Pieces of Eight
Dutton and Swindells 'The Stag and Hound'
Shooting Young Offenders
The Drawing Shed
Jerwood Contemporary Painters
The Panj Piare
All my own work
I Can Still See You
Signs of Life
Town and Country
No36 Bus Artist in Residence
Jerwood Contemporary Painters 2009
Licht auf Licht
The Mapping Project
Pieces of Eight
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Pieces of Eight
25 April - 30 June 2012
Open Wed - Sat, 12-5pm
Co-curated by PSL and Roger Palmer, University of Leeds
Andy Abbott, Ian Balch, Sam Belinfante,
Erini Boukla, Cecilia Grönberg and Jonas (J) Magnusson, Hui-Hsuan Hsu, Maija Närhinen, Annica Karlsson Rixon
Pieces of Eight presents work by eight artists from Finland, Sweden and the UK, all of whom have recently graduated or are currently engaged in PhD study. Bringing together film, photography, sculpture, drawing, installation, performance and book form, the exhibition presents work arising from research-led practices. Referencing the first international currency, the term ‘pieces of eight’ seems appropriate for an exhibition which examines the specific value or quality of research-led practice at a time when the relevance of a PhD in Fine Art has been challenged.
At a time when higher education is becoming increasingly customer-focussed and market-driven, debates about the validity and priorities of PhD research by artists have become increasingly heated. Through influential artist/teachers such as John Baldessari and Michael Craig-Martin, the relevance of a PhD in Fine Art has been severely challenged. Over the past twelve months, following publication of a feature article by Peter Suchin attacking the Fine Art PhD, the letters pages of Art Monthly have become a regular site for airing of different opinions on the subject.
The curators of Pieces of Eight aim to put such arguments to the test through an international group exhibition of work by contemporary artists who have chosen to submit works of art as major components of PhD research. Eight artists have been invited to present bodies of work that originate in so-called ‘research-led’ practices. Five of the artists have been selected as representatives of a group attached to the Leeds University Fine Art PhD programme; one artist has been invited from KUVA Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki; two artists are from Gothenburg University, Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts.
In each case, the artist generates ideas for a work through a process of research. Their approaches to this are varied and include the gathering, processing and representation of information from libraries or other sources; explorations of creative possibilities offered by various traditional and new media; collaborations with practitioners in other disciplines; and utilising the conventional time for PhD research, i.e. three years, as the basis for developing a series of works.
The exhibition Pieces of Eight does not attempt to promote these artists’ work as good examples of academic practice-led research. Instead, emphasis is placed on the display of excellent contemporary art that happens to have been produced in the contexts of international PhD programmes and that has the capacity to communicate both independently and collectively. In this sense the exhibition might seek to undermine a widely held view of art that is made in the context of a practice-led PhD, that it must be formally critically underpinned as research in the context of an exhibition.
>> MORE images of the show on Flickr
is an artist, writer, musician based in Bradford and Leeds whose practice and research is focused on socially-engaged, political and activist art.
Heavy Metal Bell Pits comprises three triptychs (each a photograph, score and video documentation of a performance) resulting from an extended interest in the Bell Pits of Baildon Moor, their acoustic properties and the emergent study of geomusicology. Songs from the end of the industrial era (the early stirrings of Heavy Metal in 1970s Birmingham) are transcribed, interpreted and performed in a style proper to the era in which the Bell Pits were created (they being the remnants of the primitive forms of iron-ore mining). The artist is interested in the awkward cracks, gaps and excesses that are produced in this translation.
Performances filmed by Matt Green. Audio recorded by Andy Abbott. Thanks to the performers Kate Zezulka, Artfarmers (theartfarmers.blogspot.co.uk/) and The Bradford Singers (bradfordsingers.org.uk).
