Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Everything is unpredictable

Posted in Reviews by danwang on November 19, 2009

Everything is unpredictable

  A Studio visit in Gransden Avenue London Fields, 10th November 2009  

Dan Wang


After two months’ trial and effort, I did not succeed in getting a working position in 1mile² project from Visiting Arts. However, I found alternative ways to find out more information about this project. Recently I made the acquaintance of a young artist called Shaw working in the 1 mile² in Waltham Forest. One week later, it was by chance that Shaw brought me to his friend’s studio in East London. This turned out to be an unpredictable studio visit.

I still remember the day: it was a freezing, rainy and windy evening. Shaw, another artist Chen and I were walking on Hackney Street and looking for their friend’s ‘home’. Heavy rain made the scene vague and obscured our visibility. Just then,    a lady in red came along walking her dog, smiling and waving her hand. This was their friend Anna Boggon, who came from Edinburgh, now based in London and teaching in Wimbledon College of Art.

After Several minutes’ walk, we arrived at her studio, which used to be a gallery and now is designed as a simple cosy home with three pieces of furniture: two chairs and a long white painted table and an old fashioned wood stove. We sat down, holding cups of hot tea with tasty chocolate biscuits. Anna gave us a brief introduction to the studio: Originally,many years ago there was no studio here,Instead there was a gap between two factory buildings, which it was not convenient for workers to cross between the factories. Consequently, workers built corridors between the two buildings and gradually this area was extended and built into a house. Anna did not expect to take this space as her studio and home after her exhibition in the same place last year. Anna felt life was unpredictable as she had just finished moving her studio from Oxford to the previous gallery she worked with. I had same feeling: although I did not work with the 1 mile², now I knew many artists with different art practices either involved in this project or unconnected to it.

We began to talk about Anna’s art practice and recent exhibition the other shadow of the city in Jerusalem Oct 2009. She worked in the Palestinian Artist Residency for several months and made a film. The film was about a pair of shoes that walked automatically at certain speed, step by step, and the soundtrack was bright, touristy and full of Islamic melody. The travel route of the shoes showed images of the urban city, religion, local people and their dairy life. The shoes also went to another country, Lebanon, across border from Palestine, about one hour’s driving distance, but local people could not visit it without a visa permit. So how could a pair of shoes cross the border between two countries? With help of Anna’s Lebanese friends, the shoes could be shown successfully in her film, providing an opportunity for Palestinians and Arabs to see the urban view of Jerusalem during the intense political conflict. Her work responded to people’s curiosities and dreams, testifying her idea that a city is a product of unconscious desire. Anna told us that the result of the work did match her exceptions and the initial proposal was changed several times because she was inspired by the separation war and national politics, and updated her point of view. Through her rich experience of international artist residences, she always approaches her art practices through historical research or her curiosity of objects, and her works relate to the context of space, both mental and physical.

After three hours’ chat, we had to say goodbye to her lovely warm studio. Outside raindrops were falling again. The weather in London is hardly predictable, just as it is same as meeting artists. You never know who is the next artist you are going to meet.  

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