Modern Clay, Birmingham
LOOKING AT ART, LOOKING AT PEOPLE
David Burrows, Luke McCreadie, Jemma Egan, Yelena Popova
LaALaP is a sequel to the 2016 London exhibition entitled “Looking at People Looking at Art, curated by Mark Essen. Here the gallery was divided by a large yellow platform (with over 21 works of sculpture) and a lofty viewing gallery, a sound booth with a glass window. The audiences were given two options; to move into the room along a narrow path surrounded by the artworks or to climb into the viewing room and watch the people amongst the art.
To look at the art or to look at people looking at art.
Essen and Division of Labour are both concerned with making in two distinct ways. In Essen and Modern Clay, he makes, invites and exhibits art which is all about the art studio or the pottery, materiality, an interest in form and process. Essen’s investigation is tangible, material and physical. Division of Labour is interested in the political aspects of making, how do groups of artists deal with the society they inhabit, how do they transfer knowledge and how is art made? In particular this exhibition explores and discuss’ the shared transnational location of art making and how communities share and develop knowledge. The artists could be seen as self-controlled worker making art in isolation and at the same time making collectively in clusters or ‘innovation systems’ (1) Leadbeater and Oakley describe the transfer of knowledge through “flexible production structured around short-term relationships between artists (that is for example; private views, shared studio, talks and parties) and external partners” (galleries, group shows, talks, parties, critics and curators)
Essen describes the artists gathered here (Looking at People Looking at Art 2016) as ‘a collection of makers, doers, plants, connectors, generators, dynamos, emitters and conductors’. Manual labour, work, the importance of studio practice, making and materiality run through the objects he has collected together. This is paired with an (Division of Labour’s) interest in the modes of sociality and interaction that might occur around the works. (2)
(1) Invisible and visible geographies of artistic labour in Toronto (Bain)
(2) This is Tomorrow, Tim Dixon 2016 –
Modern ClayUnit 17 Minerva Works,Fazeley Street,Digbeth,Birmingham,B5 5RT