Cast: Natalie Anastasiou – Chelsea Ma Fine art
Kagweni Micheni – LCC Documenting
Chel Logan – Chelsea MA Fine Art
Joshua Y’Barbo – Chelsea Salon
Given the opportunity to curate, document and exhibit in an Arts Expo on island where the only people that would attend would be the artist and a peppercorn (130 approx.) population. This is the brainchild of one Daniel Devlin a self-confessed anti-artist and confidence trickster.
The Premise of the conquest was get three creatives from the Post graduate community of UAL and through Chelsea Salon and undertake curating a show and documenting it. The only slight catch in the plan was it undercurrent, the whole she-bang was based upon “Failure”. What could possibly go wrong?
To start with the organising as Curators had its mishaps emailing people the wrong people the right information (or vice versa). Getting the work and Sluice magazines (the official catalogue of the Expo) to an island that requires a train, a plane, a bus, a taxi, a catamaran and a tractor (driven by a man called ‘Captain Salty’) to get there.
We selected artists from the Post Graduate community under the premise that the work had to be of certain dimensions for transport and be of an ephemeral nature, so it may not make it back. We were approaching a situation that we have no idea of the gallery space, how long we had to show the work and how we could make each piece count. Thinking on our feet was essential and responding to what was given, it really pushed the idea of the contemporary art and the way that art can be not only displayed but connected to its environment.
We staged some of the work around the island, some in the gallery, some of it was interactive and became a part of Susak folk lore. Video work was shown at various intervals during the week (7-16th of May). We were also visited mid-week by members of Chelsea MA fine art, who collaborated us with and made work whilst here.
The sense of freedom for an artist on an island with no agenda or evident rules was a very Zen experience where creativity flourished untethered and unhindered. Connections were made with Artists from across the world (Italy, Bosnia, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, U.S.A., Mexico U.K. and Argentina) and collaboration was high.
On the Thursday evening, Natalie, Kagweni and myself helped curate and present other artists as part of an Arts Trail which began in the harbour, stopping at intervals to engage with another artist’s site specific work. This all cumulated in an exhibition in The Gallerie 531, where video work, sculpture, two dimensional work and performance was shown by UAL students. This evening involved all the artists on the island as well as some of the locals, it was procession of creativity and live music.
There was a sense of community on the island that could not be ignored, everybody ate communally and conversed critically on ideas over meals or drinks. No element was left untouched by a keen eye for detail or presentation. The art world, personal practice, funding, industry frameworks and joy of making.
There was no hierarchy within the daily structure and involvement within projects was very free. Finding Daniel’s Office in the middle of a field near of the edge of a cliff took several failed attempts but these journeys brought stories which were just as, if not more valuable than the actual work itself. It made you question which area of your practice do you focus upon, Process or Product.
Rancieré would approve.
Text by Michel Logan, from his blog: Chel Logan Unlimited, 14 June 2016