Exhibition Review, Museological Review Journal, July 2021, issue 25
Delegate and conversation partner at Iaspis Open Studios / Swedish Arts Grants Committee, Spring 2020, Stockholm, Sweden
Mini-lecture; The Agency of Creative Mapping and Counter-Cartography – An examination of mapping and cartograpy as a creative practice considered within the context of its historical and scientific origins.
Delegate at ‘Territory’ Symposium, CLB Berlin.
A collaboration between Created and Contested Territories (CaCTus) – Norwich University of the Arts, and CLB Berlin – Saturday, 27.04.19, 10am-6pm
With: Desmond Brett, Neil Powell, Carl Rowe, Iuliana-Elena Gavril, Betty Boehm, Kathrin Ganser, Elizabeth McTernan, Yael Sherill, Uwe Gössel & Niclas Middleton, Sven Sappelt. Territory Symposium – CLB
In connection with the exhibition, ‘Territory’ at CLB Berlin.
Opening: Friday, 26.04.19, 7pm
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 3-7pm.
‘Territory‘ variously draws attention to power differentials, difference and dis/advantage made manifest by class, geopolitical or aesthetic conflicts. This epitomises what we call our ‘conceptual framework‘; that is, a framework that sets boundaries and parameters for engagement and behaviour.
Territory is a print portfolio project devised by the Created and Contested Territories research group at Norwich University of the Arts in the UK. The portfolio represents a body of newly published visual and textual material in response to this theme.
With Neil Bousfield, Matthew Benington, Jessie Brennan, Desmon Brett, Doug Fishbone, Iuliana-Elena Gavril, Robert Hillier, Jade Montserrat and Dawn Brooks, Lynda Morris, Neil Powell, Carl Rowe, Karsten Schubert, Carly Sharples, Ross Sinclair, Magda Stawarska-Beavan, Milly Thompson, Paul Vousden.
Exhibition Review, Museum & Society Journal, November 2017. Volume 15, No 3
Alchemy: The Great Art, exhibition at Kulturforum, Berlin, Germany,
06.04.2017 – 23.07.2017
This temporary exhibition at Kulturforum, part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, presented a selection of around 200 objects from its collection, alongside loans from prominent cultural institutions, including the Getty Research Institute in California with whom they have collaborated. In 2016, the Institute itself ran an exhibition entitled The Art of Alchemy which appears to have laid out the curatorial objectives for this recent show. Working with and beyond the alchemist’s fabled quest for the creation of gold, both exhibitions investigated the production of objects, substances and artworks through the efforts of the alchemist, artist, philosopher, theologian and scientist. Recent years have witnessed a number of exhibitions focusing on alchemy. In 2013, the Science Museum in London displayed a selection of its archive which examined the secrecy of much of the symbolism, imagery and cipher employed by practitioners. The Kunstpalast Düsseldorf hosted Art and Alchemy in 2014, an exhibition which investigated this relationship through a range of artworks spanning multiple epochs. Split over two floors, Kulturforum’s exhibition was divided into sub-themes, which examined the culture of alchemy and its relationship to divinity and artistry, not only through its historical collection, but also through contemporary art intervention – a museological approach which has seen an increase in the last decade.
