Monday, 15 October 2012

INTERVIEW - one ten park: a working space

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external view of one ten park, with Oct.2-22 2012 window installations by Collette Broeders and Susan Gold. Image courtesy of Susan Gold.
On Friday September 21, 2012, one ten park: a working space (110 Park St. W.) held an opening reception for a brand new studio space in the core of downtown Windsor. The space is hosted by four local artists, who are all of different age groups, backgrounds, and methods of working. They are Alana Bartol, Collette Broeders, Susan Gold, and Arturo Herrera.  

Currently on view in the one ten park windows are Collette Broeders’ “Synchronicity No. 5”, which is a drawing that came as a result of meditative performative gestures, and Susan Gold’s Persistence of Insincerity 2010 -2012”, which questions the gloss of appearances and authenticity.  The two works are installed October 2 – 22.  The subsequent installation will reflect discourse on the existence and function of literature, as it will be in concurrence with the annual BookFest Windsor (October 25 -27).

view from the entrance. Susan Gold's (foreground) and Arturo Herrera's (background) spaces.




Each artist has an area sanctioned for the pursuit of their own experiments, procedures, and assembly, making the entire space a testing ground for ideas prior to distribution into the world. There are no walls separating the work areas, making it feel homogenous, yet each artist’s zone has its own distinctive ambiance.

While Arturo Herrera’s space is riddled with paint paraphernalia, photographs, props, lighting equipment, and hat contraptions, Alana Bartol’s mannequin guards her collections of nature-stuffs, among pinned-up reference materials, books, and a grassy Ghillie suit beside the photographic aftermaths of its performance.    While Susan Gold’s area is decorated with reproductions of flora and fauna, clad with an artifice of herbaria wallpaper, Collette Broeders’ space has a transcendent methodical aura, intending on form, mapping, and placement.  In between, the lines begin to blur.  Is this a communal garbage can? Whose box is this? Whose bag is that?
Arturo Herrera's space.

I approached the ‘group’ with a few matters of curiosity, as follows.  [Alana and Collette were unfortunately not in the position of leisure to indulge my curiosity at this time.]

Sasha Opeiko: Someone asked me recently if one ten park is an artist collective. My response was that you are not a collective, but individual artists simply sharing a space.  Was that a reasonable response, and how do you feel about the possibility of that kind of confusion occurring in the future, in relation to your own practice?

Arturo Herrera: We have been called different names ever since we got together. The most popular is a gallery. I don't think I feel influenced in this respect by the public.

Susan Gold:  Yes, we are four artists sharing studio space. But one ten park is more than a business arrangement and is a developing concept. But right from the beginning we noticed shared needs and desires among us. We all needed dedicated studio space to develop our art practice. We all liked the idea of being on street level in the downtown core. All of us have affinities in our practice to installation work, process, and community arts. (None of us could afford the space by ourselves.)

SO: On a similar note – what kind of changes, if any, have you noticed in your creative processes now that you are sharing a workspace? Is this the kind of shared work environment you’ve encountered time and time again in the past, or is this a brand new venture for you? What is so particular about this specific conglomeration of people and ideas?

AH: Having just earned my BFA, I really enjoyed working in a room with others. The shared space I think is more a convenience than wanting to share. I mean, I do enjoy being with others, but I think we all got together for many reasons; and one important one was that we couldn't afford the space by ourselves.

SG: We also have noticed skill sets among us that move us along in exciting ways. It seems one ten park has a life of its own and we are all part of it. 

Changes in creative process are notable.  First there is always the influence of the space and particular possibilities of the space that inform my work immediately. I am normally influenced by the potentials of the space and architectural details of the space. The high walls are number one. The window possibilities. The light from the windows. The cornices and funky wallpaper and framing on one of my walls. The skills and ideas of others working in the room. The space and situation has and will undoubtedly influence and stimulate my work. 

Susan Gold's space.
SO: It is evident that the four of you feel more connected to the general public in this space. It is a prime location, lots of foot traffic…   Although you have individual work areas, there are no walls or barriers physically portioning off your space. What is the role of privacy in your work, and do you ever feel, in this new space, that you are lacking your own walls?

AH: I think all depends: at the beginning I was worried about stepping onto others space when I work with my photo shoots or with models... I require lots of walking space. But as we got to know each other the invisible walls disappeared. 

SG:  Loving the space and not dividing it with walls was one thing that we immediately agreed on.  But the need for some working space and storage space we could call our own was arranged easily. We also know that we couldn’t actually work in a showcase or a store. So one ten park is not a gallery but rather a working space.  Loving the windows! And immediately wanting to install work in them was another thing that was immediate!
We then had to make decisions on the clean up, the painting, miscellaneous purchases, announcements and signage - down to the font and punctuation. Some of these decisions were made easily. Some took scores of emails – but reaching consensus is not a quick and easy process. We kind of enjoy working through everyone’s comments. 

SO:   (to SG) I suspect such negotiations aid in the makeshift definition of personal boundaries as well.  Making known and extending your comfort zone/desires for the health of immediate neighbourhood and coexistence, perhaps allows for overlaps and intersections with others, which allow for a kind of partial immersion in the comfort zones/desires of your neighbours.   You speak of negotiating practical matters, such as signage and purchases, but such mundane necessity is part of creative discourse as well.  They are nonetheless physical points of connection between one person and another (eye contact, fingertip nexus of digital correspondence, time invested in acknowledging mundane questions), without which other, more creatively profound connections would not be very probable.  That is my own intuitive tangent from what I think you are talking about, when you mention the enjoyment of working through everyone’s comments…. However, returning to the related topic of privacy, and perhaps the necessity or unavoidability of private experience…

There is a Boris Groys essay titled “The Loneliness of the Project”, which discusses ideas around the insistence on project-based art practices (the proposal toward an end, and allotted times to achieve that end).  One detail of this essay references the tendency for creators to isolate themselves, once they have secured the funding or support to complete a project, such as an exhibition or a residency.  This kind of isolation is necessary and socially acceptable, because without investing every waking moment toward the project and temporarily suspending obligations to friends, family, and other activities, the project – deemed as a worthy effort for society – would not be realized.   How do you respond to this line of thought? Do you yourself function on a project basis?  Does one ten park allow you to feel less isolated during the rigorous time of production?

