BasementArtsProject is currently between exhibitions whilst we work on the programme for 2017.
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THANK YOU . . .
BasementArtsProject would like to thank the following people for their involvement in the 2016 programme . . .
Michael Borkowsky, Alan Dunn, Pippa Eason, Dominic Hopkinson, Sohail Khan, Lloyd & Wilson, Samela Otoviç and Ian Pepper.
For the marvellous food at every preview . . .
The management committee . . .
David Cotton, Deborah Davies, Derek Horton, Anna Ratcliffe
For their support for A Feast of Beeston . . .
For their support and involvement with Welcome To My World
Paul Digby, Will Morris and all of the people at Vale Circles
For his photography throughout the year
For their continued support of our endeavours in 2016 . . .
Corridor 8, Made in Leeds TV, South Leeds Life, Yorkshire Evening Post
We would also like to thank everyone that has engaged with our programme throughout 2016 and provided such stimulating thought and debate around the projects.
Welcome To My World
24.11.16 – 15.12.16
Between January and April 2016 Ian Pepper embarked upon a project in which he set out to document something of the lives and opinions of the people of Beeston. His three step approach was to collect images of people by which he would construct a series of portraits, gather images of the area for use as part of a series of abstracted digital collages and collect audio documentation, opinions and stories of those whom he photographed for the project. The resultant work formed the basis of an exhibition at BasementArtsProject in early May that presented a series of pen, ink and pencil portraits, a number of larger works in paint on board and a projection of the digital collages linked to the audio conversations.
The exhibition cut a slice through a small selection of the Beeston population and presented a view of life in Beeston in 2016. Alongside recent incomers to the area from other parts of the country and world where the voices of people whose entire lives, in one case eighty-seven years, have been spent in the area.
In the months since May’s exhibition Pepper has been working on a number of new pieces and, in collaboration with BasementArtsProject, has delivered two workshops with the Vale Circles Community Centre. Welcome To My World is a collaborative exhibition based on Pepper’s direction since A Feast of Beeston and the outcome of the workshops with the Vale Circles groups and community members, a glimpse into the personal world of not just Pepper but those that have engaged with the project over the course of the year.
Welcome To My World features work by
Claire Bentley-Smith, Paul Walsh and the participants from Vale Circles
With thanks to Paul Digby and Will Morris at Vale Circles
Supported by Leeds Inspired.
Pippa Eason | Set in Stone
14.10.16 – 17.10.16
Set in Stone is an exhibition that is comprised of 10 sculptures made specifically for BasementArtsProject. The works on display have no individual titles yet none are untitled as all come under the collective moniker of Set in Stone. Eason’s practice is one of re-use and remix, with many objects from Set in Stone having been seen before as part of other sculptures and in very different contexts. Consistent with another aspect of her practice, that of site-specificity, all of the sculptures that are the constituent parts of this exhibition where conceived for the venue, and for this venue alone. That is not to say that you are unlikely to see these objects again, but it is highly unlikely that they will be seen again in the same form, for as their setting changes so do they.
One of the largest works on display as part of Set in Stone is a large oblate spheroid object whose surface shifts between pink, turquoise and aquamarine dependent upon where the light catches it. The object is encased in a faux gold chain giving it the feeling of being anchored to the floor. On the ground beneath the work, a shimmering layer of glitter dispersed unevenly towards the edges of the room gives an uneasy sense of the floor moving as you approach it. This work, although completely new, does share a strategy in common with a previous work entitled ‘Sediment’. All of these works are constructed in the manner that their titles suggest with layer upon layer of material. It is impossible to know what, if anything, is at the heart of these objects or even if it is important that there may or may not be. Like Duchamp’s ‘A Bruit Secret’ we have to imagine what might be at the heart of these ambiguous creations.
