We are pleased to be leading on New Geographies, a three-year partnership between nine arts organisations in the East of England working within the ECVAN network, culminating in ten new artistic commissions.
The East Contemporary Visual Arts Network (ECVAN) launched an open call in Summer 2017, asking people living in the East of England to nominate overlooked or unexpected places in the region that they find meaningful and interesting. By asking ‘what is a forgotten place that you think is important to highlight?’ we wanted more people to share their stories, building upon an active discussion with the potential to connect us to each other and to reimagine our idea of ‘place’.
Through outreach projects and online, the public nominated over 265 overlooked or forgotten places which helped to create a new map of the East of England made by those who live here.
In response to these nominations, ECVAN opened a call for artists to make new work inspired by the locations. With nearly 600 applicatons, we are pleased to announce that we have commissioned ten projects by artists from the UK and internationally to make new work in response to the stories that were shared. The artists are: Maria Anastassiou, David Blandy, Cooking Sections, Ian Giles, Krijn De Koning, Taylor Le Melle & Zadie Xa, susan pui san lok, Studio Morison, Stuart Whipps, and Laura Wilson.
We are delighted to announce a partnership with Primary in Nottingham and HOME in Manchester to bring the work of Emma Smith to the three cities. The tour so far has included an exhibition of Smith’s work 5Hz at Primary, Nottingham, Fri 30 Nov 2018 – Sat 9 Feb 2019; and 5Hz and Euphonia will tour to HOME, Manchester, Sat 6 Apr 2019 – Sun 19 May 2019; and finally shown as a live performance with Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridge (date to be announced).
5Hz is a sound installation centred around the invention of a new singing language designed to strengthen social connections. Through a year long research process examining psychological and neurological responses to the human voice, Smith created the 5Hz language, comprising a set of sounds that transcend language barriers. Visitors to the exhibition can learn the language and begin using it within 15 minutes.
Leading on from 5Hz, April 2018 saw the premiere of Smith’s latest work Euphonia at Liverpool’s Bluecoat, an ambitious new sound installation based on the musicality of social interactions. Developed through public experiments and workshops with world experts in music, psychology and the brain, contributors to the work include Bluecoat regulars, Liverpool’s homelessness and marginalisation group Choir With No Name and youth theatre group 20 Stories High.
The partnership is the result of a successful bid to Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund and will enable the venues to connect with community groups through workshops with the artist, both in venue and in the community.
Emma Smith has a social based practice and creates large scale installations and performances through research and collaboration. Smith is based in the UK and works internationally. Recent exhibitions / performances include: her major solo exhibition Euphonia at Bluecoat, Liverpool (2018); Hauser & Wirth Somerset (2018); Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (2018), touring exhibition material / rearranged / to / be with Siobhan Davies Dance that premiered at the Barbican before traveling to Tramway, Glasgow; Whitworth, Manchester; and Bluecoat, Liverpool (2017); Hunch – a major public performance work and installation in Cambridge city centre (2017); The Whistling Orchestra – that premiered at Primary, Nottingham before traveling to Nottingham Contemporary and Wysing Polyphonic Music Festival (2016); as well as projects for Art on the Underground, London (2017), Tate Exchange, London (2017), MAAS, Sydney Australia (2017), Delfina Foundation, London (2016), B-A-U, Italy (2016), Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland (2015), and Arnolfini, Bristol (2015), among many others.
Through a programme of public events and research, the project will explore contemporary art in the rural sphere. Many contemporary artists, architects and creative practitioners are challenging the assumptions made about rural life, providing a new vision of the countryside grounded in everyday experience. From re-imagined farming practices and food systems to architecture, community projects and transnational local networks, this programme brings these projects to the foreground, inviting a careful and critical look at our relationships with the rural today.
The programme will offer space for knowledge sharing and collective thinking that focusses on cultural activity taking place outside urban centres globally. It will work towards a conference in 2019. Connecting the local to the global, the conference will invite an international and transdisciplinary conversation on art and the rural, with a focus on profiling lesser-known projects from across the world. Details to be announced Autumn 2018.
