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.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Kate- work in progress 2

So far I have created a text through writing, borrowing and re-writing texts from several different sources and perspectives, and combining them. I guess at this stage I don’t want to say too much more about the content, other than it draws on my interests and concerns but frames them in a new way, so am finding the project productive and useful through having to take risks and stepping into new territory. It seems at the moment that this is going to result in one work, quite possibly a split screen video projection, made up of these combined elements of text, that will be relayed through performance, audio and text. So I am currently spending time filming and will be about to start editing.

Foster Wallace’s influence is definately in the work, hopefully both through how the piece is put together, but also in an overt reference to one of his characters. I’ve not had any further intervention or instruction from Maria Fusco so have just been getting on with developing the work and hoping that it will do both Maria and Foster Wallace justice!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Kate- work in progress

I’d not heard of Foster Wallace before receiving Maria’s instructions, but really enjoyed reading his short stories.

I have decided to work with Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, because I liked the interlocking parts of the narrative and the way it is initially confounding and only begins to makes sense and pull together towards the end and on a second reading. It is also blackly funny and a little disturbing. I'm also interested in the way there is a subtle irony in his writing, he reports slightly farcical situations in a matter of fact way which leaves the viewer to decide how to respond to them.

However I was also interested in the Brint Moltke character in the story The Suffering Channel so at the moment I am gathering and writing texts one of which refers to a similar character to Brint Moltke, a naive artist figure. Others reference a quasi- religious experience of an art object that will remain undescribed and unseen, and an artist devoted to some kind of mission. I am hoping to combine them in a way that follows a similar flow to Philosophy and The Mirror of Nature.

How these texts will appear in the show I haven’t yet decided, it may be a video projection combining text and performance, or an installation of text in the space of some description.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Blue Curry in BBC Documentary

Untitled - Blue Curry, 2009
Assistant artist Blue Curry featured again in BBC4 documentary 'Goldsmiths - But is it Art' last night. In answer to your question BBC - yes, it is.

Again Blue was his usual friendly and amenable self even if I couldn't help but feel he was engaged in a slight uphill struggle with editors that were playing to populist prejudice and continually looking to try to tie down some reified, definitive meaning inherent in the artwork. It was as if they were looking to Blue as 'author' to decode some evasive, 'authentic' interpretation, clearly not only missing any obvious aesthetic dimensions of the work but singularly failing to comprehend that the 'meaning' appeared to be there to be negotiated within the context of the work and its audience rather than somehow internal to the work itself. A personal opinion (Chris) but if you are going to make documentaries, ostensibly for a serious arts orientated channel (this was BBC4, not BBC3), then a rudimentary understanding of the fact that art has moved on somewhat in the last 40 years or so would at least be helpful.

Anyway, rant over, it was an interesting show and good publicity for Blue no doubt, it's just a shame it didn't ultimately give us anything but yet another, admittedly slightly more subtle, tired, old trotting out of the same tried and tested tabloid take on contemporary art. You can catch the second episode on BBC iplayer here for a week or so.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Maria Fusco's list of instructions

Maria's rules were as follows:

1. Acquire a copy of David Foster Wallace's book of short stories 'Oblivion'.

2. Select three stories and read them over three consecutive days, beginning on a Monday (note they vary quite radically in length).

3. Do nothing related to this project for four days.

4. On the next Monday, select just one of the stories that you feel has the most potential as a tool for investigation.

5. Make one piece of work, each day, for each page of the story you have selected. You are free to choose the form and content of this.

6. Re-order the works you have made into a sequence which 'works with' the original story in a way that you consider to address temporal space.

7. Exhibit it.

On reading the rules Maria has sent I was amused by their precision, and thought that they seem engaging and would be interesting to respond to. The structure in terms of the time frame and the initial specificity of what is required is really appealing to me, as for some time since finishing my masters I have been wading about in my work, feeling a bit lost at sea, and also feeling, at the same time, although probably quite unnecessarily, tied to my subject matter. So I am looking forward to approaching making new work within a completely different and very ordered remit, and wondering how much I will end up bending what I do to my current concerns or whether something new and unexpected might come out of it.

I have no preconceived ideas about what form the work might take, but will allow the writing to sink in first. I don’t think at the moment I feel the need to do anything obviously different than what has been asked, so I will start off in that direction and see where it takes me.