READ THE FULL ESSAY AT http://basementartsproject.com/event/set-stone/
2016 | The Year in Review
It has been some time since we have dealt with any performance based work at BasementArtsProject, so it was good to begin the 2016 programme with a project by Sohail Khan. On a cold wet night in mid-March a sizeable audience turned out for Unspeakable Acts. Work One. Beyond the Pale (Things that should have been said and done?) The nature of Khan’s routines work extremely well in the environment provided by the Basement, in this case complete darkness lit only by the light from his props. A sculptural installation hangs across one corner of the room; comprised of several rusty interlocking hoops, the construction acts as a curtain between where Khan positions himself in relation to his audience. On the floor below are a number of objects that resemble arcane board game pieces along with a bottle of wine.
Much of Khan’s oeuvre uses confrontation as a means to engage people directly with his work, often setting up barriers in order to pull them down over the course of a performance. Here the performance is based around a series of monologues derived from conversations at art events and meetings, with the protagonists anonymised and the selections held together with segues from the artist. The material used brings to the fore a surprising element of casual bias and unwitting discrimination between people when dealing with each other on the subject of art. Throughout the performance the artist is attempting to manipulate the pieces on the floor whilst drinking from the bottle of wine, reaching through the fragile curtain of steel hoops in order to do so. The performance is tense yet punctuated with laughter and towards the end, after some cajoling, an audience member puts themselves forward for interrogation under a spotlight. The interrogation scenario reveals one of Khan’s many closed loop systems that bring the participant through an ever-narrowing set of questions down to a final response that can never be in their favour, revealing the true nature of his questioning, in this case relieving someone of their small change in support of ‘the arts’.
The intimate nature of the material in Khan’s performance piece dovetails nicely with an exhibition presented in June by Michael Borkowsky. Here though the subject matter is not to do with personal conversations between people but the removal of dialogue and instead the representation of a person through their artwork and a fictionalised habitat.
Contemporary art practice is a term that covers a multitude of ideas and disciplines currently in use by artists. The use of the word contemporary roots the subject in the here and now; living, breathing and working artists, the term art practice is less easy to define. The practice of Michael Borkowsky begins in an area familiar to anyone that has ever engaged with art, that of painting. Very quickly though it devolves into other areas less easily explained away. In 2014 Borkowsky was one of a group of artists that exhibited in Jamestown, New York as part of the SCIBase exhibition COLONIZE, and whilst his work involved painting as a means of presentation the work was actually centred on food and smell. After sourcing local produce he then set about filling the gallery space with a multitude of food smells. Another aspect of Borkowsky’s work also involves products of an olfactory nature, this being perfume. Recent projects such as the ‘Perfume as Practice’ series, in which personalised scents are created based on the stories that people relate to him, have focused on a sense of smell in order that they be received by the audience. Earlier this year at BasementArtsProject Michael Borkowsky presented Speculative Studios which saw him delve into another very personal aspect of life, the artist’s studio. For this event Borkowsky entered the phenomenological realm of the artist’s environment, going deep into the most private aspect of an artist’s world – the studio environment.
Speculative Studios fictionalised reality, creating, from scratch, studio spaces drawn from Borkowsky’s imagination based upon his knowledge of the chosen (real) artists finished artworks. Much discussion ensued as to the potential accuracy and uncanny nature of these highly subjective, yet highly personal portraits constructed from ephemera. One of the two artists that Borkowsky chose to feature for this particular iteration of Speculative Studios, did actually visit the exhibition and declared that much of the ephemera with which Borkowsky had chosen to depict him was startlingly accurate.
Whilst the work of Sohail Khan and Michael Borkowsky scrutinised elements of the artist’s lives, through conversations, artworks and even the contents of their studio environments, the month of May turned the gaze outwards with the local community becoming the focus of artist’s projects. A Feast of Beeston, supported by Leeds Inspired, saw artist Ian Pepper making numerous visits to Beeston over the course of four months to do interviews and take photographs of the area and its inhabitants. The work produced formed the basis of an exhibition of portraits, paintings, digital collage and audio, addressing life in this part of South Leeds. The exhibition was followed later in the year by two workshops run in conjunction with Vale Circles Community Centre and various members of the Beeston community, concluding the year with another exhibition entitled ‘Welcome to My World’. Each exhibition was accompanied by a performance from Pepper and various collaborators as The Creatures of Habit.
