Friday 27 July 2012

Artefacts of Failure at QUAD

Well, I went to last night's opening of the show at QUAD in Derby that includes the printed version of this blog. Curated by Candice Jacobs and Fay Nicolson, the main show – Accidentally on Purpose – is an ambitious and challenging show. Although not addressing failure head on, it does deal with repetition, accident and disappointment. It's well worth a look, if you're in the area. There's more information available here.

Both exhibitions are free and run until October 7th.

The printed version of this blog is in the Artefacts of Failure show, which accompanies the show mention above. It's curated by Jill Carruthers and is placed in the public areas of the centre. The works will be seen by people moving around the building en route to cinemas and bars and such. Aside from our piece, there are ashes of drawings, black Super 8 films, unsuccessful paintings and so on. Each piece has a small text explaining why the piece is  considered a failure by the artist. Speaking to Jill last night, it seemed that some of her experiences mirrored my own. Loads of people replied to the call out for this blog with works that incorporated failure self-consciously, or simply failed to sell or be included in a show. All the pieces included here (and in the wider show), are deemed failures by the maker, for whatever reason.

A couple of shots of the installation. I meant to take more, with people milling around, but people tended to stay in the main gallery and I had to leave to come home. In short, I failed.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Failure2011 to be exhibited!

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Just a quick post to announce that the contents of this blog will be exhibited - as a large poster - at the Artefacts of Failure exhibition at QUAD in Derby. The exhibition accompanies the Accidentally on Purpose show.

Success at last, eh? Oh, the irony.

Artefacts of Failure
Admission Free
Friday 27th July – Sunday 7th October 2012

Market Place
Cathedral Quarter

Thursday 21 July 2011

Jenny Core - "The work is an impermanent fixture, failing its artistic purpose of being seen."

Jenny Core - Phantom Space Muncher - Tracing Paper

The specific piece of work that was a failure was Phantom Space Muncher on tracing paper. Phantom Space Muncher (tracing paper edition) explores the concept of evacuating space, transforming it into nothingness. The drawing was pieced together in a collaged fashion, creating forms from observed objects, which are concealed beneath condensed layers. The work is a response to the physical element of 'space', including a time based experience. Using natural sunlight, the experience of the drawing alters at different times of the day. Using sunlight, emphasised my practice on play and chance, and involving the external elements (weather etc.), to control the experience of the piece.

As the light cascades through the work, it reveals each individual layer/drawing, deconstructing the work visually, and then the piece reassembles when the light fades.

The failure of my 'phantom' object was experienced in its medium and is purpose. The work, which was sealed together, crumbled within the heat of the light and the tracing paper became brittle and fragile. What makes the work, through this element of 'time', destroys the work through time. The work is an impermanent fixture, failing its artistic purpose of being seen.

Jenny's Website

Monday 11 July 2011

Spike Dennis - "...ultimately they fail to excite me."

Spike Dennis - Untitled 1, 2 and 3 - Mixed Media

These works are early creations as part of a body of work that I have been developing. They are constructed from combinations of soft textiles with heavier materials such as plaster and clay.

Image 1 depicts a phallic looking object that never evolved any further. I ran out of plaster before I’d finished filling the fabric casing. By the time I’d come back to it the plaster had already set. This piece never led to further work.

Image 2 was retrieved from the bin after being cut of the top of a larger object. The panels of fabric from which it is constructed were cut too small and so it caused the two way stretch fabric to which it was attached to distort and pulled on the stitches that held in place. The ‘finished’ artwork has now been fitted with an appropriately sized replacement.

Image 3 was a test piece for a new body of work. In this instance the reasons by which I have judged the work to have failed are much more subjective. I felt that the two tone synthetic fur wasn’t effective as it is too ‘unreal’, and the faux snakeskin material did not have enough stretch in it to achieve the shape that I hoped to achieve. The lack of give in this material and the thin plastic coating that is used to create the snakeskin effect prevented me from achieving the bulbous form that I was endeavouring to create.

I consider all of these works to be failures because none of them satisfied the measures by which I judge my work a success. I find them all to be deficient with regard to their form and ultimately they fail to excite me.

Spike's Website

Thursday 7 July 2011

Zina Al-Shukri - "Maybe I failed to captivate them..."

 Zina Al-Shukri - Four Portraits - Gouache and Charcoal on Paper

Usually, after about an hour of someone sitting, with me painting and us talking, I am able to take a deeper look into the interior of a person to develop what I think is a successful portrait.

But not these women, they just wouldn't let me in. It was as if they were caricatures of themselves. They absolutely where not able to let go of getting looked at. They were constantly readjusting their hair, make-up, clothes, posture or anything that is superficial to a person. Maybe they couldn’t handle seeing their own image unfold before their eyes or knowing that this picture I was painting of them would be forever or until the paper falls apart.

But, then again, maybe I was the one who couldn't tap into their inner scope. Maybe I failed to captivate them in a way where they would want to give me more of themselves. Maybe they had nothing to give.

