Wednesday, 11 April 2018

'we must begin wherever we are'


Today I am starting my artist residency, at the University of Sheffield, working in the foyer at Jessop West.

Please interrupt me.

Residency Interrupteur


interrupteur holds both the mistaken notion of the interruption and the actual translated sense of the word – switch: as exchange, shift, or transformation.

Forging conversations and collaborations between artists and academics is at the heart of the project’s endeavour, but initially Rachel Smith as artist in residence will be present in the foyer of the Jessop West building on selected dates (see below), working, making art, and being interrupted by conversations and the unexpected encounter. 

Smith uses drawing, photography, and writing to explore the materiality of the peripheral details in the acts of reading, writing, and listening. The grasping action of finding sense in the face of the excesses of language sometimes pushes the work towards wordlessness. Equally gaps, voids, misunderstandings, and errors are opened in the work, containing the potentiality of that which has yet to happen. Producing these generative spaces allows room for other voices. These gaps in the practice may contain no visible language, but they are not empty – they possess a latent energy. These are the spaces inhabited by the other, the as-yet-unwritten, the as-yet-unread, the as-yet-unspoken, or the as-yet-unheard.

Beyond producing her own work Smith will host conversations, events, performances, staged dialogue, and even accidental occurrences. The project explores how artists might open spaces for dialogue and collaboration between and beyond expected outcomes, engaging across disciplines and inhabiting liminal and in-between spaces. In her occupation of the foyer at Jessop West, other artists will move through the space, stopping to collaborate, discuss, perform, and workshop ideas. 

Not-knowing, error and misrepresentation, hybridity, constraint and improvisation, are some of ideas explored during the conversations and work in progress during the residency.

Quotations selected for each day of work will act as provocation or a filter through which to work and think.

You are welcome to interrupt, join in, exchange ideas, observe, listen in, or merely glance and walk by. 

There is a blog associated with the residency which will be regularly updated with work in progress:

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Lines of Flight

March 2017
Lines of Flight

Published as part of the AMBruno project [sic]: Launched at the PAGES Leeds International Contemporary Artist Book fair

I frequently use rhizomatic frameworks as both method and metaphor for my making and thinking processes. The rhizome can be seen as a tangle of networks whose anatomy has multiple entry points and connections which are reformed with every reading. Nothing is fixed or hierarchical. Everything is transitional and has the potential to be reconfigured, or continually reworked and rethought. This is in opposition to books which generally assume a linear sequence, whose structure is both fixed and laid out in a singular direction. The premise of this work is to explore ways of forcing these two contradictory systems together.

A rhizomatic drawing using text and image has been produced, which has been physically fragmented, scanned, and thrust into the paginated structure of a book. Once printed the book surface has been further drawn into, keeping the work developing in a way that suggests the provisional nature of the process. There remains room for future reconstructions.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Phantom Exhibition and Symposium

The PHANTOM exhibition has been conceived and curated by Jane Boyer as part of her PhD research at Anglia Ruskin University.
Several artists (including Nikki Hare, Kirsty Harris, Marion Piper, Tim Skinner and others) were invited to contribute by providing an existing piece of work, selected by Boyer, which was then used as a starting point to be reworked, recycled, re-imagined or replicated from the original to produce new pieces of work. Boyer says of the work in the exhibition:

'The artworks in this exhibition exemplify this idea of the phantom. They explore latency; making visible what is invisible, while uncovering some of their own polyphony, which has passed through layers of translations. These works have also been put through a further transmutation, revealing latent potential in their meaning.'

A blog was set up and used by all the artists involved to explore the production process before the exhibition - this can be found here:
Phantom blog

There will be a symposium on Wednesday 8th February where some of the artists will discuss the work and its making at Anglia Ruskin University from 2pm. For further details of the exhibition and symposium:
Phantom at Anglia Ruskin

For my own contribution, the original work was a piece made in 2014

Cropped Remainder 
Sixteen digital laser prints

This is a series of photographs which contain the deleted portions after being cropped.

In response to this work I began to think about how gaps, spaces and removal were important in my work as a process of allowing unseen elements to rise to the surface, and how that action or visualisation might impede or impact on our understanding or reading of a text or image.

