The Notion of the Studio
These conversations have presented many notions of how all this work might be laid out and categorized, if at all. If it were me I might wish the work just to be spoken of, but then how would it be read? Nothing can ever really be ‘restated’ in replica. Things can be said again, but they will be said anew. One of these possible categories is that of ‘the studio’, or rather the idea of the studio being so strongly present in the earliest years of the work; the work done in the first of the exhibitions sites at Unit 7 Gallery.
Or, perhaps, the idea of the studio is present in these early exhibitions in retrospect, visible in the projects when seen from the distance of the intervening years. But the idea of the studio (a space, first of all, but a space in which a certain activity takes place – the production of work) is very connected to the idea of installation. Installation, as a practice to be curated, does not only mean the staging of work, or making the event of work performative. It means, perhaps, creating the conditions in which work will happen, in which works will work.1This footnote is by the author of the body of the text, and is just to mention the artist whose words are echoed – Pavel Büchler. ‘How a work works’, and other formulations of this phrase, were something he often said whilst teaching.
This idea of ‘installation as a practice to be curated’ is an interesting one. A curator arranges and cares for artworks, self-evidently, and also places artworks into matrices of meaning.2One interpretation of Installation art partly refutes the presence of a separate curator; the work is arguably curated by the artist, since it is the artist who seeks to control every aspect of the work: form, content, context, site, distribution and so on. This is not to suggest that the artist is working from a hermetic position; rather, by resorting to world-making the artist has an interest in- and contributes to-, every aspect of the work’s discourse. It follows that a curator of Installation art be not only a traditional exhibition facilitator, but a collaborator. The works in show, when sensitively curated, take on the role of a performer within a polyphonic assembly. One voice, from one source, but a voice amongst others. But within the idea of curating installation, and of writing installation, there is a practice, a space of production, and an act of building to be corralled. But not only ‘corralled’ into an exhibition. There is also an offering made – an offering to the artist of the time and space to practice, and an offering to the viewer to see something building as well as built.