Visitors were introduced to the concept of alchemy through its ‘founding figure’, Hermes Trismegistos. This semi-mythical sage was associated with mercury – the fluid metal which alchemists believed was capable of uniting opposites. Referenced regularly throughout the exhibition, the image of the metal’s animate, slinking quality was also used in Kulturforum’s promotional material for the show. It even meandered its way down the stairs of the venue, guiding the visitor to the exhibition entrance – a visual primer for what lay ahead. A second-century marble statue of Hermes welcomed visitors as they entered, preceding an area within which the vital elements of ancient alchemy were relayed. This included the important relationship between planets and metals, gender and geometry, and continued on to the intellectual culture of late antiquity, merging science with both pagan and Christian theology. Visitors oscillated between different zones – some depicting supernatural or celestial concepts and others referencing the more palpable aspects of alchemy. The latter included the thematic sections Material Culture: Origins of Alchemy, Artists Artisans Alchemists, The Cabinet of Art, Ora et Labora: The Philosopher’s Stone and Synthetic Worlds. We were introduced to the idea of material transmutation through a selection of ancient Greek glass rods and vessels that were intended to resemble precious gemstones. This idea of mimicry continued through to some third- and fourth-century ornaments, many of which were often only constructed out of base metals, albeit achieving the appearance of gold. The alchemist’s attempts at achieving chrysopeia (the creation of gold) were of course alluded to several times in the exhibition. Continuing with the creation of skeuomorphic materials, artist Jeff Koon’s sculpture Dom Pérignon Balloon Venus, was juxtaposed with these ancient objects. Based on the ancient fertility figure, the Venus of Willendorf, this artwork is coated in a pink, high-gloss polyurethane resin. Made to look precious but of course appearing mass-produced and crass, it strives nonetheless to create an illusion of perfection and appearance of value…
‘Inheriting the City: Advancing Understandings in Urban Heritage’,
Abstract: ‘Uncertain Spaces: Heritage in the Postmodern Playground’
By Lisa Gordon
The effects of postmodernity converge to engender both traditional and unique leisure experiences in two reclaimed recreation sites in Berlin, Germany: A disused airport and an abandoned fairground. The study explores the historical influences and current usages of these sites, establishing a picture of their social lives. Site-specific inquiry, observation, interview and theoretical research create a basis for better understanding their place identities, which are examined against the context of the city and metropolitanism itself. Throughout the paper, information regarding demographic specificities and responses to redevelopment generate an active argument, particular to these sites and geographic region. Methods of public use and official and unofficial appropriation impact the appearance of the landscapes and ideas surrounding cultural representation, memorialisation and privatisation inform a discussion concerning cautious heritage interpretation practices. The sites platform both standard and unorthodox leisure activities and it is the incidence of these that further reveal a relationship between, identity, memory, culture and meta-narratives. Some of the intangible and aesthetic qualities of both locations are apposed with the sociocultural features already mentioned. This clarifies the process in which park visitors are able to disengage from everyday behavior or duties, proliferating internalised or self-reflexive approaches to ‘free-time’. Some of the complex effects of globalization force a number of conflicting factors together. Many of these are examined as defining, attractive features in the sites whilst others spell the demise of their significance and integrity. The study delivers some considered predictions and suggestions as to what future developments of both locations might entail.
Full paper published by Ironbridge Institute for Cultural Heritage. ISBN: 9780704428645
Book review, Museum & Society Journal, March 2016. Volume 14, No 1
Displaced Heritage. Responses to Disaster, Trauma, and Loss. Ian Convery, Gerard Corsane and Peter Davis (eds.), Woodbridge : The Boydell Press, 2014, hardback, pp. xx+337
This volume is number 16 in the International Centre for Cultural Studies’ (Newcastle University) ‘Heritage Matters’ series. It includes 29 essays with a preface by Kai Erikson and endpiece by Phil O’Keefe. The preface deals with an examination of the term ‘disaster’, describing how natural disaster is considered only so when a man-made or cultural presence is caught in its path. He extrapolates how pervasive disaster can be, therefore preventing it from being considered of as ‘an event’. A true understanding of its meaning can only be understood once it is allowed to ‘settle back into the larger flow of history.’(xx).
Section one introduces chapters, which deal with tourism and heritage. Robert Stone provides a scholarly analysis of the emergence of the notion of ‘thanatourism’(Seaton 2010) and its prevalence in postmodernity. He questions whether the privacy of death is being sequestered by tourism. This analysis establishes an feeling of cautiousness and accountability, which remained with me whilst considering subsequent essays. Foote designates the post-displacement transformation of heritage sites, as undergoing processes of, ‘rectification, designation, sanctification or obliteration’(Foote 2009:38-9). Stephen Miles’ chapter goes on to expand these assignations by suggesting that due to the myriad of interpretations at Hastings battlefield site, some of which overlap temporally, there exists a ‘palimpsestic definition of space.’(20). He problematises the memorialisation of battlefields due to their lacking in anything tangibly representational but that tourism can ‘mitigate the effects of displacement.’(24) …