An assistant is a person (or by extension a device) that helps another person accomplish their goals

Bearspace in association with Peer Sessions, presents an exhibition project entitled The Assistant. From 14th-29th May and 4th-19th June exhibitions will pair up an emerging artist, who will create the artwork, with an established artist who will instruct them. The established artist will send the emerging artist, or assistant, a list of rules one month prior to the exhibition opening, rules which will detail how the established artist wishes the work to be created and/or installed. This blog contains updates on their progress whilst a parallel page collects discussions around the idea of being an assistant and stories shared by other 'assistants' across the arts.

Monday, 29 March 2010

New BBC 4 documentary features the Assistant artists

A new BBC 4 documentary following MFA students at Goldsmiths is due to be screened on the 12th and 19th April from 9pm. The documentary features the year group that both of our participating 'assistant' artists were part of at Goldsmiths and although I haven't seen it yet it has Blue in the trailer and so is likely to contain some of their work/interviews with them. Although you'd think that the BBC had enough room for the hackneyed tabloid narratives on contemporary art on its numerous other channels and that we might expect something a bit more thoughtful from BBC 4, the trailer for this slightly disingenuously titled documentary seems to blow on all of the populist dog whistles (a personal opinion - Chris). However I'll reserve judgement until I view the full programme, and I guess it's great publicity for the artists anyhow. See the press release below for more information or click here to view the trailer to judge for yourself! (it can be found in a box to the right of the page).

Goldsmiths – This is Modern Art

Goldsmiths has produced six Turner prize winners in its illustrious history, notably Damien Hirst. But what lies behind the famous institution's unrivalled reputation for producing the artistic stars of the future?

This new two-part documentary follows a group of Goldsmiths artists as they struggle to create art and make a name for themselves during the run-up to their final masters' show, a showcase at which dealers and collectors jostle to sign the latest sensation.

These programmes follow the artists in the vital months following graduation as they take their first steps into professional careers, exploring the culture of contemporary art through the ambitions, influences and attitudes of the next generation of young British artists.

All are desperate to create the kind of work that will propel them to centre stage in the art world, but only a select few will succeed.

BBC Front Desk Publicity

A Dragonfly TV production

Monday, 22 March 2010

Artists Announced!

The Artists have been confirmed for the forthcoming exhibition at Bearspace, Deptford the Assistant. The exhibition will open in May but is being documented here in the run up to the show, examining the process of negotiation that goes into its production. It will explore the relationship of those artists designated 'Assistant' to the sets of instructions that they receive from their more established colleagues.

The artists have been confirmed as follows:

Artists Creating Work

Emerging Artist 1:

Kate Pickering

Kate Pickering is a London based artist and recently completed her MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College. Recent exhibitions include WORDS at Am Nuden Da and The Devil’s Necktie at Woodmill studios, and has a forthcoming solo exhibition at Bloc space in Sheffield. Her work addresses the beliefs and disbelief she encounters within the ‘post-ideological’ world of contemporary art. Her interest is in how the language of religion might be confused with the language of art in order to both examine and undo art world norms and assumptions. Texts appropriated from various religious sources are projected or performed, in order to mesmerise or confront the viewer.

Emerging Artist 2:

Blue Curry

Blue Curry was born in Nassau, the Bahamas. He trained as a photographer at the University of Westminster before completing his MFA at Goldsmiths in 2009. He currently lives and works in London. His exhibitions include works at Art Basel, Miami, Poortgebouw, Rotterdam, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas and Photographers' Gallery, London, he has work in the collections of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas and in private collections in the UK, America and the Caribbean. His works mainly fall into the category of installation.

Artists Setting Instructions

Established Artist 1:

Maria Fusco


Maria Fusco is a writer, editor and academic based in London. Born in Belfast, she contributes to a broad range of international publications, is Director of Art Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is the founder/editor of “The Happy Hypocrite”, a journal for and about experimental art writing. In 2009 she was the Critic-in-Residence at Kadist Art Foundation, Paris and in 2009-10 the inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Whitechapel Gallery, London. A book of her short stories published by Sternberg Press is forthcoming later in 2010.