Zina's Website

Monday 6 June 2011

Diana Ali - "...the work had to fail to become alternative and stronger."

 Diana Ali - Global Dialogues - 2010

Editor's Note

This story in this post is slightly different from the ones preceding it. Due to the temporal nature of Diana Ali's artwork, failure and disappointment were engaged with within the process of making. Neither of these contingencies were planned for and Diana's piece - Global Dialogues - was initially jeopardized and then rejuvenated by them. That is to say, failure became a kind of voice in the work, as well as Diana's and her interlocutors.

Artist's Statement

The works I produce involve global participants and their responses. To simply state the format; I ask volunteers around the world to put up advertisements in public places on which are simple instructions for the public to respond to. The work can only evolve through the reliance of failure but because of this the projects are conceived and put away with insatiable closure.

One particular project which progressed through the failure of the original instructions was ‘Distant Dialogues’

An advertisement was put up in public places around the world asking passers-by to have a correspondence with me for one year. If they should wish to do this, to write a letter to the stated P.O Box address.

My original expectations failed me from the beginning. Instead of receiving personal letters from ‘real’ people, I began to receive masses of junk mail from various companies ranging to selling lawn mowers to being invited to explore Alaskan bear camps.

However, the failure became a success. Although I had failed in my expectations I made sure I did not fail in following my own rules. I went ahead and wrote back to these ‘junkies’ in as personal way as originally planned. The fact that ‘real’ people did not answer my advertisement made failure a critical strategy for the work to exist. Effectively the work had to fail to become alternative and stronger.

A brief email conversation between Bryan Eccleshall and Diana Ali

When you initiated Global Dialogues, did you doubt that people would respond?

I'd worked with a similar process before so I was quite confident that I might get a cluster of people responding. Initially I asked for participants via email which was a reliable strategy for me but what I had doubt with was the actual A5 paper advert gaining interest. Of course there was manipulation and predictability of where the 'general public' would hang around long enough to notice the advert.
Was this, then, a faith in people?
In a romantic and naive manner I did, particularly as a fantasy of having anonymous relationships with people from afar! I imagined people would daydream waiting for a bus or in a post office queue for example and would notice the work. In retrospect, this seems really cliched and serendipitous. I went so far as to thinking that one day I could meet my match - I treated it like a 'lost cat' poster or a lonely hearts advert.

Only by pushing against the failure inherent in the responses - corporate marketing especially -  could this piece proceed. How did that feel? Did you ever think of abandoning the piece?

Initially I was slightly baffled probably because I was expecting a romantic side and a two way correspondence which would in turn become a sense of self declaration to whoever I was writing to. But as the junk mail came in, the idea of being 'nice' completely went out the window and the approach turned into being mischievous or trickstery; I almost wanted to take the piss out of myself and the whole project. I'm glad it turned out this way, the project became much more exciting than I thought it would so no, I didn't think of abandoning the piece. It was much more cleansing to treat the corporate marketing companies as a trajectory of my personal feelings meaning that I could become a different fictional character responding to them; they felt as fictitious as my responses. 

The piece could be read as a kind of engaged stand off between optimism and cynicism. In that you continue to engage in dialogue with faceless entities who only see you as someone to whom they can promote. Does the absurdity or naiveté become a strategy for leap frogging disappointment?

I like to think that I had the last laugh as arrogant as it might seem! I'd definitely say that absurdity with a blend of humour did leap frog disappointment but not so much naivete. Naivete was dealt with as soon as the first pile of junk mail came through although it was more of a strategy to evolve the project into something more exciting and unpredictable.

How do the individuals who responded - the 'proper' targets fit into your conception of the piece? Does their existence add or detract from what you call the one-sided correspondence?

That did cause a tension in the project, I felt unfaithful to the 'proper' targets. I continued to have a correspondence with them but like the absurd fictional responses to the junk mail companies, these responses became similar. I suppose I failed with them or they with me. Their existence provided more of a parallel 'what if' perspective and the correspondence with the 'real' participants was seen as a touch of reality as they became quite confessional and lonely so the initial perception of the lonely hearts advert was answered.

Di's Website

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Line Sandvad Mengers - " far I have failed in finding the right concept."

Line Sandvad Mengers - Untitled (Liva &) - Digital Photographs

The project consists of five photographs of a child and an adult.
In each photograph a new adult is dressed in the same/similar clothes as the child. The portrayed people are my daughter, Liva with other family members. Both are wearing their own clothes picked out for the occasion. I wanted the series to continue with more pictures of friends and relatives, but since I have never found the right model all I have is a failed project with 5 photographs from 2007.
At one point I wanted to make a calendar with the photographs, another idea was to make posters. A lot of forms have been considered, but so far I have failed in finding the right concept. I still feel the idea has potential, the subjects in question interest me and I like the photographs.

This is an example of the idea not being sufficient. To me the idea, media and presentation are equally essential. Even though I like the idea the project is a complete failure to me; something about the photographs is so wrong. They can easily be conceived as cute and the aesthetics are more family album than contemporary art.

Line’s Website