two large rooms one very dark and one containing a fabric labyrinth. More on that in a later post.
The main artwork I went along to see was the film Twelve by artist Melanie Manchot, who’s photographic and video work I’ve seen and admired for many years. Her multi-channel video piece, arising out of two years work with people recovering from addiction, was very compelling and at times even overwhelming. In the dark at FACT (the work will tour the UK to other venues this spring) three monitors are placed in a circle with chairs in between them so that installation feels intimate and echoes a therapeutic setting. Encompassing car washes, ferry journeys and window shots her liminal landscapes combined with spoken vignettes are enganged with, rather than passively received. One of the recollections of a women talking about her drug use on the night of her daughter’s long-awaited communion was so very sad. Speaking with Michaela Nettell in a recent a-n article the artist was clear she wanted to do more than retell the early traumatic circumstances that most people she worked with had endured as that creates “a sort of us and them, reinforcing the separation”; she also emphasized that the work echoes the addiction recovery process, which often “moves forward, backwards – it’s really not linear”
http://www.a-n.co.uk/news/melanie-manchot-we-defined-the-aesthetic-framework-together-but-the-content-is-theirs. For further information please visit www.twelve.org.uk. Group Therapy runs at FACT until 17th May
There's a small article in the Spring 2015 Royal Academy magazine about new books encouraging artists (and I would say anyone) to play. As my practice has a strong element of process-led experimentation this subject interests me. The new books mentioned are Time to Play by Katarzyna Zimna - an art theory book, Drawing and Painting by Kate Wilson, and some very practical ones Unlearning to Draw by Peter Jenny and Akademie X - lessons in art and life. The one I think i'll look up first is The Process by Judith and Richard Wilde who've built a foundation course around ideas of play in art.
I like the writing of the guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman a lot and especailly how he bering to the mainstream latest psychological research findings. Last weekend he explored the theme of ambivalence, its good and bad points and it's difference from "don't know". This is a theme I explore in my work - especially in the ongoing collaboration with poet and psychotherapist Elaine Randell e.g. In Her Caravan. Here's a link to the article & on twitter he's @oliverburkeman).
In January I was lucky to get a ticket for Werner Herzog's recent conversation with Paul Holdengraber in London - the atmosphere was electric and like going to a gig. From Death Row to Romanticism the talk was in-depth and inspiring as Paul's a great interviewer and brings in much humour as they've talked together publicly many times before. (Indeed Paul's podcast interviews from the New York Public Library are well worth a listen - I've started with Mike Tyson! http://www.nypl.org/node/121031)
I've watched some Herzog before (Grizzly Man - I'm always fascinated by stuff looking at our changing collective and individual relationship with nature and animals) - and am now catching up on what else I've missed. This will be helped by the hefty tome of A Guide to the Perplexed - by another Paul, Paul Cronin in conversation with Herzog - just out in hardback by Faber and Faber.