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Twenty years ago, in 1997, I researched and curated a complex multi-site exhibition.....

Collected

26th April - 21 June 1997
Exploring the depth and diversity of the collection...from Egyptian antiquities via 18th century paintings to Marilyn Monroe memorabilia.. at the Photographers Gallery, The British Museum, Habitat, The Royal College of Surgeons, Richard Lowe’s flat, Selfridges, Paul Smith, The Wallace Collection and Sir John Soane’s Museum.

On an individual and national scale we are associated with a bewildering array of clothes, tools, art, bibelot, gifts, cuisine, souvenirs, technology and rubbish. Objects are spilling from every shelf, cupboard, display case, vitrine, supermarket, gallery, shop, museum and land-fill site. Societies are collective, we are defined by evolving methods to classify, structure and direct this material avalanche.

[..] The activity of collecting, perfectly plays out the tension between the drive for order and the tendency towards excess and chaos implicit in our relationships. The collection cuts across all categories of objects, from the almost worthless to the literally priceless. Collected things hold the promise of a coherent space within the profligate material world.

In 1999 I researched and realised a project in Cardiff, for the soon to open Centre for Visual Arts. This is from the accompanying publication

PROMOTION leaflet 

PROMOTION: A new work by Neil Cummings
Limited edition artist’s prints
Centre for Visual Arts, and Habitat
20th July - 20th September 1999

PROMOTION is part of 'Not For Sale' a group exhibition organised by the Centre for Visual Arts in and around The Hayes, Cardiff. 

PROMOTION

There has been an exponential rise in the promotion of contemporary art; an expanding network of artists, curators, dealers, critics and magazines, books and catalogues, lottery fund distributors, freelance advisers, sponsors agents and promoters have all flourished and prospered. These ‘artworlds’ are part of a wider phenomena, the astonishing proliferation of promotional culture.

For two weeks, I was a visiting professor at the Villa Arson;

Terrace-Brise Soleil

Built on Saint-Barthélémy hill in Nice, with magnificent views over the city and the Bay of Angels, the Villa Arson is a utopian art school - something of an interest of mine - built on an ideal-model of a provençal village in a 'brutalist' style.

A historical account of the Villa Arson site could go something like this; it was home in the 16th and 17th Century to a community of Capuchin monks who cultivated orchards, vineyards, watercress beds, and olive groves. Then in the 18th century it was purchased by an aristocratic consul of Nice who built a mansion on the hill looking down to the city and the sea. In 1812, after the revolution and the end of aristocratic consul of Nice, all 6.5 hectares of the estate was purchased by a wealthy merchant, Pierre Joseph Arson. He remodeled the villa, and also designed a spectacular formal garden, constructed from successive terraces – parterres - criss-crossed with paths and staircases.

Over time and as fortunes changed the Arson family began selling off parts of the estate, by 1927 a clinic was built next to the villa, the villa became a hotel, and the site shrunk to 2.5 hectares. After the war, in 1946 the estate passed into the ownership of the City of Nice.

Over the last few years, as part of Critical Practice research cluster at Chelsea College of Arts, we have been hacking the popular board game Monopoly.

The Power Walk

Who: The tour was lead by environmental lawyer and Dotmaker guide Rosie Oliver

I'm part of an insurgent research group working on the Anthropocene Atlas of Geneva, and London (TAAG and TAAL). Sensing long term, slow, slow compared to human lifespans, climatic changes and understanding how our activities are influencing these changes is complex and challenging.  As a result, we are working on micro-investigations in the city, developing awareness of local erratics - erratics are geological anomalies, rocks out of place, that enabled early geologists to deduce that giant ice flows had shaped much of our planet – as tools to narrate climatic changes, while identifying institutions and communities experimenting with resilience to the changes to come.

You can read about the inspirational anthropocene walk in Geneva.

Thames foreshore

 

As part of my ongoing research I visited Wapping in east London, and wandered down a narrow alley besides a pub that leads to some watermen's stairs and then descended to the Thames foreshore.

 

I was invited by Nadine Monem of common-editions to contribute a text to The Creative Stance. The beautiful publication is an exploration and celebration of creativity, from filmmaking to design, fashion to sculpture, and from painting to protest.  

Creative Stance What does it mean to be ‘creative’? What’s the point of a creative education? What happens at art school?

Academics, critics and creative practitioners, including Grayson Perry, Siobhan Davies, Richard Deacon, Neil Cummings, Edmund de Waal, Pratap Rughani, Bob and Roberta Smith, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Nils Norman, Sonia Boyce, and Roger Hiorns consider these questions and more in The Creative Stance, an authoritative and innovative contribution to the literature on creativity.

Structured around seven key creative values – imagination, provocation, risk, resilience, rigour, agency and ambiguity – The Creative Stance reflects on the rewards and demands of any creative endeavour. It brings together texts, conversations and materials from across and beyond the traditional artistic disciplines, it is essential reading for art students, entrepreneurs, and everyone who has felt a creative urge.

 

I was invited by Verina Gfader to contribute to Echo. This is from the introduction...

Echo is a reverberation of an original sound after this sound has stopped or is in the moment of evaporating. Not a background noise, it resonates and doubles a tonality, pitch, vocation. I am thinking about the experience of echoing in a particular mountain landscape, something to do with a sound being thrown, trashed towards a wall or large rock–and returning in a ghostly and consuming fashion.

How did Echo the project come about?

The materiality of Echo project serves as a hint to what happened during a visit of the Los Angeles Art Book fair in January 2014. It was on the occasion of a prior book project, titled Prospectus, that the editorial team had been invited by the LAABF team to both present the printed matter in the format of running a book stall, and stage a discursive event at the Classroom. Out of curiosity of exploring a ‘present LA,’ that is the very surroundings and stage of the fair, we–three Londoners at the time–accepted.

ok.

Echo project charts encounters with voices and questions, some out of synch, some in dialogues; musical, conversational confrontational, and in dis/agreement. Content-wise one finds a phantom meeting around a failed or missed art book fair deal . . .

a sort of surplus of a fair (or affair)?

You could say so. An essay on the General Intellect and Financialization sets a conceptual ground for rethinking subjective freedom; an encounter with Another LA opens out a multitude of cartographies - revealing more discreet and politically dynamic movements in the urban grid; there are glimpses of Machine Project’s events, a visual story around mothers and demonology (Kathy Acker’s property deals in the UK), and more; and future materials formalized as poster texts . . .  and possible scenarios.....

Mariana Santiago & Verina Gfader, 2016

Read the complete introduction...

images

Wet pilgrimsTimeline, deadline approachingKristina's birthdayMan carrying sticksLapdogs of the Bourgeoisie, cafe sceneplaya de Catedralas