Saturday, 25 August 2012

Hoist by Our Own Petard - a group exhibition and interactive workshop experiment, as part of Free For Arts Festival 2012

This is my personal response to a curatorial project that I've been working on:

A few months ago Pascal Nicholls approached me to ask if I would be interested in helping him to organise an exhibition of a few of his friends' work; a diverse group, some of whom are ostensibly Artists, whereas others make art, but are ambivalent about situating themselves within any kind of 'art world'. Originally pitched as a straightforward group exhibition, with the opportunity for the Artists' to sell multiples of their work if they wish, Hoist by Our Own Petard has developed into something quite different, so much so that sometimes I'm not sure what it is, or who and what will be on show between the 19th and 26th of October. I've taken on the role of a project manager/curator/performance artist, in that I listen to other people's ideas, and then with my own in-put try to bring them to fruition.

During mine and Pascal's discussions around the sale of multiples, we were forced to approach something which is a particular fascination of mine; spending habits. I feel that responsibility is inherent in the privilege of even meagre disposable income, responsibility both to yourself in that you must buy what you need, and can buy what you want, but also responsibility to the workers who's labour has gone towards the products that you buy. These obligations often contradict one another, and when applied to the making and selling of art seem to almost break down and lose all meaning. In that nobody needs art in order to feed, clothe and wash themselves, but art is not a luxury in the same way as a massive new telly or a shiny new car would be. Whilst researching this complication I came across Hannah Arendt's tripartite division of work, labour and action. Her definition of action is the most appropriate way to define art in contemporary, western, capitalist society that I have encountered, in that it doesn't really fit within contemporary, western, capitalist society. That's not to say that I agree with everything she says, and I'm still working my way through The Human Condition, but I feel that a tripartite division with room for something other than 'work' and 'leisure' is really useful in the context of contemporary art.

Our frustration and confusion at how to market and price art inspired the 'interactive experiment' which will happen alongside the group exhibition for one day during its' week long run. The 'interactive experiment' is not directly related to what is expressed through the work on show, the best way to describe it would probably be as 'parallel'. This feels wrong, somehow, and may well be seen as arrogant curators trying to upstage the art work which it is their job to proffer, but I would like to describe it as a playful attempt to approach a white elephant. There will be three workshops which examine the relationship of art to commerce, each of which incorporates an inevitable absurdity. We are still ironing out the details, and so I won't attempt to coherently describe them yet.

Hoist by Our Own Petard will take place at Islington Mill as part of Free For Arts Festival 2012, between the 19th and 26th of October, with the 'interactive experiment' taking place on the 21st of October.

Exhibiting Artists

Pascal Nicholls:

Darren Adcock:

Susan Fitzpatrick:

Kerry Hindmarch:


Official Copy

Islington Mill will host an exhibition entitled Hoist By Our Own Petard co-curated by Pascal Nicholls and Lauren Velvick. They are currently developing a project which will take the form of a group exhibition and an interactive experiement. There is a dual intention to this project; they want to arrange a fairly straightforward exhibition of the selected artists' work, but will also use the opportunity to interrogate issues surrounding art and labour, inspired by Hannah Arendt's differention of work, labor and action.

Each of the exhibiting artists; Sue Fitzpatrick, Joincey, Kerry Hindmarch, Darren Adcock and Pascal Nicholls, work in a different traditionally recognisable medium, enabling the exhibition to function as a microcosm, within which we can explore issues which bear upon all art-making. They will also produce an accompanying publication, containing the responses of each artist to a questionnaire which they have written, providing data on how art-making fits into everyday life, work and leisure.

In this way Hoist by Our Own Petard will function as an experiment. Finally, they would like to construct an interactive, participatory experiement whereby vistors are invited to 'make something' within one of the mediums exemplified by the work present, eventually providing another set of data which can go towards further research and publications.