Blogging about some of the things happening at Wysing, or influencing what happens at Wysing.

Archive: July 2014

Alternative Methods Final Entry  26 July 2014

Well it’s been hot and sticky, but as always worthwhile:
Sally Tallant brought the debate raging into the political arena, as did Leah Gordon, curator of the Ghetto Biennale, with her funny diatribe on the inconsistencies of putting on an arts event in a place dominated by hustlers, the law of the ghetto and a violent neo-liberal government. Florian Roithmayr and Dr Matthew Cheeseman discussed the art of showing nothing while The Silent University, Intoart, The School of the Damned and Open School East revealed what community art looks like in the twenty-first century.

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Alternative Methods Entry 13  26 July 2014

Inspiring talk about The Silent University for academic asylum seekers by Ahmet ögüt
A not-for-profit university set up for academic asylum seekers who have no work papers to give lectures, consulations and workshops in any language they choose. Some have to have their identity protected while waiting to receive visas.
They have created libraries, conventions, talks in the Dutch parliament as well as staging lectures at Tate Modern.

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Alternative Methods Entry 12  26 July 2014

Tacit-knowing as discussed by Dr Matthew Cheeseman and Wysing studio artist Florian Roithmayr.
Florian became interested in the Hungarian theorist Polanyi after spending time working with a concrete beautician in Germany.
A concrete beautician is a craftsman who comes along after a building is constructed and beautifies the concrete so that it is perfect. “I learned a skill that no one will ever notice, because it is not supposed to be seen. There is no outcome, and so at the end of my time as his apprentice I had nothing to show for it.” Florian asked the question: “So what was I looking for?”
At this point Florian began to look at Polanyi’s theory of tacit-knowing.

Dr Matthew Cheeseman gives an example of tacit-knowing:
It is very difficult to describe to someone how to ride a bike. I could work out a mathematical equation about how to ride a bike, but we all know that wouldn’t help us ride a bike

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Alternative Methods Entry 11  26 July 2014

Rob Smith and Frank Abbott discuss the forthcoming Expanded Studio Project, a collaboration project between Primary in Nottingham and Wysing in Cambridgeshire.
RS: When the project begins we will have a grand draw, like the lottery and pull names from a hat to decide who will collaborate.
FA: Expanded Studio will act as catalyst, to share knowledge and challenge establish ways of working in a studio.
Why Wysing and Primary? In 2013 Smith and Abbott co-incidentally invented the same method of drawing names from a hat to implement a studio system.
Abbott shows the film ‘Old Skool Breaks’ about a group of artists who were invited to come up with different ways of collaborating in Nottingham.
RS: A similar thing happened at Wysing because we felt we were missing a sense of community and collective action – what could we do as a group of artists to change this? So we set up collaborations between each other.

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Alternative Methods Entry 10  26 July 2014

Performance talk by Intoart artist Ntiense Eno-Amooquaye - a poet, performer and artist, who explores the relationships between the three mediums. Talks about her research practices and how she approaches an exhibition.

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Alternative Methods Entry 9  26 July 2014

Ella Ritchie introduces Intoart, a London based art collective for people with learning disabilities based in Clapham.

It began because there was a need in the community. There was nothing happening in this area. Often Intoart start with a conversation with the institution involved and then try to circumnavigate it. Intoart believe in the visibility of the artists themselves and to put them in a position of leadership. They work with artists for an infinite period of time.
The intention is to support them to work for themselves and in their own interests. Many of the people they work with they have never been to a museum and there is a clear educational strategy.
Mentoring and leadership is key. Some disability artists are also asked to be artist mentors to other local people who have a disability. This is done only if it fits with the practice they do, not because they have a disability.

