Friday, 23 July 2010

Starting Sounds

We're already nearly at the end of Week 2 of the drawing shed and haven't really been maintaining this blog. So forgive us, we will have to do some catch up!

For Week 1 of The Drawing Shed at PSL the shed actually housed sound, not drawing. This came about because Phill Harding - an intriguing artist as well as being one of our gallery assistants - proposed to do some sound walks starting at PSL as part of World Listening Day (Sun 18th June). Further conversation with Phill led to him suggesting he'd like to recreate an earlier piece of work 'house,' in the shed. It sounded (and eventually did sound) like an interesting piece of work so, in-spite of it not being drawing, we said 'yes.'

So I guess this reveals straightaway something about The Drawing Shed; it isn't that proscriptive. It was designed specifically to be PSL's hub at 'No Soul for Sale' at Tate, providing a surface for artists to work on but also inside, space for an information point about PSL. We always intended to bring the shed back to PSL to form part of an exhibition here but - designed on the hoof - it was not exactly clear what it would become. We are still finding out!

There has been some discussion about the project on the 'Culture Vulture' following a review : In my opinion the shed worked at Tate as a physical presence in the overwhelming space and noise of the turbine hall and practically as a house for info about PSL. It also showcased the work of artists we already have a relationship with. Now the shed is back in Leeds, we are primarily using it to show work by artists we have not worked with before. I am interested in Eleanor's point that the form of the shed may over-determine responses such that every piece of work created will essentially be the same: "But by providing this medium, a medium that is difficult to escape, do the artworks created in conjunction with it become less about individual expression or relationship to the Shed, and more about simply trying to fight your way out of convention?" We shall see! The artists we have invited to take part in the project have varied practices and have been selected because we think they will turn the shed into a new piece, rather than it being the shed with so and so's work on. Yet I do think it is an important and interesting question when, as an artist, you agree to take part in a pre-formatted project and so much is pre-determined, can it work or end up feeling like a bit of a compromise? I think this is a question relevant to lots of projects/opportunities and hopefully some of the participating artists will reflect on it here. Essentially PSL has quite a strong hand in determining the shape of the project but a fairly loose hand curatorially, determining what each work becomes.

Phill's work has been a great example of a new way to animate the shed (I think the shed definitely became part of Phill's work, not the other way around) but then again it wasn't drawing! On that point I am hoping Phill will do a post with links to some of his influences in terms of his sound art practice. We had an interesting conversation about whether his work had any relationship to drawing and 2 things stand out in my memory from this 1) The idea of ground and foreground detail. Phill's sound piece had a kind of background drone to it (sorry Phill if I am simplifying!) punctuated by points of noise that were more transient and at the foreground perhaps with some similarity to points or lines on a page 2) Phill's strategies for generating the structures of his work include chance procedures, methods also important in drawing. In both sound art and drawing there remain shifting relationships between aesthetics, composition, intention and chance.

I hope that through the project we can be reflective about the nature of and different approaches to contemporary drawing (narrative, pictorial, performative etc) and explore where they are comparable and where they are not....more about that in later posts!

See Phill's sound blog here:

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