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.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Assistant Part 2 - Gordon's Update

Gordon updates on the process and pitfalls of dialogue and negotiation with Blue so far:

"Blue and I met up the other day in his studio for almost 3 hours. Before the meeting I had set a rule where he was to find a myth that was important to his heritage and to produce ideas from it. He emailed back with some research but nothing particularly concrete about what sort of work might come from it and that he found it difficult to understand what I was looking for so I decided that we should abandon the rule idea and meet up to talk and to organically find some sort of common ground to germinate some ideas.

I was a little hesitant to actually set the rule in the first place as I would not personally work well to someone ‘telling’ me what to do and therefore would not expect anyone else to do something I would not be comfortable with. This was something I voiced concerns about when I was first asked whether I would be involved in the project and I was in two minds about whether to commit to this project but having seen Blue’s work I thought it might be interesting to see what might come from it. I was hoping for some creative discussions and explorations of ideas to do with art and the process of creative decision making.

This was perhaps an overly optimistic situation to occur from essentially strangers who are asked to collaborate/meet. What did occur was initially a long hour of having to define what the word ecology meant to each of us. To Blue it appeared to be a huge ‘hang up’ about being constrained and contained by a single word that might ‘lock’ down his work as being about a type of sloganistic political statement about ‘man vs nature’. For me it was just a word to describe the objects from nature that he was using such as the conch, shark’s jaw, artificial palm tree leaf and so on and it was frustrating to be entangled in semantics. The next 2 hours were a little bit more productive in terms of discussing what and where his work came from and figuring out what he might end up showing.

The meeting with Blue was ok but perhaps less productive than I had hoped considering 3 hours were spent. I was somewhat surprised that he was waiting for my ‘rule’ and hadn’t really been thinking about what work he might make for the show. But then again the premise of the project is for me to set some rules so fair enough that by his own admission he had not given much thought to ..... I guess in this context you can’t really make something until the parameters have been set. I suppose I took it for granted that as an artist you just make art from the parameters that you set for yourself and the show adapts to the work.

I think that I was too confident about the potential mutual dialogue about some of our overlapping ideas and the prospect of finding a great dialogue about making art and how we come to visualise our ideas and feelings.

I did ask for him to continue to let me know what ideas he had for the show as by the end of the meeting we came to the conclusion that he should go and see the space and come up with some ideas for what to show and from there we can continue to discuss what might be good to pursue. I had not heard from him and I am afraid that my other commitments to exhibitions have taken priority until he let’s me know what is happening".

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