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Alternative Methods Entry 8  26 July 2014

First ghetto biennale very exciting that it actually happened. It felt revolutionary. By the second, the earthquake had happened and the insertion of NGOs into the community became a huge issue.  Gordon was working in an extreme political situation, there were kidnappings and the slum itself is an incredibly hierarchical place. Gordon was also aware of her colonial status.
By the third biennale they decided to ban the lens, as the ethnographic gaze from western artists disconcerted them. During the third biennale, three Haitian youths kept photographing the white visitors, telling them to look sad and happy as a reference to the way NGOs and artists had used them.
Banning the lens meant a lot of performance artists. Hiroki gave a workshop about Arte Povera – the Haitians were excited that artists could make money out of junk.
A guy from New York taught them how to make crates the western way, so that they could ship their art abroad.
A vicious neo-liberal government and very interested in capitalizing Haitian popular culture, which consists of them re-telling their history and it is worrying that this could become sanitized.
For the next biennale they are looking at bringing people from the global margins to the metropolitan margins.

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Alternative Methods Entry 7  26 July 2014

Leah Gordon co-director of the cross-cultural arts festival, the Ghetto Biennale, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
She is very funny about the type of artist who came to Haiti:

Put out an open call, they had no funding and they got 150 applicants. There is a lot of class immobility – artists have to pay to get to Haiti and pay for their own room. They attracted de-authorised, de-materialised artists interested in institutional critique. Haitians were disappointed not to get Damien Hirst and Jake and Dinos Chapman. One of the artists, Bill Drummond was very upset that when he asked the Haitians artists what they wanted, they said to have a big exhibition in New York.

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Alternative Methods Entry 6  26 July 2014

Question for School of the Damned and OFS: What is the potential of people coming to the schools that don’t have an arts background, and will that change your approach?

Sara NF: I can’t predict what might happen in the future

Lucy Beech: There are a number of people at OFS who don’t have art training and its been very important for them to be involved with those who have. Important not to shy away from certain conventions of the art education system that work. Its not about emulating the system but about engineering change.

ST: I find it very moving seeing people taking the situation into their own hands. But I haven’t heard an articulation of the politics – it’s around class, access to education and the politics of learning. The questions are about access. How the institutions do and do not exclude people.

AC: We have had discussions with radical arts organisations that operated in the 1970s, and we understand that we should make ourselves accessible to all. We want to be a radical 21st century arts center open to all.

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Alternative Methods Entry 5  26 July 2014

Sara Nunes Fernandes discusses the School of the Damned together with Ruth Angel Edwards and Emilia Bergmark.

It began two years ago as a rant on Facebook between friends about how they couldn’t afford to do an MA. Someone offered them a free space at the Horse Hospital for every last Sunday of the month.
So they started to meet.
They devised a structure around this once-a-month meeting.
Sara describes is as organised anger
Each month three people would present their art work and someone would give a half-hour lecture
They invited artists, curators to talk and paid them back by labour exchange.
Everyone put £50 in a group kitty for press material for the whole year.
It lasted on year. Had a degree show, and then began to be invited to talk about the project.

After that they began asking what the future of the school would be?
The students were devising the structure and the original members didn’t want to control the structure after leaving. So they handed it over to any artists who wanted to apply. They had 15 spaces and 15 people applied so they didn’t have to reject anyone.

Second school of the damned was different because they were not a group of friends.
It took time to get to know each other.
They asked questions about how they repositioned themselves as different to the year before.
They re-wrote the manifesto and talked about changing the certificate from an MA to a PhD

For the future?
They want to avoid lapsing into a proper educational structure.
They would like to spread regionally like a virus and raise a conversation about arts education.

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Alternative Methods Entry 4  26 July 2014

Co-founder Anna Colin discusses Open Studio East (OSE) in Islington.

Group of curators, producers and critics wanted to create an open study program that was outward facing and responding to the environment. It is housed in a former library in De Beauvoir Town, Islington.
The organisers wanted to tackle the rise of tuition fees. At present OSE is open to 12 artists. Many of the people on the program could not afford to do an MA.

They get a free studio in the former children’s library.
Tuition 2 days a week
Time to develop a project.