If you're interested:

David Foster Wallace was the award winning author of several novels, more than a few short stories, and numerous articles, as well as being a college professor. David has been called one of America's most important young authors and is often compared to Thomas Pynchon, though he tended to shrug off that association. He was most widely known for his epic (1000+ page) novel, Infinite Jest, published in 1996 and critically acclaimed by critics and readers alike. Topics covered in Wallace's work are wide ranging, but he had a special interest in American culture, addictions, and excess. Ironically, because of his edgy body of work and his public persona, DFW gained a cult following and became something of a celebrity himself. He committed suicide in 2008.

The short stories in Oblivion are:

"Mister Squishy"

"The Soul Is Not a Smithy"

"Incarnations of Burned Children"

"Another Pioneer"

"Good Old Neon"

"Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature"


"The Suffering Channel"

- Kate

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Blue Curry in Goldsmiths Documentary

So, the television documentary Goldsmiths - But is it Art? went out last night on BBC4 and despite the less than promising trailer, my fears were not realised and it actually proved to be far more balanced, nuanced and interesting than expected. I found it to be both accessible and not necessarily overly tabloid or simplistic in its handling of the artists. It was particularly great for Assistant artist Blue Curry who featured heavily as one of the four main artists that the documentary team followed in the run up to his MFA degree show at Goldsmiths last year. These shows love to construct their narratives, use editing techniques to present certain aspects of peoples characters that fit into certain frameworks, there's usually the controversial one, the underdog, the outsider etc. It seems that Blue made quite an impression on them as he seemed to come across as the affable, likable one that we, the audience, identified with. Of course it helps that he is affable and likable in real life but I am glad to see that he came across well and that he got the opportunity to showcase and talk about his work, which in my opinion came across as most definitely amongst the strongest that the programme presented. I look forward to the second part of the programme which follows the artists progress after finishing their course. Part one is repeated on Sunday night BBC4 at 10pm and is available on BBC iplayer for 14 days here. Part two goes out next Monday (19th) at 9pm.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Documentary Featuring Assistant Artists Airs Tonight!

The BBC4 Documentary on the recent crop of Goldsmiths MFA graduates (including our own assistant artists Blue Curry and Kate Pickering) airs tonight at 9pm. You can find out more here. The title seems to have shifted since we first mentioned the show from the simply factually inaccurate 'This is Modern Art' to the equally platitudinous 'But is it Art?' (yawn). However, understanding, possibly better than most, the potentially tiresome lengths that producers have to go to facilitate a show, its public reception and to encourage audiences perhaps this is almost forgiveable. But enough prejudging, let's make sure that we all watch the programme and make our minds up for ourselves. The talented Blue Curry, the Assistant artist that we are working with for show 2, apparently features fairly heavily in the documentary so that is possibly great news for him. Check out the Youtube trailer above and be sure to watch the show tonight, it certainly promises to be interesting.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Rules received for the Assistant 1

Earlier this morning I received an email from Maria Fusco. Within it was contained the initial set of instructions from her to Kate Pickering for Kate to respond to in the creation of the first part of the Assistant exhibition. It exciting to finally have the set of rules in front of us after all the time spent planning, this in where the exhibition begins to make the leap from concept to reality. Kate has now received the rules as well and now has one month to create an exhibition that will open at BEARSPACE on May 14th. It will be fascinating to see what she comes up with. The rules/instructions that Maria has set out for Kate are intriguing and reflect interestingly on the practice of both herself and Kate I feel. What I find particularly interesting is the fact that Kate is an artist that often works with text, the challenge of responding to a text therefore complicates her usual practice as it seems to ask what an artwork can add to the form of the expression already set out in the piece of text provided? For me, her challenge is what she can bring to this over and above what it already constitutes, it will be fascinating to see how she responds to this challenge. The rules are as follows:

Maria Fusco to Kate Pickering - Artist director to Assistant

The Assistant Exhibition
Instructions for Kate Pickering from Maria Fusco

1. Acquire a copy of David Foster Wallace’s book of short
stories Oblivion.
2. Select three stories and read them over three
consecutive days, beginning on a Monday (note they
vary quite radically in length).
3. Do nothing related to this project for four days.
4. On the next Monday, select just one of the stories
that you feel has most potential as a tool for
5. Make one piece of work, each day, for each page of the
story you have selected. You are free to choose the
form and content of this.
6. Re-order the works you have made into a sequence which
‘works with’ the original story in a way that you
consider to address temporal space.
7. Exhibit it.