Later in May we pulled back from the hyperlocal focus of Pepper’s work and looked at the working practice and community engagement strategies of Beeston artist-in-residence duo Lloyd & Wilson. Andrew Wilson and Toby Lloyd have been engaged in a long-term residency project through East Street Arts which has seen them living in Beeston, only two minutes from BasementArtsProject, for the last two years. During this time they have been a part of many ongoing projects within the area such as the Beeston Festival and a long running involvement with the South Leeds Life Newspaper through their monthly ‘Trajectory of the Everyday’. Alongside this they have also initiated many projects themselves that look at the concept of the social space in the 21st Century. ‘The Pub and the People’ saw Lloyd & Wilson create a bar, complete with homebrew beer, in their own kitchen and a billboard / sound installation at BasementArtsProject. For the opening night of this event the audience began at Basement before being led across to Artist House 45 for the last half of the evening. The audio collage at Basement was derived from Lloyd & Wilson’s ongoing ‘Broadcast Bartender’ project which has been wending its way around the country throughout the year. The Pub and the People, in a very practical way, expands on a theme talked about by Canadian art historian Allan Antliff at Basement back in 2011 in his lecture ‘Attacking Gentrification: The Anarchitecture of Adrian Blackwell’. Here Antliff talked about the monetisation of public spaces and how the system can be devoured by itself on occasions where such strategies backfire. Lloyd & Wilson, drawing their inspiration from ‘Mass Observation, The Pub and the People. A Worktown Study’ (1937) look at the idea of using their practice to create non-hierarchical environments in which people can become “participator rather than spectator”. This event gave rise to yet another mainstay of the calendar entitled ‘Amp & Deck’s Saturday Night Tape Play’; parties at which people were encouraged to bring their own music that they would like to have played over the sound system whilst enjoying the chance to socialise in a completely non-commercial space.
April brought the first of two return visits to BasementArtsProject by artists that have previously exhibited with us, the first being A Study of Aperiodic Tiling with special reference to the 3rd dimension by Dominic Hopkinson MRBS. For this exhibition Hopkinson goes into great detail with a visual explanation of aperiodic tiling. A process by which two rhombic shaped tiles are used to tile a, potentially, infinite plain without repetition of any emergent pattern. The exhibition featured a series of drawings in which patterns are extrapolated from a computer-generated grid using the tiles. Each drawing forms part of a sequence highlighting different areas of the grid and the appearance of patterns that, when expanded over a larger area refuse to resolve into repetitious larger units, instead breaking apart and forming new sequences. Overlaid the individual units become part of a larger overall pattern that, again, still refuses to settle into any form of periodicy. Downstairs some of the shapes formed in the drawings are rendered in a sculptural format. An entire section of the grid is blown up and recreated in tiles, roughly approximate to the size of smaller bathroom tiles, these are then used to tile a large section of the wall and down onto the floor with a 3-dimensional object drawn out from the tiles and placed within the matrix of the tiled area. Hopkinson produced a colouring book to accompany the exhibition that encouraged people to search for their own patterns within the provided grids.
July saw the third and final return of Samela Otoviç as a student of Leeds Beckett University with her exhibition ‘What Comes Around Goes Around’. During the last three years, every July, we have revisited the work of Samela Otoviç and watched with much interest to see how her work has developed over the course of her BA hons Fine Art Degree. Since 2015 Otoviç has not only curated a group exhibition of her own in Albania; ‘Lost in Translation’ but also won the ‘Edna Lumb Travel Prize’ for a work that involved a sky dive into the Grand Canyon. This kind of daring do is quite typical of her work which has consistently mined a very conceptual vein of contemporary art practice. Her final exhibition at BasementArtsProject looked at ideas of charity and homelessness, both spiritual and physical. We at Basement wish Samela all of the best for what projects may emerge in the future and I am sure that this will not be the last that we see of her.
It only remains for me to thank all of those that have engaged with our projects during 2016 and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope to see you again 2017 as we start on the next phase of our existence as Leeds’ smallest, and most domestic, project venue and exhibition space