Atlantic dialogue lecture: James Charlton
What happens when we talk about art?
• How talking effects "making"
• What might we do about that?
There are tensions that we encounter when talking about art; the problem of talking about work as well as recording work, photographing it, blogging etc. Not that we shouldn't talk about it but that in doing so we need to be aware of the tensions.
James Charlton in his lecture outlined these tensions in his own work. Within his practice he keeps talking/writing about art separated from the work itself. He posed the question can we approach writing in the same way as we approach making. Can talking, writing, reading be viewed as emergent practice? There is a dialogue between the artist and the material, can this be true of writing? Much of what Charlton seemed to be saying stemmed from a discourse around what is the art work? The performance first given and no other or can there be reenactments? Are these re-performances merely a pastiche of the work produced before or are these works new works in themselves. By recording or talking about work after it has been performed seems to change the work itself. The example used was of a performance by New Zealand artist Justin Allen entitled News. The first performance in the 1970's is a post object art work in which Allen opens and screws up a news paper again and again until it is disintegrated. Allen performed it again in the early 2000's and then it is re-performed by artist Mark Harvey in 2015. Is it then a reenactment of a reenactment and no longer the work itself? If the work exists in multiple states what then defines the work? Charlton suggests that Harvey's reenactment of "News" is flawed by being a reproduction.
Alongside this Charlton asks if talking about art somehow displaces making art. He suggested that on most bachelor degrees students make art but on MA course they talk so munch about the critical framework that the art production might be slower. He suggest however that there is a difference between making art and being an artist. As an undergraduate students are shown how to make workbooks, blog, write, creating critical distance validating their work. This makes students into artist but what does this do to making? Making and reflecting?
The idea of material practice falls apart when you contemplate the audience. As soon as you contemplate the audience you are putting the work on a pedestal.
Talking about art verses making art
There is an exteem self consciousness occurs when emulating or representing rather than critiquing. The work becomes something only when we have been told something about it by the artist. there must be a balance between the work of the artist and the work of the audience; the artist to devise her own work and the audience to respond. work that is not replication and the audience to have some knowledge of their own about the world.
It is better to leave the work to the work of the audience, to allow them to 'discover' the work for themselves. reflexivity as representation turns art into a subject. Claims to knowledge can be assured be cute they the audience have been in the space/place of the art and the reaction to the work is there's alone with out being told what to think about the work. the have had a response to the work itself without direction.
At the end of the lecture we still had only glimpses of what Charton work might look like leaving the onus with us to head to KARST to see that exhibition when it opens the following week.I was also left with questions about the sustainablity of an artist life in which you say nothing to anyone and how does the work exist beyond the first showing?