Artist Lucy Beech who was on the program says it is a flexible course; the students (called associates) are instrumental to the teaching and bring their own experiences to it. They are vocal; there is a conflict of disciplines that creates interesting dynamics.
AC: we invited writers, curators etc… who inspired us to come and talk. 40% of the course is open to the public – important – what happens when someone comes in and disrupts the organization.
The associates started to dictate who should come and talk and how they wanted the course to evolve. They were given the budget. The associates were pro-active and got their learning out into the public. The associates had to share their research; it is not a cosy institutional environment.

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Alternative Methods Entry 3  26 July 2014

We need to take responsibility for our educational system. We need a range of arts institutions, it is important to have an ecology that works across the UK.
Sally talks about the contrast between her experiences of working in London and Liverpool. It led her to ask questions about the value of art when you are not working in a place that is saturated by the art market.

Now she asks the question:
What is necessary here in the place where you are making art?

Worked at The Serpentine Gallery for 10 years. Change is a slow process; it takes about three years to develop things. She had been invited in to tackle the problem to elevate the work done in the education department. She set up projects in the local communities that lasted longer (sometimes three years) than the six-week exhibition program.
Set up The Centre for Possible Studies – host residencies, grew into a research space, commissioned artists over long periods of time.
She then went to direct the Liverpool Biennial

Liverpool has a large population in decline. It has the highest percentage of households with three generations who have not worked for a living.
Liverpool is paralyzed by its past, a nostalgia for the docks and The Beatles. There is also a thirty-year construction plan, which is going to totally transform the city.
So how does the biennial help the community deal with this?
Biennials are difficult beasts. The problem is:
How you work in a local context and at the same time perform on an international stage?
Tallant re-branded the biennial as the UK Biennial of Contemporary art – much easier to approach funders if it’s called UK rather than Liverpool

Ends on a quote by Doris Lessing
Whatever your meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.

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Alternative Methods Entry 2  26 July 2014

Sally Tallant starts with a quote by Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed its is the only thing that ever has.

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Alternative Methods Entry 1  26 July 2014

Live blog by Jessica Lack.
Well, here we are again, out in the bucolic wilderness of Wysing, for the fourth Futurecamp event. Today’s session asks what the future holds for arts education, a timely topic as the country emerges beleaguered and battle worn from four years of Michael Gove’s ideological war on education. Cuts in funding and a political climate that questions the relevance of an art education has resulted in a dire situation. But all is not lost, from Joseph Beuy’s Free International University to the Anti-University in London, artists have always sought to create alternative revolutionary educational practices.

So what of our speakers today? First up is the Director of the Liverpool Biennial Sally Tallant, an old tutor of mine, and someone who has served on the front line of arts education during her time at The Serpentine Gallery. As always, I shall be keeping you updated as the day progresses.

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One That Got Away  24 July 2014

Just over a month until our music festival and it’s all starting to come together really well - there are so many amazing people involved and I really can’t wait to see them play at Wysing. There are of course others that I would have loved to have included in the festival and who make perfect sense for it but for whatever reason – being on tour on the other side of the world or in the studio recording a new album – haven’t been able to make it this year. One of those people is Verity Susman. Susman was a founding member of the band Electrelane who were quite well known in the late 1990s/early 2000s - a bit Stereolab meets Neu! Anyway, they spilt up a while ago and Susman has been making solo work, collaborating closely with film-maker Jack Barraclough. She’s one of the people in their studio recording new stuff at the moment and so not playing live for a while. It’s a shame she can’t make it as her work is what this year’s festival is all about – fearless women taking on music and gender stereotypes with great skill and humour. What she is doing is also relevant to some of the things we have been looking at over the summer in our Futurecamp programme, particularly in relation to the digital world and an upcoming event on post gender. Hopefully we’ll see her at Wysing another time. In the meantime here’s an interview she did with The Quietus last year and here is the excellent 'To Make You Afraid'.

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Sue Tompkins  15 July 2014

I love Sue Tompkins. I just do. Thanks to The Wire for posting this recent performance.

