With is an exhibition that has been honed from a long-term project, whereby methods of co-participation are utilised and tested, probing the limits of collaboration, often in ways particular to a technologically infused way of life. The six exhibiting artists - three collaborating pairs - each have an individual practice that deals in some way with history and knowledge, and in being brought together here, seem to exist on the outer layer of sediment, upon sediment, of memory and shared history; with the ways in which these are preserved and shared, or abandoned, being examined in the work on show.
Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, who introduced communities of practice in 1991, emphasise the social impulses and needs of humans. In line with these considerations, how social interactions are mediated by technology, and what this might change about them is explored by Sarah Sanders and Jacqueline Wylie, as the two artists co-participated at a physical remove. Wylie is currently undertaking research towards a PhD into how social media and other emergent technologies have affected artistic practice, and in previous work both Sanders and Wylie have expressed ideas and concepts by spatially and materially enacting them; here, making use of Skype to co-participate and converse.
The extent to which we are able to access, let go of, or get rid of our memories, and objects or images from our pasts, is almost reversed on-line, where it can be as difficult to destroy, as it is to preserve in the physical world. It is the destruction, or more gentle letting-go of objects and memories that concerns Julie Del Hopital and Nicola Dale. Referring to a scene in Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1979) where objects are shown sunk and abandoned underwater, Del Hopital and Dale are presenting footage of the two of them abandoning mementos to the River Mersey. Here, flowing water could be symbolic for time, and holds a deeper personal significance for the artists, as they both grew up close to rivers.
Waterways feature again in the collaboration between Annie Harrison and Jenny Steele, also taking the form of a film, and focussing on the Piccadilly Canal Basin that their studios overlook. Both artists are interested in the urban environment, with buildings and cities as influential receptacles of human memory, desire and fear. Within this collaboration, unlike the rivers Mersey and Mauldre, that are pivotal to Del Hopital and Dale's activity, another kind of water, this time man made, and much stiller, is the focus of a shared concern in the mapping of place and history.
Growing out of a series of crits held during 2011 and 2012, a larger community of practice has been divided, cell-like, first into 6, then into pairs. The common interest around which that group initially formed has been clarified, or fermented by this process; of splitting and concentrating activity and belonging. What has emerged is a testing of communication, and a watery focus on what is important to the the participants day-to-day, and what has been influential in the past, reflecting the processes and principles outline by Lave and Wenger, in that the artists have revealed what they seek in common to understand.
Lauren Velvick - 10/2013