Heavy Metal Bell Pits is offered contextualisation through the publication A Serious Waste of Time that documents and draws together a number of previous, related projects; each with the starting point of a hobby or spare-time activity. Copies are available to purchase through the PSL bookshop or via www.andyabbott.co.uk. Letter-pressed cover by The Print Project (theprintproject.co.uk)
’s accumulative objects are made by painting hundreds of layers of acrylic paint onto ordinary objects and materials, or allowing the accumulation of incidental drips of paint from his studio over many years to create new ‘objects’. In Pieces of Eight these objects become part of sculptural installations that counterpoint aspects of the PSL space, such as reflections arising from the huge amount of light streaming in through its floor to ceiling windows, or ‘flaws’ and signs of age in the fabric of the its walls and floor. In this way, the work becomes another layer of the gallery itself.
Sam Belinfante is an artist and musician. His projects endeavour to bridge the gap between the visual and the musical. His new video piece Many Chambers, Many Mouths is filmed in the Italian town of Spoleto, home to one of world’s leading opera courses. The film finds parallels in the caves that are a prominent feature of the town, with other ‘chambers’ - the mouths of opera singers and the space of the camera (‘camera’ being the Italian word for chamber).
is interested in concepts of tracing, where the freedom of mark-making is relinquished but where variations and errors are copied and repeated, becoming indistinguishable from the original text. Through this process, the fidelity of an original text is warped; the new text becoming provocatively open-ended and uncertain. For Pieces of Eight, Boukla utilises the techniques of layering and repetition, extracting non-linguistic marks from popular comic strips, suggesting movement and extreme vocal expression.
In Witz-bomber och foto-sken (‘Pun-bombs and Photo-Flashes’),
Cecilia Grönberg and Jonas (J) Magnusson
have used 18th and 19th century archive material from Gothenburg to examine the ‘pun’ as a device for thought and knowledge. Omkopplingar (‘Rewirings’) resembles the Yellow Pages in its graphic design and format. Across its 1056 pages, the Stockholm suburb of Midsommarkransen, the base for Swedish telecommunication company LM Ericsson, is investigated. Grönberg and Magnusson co-edit the heavy-weight magazine ‘OEI’; an experimental cultural magazine which pushes the limits of its own massive physical format.
visualises and transfers observations of easily-ignored objects into a digital form. Using digital techniques as an extension of, and as compensation for, weaknesses of the body’s senses, digital cameras become the mechanical human eye, seeing further, closer and faster. Hsu questions the notion of ‘point of view’ whereby the camera becomes a more active agent between the artist’s ‘seeing’ and mental perception. Hsu’s video pieces may create a sense of the familiar, of recognition and guide the viewer into a virtual imagining. A different experience to watching mainstream film, Hsu’s work creates in audiences an uncertain perception and provocative ambiguity.
’s photographic installation documents details of the domestic interior of a small family farm outside Gothenburg. Focusing on details of its walls such as rawl plugs, wallpaper patterns, scribblings and other marks, the work builds a picture from the traces of a human presence in the house inscribed on its surfaces over time.
creates sculptural installations, whereby paper is transformed through drawing, painting, folding, creasing and crumpling. Through this process paper resembles winding lengths of unruly weed (8b) or solid stones arranged on the floor in Field (8a). Närhinen blurs the line between the depicted object and its image, investigating what we think we see and the reality that is created in the viewer’s mind. Her paintings resemble the shape of the objects they depict, producing an impression of three-dimensionality in two-dimensions. Närhinen is interested in the habits of looking, the credibility of perception, illusion and the potential of painting relative to these issues.
Foreground: 'Field' by Maija Narhinen. Background: 'Unfolding Books No.2 and No.3' by Cecilia Gronberg and Jonas (J) Magnusson
Ian Balch 'Fuschia before Glass'
Eirini Boukla 'Rat Tat Tat Tat'
Sam Belinfante 'Many Chambers, Many Mouths'
Andy Abbott 'Circle Pit'
Hui-Hsuan Hsu 'Dressing' (left) and 'Readying' (right)
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