Tag Archives: Trish Scott

Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’

Image: Stephen White

An exhibition developed by Trish Scott, who has just been awarded a PhD from Chelsea College of Arts, has just under two weeks left to run at Turner Contemporary in Margate.

Journeys with “The Waste Land” is an exhibition exploring resonances between the visual arts and T.S. Eliot’s complex and influential poem “The Waste Land”, part of which Eliot wrote in Margate before its publication in 1922.

In conjunction with Guest Curator, Professor Mike Tooby, who initiated the exhibition, Trish Scott has been working for the last three years to develop a unique curatorial approach underpinning the genesis of the show, working collaboratively with local residents to co-curate all aspects of the exhibition’s development, resulting in a multi-voiced presentation that echoes the very form of Eliot’s poem.

Image: Jenni Deakin

Debating the poem’s contemporary relevance through the visual arts, the exhibition includes works by over 60 artists ranging from the nineteenth centuries through to present day. Artists represented include J.M.W. Turner, Man Ray, Edward Hopper, Philip Guston and Cy Twombly, with contemporary works by Tacita Dean, Jo Stockham, and Christane Baumgartner.

New works made specifically for the exhibition are also displayed, with contributions from such artists as Tess Denman-Cleaver, Henrik Hakansson, John Newling, Rosalie Schweiker and Emma Talbot.

The exhibition closes on the 7 May, 2018.

We know what we like and we like what we know

Trish Scott, 3rd year CCW PhD student, and Dan Scott, 3rd year LCC PhD student with CriSAP, have just reached the end of an Ideas Test funded collaboration entitled We know what we like and we like what we know, an experimental public art project working with individual households to explore the dynamics of art production and reception in domestic space.


Bringing together their research interests on dialogical encounters and the archive (Trish) and artistic listening strategies (Dan) the project involved setting up a situation in which three households in Swale, Kent selected and co-commissioned a contemporary artist to make a bespoke work for their home. Participating households were Tracy & Chris Smith, Rowan & Luke Atkins and Judy van Laar. Participating artists, selected by housholders from an open call, were Alicja Rogalska, Alastair Levy and Rosalie Schweiker. The production process was underpinned by constant discussion and negotiation, with artists responding to residents own interests and ideas on art. In bringing artists, and (non) audiences together in this way Scott and Scott used a dialogical approach to explore ideas around art and taste, mediated via the making of particular works.

As well as unearthing opinions and building understanding between artists and specific audiences, the project tested an alternative model of artistic production and validation. Whereas in much contemporary art audiences are consumers of artistic output, in We know what we like and we like what we know audiences were simultanesouly the project’s commissioners and curators. Furthemore, in shifting the locus of work from the gallery to the home, and working with participants who had expressed dis-interest in and/or alienation from contemporary art, the project challenged the conventional channels of art production and reception offering a unique critique of the mainstream art world from the perspective of those outside it.

We know what we like and we like what we know builds on works such as Colin Painter’s Close Encounters of the Art Kind (2002), Walker & Bromwich’s The Art Lending Library (2012) and Contemporary Art Society North’s Art in the home (2013). However, rather than being about existing artworks and/or existing art audiences the project involved the creation of new work for the home as “directed” by homeowners themselves. Whilst contemporary art has long been present in the home of wealthy collectors this project tested an alternative model of commissioning, predicated on very different economic principles to those usually at work in the art market, generating encounters unlikely to otherwise occur.

As well as the three artworks produced, the process was documented by Scott and Scott resulting in a publication launched during the Whitstable Biennale in June 2014, and three audio documents most recently broadcast by BRFM Community Radio in Sheppey in August 2014.

Trish Scott said: “Dan and I live in Swale, Kent, which supposedly has one of the lowest rates of involvement in the arts countrywide. Part of our motivation in undertaking this project was to get under the rhetoric (often expressed in terms of numbers and categories) characterising discourse on engagement in the arts and the widening participation agenda. We wanted to see what the impact of setting up a direct interface between artists and (non) audiences would be, and what this would reveal about residents’ interests in art and artists’ ability to adapt their work to meet specific requirements, thereby exploring the issue of “engagement” both qualitatively and through practice. We were interested in how works could be “listened” into existence and how the conversations occuring could be documented, in their full complexity, for a secondary audience. We weren’t trying to do away with the notion of “audience” as some collaborative art forms do, but experiment with creating audience-led work. The project operates at different levels and for different audiences, and we’re hoping to develop it further in the future, testing out this model in other contexts.”


Trish went on to say, “This is the latest in a number of projects I’ve been working on which entail setting up particular situational encounters and conversations as material for artwork. My PhD examines the intersection of events, documents and archives with a particular focus on the tension between the “archive” and the “repertoire” (Diana Taylor) and how performative processes “remain” over time and are encountered by secondary audiences.”

Full details of the project and its outcomes can be found on the We know what we like (and we like what we know) website.