Alana Bartol's space, from Collette's vantage point.

SG: Role of privacy.  For me that remains to be known. I have never worked in a studio situation with other artists. But my husband and I have always shared studio space successfully. I know I need total privacy at some times to be completely absorbed, alone with my thoughts, and not self conscious of external judgment – I guess that is what I would mean by “free”. But I find myself alone in the space often and I think I will come to feel alone – with the others – to have the situation work successfully for me. On the other hand, I have always found it productive to work off the productivity and energy of others working. And that is definitely happening at one ten park. So there you have a productive contradiction. And there are many in creative work!
So although this space represents different things in each of our practices, there are things in common that are making this an exciting project.

AH: Previously I was in a different studio space up the street, and it was a 200 square feet room with a large window. I felt too isolated, I felt desperately in finding a new space as soon as possible. But I think it depends on the project you are working on. Isolation is good for painting.

SO:  Ditto.  As an aside to the previous question, what is the rhythm of the studio like, now that you have more or less settled in the space?
Collette Broeder's space

AH: Hmmm, at first I wanted to keep track of who was coming in or out just so I didn't interfere on anybody. But then I just didn't care. As a matter of fact I am thinking I would like to build the traditional studio walls that photographers used to use in the early 1900s so light would not come in inside the studio... Like a laberinto! 

SO:  Have you connected with any other shared studio spaces in the Windsor area?  And if not, is that a possibility you would be interested in and for what reason?  Do you intend to form or maintain relationships with other arts organizations in the area (who)?

AH: Yes, but so far I don't think we have socialized too much. Just recently we had a walking tour during Artcite's summer art festival.

SG: We of course love being connected to the “general public”, downtown street life and especially to our immediate neighbours: Artcite Inc., Broken City Lab, Print House, Workers Action Centre. We have no immediate plans for formal collaboration but informally we are already linked into possibilities for downtown cultural developments.

SO:  Lastly, what are you working on now?

SG: What am I working on now? I am developing installation material and possibilities for a project, Decorating the End of the World.  The work is a little divided between my Nobel studio, one ten park and my work space at home. But I am gradually pulling it together for the May 2013 exhibition at the Mackintosh. There are several exhibitions I am involved in in 2013 and 2014 so the work is not isolated to one exhibition but is developing organically (and undirected) as well. I am traveling to Norway in October to gather additional material for future work.                      
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This interview occurred a couple of weeks ago.  Susan Gold is currently in Norway.

Arturo Herrera is currently preparing for a wearable art exhibition (STRUTT, Nov. 3 2012) at Niagara Artists Centre.  During my last visit a few days ago, he showed me that he has started a new project, sculpting enlarged peppercorns (approx. 1” diameter) out of clay, organically responding to these creations and pondering on what to do with them once he has a quantity.  


Copyright Alana Bartol. Photo credit Arturo Herrera.
Alana Bartol: will be doing a Skills for Goods workshop on Tuesday, October 30th at 7:00 at Broken City Lab (411 Pelissier St.) on how to create your own ghillie suit. (visit www.brokencitylab.org  or www.civicspace.info/  for more information)


"Forms of Awareness: Ghillie Suit, is a series that reveals and examines the prevailing set of aesthetic and environmental concerns in North American suburban communities… Through public walks and "un-camouflagings" in city and suburban streets, parks, fields, suburban neighbourhoods, new housing developments and naturalized spaces in urban areas, Ghillie inspires many reactions including fear, awe, confusion, anger, wonder and laughter… The ghillie suit is traditionally used by military snipers and hunters to camouflage the human body, allowing the wearer to blend into various 'natural' landscapes such as woods, prairies and swamplands. As Ghillie, I investigate the shape shifting abilities of the human body… while also questioning our assumptions about gender.”




Collette Broeders:  "What I'm currently working on.  Although I have many sort of ongoing projects, my main focus has been performative drawings such as the one you see currently at the one ten windows.  A little about the work follows. 

The series of Synchronicity drawings investigate symmetrical, repetitive motion using my body as an instrument to form a rhythmic pattern of line.   I execute the drawing in a hypnotic tempo and meditative state that manifests itself into physical form to unite the viewer with the intimacy of the experience.   The drawings are performed in private and public space and examine the limitations of the body with continuous motion over several hours until a state of exhaustion is reached.

The drawings begin with intense spontaneous gestures within a small space that replicate, synchronize and divide and gradually swell and burst to the outwardly extended body.  Like a cell dividing, the internal self-generating energy of the process is bilaterally and equally distributed as the image grows.  Ultimately, the drawing becomes a study of contrast showing the peaceful-chaotic, soothing-painful and joyful-desperate moments of the performance."


CB adds a story:
"When we first moved into one ten park, construction immediately began at the apartments above us.  There were several vaults placed within the studio making and scaffolding on the outer building surrounding one ten park.  We decided to make use of the surrounding scaffolding.  Arturo had painted several images that led to the door of one ten park and in July, I completed a synchronicity performance drawing on the scaffolding that allowed the community to engage in the public performance.  The drawing was eventually dismantled by the construction workers and may be in circulation at another construction site which is sort of interesting too!"


 Synchronicity No.4: 

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