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The Way We Live Now Final Entry  12 July 2014

Daniel Keller performance ‘An iDrive’
Love and commitment in the cybernetic world, where living life in the fast lane is about searching for an exit out of the cultural desert of redundant ideology.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 9  12 July 2014

Bonnie Camplin
A meandering anecdotal narrative on mind control, super soldiers, psychics and surviving as a rational individual in the Twenty-first century.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 9  12 July 2014

Question: Who are the people who run unMonastery?
Answer: Diverse range of ages, middle class, people from the hacker movement, documentary filmmaking, artists
Question: How do you manage your finances?
35,000 Euros for the project + given building by the city of Matera. It is distributed everyone gets 400 e a month and 200 of those go on collective living.
Question: It sounds very utopian
Answer: It is not a utopian project, it would be boring for future generations not to have some shit to deal with.
Question: Why have you chosen an institutional set up?
Answer: if we have to build an institution for other institutions to trust us then fine, that is what we will do. Bt unMonastery  is a democracy – there is no drip feed way of people telling you what to do.
Question: Do you really trust each other?
Answer: In a situation where power is decentralised you have to trust each other or it won’t function because we don’t have a big stick (like financial gain).
Question: It worries me that you are not supporting the welfare state.
Answer: It’s too late. Bit coin now exists. You need to start building other things. When you have a decentralised currency its already too late. We recognise that the welfare state has gone – its been sold off. So we can find violent or non-violent I would prefer violent
Question: In the 16th century monasteries were destroyed because they were oppressive institutions. It’s a strange thing to choose to model your project on, let alone the sexual connotations. I think monasteries are a despicable organisation.
Answer: We don’t want to reproduce the hierarchies in the monasteries. I was brought up by militant atheists and I’m not looking for spiritual redemption.
Respone: I wasn’t talking about religion I was talking about the oppressive nature of monasteries.
Question: You seem to be shying away from calling it a commune or a coop. Why?
We want a plurality of structures to bring to the organisation.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 8  12 July 2014

Ben Vickers on the utopian social model unMonastery, a global village set up to deal with three specific problems:

Large numbers of empty and disused property
Austerity and the rollback of state service provision
High intentional or unintentional unemployment

unMonastery opened in Matera in Southern Italy and are heavily indebted to the HackerSpaces model – the only difference is that they are outward looking. They are a commune and have solved the washing up problem by having a rota!

You can set up your own unMonastery, and they have produced a set of cards that tell you how to do this. There is also a book of mistakes – so that no other unMonastery will repeat them.
There are several organisations similar to unMonastery including Calafou, Aesir, Grupo Coop De Las Indias, unSystem and Open Source Ecology Europe and Oplate of St Benedict.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 7  12 July 2014

David Raymond Conroy: There is no such thing as bad weather only soft people

Down and out in Mayfair and Fitzrovia. A polemic on style, workwear and the art world’s love affair with Nike Flyknit trainer. An artist on the verge of a capitalist breakdown.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 6  12 July 2014

Dr Richard Barbrook
The Californian Ideology 20.0

Barbrook talks about re-examining his book he wrote in the 1990s about the dotcom boom.
He says twenty years ago he was waiting for the web to happen and knew it would be a massive transformation. He and his colleagues set up a research centre in Westminster University because:
they noticed that while lots of people didn’t believe in the privatisation of the railway system they started spouting neo-liberalism stuff with regards to the Internet. It was being promoted that you could do both. Whereas in the 1960s there was a division between the squares (industry) and the counter culture, it was not like that any more. Why was it suddenly respectable to be capitalist?
Marshal McLuhan created the key concept of our age that there would be this fundamental transformation in society caused by media into the net. He said we are moving forward to the electronic tribal drum.
The prediction was that social change would be driven by information technology.

Barbrook mentions the Progress and Freedom Foundation set up in America:
The purpose of these technologies was to break open natural monopolies and replace them with a world of small businesses. Everyone in the future will be rich and hip and we shall all become Californians.
But the Californian ideology is ambiguous – because it is founded on the principles of individual liberty brought about by the founding fathers. But we all know that the founding fathers (Jefferson, Washington) were slave owners. So there is an ambiguity in the liberalism they promote.

