Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Beacon Bimonthlies 3 – Friday 25 January 2010

The first Beacon Bimonthly of 2011 was held at the Beacon home base in Wellingore. It attracted a large crowd of local residents, artists and arts professionals. There was soup to warm people from the cold weather followed by artists' talks, a performance and discussion on the topics raised.
Written by Daniel Warren an artist and Writer based in Peterborough.

Candice Jacobs

Candice Jacobs started by talking about a forthcoming exhibition for which she was making tarot cards. Her ideas revolved around parallels which could be drawn between the tarot reader and the artist. Taking a simple set of pre defined ideas and then giving an explanation and expansion of them. Artists can sometimes be viewed with equal mistrust as spiritualists or religious zealots.

Thank You 2010 Photo: Candice Jacobs

In the work Too Much Candice sat behind a screen repeatedly reciting the song, 'Too Much' by The Spice Girls on piano. The screen was big and black with 'Thank You' written on it in gold, a design taken from the tip tray at restaurants. Candice had learned to play the piano but stopped. The relative difficulty of the piece meant that playing it all day soon became a chore and the song got really annoying.

Candice also showed a video of a woman in a number plate factory. Candice had worked there in the past, gone back recently and found a woman who was still doing the same thing, putting stickers on number plates.

It looked incredibly dull, and not only that, the woman appeared to still be listening to the same music, George Michael. It makes you wonder about her perception of time. Does she just really have George Michael mania or does the repetition somehow aid the passing of time? I always think time seems to have passed more quickly in retrospect if there were no stand out events. Whatever she’s doing, it must work.

There seemed to be a theme in Candice’s work of the ridiculousness of repetition, and a fascination with plastic glamour, which comes with our consumer society. It’s a marked difference from the start of the industrial revolution, in the 1800’s someone would make pins in a factory all day, now you could do the equivalent job with George Michael to help you keep a positive disposition.

Candice was a founding member of Moot, an artist led gallery and studio. It was the gallery, which marked the start of what is now a flourishing grass roots art scene in Nottingham. They had success with shows that bought together a range of artists of varying backgrounds like The Long Take. Artists were given a fax number and a time to fax their work. In order the work came through on a continuous sheet of paper, which was then folded into a book.

Greestone Group

The Greestone group are made up of Benjamin Sebastian, Joana Cifre-Cerda and Fabiola Paz. The trio walked in and stood facing each other on a bed of flowers. They started by wrapping their heads with silk scarves followed by layers of duct-tape. They knelt down and pushed bunches of flowers into their bound faces as if to try and smell them, taste them or feel them against their skin. Then, in an act reminiscent of flagellation, they whipped the flowers over their backs in bunches. There was a suggestion of violence to the performance but it was the flowers that came off worse. The long modular stems of the carnations broke off and flew in all directions, peppering the crowd and the room with petals, green stems and the smell of cut flowers. After the excitement and movement of the first part it ended with the performers unmasking themselves and then carefully collecting a few of the remaining flower heads.

Q&A with the Greestone Group

As the performers taped their heads there was a palpable tension in the audience. It was not shock or disgust, but a genuine concern from people who didn’t want to see something go wrong. In a period of brief questioning afterwards it was said that some practice had gone into making sure they could all breathe with their temporary masks on. While this may have been true it seemed there was always a calculated risk involved.

For better or worse it made me feel deeply uncomfortable. It was not the flagellation, a practice I know little of and don’t really care about. What sparked something in my cultural make up was the similarity of auto-asphyxiation stories in the news, a practice as tragic as it is ridiculous. The performance was an exploration of movement. There did not seem to be a link between the props or actions but the carefully chosen movements evoked a string of interesting associations.

Charlotte Pratley

Charlotte Pratley Began by showing an ongoing work called (De)Construction of Ideals. She had been given a large cabinet from her mother. Its value was mostly sentimental and Charlotte saw this as a burden for her mother and decided to destroy it. As a gift it might once have been a gesture of friendship, but only in the moment. The possessions we accumulate through life can become permanent. Charlotte cited Michael Landy as an influence on the work but her destruction was targeted. There was an element of therapy to it, one could almost imagine getting the idea from an extravagant self-help book.

(De)Construction of Ideals

Instead of crushing or burning the piece of furniture she eroded it over time. Chipping away at it, pulping the wood and producing paper. This process took place in a gallery space and formed part of its display. There was something organic which marked it apart from Landy. The process was like organic decay, a careful and thoughtful end for the furniture, rather than a mechanised cleansing. Although the object was being discarded its importance transformed its destruction into ritual.

The paper is now being distributed around the world starting with India and Liverpool. She disposed of some of it in the sacred river at Varanasi and described it as middle class hippy thing to do. The work blends the line between consumerism and religion convincingly. It might be because the work seems to want to believe in something but can’t.

Squatters Piss & Water into Wine

Squatters Piss seems some kind of an antidote to ideology, a reminder of the harsh realities of anarchism, anti capitalism, eviction, or whatever else turns people into squatters. Charlotte made a working distiller for a squat she was living in. It seemed like an eco-friendly perpetual motion machine, this idea that you could be self sufficient for water by drinking your own distilled urine.
The work was later shown at All Hallows Church as part of the Open Lady Bay Festival. It was renamed water into wine.

Charlotte is also a member of Backlit studio and gallery in Nottingham.

Maureen Sutton

The event was attended by Maureen Sutton, a local poet who wrote this about the event.


Wearing white three figures stood on red carnations,

Without words covered their heads in silk

Took up black tape, began wrapping their skulls.

Each unwinding pull bound performers to audience;

In unnerving silence we are one.

Heads now covered each took up the flowers

Scourged themselves, recklessly cast broken remains.

Unraveling takes over; this repeated unwinding

Unwinding, unwinding becomes a mantra.

A sense of panic, an artist in distress until

In a moment of tenderness help’s at hand.

Exposed bare-faced figures take a bow

Beneath this carpet of grief the ghosts

Of a Spanish War inhale carnations perfume.

Maureen Sutton

21 01 11               

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