Hanga Séra, ‘Mon coeur’, performance
This picture is my symbol for the good side of the corona crisis.
I have experienced a lot of new ways to show love & friendship, to stand together, to build up a presence which is not a physical one but which can still be amazingly strong.
Also spirituality, which I didn’t have enough time for in recent years, has enriched my days and I have built new friendships or re-built old ones through it.
I heard about illnesses and deaths, and it made me help.
When I needed help, I received it, I didn't even have to ask for it.
Days full of fear were my reality at the beginning. Now we will still have to be precautious for a long time in our social behaviour, of that I’m sure.
But I’m also sure that we’ll find new ways of showing respect & solidarity, of helping each other.
We are the same species, we are humans.
Window of Fame is a label committed to contemporary art. It builds bridges between the disciplines new media, visual and performing arts which are thematically brought together within a predefined project – the projects are not group exhibitions in the usual sense. A common contemporary topic, different techniques and perspectives interact with the space and between artworks.
Nieuwe Vide from Haarlem, Netherlands, bring you today the Episode 2 of their podcast of Nieuwe Vide Radio with artist Verena Hahn as a guest.
Verena Hahn's film We'll Have Time For That Later will be made available online at Nieuwe Vide's website on 27th April, 12.00.
Due to the Corona pandemic this year’s edition of Supermarket Art Fair has been postponed. Because Nieuwe Vide cannot present there at the moment we will share with you an online preview of the work we were going to show here. We’ll Have Time For That Later by Verena Hahn is an artistic documentary that explores the world experience and agency of preppers. Prepping is a practice in which so called preppers prepare to live a life that is non-depending on external parties, such as electricity suppliers, the police, food suppliers or a community. In the center of prepping stands the anticipation of a crisis that needs a long-term preparation. In Hahn’s work, prepping is not understood as a mere hobby, but as a specific agency of the time we live in. The film traces the connection between the storytelling in prepping and real contemporary conditions that influence and determine these world descriptions. The film reflects in a subtle but critical manner on the role of the filmmaker and the complexity of documenting certain ideologies.
Nieuwe Vide is an exhibition and project space and has 27 studios where artists and creatives work. We provide young artists with a space to experiment and give them tools to professionalise their practice. Our programme of exhibitions, workshops, talks and presentations is inspired by popular culture, new media and politics. True to our squatters roots of 25 years ago we operate on a community level and offer a programme of educational and social activities.
Notes from a small town: Wednesday 22 April 2020
Until a few weeks ago I expected to be in Stockholm at this time, not just in Stockholm but at Supermarket Art Fair. Instead I find myself in here the small Swedish town where I live and work. Enköping might ’only’ be fifty minutes from Stockholm by train but it is worlds apart. Knowing that I ’should’ be in the city in the throng of the fair makes the lack of a vibrant art-scene (ANY art-scene) here even more acute.
This morning I am at work. I am putting together educational material and an activity pack for a temporary exhibition that opens in early May. My half time job as the local council’s Arts Education Officer is good – I like the work and really appreciate the regular income after years of working free-lance. The challenge now is making the shift from being very hands-on to producing digital content. It’s an entirely different way of working – one that I am not completely unfamiliar with, however I last worked on online projects twenty years ago and “we’ve all passed a lot of water since then” (as a friend of a friend says). Working for a Swedish local authority in the midst of a health pandemic is undeniably different from working with an overly ambitious internet start-up with initially endless venture capital funding at the height of the millennial internet bubble.
Do I believe in ’muscle memory’? Maybe that’s not quite the right question but somehow I feel the lack of Supermarket viscerally – my mind and body are reacting to not doing something that has become habitual. For the past nine years the fair has been part of my annual cycle, and this year that cycle is broken, it is no wonder that I feel some kind of … what is it that I feel? Am I feeling something like Mr Tumnus feels in Narnia – where it is always winter but never Christmas. Like Christmas, Supermarket is a much anticipated annual celebration, the planning of which is undertaken over many months. During those months an excitement builds and there is a longing for that day when all the various preparations come together. It is with both excitement and nervousness that I pick-up a copy of the magazine/catalogue that I have worked on together with Alice (editor) and Kathi (designer) – that feeling too is absent despite us having completed months of work with the exhibitor’s texts, as well as feature articles and interviews by a host of international artists, writers, curators and theorists. I miss holding the 2020 publication in my hand, and that initial quick flip through the pages to see how it looks before heading off to the exhibitor’s/pnp lounge where I can take a bit more time and enjoy reading familiar words. Familiar they might be, but seeing them in print, on paper, in the magazine, makes them real for me.
