During 2009 we explored the theme of Generosity across the programme. Four artists were in-residence during the early half of the year and made new works in response to the theme: Bik Van Der Pol, Celine Condorelli, Freee, Luca Frei, and Christodoulos Panayiotou.
Bik Van Der Pol
Untitled (Gold), 2009
The work of Bik Van der Pol explores the potential of art to improve situations, add what is missing or highlight what’s hidden. The result of their research into the notion of generosity was Untitled (Gold), a work which looks at the perceived opposite of generosity – greed. The motto depicted in the work is an extract from a poem by the British poet Thomas Hood, which discusses how gold is a material that continuously tests both our generosity and our greed. Untitled (Gold) remained on site as one of Wysing's outdoor sculptures until late 2013.
Life always escapes, 2009
A common designates land on which one has the right “to take or use some portion of that which another man’s soil naturally produces,” which includes collecting firewood or keeping one’s animals for grazing, and is as such one of the only alternative property models left in the UK. Using Rights of Common, Condorelli created a ‘common room’ out of modest wooden waste materials, which housed a collection of postcards, photographs and documents from her research into the Commons. The installation included a wood-buring stove that heated the gallery during the autumn by burning wood gathered from local Commons.
Revolution Road: Rename the Streets! 2009
Works by the art collective Freee take sides, speak their mind and divide opinion. In this new work, the artists and a group of witnesses from Wysing spent a day in Cambridge performing a ceremony to rename some of the city’s favourite streets after leading radical thinkers of the 18th century. Inspired by E.P. Thompson’s pivotal work The Making of the English Working Class, Freee invited us to recognise how these radical thinkers of the working classes were not victims of history but people passionate about progress. The work also had a presence at Zoo Art Enterprises, London, 16-19 October.
Untitled (…the Sun is the tongue, the Shadow is the language) 2009
Frei’s approach to his practice is exploratory and questioning. In considering this new commission, Frei determined to explore the meaning of generosity throughout the making of the work. He focused on the role of time within generosity, developing a series of ceramic sculptures with supervising support from Wysing studio artist and ceramicist Bob Race. These playful pieces resembled clock faces but on a deeper level represent the generous exchange of time and experience, deeply crafted into the making of the work.
Tomorrow is Today, 2009
Christodoulos Panayiotou's new work Tomorrow is Today is a conversation between the artist and his former theatre professor Jean Verdeil on the pedagogic legacy of socially engaged theatre with the practices of contemporary socially engaged art. Two framed works referred to this in the gallery: a poster announced the event together with a photographic print; a performance entitled The end by Panayiotou realised in the baroque theatre Markgräfliches Opernhaus in Bayreuth in Germany. The dialogue in Tomorrow is Today was re-enacted as a conversation, directed by Jonathan Young from Shams Theatre, in a special public event on the Sunday 1 November at 5pm at Wysing.
The new works were brought together in the gallery exhibition Generosity is the New Political which also included work by Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson, Tellervo and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen and Kateřina Šedá.