Artists in Residence. The Lock Up.
A Conversation with S, (re) reading Jan Verwoert's exhaustion and exuberance, the matter of convalescence and sending telepathic messages to my friend 'A '
I recall, last night in conversation with S, (he just emerging out of flu, me still wobbly with a bit of jet lag) I came out with an equation which, once and for all, I hoped, would get the monkey(s) off my back in regard to the relationship between art and research (who would have imagined so many monkeys in the UK?). There are monkeys here too, as S (albeit in a cheerful and resigned manner), is trying to accommodate and/or walk all over.
Well, I was very tired.
If Research (X) is a contribution to a form of knowledge (Y) , and some kinds of Art (A) have an effect on how the world is understood and forms of knowing (epistemology) (Y) then A is part X, and X part A.
X+ A= Y2
Thus, instead of worrying endlessly about whether art is or isn't a form of research we can finally accept that there is this thing, lets call it 'artistic research' ( er...like pretty much everyone in Northern Europe already does) which is knowledge squared. How cool is that?
So cool I'd better get my coat......
But back to more pressing matters.
What is the midpoint? Or better to ask perhaps,when is the midpoint?
Why better? Well lets say that to define the midpoint in advance (or after the fact) of it's appearance affects it's (dis)appearance, to the extent that the midpoint is no longer a midpoint but a 'midpoint', something ossified by scare quotes, exiled into the past or the yet to be. Like the cult of 'failure', the midpoint becomes the aim, and as a result, no longer itself.
In which case, it's important to remember that the project as it stands feels like it's more about trying to create the conditions for some kind of doing and witnessing of something which sits outside of the beginning and the end as opposed to in-between them.
I’m cautious here of falling into the trap of a fetishisation of the liminal. The midpoint (for me here) is not a liminal space as much as a moment, perhaps.
I'm thinking of Gary Peters' articulation in his essay ‘ahead of the yes and no: Heidegger on not knowing and art’, the ‘ahead of the yes and no’ is more of a third ‘sphere’, which he describes as one of ‘indifference’. (On not knowing; how artists think ed. Elizabeth Fisher and Rebecca Fortnum. (London. Black Dog in association with Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge and supported by the University of the Arts London, 2013)
Here Peters tells us,
“when Heidegger speaks of inbetweeness he is speaking not of the space between affirmation and negation but of a space-time that is situated outside rather than inside such boundaries”
Questions of beginnings and endings and what sits within or without them are neatly worked with in Jan Verwoert's exhaustion and exuberance (p 33). What is particularly interesting about this beautiful essay (in respect of this project) is the recognition and the sense of love of the complexity which sits between the polar opposites of 'the yes' and 'the no', the 'I can' and the 'I can't' (and much more),a sentiment which also sits at the heart of this project. The essay (for me) encapsulates the very aesthetic realm it seeks to explore, producing something to be 'felt by the mind', to use Peter Osbourne's description of the aesthetic (in "anywhere if not at all").
" In painting, (as in writing) the beginning and the end of the work are defined through an immanent demand, as the decision about how to start and conclude are choices that shape the very identity of the piece. It is only by concluding in a particular way that the piece establishes its own standards and demonstrates why it has to be the way it is".
Verwoert goes onto to write about the the state of suspension between exhaustion and activity (p 70) (another form of midpoint perhaps).
"between the 'I Can't' and the 'I Can', the state of convalescence is the epitome of an empty moment of full awareness"
It was when I was reading this, thinking about exhaustion and convalescence, that I recalled an earlier paragraph which I am now sending telepathically to A back in the UK. (are you receiving A?)
"This inextricable ambivalence between what you want and expect of yourself and what others want and expect from you is one of the hardest puzzles for anyone who works creatively and on demand to solve" (p62)
As Andrew B and I discussed when we started talking about artistic behaviours and strategies ( echoing, delaying, reversing, speeding up or down, inverting ) which might be interesting to look at in terms of some kind of artist/curator type thing (this project), the suggestion of telepathy was seen as nonsensical and quickly rejected (at least by Andrew. I confess, I never quite gave up on it). Maybe some things simply are created by the friction of the the 'no' and the 'yes' which sit at the heart of the nonsensical.
(know what I mean A?)