At six o’clock this evening I will watch the live stream of Alice, Andreas and Pontus marking what should have been the official opening of the now cancelled and rescheduled Supermarket Art Fair 2020.
This is not the Supermarket 2020 Art Fair that I was expecting
Notes from a small town: Thursday 23 April 2020
It was good fun to watch the slightly shambolic live stream yesterday evening. And at the same time it made me all too aware of what we are all dealing with right now. Sweden is one of a very few countries where restrictions on personal movement are relatively lax. A group of artists were able to broadcast live from the streets of Stockholm safe in the knowledge that they weren’t doing anything provocative or prohibited. I wonder how it was received in countries were there are strict quarantines and curfews.
I missed the champagne.
Thursday morning I spent finding my feet with Supermarket’s blog. Making posts with the content we have received from this year’s exhibitors and artists is a great way to see more of their activities and to hear about their plans and projects. It brings home (literally!) the importance of having time and space to share things with each other.
Before heading off to the studio I spoke with friends in London. One of them works on education and community programmes for a couple of the larger galleries in London, she is furloughed at the moment. But what exactly does that mean when you are on a zero hours contract? With no end of the UK’s lockdown in sight it seems likely that she will not be given any hours over the summer which is usually a busy time with public tours and special events. Galleries, museums, and institutions appear to remain closed for at least the foreseeable future. Even the autumn term looks uncertain as even the galleries’ programme managers (with regular hours) have been furloughed so are not at work doing all their usual planning and preparations. I cannot imagine how difficult my life would be if I were still living in London.
Notes from a small town: Friday 24 April 2020
Much smoother uploading of blog posts! Though there are some ’curious’ aspects of making each post – once you choose a ’cover image’ it seems that you can’t change or edit it. This was an issue when I selected an image that had too low a resolution for some screens. The image looked fine, if a little oversized, to me but the artist was not really happy – and I certainly didn’t want to present a poor quality of their work. The situation was resolved by creating a new post identical in every aspect except for the cover image, and then quickly uploading the new version and deleting the older version.
The studio packed with second-hand materials offers something of the comfort of crowds
I spent the afternoon at the studio – all too conscious that being able to go to the studio is something denied to many artists living under lockdown in various countries. Over the recent weeks I have found myself working on new series that has been on my mind for quite some time. I am working with second-hand menswear again, specifically business shirts and ties. Shirts have featured in my practice for more than twenty years now. Not always but often second-hand, the shirts have include those that I wore in my first job after art-school, those of my partner, boys school uniform shirts, and donations from friends. But mostly they have been anonymous second-hand shirts sourced in charity shops. I like not knowing the history of the garments (both the shirts and ties), signs of wear on the collar and cuffs of shirts, creases left where ties have been knotted reveal traces of another life. Together the garments and I collaborate to create something new. The current series combines shirts and ties into a single work, previously I have made pieces with either shirts or ties. I am excited by what is emerging and it feels good to working with these materials again after a hiatus of a few years.
I wonder if my return to something familiar is a response to conditions in which we all currently find ourselves. My life here in the small town is pretty socially isolating at the best of times, with the government’s coronavirus guidelines and my own wish to avoid contracting the illness I feel even more remote than usual. While this is not necessarily a problem in itself (I am good at entertaining myself and always have too many projects on the go), The further reduction of what was already limited interaction with other people does affect me. I am grateful that technology affords meeting-up with friends both here in Sweden and the UK via Skype but it is no substitute for sharing real time and space with the people that I care for. Perhaps that sense of material absence is what made me gravitate back to the shirts and ties - literally the fabric of my and other men’s existence. The hours spent unpicking and re-stitching seams, handling garments that other men have handled is perhaps the closest that I dare permit myself to close physical contact. The closest that I come to finding comfort in the company of strangers.
