About

Siobhan Fedden is an artist curator based in Plymouth, UK.

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Open call for submissions.

siobhanfeddencurator:

I am looking for individuals who are interested in being part of an artwork, to record their answer to the question: “What is the future of art in lower education?" and then in a separate recording, tell me of their secondary school experiences of art education. 

Please send all audio recordings to: studioeleven11@hotmail.com

 (disclaimer: all recordings will become property of the artist)


(via siobhanfedden)

mylosthoughts said: Hi again, I really want to bounce some ideas if you don’t mind. Actually your Virtual Access/Distribution post is very interesting and reminds me of Steyerl’s article http://www.e-flux.com/journal/in-defense-of-the-poor-image/ . The “downloadability and dissolution of authorship questions ownership and copyright and blurs the line between audience and author” it also makes it difficult for artists to create value for their art while using digital technologies/internet. How do you think this can be done? (I really like the idea of crowd-sourcing like http://artmicropatronage.org/about# )

Thank you, I just read the article you linked to me, it was really interesting. I think it is hard to create value/gain profit through exhibiting online and the fact that information is free is one of the most valuable aspects of the internet. But artists still need to sustain a living. I really like the idea of crowd sourcing too but I think because so much art can be viewed for free, it makes it harder to find people willing to pay and artists have to be careful that they don’t try to create work the public will like or would be considered fashionable just to gain money. Cost is also an issue in terms of online galleries in which you have to pay to access as this limits access to those without money. I wish I had all the answers to this but sadly I don’t. Now that the government keeps cutting funding, money becomes even more of an issue in these matters and it often comes down to having to make a choice between public access or profit both online and offline for both individuals and galleries.

Weblinks:

Virtual Access to Images and the Distribution of Artworks Online

Siobhan Fedden

The internet is important as a publicly accessible platform for the distribution of information. Information and content is now always available online and often only exists publicly in the virtual realm. The distribution of images on the internet is a key aspect of its public information sharing capabilities and has created a home for art films and non commercial cinema that became archived as cinema became commercialised. This footage exists as low resolution imagery that is freely distributed on virtual platforms and its lack of quality becomes a comment on the fetishism of high resolution imagery and the value of images based on how well it can be viewed in terms of resolution. The fetishization of resolution links with the fetishization of the original. The original copy of an image will have the highest possible resolution, so long as it exists in a non-degradable format. Image formats such as JPEG degrade each time they are viewed but with cinema grade imagery, they only become poor images through the recording, downloading, re-editing and redistribution that takes place on the internet by the audience because the original exists in a high quality format.

This fetishization of the original exists within the art world and is the reasoning behind the prohibition of recording material such as camera’s within the gallery space. The galleries limit image capture to protect the authenticity and copyright of artwork. This prohibition is part of the concept behind the work of artists such as Tino Sehgal who does not record his performances in any way and bans public recordings of his work, to create a focus on the time based experience of performance art. However, the public still secretly record within these spaces and it only takes one person to record an artwork, to be able to distribute it globally. We live in a culture that focuses on the sharing and distribution of information, weather it is our private lives, artwork or education and this is a positive thing. The internet broke down so many barriers in terms of ownership and created the ultimate sharing platform, the ultimate learning platform. It broke down cultural and class barriers. This recording and distribution of artwork by the public creates low resolution simulacrums of artworks that are downloadable and editable. This downloadability and dissolution of authorship questions ownership and copyright and blurs the line between audience and author. Artworks that exist in the virtual realm are no longer limited to a particular gallery audience or rely on survival through support from institutions such as galleries, political systems or corporations for funding and exposure. Instead this artwork exists within the framework of the internet, of public access in terms of both passive access to view the work but also active engagement to download, re-edit and redistribute the work as a form of participation and collaboration that is completely out of the artists control. This level of access re-politicises artwork as it creates new levels of engagement and access a global audience. Though this, the conditions of the artworks existence and its ability to be actively engaged with become as important as the concept behind the work.


As an artist it is a hard decision to make, to relinquish this control to make the work fully publicly accessible and even then it is a fight to get work noticed by the public as, even though there is a far wider audience, there is such a vast quantity of information in the virtual realm that images easily get lost. This is also hindered by increasing commercial control over content viewed as it becomes more and more obvious that virtual space has as much value as physical space in terms of generating income. Governments also have the ability to control access to information, filtering and removing content. The internet is currently viewed as the ultimate open platform for information sharing with a focus on public control but it has a fragile future if it becomes more commercialised and state controlled. The production of culture and education was originally considered a task of the state, however, currently much of this responsibility has been offloaded onto individuals or has been privatised, which questions the value the government places upon culture and if they can commercialise and privatise virtual culture, then it creates concerns for the future for net art, the poor image and global access to art.

mylosthoughts answered: cool, I think you touch on a lot of really interesting aspects. How do you feel about online galleries (institutional or not) for film?