Myvillages is an artist group founded in 2003 by Kathrin Böhm (UK / DE), Wapke Feenstra (NL) and Antje Schiffers (DE). The work addresses the evolving relationship between the rural and the urban, looking at different forms of production, pre-conceptions and power relationships. Myvillages initiates and organizes international artistic projects which range from small-scale informal presentations to long-term collaborative research projects, from work in private spaces to public conferences, from exhibitions to publications and from personal questions to public debate. Current and recent projects include Vorratskammer / Pantry at House of World Cultures in Berlin (2011), Good News from Nowhere at the Architecture Foundation London (2013), Lending Shape to Form (2015), A–Z Marzona Collection, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Farmers and Ranchers(2012–2015) with M12, Colorado, US and the Fries Museum, NL and the International Village Show for the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig (2014–2016), Myvillages’ ongoing work in London includes monthly Haystacks events and Myvillages Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks project, winner of the 2014 Create Art Award.
Istanbul Biennial. The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts has been organising the Istanbul Biennial since 1987. The biennial aims to create a meeting point in İstanbul in the field of visual arts between artists from diverse cultures and the audience. The fourteen biennials İKSV has organised up to now have enabled the formation of an international cultural network between local and international art circles, artists, curators and art critics by bringing together new trends in contemporary art every two years.
Considered as one of the most prestigious biennials alongside Venice, Sao Paolo and Sydney, the Istanbul Biennial prefers an exhibition model which enables a dialogue between artists and the audience through the work of the artists instead of a national representation model. It is of the utmost importance to promote local cultural sectors while generating collaboration possibilities internationally. Moreover, it is an emergency to contemplate on new forms of existence where both urban and rural are independently stable and are firm cultural/social and economic pillars. The programme’s main scope is to find ways to make the two systems beneficial for each other’s sustainability.
Whitechapel Gallery. The Whitechapel Gallery, based in East London, is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter. Their intereset in the rural stems from the fact that major cities such as London have become increasingly inhospitable due to higher rents, denser housing and rising pollution. Many look to the countryside as a place of utopian potential. However, while often defined in antithesis to the urban, the rural has its own unique politics. This series, which began in 2017, explores those politics and their impact and relevance to urban centres.
Department of Geography, The University of Aberystwyth. ‘The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization (GLOBAL-RURAL)’ is a major research project funded by the European Research Council. The study aims to advance our understanding of the workings and impact of globalization in rural regions through the development and application of new conceptual and methodological approaches. It is led by Professor Michael Woods.
Manchester School of Art, (Manchester Metropolitan University) is an innovator in art and design education and research in the UK. They celebrated their 180th birthday this year and drew on their experience and expertise to offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses that provide their students with the essential skills and knowledge for their chosen career. Contemporary Art in rural places and the representation of rural places in visual and popular culture are significant research specialisms for staff in the Department of Art. Research is led by Dr. Rosemary Shirley.
Research trips for this project have been generously funded by Art Fund's Jonathan Ruffer curatorial research grant and through a STEP travel grant, an initiative by the European Cultural Foundation with the support of Compagnia di San Paolo.
Public events that come from this research as part of the series can be found on Whitechapel Gallery's website here.
The View From Behind The Futuristic Rose Trellis is a bold and ambitious immersive live work by Ravioli Me Away (Sian Dorrer, Rosie Ridgway and Alice Theobald). The work launched our 2019 30th anniversary programme with two sold-out performances and an acclaimed iteration as an exhibition.
The surrealist, multi-media opera takes the audience on an audio enhanced journey as The Protagonist (the soul of humanity) searches for a body that can give it meaning. The Protagonist expresses the paradoxical sentiment that everyone is the main character in their own life. The View From Behind The Futuristic Rose Trellis is a colourful, comi-tragic take on individual and collective aspiration, explored and expressed through a genre-diverse score and the ever-present voice of The Narrator, a soprano singer situated amidst the audience.
For more information about the project, please click here.