Acts Re-Acts: A Reflection

Acts Re-Acts, a month long festival of performance held at Wimbledon Space,  brought together practitioners from across UAL through a series of residencies, performances, talks and screenings. Participants included Eleanor Bowen & Laura Gonzalez, Stella Capes, Edward Dimsdale, Katie Elliott, Rossella Emanuele, Richard Layzell, Douglas O’Connell, Camilla Palestra & Hanae Utamura, Annette Robinson & Belinda Wild, Jane Collins, Finlay Forbes-Gower, Katie Lerman, Italia Rossi & Trish Scott, Michael Spencer, Tansy Spinks & Iris Garrelfs, Mette Sterre, Jennet Thomas, Paul Tarrago and Charlotte Turton. The festival was initiated by Simon Betts, Peter Farley, Clare Mitten, Lois Rowe and Jane Collins in response to the fact that theatre and fine art practitioners often work in parallel rather than in dialogue, with the aim of bringing these different practices into the same discursive realm.

Scott, a CCW PhD student, whose research project Socialising the Archive examines the relationship between performance, documentation and the archive, reflected on the festival for the Graduate School. She is interested in the translation between events and documents and in amalgamating art and archival encounters.

Michael Fried’s ideas in Art and Objecthood (1967) (as conveyed by Ken Wilder) were used to position the festival in critical terms, specifically via a closing debate. In this text Fried compares modernist painting with minimalism, attacking the latter as being “theatrical”, setting up a divide between art and theatre proposing that “art degenerates as it approaches the condition of theatre”. He argues that once a work starts to exist for an audience in a particular time and space it fails to transcend its own objecthood, and approaches the condition of non art. The success of art, Fried argues, relies on its ability to defeat theatre, to surpass its own objecthood, becoming autonomous from the beholder. In later writing, Fried contrasts theatricality with absorption (anti-theatricality); the difference between an artwork engaging with an audience (e.g figures in a painting staring out of the picture plane, looking directly at the viewer) and an artwork making no concession to an audience (i.e. figures in a painting being absorbed in a world of their own). Acts Re-Acts sought to test the relevance of these ideas in relation to contemporary performance practice.

This idea of a boundary between fine art and theatre, absorption and theatricality was addressed head on by Richard Layzell who noted that in the 1970s, as a fine art performer, there was pressure not to cross the line/break the fourth wall (as demonstrated through his re-enactment of Twitch). Now, for Layzell, the dividing line has gone (as demonstrated in his screening of Art Work – Work Art, a performance in which he is both waiter and performer in a cafe).

This sense of openness and fluidity characterised most of the work in Acts Re-Acts. Instead of being easily identifiable as either fine art or theatre, work tended to be experimental, interdisciplinary and collaborative. Rather than there being a division between works (in terms of performances being either fine art or theatre), tensions existed within individual works. One of these tensions was between the live and the recorded, most performances being predicated on a dialogue between live and unlive media, akin to what performance theorist Rebecca Schneider terms interanimation. This is where live media (e.g. performance) and capture media, or media-resulting documents (i.e. video, photography) cross constitute and improvise each other. At Acts Re-Acts this meant that many of the works occupied complex temporalities, and afforded different modes of beholding and types of engagement within a single work.

In Jennet Thomas’s I am your error message, a performance critiquing institutional ideology and capitalist reward structures, what appeared to be a fictive world was portrayed on screen alluding to an ominous, spreading error that needed to be eliminated. But rather than this projection existing in a separate world, immune from theatricality, with no concession being given to the audience, Thomas entered into a live dialogue with the work, bringing it firmly back to the here and now, the space and time of the video bleeding into the space and time of the gallery.

Edward Dimsdale’s work Model Love Re-Kindled, a durational installation and performance involved the artist subjecting a sequence of photographs purporting “to capture a series of instances of love at first site” (Simon Jones) to forensic scrutiny, then playing with the representation of these actions using a visualiser and other devices. Dimsdale’s performance questioned not only the narrative inferred by the photographs but also the very nature and status of the photographic act itself. From observing the photographs, to becoming the observed to turning his phone camera on the audience, Dimsdale experimented with subject/object relations, delving into the various meta levels of the work, playing with the invisible fourth wall. The focus of the work and relationship with the audience constantly shifted, theatricality and absorption operating in symbiosis.

Having more critical debate (beyond one panel session) would have been good. But if Acts Re-Acts is just the start of a growing forum and a way of providing space for considering interdisciplinary performance that will continue to develop, the creative team behind Acts Re-Acts played this well. If Acts Re-Acts had been more about words and discourse, and less about the work, I suspect what might have been reinforced were differences and boundaries, rather than areas of communality. Letting the work lead the dialogue, rather than conversation being at the level of textual extrapolation, established a baseline for what constitutes performance within UAL. It’s now time to build on this, and the momentum generated by the festival, through further discussions and events.