So what is the future?
Stop being caught in the perpetual present of post-modernism – break out of this and see the grand narrative – we can create a better future and it is not by looking at technology, but our minds, they need to be freed from the mental slavery.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 5  12 July 2014

Louise Carver: Should we value nature?
Carver studies Biodiversity offsetting in England
She is interested in what happens when something is declared valuable especially when the systems that now value nature devalued it so badly in the past.
Carver shows a film by Nature not for Sale – spoof promotion for Fracking in Regents Park. Best line: ‘selling off public assets to people the government went to school with is at the core of our policies.’

So what is Biodiversity offsetting?  - conservation activities that are designed to give biodiversity benefits to compensate for losses - ensuring that when a development damages nature, new, bigger or better nature sites will be created. They are different from other types of ecological compensation as they need to show measurable outcomes that are sustained over time.
The problem with Biodiversity offsetting is that it entails the conceptual disaggregation of constructed units of nature from their wider ecological fabrics.
Turns nature into a commodity capital can actually see and work with.

She talks about the contradictory idea of selling nature to save it.
She uses the example of Land grabbing – the story of the Kisaware village in Tanzania when villagers gave up their land for large-scale Bio fuel investment. Project failed and the villages have 10,000 acres of useless land, and the villagers are kept off it by guards.
What will happen to tropical forests when their services are traded and speculated by investment services?
We know there is nothing ethical about the way the markets work. Will they be liable for asset stripping.
This has a profound social aspect to it.

Our research is concerned with
The value of what and for who?
The tragedy of the well intentioned valuation.
Carver shows a picture of an Elephant with a red line through it. George Lakoff talks about language framing.
Don’t think of an elephant – you cannot avoid thinking about an elephant – bringing these systems of value into the government – it stops them thinking of other ways of thinking.

Carver says lets be radical pragmatists – we should criticize Biodiversity offsetting but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 4  12 July 2014

The Way We Live Now: Environmental and Social Consequences

Ian Hodge
Wants to talk about three things:
1.How eco-systems are driving the way we think about the environment
2.The Way in which eco-systems are being used in a neo-liberal context
3. Maybe there is an alternative way of thinking and reflecting on eco-systems and how it will affect our economic environment
First point: We value the environment for economic purposes (crops, timber) and we value it for non-economic purposes (recreation, aesthetic, wellbeing).
There is a danger in starting to work out the value of each eco-system eg..What is the value of Bee pollination in relation to the pesticides used to promote crop production?
But the UK National Ecosystem Assessment has set out to look at the problem of this and try to place some sort of monetary value on these eco-systems.

The Neo-liberal approach to eco-systems:

Nature as a commodity
A source of economic growth
Monetary valuation
Delivery by markets and civil society (with private funding)

Economists have spent time trying to work out the monetary value of different aspects of the environment.
The fundamental question for environmentalists is whether this valuation system strengthens the argument for the environment.
This can misdirect policy.
For example if you want to protect the rain forests and use payments to those who have control over the environment to get them to preserve it what kind of consequences does this have for the stewardship of the environment?
Where is the moral argument in this when it is just down to who pays?
Do you pay polluters not to pollute?
The problem with the Neo-liberal approach is that while markets are important they are not a substitute for government intervention. Governments need to be active rather than stepping back and hoping the market will do it for them.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 3  12 July 2014

Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón

He says: I’m going to be talking about a very unsustainable project: The London Olympics.

The Olympics actually belong to the IOC – they have the right to exploit it commercially. Hosting the games, the public bodies carry the cost and the IOC exploited the benefits.

Here are a few things London did in order to host the games: 

They regulated the use of language, words like ‘2012’, ‘summer’, ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, ‘Bronze’. He reminds us of the kebab shop that was threatened with legal action because the name was Olympic Kebabs.

Total revenue of IOC in 2012 was £2 billion (tax exempt). The cost of the Olympics to the country was £9 billion

The cost of the economic structure on the ground was massive. Biggest compulsory purchase order in history was enacted in the purchase of the Olympic Park. 1500 residents, 200 businesses and 5000 jobs were displaced.

Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón talks about the Olympic Grand Narrative.

The story of the Olympics was promoted as the creative destruction of an unregulated post-industrial landscape, a moral redemption of a contaminated and corrupt land.
Photographs were published of the Olympic stadium as a beacon of hope and beauty in the London darkness. In fact the area was a place of small businesses, artist studios, allotments and marshes.

Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón moves on to talk about some of the artists who began to question this grand narrative. They published the work in a book called ‘The Art of Dissent’.
The artists:
1. Jim Woodall ‘Olympic State’ built a hut where he surveyed the Olympic site using surveillance equipment.
2. Office for Subversive Architecture, ‘Point of View’ built a staircase next to the wall for people to look over into the Olympic site – it was removed.
3. Adelita Husni-Bey ‘Clays Lane Live Archive’ constructed a story about the residents who were evicted from the site which now resides in Bishopsgate.
4. Space studio commissioned a project called The Cut – Jessie Brennan created drawings inspired by stories collected from people associated with the site.
5. Gesche Würfel ‘Go for Gold!’ – took photographs of the area before construction started. She returned to the site every year to document the changes. A way of showing the violence of the destruction
6. Stephen Gill ‘Buried’ took as series of pictures of the area with a camera bought on the black market operating in the area. He printed the images and gave them to friends and collaborators to bury in the area. He then dug them up. A strategy of double exposure – significant in the context of the regeneration of the area. The contaminated nature of the soil was one of the excuses the authorities used to dig up the area.


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The Way We Live Now Entry 2  12 July 2014

Quick change in the programme as Dr Richard Barbrook is stuck in traffic, so first up is Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón on London’s Olympic development.

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The Way We Live Now Entry 1  12 July 2014

Live blog by Jessica Lack.
Hello and welcome to Wysing’s third Futurecamp event, and today we shall be confronting that monster of the political arena – living standards. With crippling house prices, high unemployment, child poverty, and mental health on the rise, the future looks about as bruised as a Brazilian football player. As the epidermologist Sir Michael Marmot said this week “social injustice is killing on a grand scale”. What are the answers? Hopefully our guest speakers can provide them.

As always, the event will be kicking off at noon.

In the mean time you can:

Check out Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamón’ website The Militant City

Watch Ben Vickers discuss his initiative unMonastery 

Leave questions on the Facebook page and I shall introduce them into the discussions at 1:10pm and 2:30pm respectively

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For The Last One  11 July 2014

In 2004, when I was Curator at South London Gallery, I had the epic task of realising On Kawara's 'Reading One Million Years' in Trafalgar Square. 'One Million Years' is a ten volume book of dates, separated into the books of the Past - 998,031 BC to 1969 AD - and books of the Future - 1980 AD to 1,001,980 AD. It was the first time the work had been presented as a continuous reading, for seven days and nights, which involved mobilising a team of people to read aloud for two hours each, in pairs, one woman and one man. I remember one of the readers telling me how conscious she was that each number had been individually hand typed - the work was begun in 1969 - and how, for that reason, she had given each a slightly different emphasis when speaking it aloud. I also remember receiving emails from people who had unexpectedly encountered the work, telling me what a profound and moving experience it had been for them. It had been for me too. As had a simultaneous work which wasn't publicised at the time and which On Kawara insisted take place at the same time as the readings, a work that was hugely meaningful for him; the placing of his 'date' paintings in the Reception class of a primary school. It was important to him that this work was encountered by very young children, aged four and five, in an environment in which they were embarking on learning but were still outside formal school curriculum. The children hadn't been informed that one day they would arrive in school to find these new objects inserted into their usual surroundings. The paintings were simply left there to be absorbed, for a duration, without explanation. In 'One Million Years' On Kawara had dedicated the books of the Past to "all those who have lived and died" and the Future "for the last one". I was very sad to hear yesterday that On Kawara had passed away, aged 81. 

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