I produced 3 further works in response:

Figure and Ground
Nine digital laser prints
(see below three images from a series of nine)

In each image the main photographic object has been specifically deleted

To Write: An Intransitive Verb
moving image
(see screenshot below)

To Write: An Intransitive Verb
(follow link to vimeo to see the entire work)

This work explores the ideas of Roland Barthes in his text In Preparation for a Novel, where he explores the idea of writing without an object.

Digital image

This is a digital image of the annotations made while reading the Barthes text in preparation for making the moving image piece. Here the main text has been removed digitally leaning only the notes which have been layered as a palimpsest.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

An Exchange of Words with Jean-Paul Sartre

HMRCollective install their work for this pop-up exhibition today at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield 
Bank St Exhibition
See the images below and the previous blog post for more information about the work

HMRCollective are: 

Helen Frank
Madeleine Walton
Rachel Smith

We will be reading from the work on Friday 7th October at 6.30.
Come down and see us and chat about the work 6-8pm

We will also be working in the space at Bank Street on Saturday 8th in the afternoon

An exchange of Words (with Jean-Paul Sartre)

This residency and exhibition is taking place at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield with HMRCollective

HMRCollective are Helen Frank, Madeleine Walton, and Rachel Smith. 

In this project three artists have taken Jean-Paul Sartre’s book Words as reading material and responded to the text in ways that seem to express reading behaviour that Roland Barthes calls ‘insolent in that it interrupts the text, and smitten in that it keeps returning to it’. 

Reading has the potential to be a immersive experience, yet at other times distractions take over. External stimuli interfere with any absorption in the words and narrative. The same passage can be read over and over, as an internal dialogue takes over from the text. In The Rustle of Language Barthes explores the experience of looking up from a book while reading, as language is constructed in the mind of the reader. He writes:

Has it never happened, as you were reading a book, that you kept stopping as you read, not because you weren't interested, but because you were: because of a flow of ideas, stimuli, associations? In a word, haven't you ever happened to read while looking up from your book?

This work allows different artists to respond to their own reading process as well as each others work in a collaborative manner which explores reading, writing, thinking, and making. The artists appropriate, disrupt, and dislocate the original flow of Sartre’s narrative as they assemble their own material response. Each artists’ material reaction is answered and reworked by the next artist. This process pushes the meaning away from the original in a generative and speculative manner exploring how and ‘what the reader understands’ rather than ‘what the author meant’.

Here understanding represents more than just the multiple readings a text can offer. Comprehension is taken to the limits of coherence and towards the asemic. The intention is to make process visible and in doing so reveal something of the way in which meaning is sought and rejected, constructed and deconstructed, as a way of materialising thinking.

There will be an event on Friday 7th October - 6-8pm  
There will be readings from the developing work, with a chance to see the work, and talk to the artists

The basis for this project has developed from the artist book by Rachel Smith Reading Words. This book was produced as part of the AMBruno artist book project ‘words’ which contains 16 artist books, originally shown at the Leeds International Artists Bookfair in 2016 and now held at the Tate archive and The Poetry Library in London.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Testing Testing

Testing, Testing

Exhibition opening event: Friday 12th August 2016, 6pm–9pm.
Continues until 1st September 2016. Gallery open 10am–5.00pm Daily and until 8pm Wednesdays

SIA Gallery
Cantor Building
153 Arundel Street
S1 2NU

Emma Bolland, Rose Butler, Michael Day, Susannah Gent, Debbie Michaels, Emma O'Connor, Bernadette O'Toole, Jo Ray, Rachel Smith, Rachel Emily Taylor

Artists speak about ‘making’ all the time, but what making looks like, feels like, where it takes place and how it occurs can differ greatly from one artist to the next. Whether we are making drawings or photographs, informed guesses or unexpected insights, the act of making is experienced and expressed differently by artists with different research agendas, media and approaches.

Testing, Testing aims to extend a discussion about research in art practice by showing the evolving stages of practice-based research. The project takes the form of an exhibition at SIA Gallery, a symposium event, and a two-part publication, all produced by practice-based PhD researchers in the fine art subject area at Sheffield Hallam University. A catalogue, designed by Joe Rolph, will be available at the exhibition.

The symposium event will look at the role of interdisciplinary dialogue in art research, focusing on the potential for dialogue to connect practices of making and knowing. Aimed mainly at practice-based fine art researchers in academic contexts, this free event will take place on Friday 2nd September. Register here.