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.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Update on Blue and Gordon's dialogue

Another update from Blue and Gordon's dialogue on Blue's forthcoming show:

Blue > Gordon:

"Just wanted to drop you a line to tell you where my thinking is for The Assistant. I have continued working on the current work in the studio that we discussed when you were in but have changed my mind and may not show any of that work. Hear me out. I have done quite a bit of thinking since our meeting and I think that the proposition that I might show something which is not as polished as my work usually is for exhibition is the one that I have dwelt on most. I always exert a great deal of control over the way my work is made (usually involving laborious and time consuming techniques) and the precise way it is exhibited. Before I start a piece or prepare for an exhibition I am pretty clear on what the final outcome is and I work methodically towards that.

I think your 'no rules' approach is a way of trying to get me to to reconsider my approach. I have to admit that it is frustrating for me not to have parameters within which to work as I feel I won't know when I've finished if there is not something or someone that indicates or dictates that. The anxiety around not completing a work in time or not being prepared for an exhibition is intense for me, possibly unnecessary and mostly self imposed.

Based on our discussions I feel that what I have to do is to work against my instincts and destroy my understanding of what work for an exhibition and an exhibition itself can be. To upend my regular approach and thinking for a show I choose not to use any of the works I have been preparing, but to instead start working on Monday, five days before the private view, to make new work and set up the exhibition. Once I have completed the installation on Friday I would like to invite you to make any changes you see fit. This way you can chose to wrestle away from me the control and polish I surely still would have attempted to have given the final work in spite of my best intentions to leave things unpolished.

How does this sound to you? It think this approach to an exhibition would be a most challenging and exasperating experience for me - but I'm up for it if you are. Add or subtract to this proposal for the exhibition as you see necessary".

Gordon > Blue:

"Sounds fine to me.

You've interpreted what you call my 'no rules' approach as trying to make you re-consider your approach to your work. I think this is already implicit in the project that we agreed to participate in. I was meant to set a rule for you from which you was meant to adapt your work to. However from the outset I wanted to respect the artist's own sense of development and creative trajectory. To set a rule dictates a structure to make work within that I felt was potentially inhibitive and essentially a waste of time especially as I had very little experience of your work.

Our meeting was meant to map a good route from which to make work that would benefit our creativity.

That you have interpreted our meeting quite so apocalyptically in terms of destroying your understanding of how you ordinarily produce work for an exhibition is interesting......

I shall look forward to seeing the results of your conscious transformation of your creative process and decision making that will crystallise into an exhibition/installation that matches the power of the work you already make".

Blue > Gordon:

"Thanks for the response. It may seem a bit 'apocalyptic' to my regular approach, but I think that apocalypse was just under the surface and although you never emphasized a need to reconsider anything about my practice or way of producing work for an exhibition, I had long been doing so. I will still leave that window open for you to come in on the last day to make your changes to what I propose to show .... but realise now that this is probably not in keeping with your approach to the project and the creative process. At any rate, it would be valuable to have a last conversation about the Assistant sometime this week while I am working in the space if possible. I'll get down to work in Deptford in the coming days and let's see how it all goes ...."

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