'Maria is creating a vanguard in the relationship between language and
 visual arts that is undoubtedly of significance, and suffused with
 humour, absurdity and a serious playfulness.' - Kit Hammonds, freelance
 curator and tutor, Curating Department, Royal College of Art, London.

Established Artist 2:

Gordon Cheung

Gordon Cheung is of Hong Kong origin and born in London 1975 where he lives and works. Cheung’s multi-media art capture the hallucinations between the virtual and actual realities of a globalised world oscillating between Utopia and Dystopia. Spray paint, oil, acrylic, pastels, stock listings and ink collide in his works to form epic techno-sublime vistas. He exhibits internationally and was in the largest and most ambitious survey of recent developments in art from the UK; The British Art Show 6 and The John Moores Painting 24. He was commissioned for a Laing Art Solo Award (Selected by Susan May) July 2007. 2009 solo shows include 'The Promised Land', Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, 'Art in the Age of Anxiety' Volta NYC, New York and 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse', The New Art Gallery Walsall UK. Forthcoming is Cheung's first US solo museum exhibition at the Arizona State University Art Museum in 2010.

Cheung's works are in international collections including the Hirshhorn Museum, Whitworth Museum, ASU Art Museum, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Hiscox Collection, Progressive Arts Collection, UBS Collection and the Gottesman Collection.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Exhibition Dates


In keeping with the concept of the show - laying open much of the process behind the staging of an exhibition, along with the actual exhibition itself - we are listing not just the dates that the show will be open to the public but also the outline of dates that we have to work with to get the show ready on time. This is our rough outline so far, although it needs to be fleshed out a little with publicity dates, sending out invites and releases, the organising of various things with the artists etc. More will follow, but this is the outline for now.

The Assistant 1:

  • Emerging Artist 1 to receive rules from established artist 14th April 2010Set-up: 9th-13th May 2010
  • Opening: 14th May 2010
  • Exhibition: 14th-29th May 2010
  • Take Down: 31st May 2010

  • Peer Sessions crit' group and public discussion event, featuring submitted video works in response to the exhibition context: 28th May 2010 in conjunction with Deptford Last Fridays

The Assistant 2:

  • Emerging Artist 2 to receive rules from established artist 4th May 2010Set-up: 1st June -3rd June 2010
  • Opening: 4th June 2010
  • Exhibition: 4th - 19th June 2010
  • Take Down: 21st June 2010

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

the Assistant

the Assistant

Bearspace gallery in Deptford, London, in association with peer sessions, is pleased to present an exhibition project entitled
the Assistant starting in May 2010. Each exhibition will pair up an emerging artist with a more established artist who will then enter into a dialogue in order to produce the exhibition. The established artist will send the emerging artist, or assistant, a list of rules one month prior to the exhibition opening, rules which will detail how the established artist wishes the work to be created and/or installed. The emerging artist, as assistant, is presented with the possibility of following to the letter the instructions they are given or subverting and undermining them, inserting or overwriting their own ideas and work into the final exhibition.

The Assistant aims not only to explore the practices of both artists through this process of exchange, but also to widen this examination in order to examine ideas around the arbitrary, hierarchical categories into which market convenience delineates creative practice. The exhibition seeks to explore and potentially deconstruct these classifications of 'emerging' and 'established' artist and to interrogate the role of 'the assistant' more widely by interacting with range of creative practitioners who have undertaken work in an assistant capacity.

The project seeks to question ideas around the construction an exhibition in order to examine the processes an exhibition may go through before it is finally realised, the aim is to present the secret life of the exhibition, beyond the specifically defined limits of its opening times. Exhibitions are events which often conceal moments of interest, intriguing processes, iceberg-like away from the public gaze. In order to explore such a line of enquiry this blog will accompany the exhibition, exposing the original lists of rules, information about the artists along with documentation of the process of exchange and decision making that has led to the creation of the work. It will also invite contributions from the public and a wider community of creative individuals to explore alternative experiences and interpretations of being an assistant.

Along with the exhibitions and blog, a public discussion event, a publication and a screening of video created in response to a similar set of rules will form parts of the project. Stay tuned for call outs!