Hours pass in quiet work, the Swedish spring days become longer and longer. A little before seven o’clock in the evening I begin to feel hungry. I lay the separated sections of shirts on sheets of tissue paper and roll them up, place another sheet of tissue over the ’emblem’ pattern laid out in ties, put the pins, tape-measure, scissors, needles and thread back in the sewing box. I switch off the work-light, lock the door and cycle home hoping that a friend's internet connection has been restored and that we can share an evening together – me in Enköping, her in London.
Stuart Mayes is a British artist living and working in Sweden since 2011. He has been a proofreader and language editor for the Supermarket publication since 2012. His practice includes education projects and running Glitter Ball showroom & projects (Enköping). He regularly participates in Supermarket's PNP programme.
Adi Argov, No Running: corona notebooks, 2020
Artist Merav Shinn Ben-Alon interviews Adi Argov, artist from Nulobaz cooperative space Tel Aviv on her artistic activities during quarantine.
Who are you? Adi argov, multidisciplinary artist, Bezalel BFA graduate 2009, Art teacher and freelance editor and translator. Founding member of the artist-run gallery Nulobaz cooperative space. Living and working in Tel Aviv, Israel. Right now quarantined at home and working mainly from my living room.
How are you? I’m great. Surprisingly this weird time calms me and allows me to rest and focus on what's important to me: cooking, gardening, exercise, drawing and writing. Also, sometimes doing nothing is important.
What is the name of your project? ’Corona notebooks’
When did you create this project? Over the last month.
How did you create this project? With what mediums did you work? For many years now I've been drawing in notebooks alongside my work in the studio, in which I focus on drawing, painting and installation. The notebooks are a good way for me to start working and get things moving. It is good practice for the head and the hand. I found that it sharpens my thoughts and clarifies things that occupy my mind. It is a journal that accompanies me and echoes the style, temperament and mindset of that time. Now, when I'm closed in at home and unable to go to work in the studio, I rediscovered that the most natural thing for me is to focus the process through drawing. So once quarantine commenced, I started a new notebook.
Why did you choose this medium, this technique for this project? Drawing in a notebook is for me an immediate or even primal action that allows me to express feelings and ideas without mediation. Working with felt-tip pens and limited color choices helps me focus in a very open and free action and generates a set of limitations within which I can create.
What is the subject of your research? The subject of my research is language itself. I seek external inspiration but I do not look at the external while working. Usually there are a number of images that engage me and I create variations of them within the works. I aspire to reach a state in which the image is in between a clear representation and abstract.
Tell me about the process. How did you get started on the project and how did it develop? Like many artists, I've always held a sketchbook. At first, the notebook contained a mix of sketches, ideas, drawings, experiments and writings. Over the years, the notebooks have been split into different uses, a separate notebook for writing, sketches of works and sculptures and notebooks dedicated solely to the drawings where I can practice and develop my drawing style.
Was there a source of inspiration for the project? Recently I've been looking at the works of Julie Mehretu, an American artist who creates large-scale abstract drawings.
What is the story that the works tell? The drawings describe small and minor situations from several perspectives, sometimes as a disassembled story. It is a visual experience that leaves room for the subjective eye. At first, this can be challenging for the viewer, but when you surrender the need to interpret something else is revealed.
Nulobaz Cooperative Art Space members reflect through different perspectives on the pain and sacrifices of living in a complex and violent reality, the result of the ongoing Israeli Palestinian dispute. Through their personal experience as Israeli individuals and artists, who grew up amidst the conflict, they sense a gap between the ethos they have absorbed since childhood through education and military service, and the reality that they actually see. This gap between the narrative and individual experience is where they focus their art.
The pictures are taken from a performance art piece from 2016/2017. I was assigned to create some kind of art or performance art in a shop-window in central Gnesta (Sweden). I was one of several artists that each got one week each with this shop-window at their disposal. The only rule was that it had to interact with the people passing by. I named my piece ‘TIME, HOPE & DREAMS’ and the idea was to present different themes each day. Every night for 30 minutes I had actors in the window doing certain theme-related activities. Any time the audience outside knocked the actors freezed for 10 seconds and then proceeded as normal. It was fun and the project was much appreciated.