Thank you. I think that online display of film is difficult if the film is intended as a site specific instillation because online display de-contexualises the work. However in terms of engaging a wider audience and utilising film as a political tool, online display is vital for the dissemination of film based artwork. I think the main issue that artists come up against with online display is copyright issues due to the downloadability and appropriation of film online, so it often comes down to how comfortable the artist feels about relinquishing control of their work by displaying it virtually. 

The Society of Wood Engravers 76th Annual Exhibition
20th November 2013 - 29th December 2013
High Cross House, National Trust Property
Exhibition Review - Siobhan Fedden
High Cross House exists as a prime example of Modernist architecture and as an exhibition space. Situated it Darlington, it provides many rooms to exhibit artwork and a series of open studio spaces for artist residencies.
The exhibition of 136 original prints produced by members of The Society of Wood Engravers displays a wide range of subject matter and styles, existing within one particular medium. As an exhibition of so many artworks, it had a very clean commercial feel to it; as was very obviously the intent as prices were displayed alongside artworks. The opening itself also held this commercial feel, with free drinks passed to visitors by a waiter and piano music drifting through the space from a grande piano situated in one of the rooms. I really focused on the music because I realized that if the opening was in a contemporary art gallery context, any noise would be attributed to being a sound artwork, but this was a very different setting and the music was very clearly intended for the visitors comfort. It was also very clear that the nature of the building in terms of it being a listed property effected how the artwork was hung, with some work attached to the wall via a hook system. It is very hard to comment upon the work itself as the exhibition consisted of so many pieces but as a whole they came across as very technically proficient. I felt that the frames, in terms of colour and style, did nothing for the work but they made sense from a commercial perspective. The exhibition tours many cities, including London, so it would be interest to visit the work in another space as High Cross House has a very particular aesthetic, which effects the context of any work exhibited there. Bringing an exhibition that tours many venues and exhibits work from an international society into a building such as High Cross House is really positive as it promotes the work to a new audience. 
Also on display in two separate rooms, was an exhibition of bookbinding, produced by a bookbinding class of six members. The exhibition explored their learning process and collaboration within this medium. As a collective group they chose a focus topic to produce work within to produce an edition of 16 books for sale. I felt that as both exhibitions were so technically focused in terms of exhibiting a particular skill set, they worked well together. The commercial nature of both exhibitions also tied them together well as an aesthetic. It was really positive to see an opportunity to exhibit work given to such a small group. Viewing the open studios was also a really positive experience as I got to view artists work whilst still in progress as well as finished artworks for sale, on display in their studio spaces. Artist residencies such as this are vital for emerging artists and its really sad to see that spaces such as this are depleting due to lack of funding. This level of exposure is critical to artists who are starting out their careers or even further along as it is getting significantly harder to make your way in the art world. It is such a shame that High Cross House is due to close shortly as it is clearly displaying high quality exhibitions, creating important opportunities for local artists and is a important example of Modernist architecture. 
Weblinks:
National Trust: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

The Society of Wood Engravers 76th Annual Exhibition

20th November 2013 - 29th December 2013

High Cross House, National Trust Property

Exhibition Review - Siobhan Fedden

High Cross House exists as a prime example of Modernist architecture and as an exhibition space. Situated it Darlington, it provides many rooms to exhibit artwork and a series of open studio spaces for artist residencies.

The exhibition of 136 original prints produced by members of The Society of Wood Engravers displays a wide range of subject matter and styles, existing within one particular medium. As an exhibition of so many artworks, it had a very clean commercial feel to it; as was very obviously the intent as prices were displayed alongside artworks. The opening itself also held this commercial feel, with free drinks passed to visitors by a waiter and piano music drifting through the space from a grande piano situated in one of the rooms. I really focused on the music because I realized that if the opening was in a contemporary art gallery context, any noise would be attributed to being a sound artwork, but this was a very different setting and the music was very clearly intended for the visitors comfort. It was also very clear that the nature of the building in terms of it being a listed property effected how the artwork was hung, with some work attached to the wall via a hook system. It is very hard to comment upon the work itself as the exhibition consisted of so many pieces but as a whole they came across as very technically proficient. I felt that the frames, in terms of colour and style, did nothing for the work but they made sense from a commercial perspective. The exhibition tours many cities, including London, so it would be interest to visit the work in another space as High Cross House has a very particular aesthetic, which effects the context of any work exhibited there. Bringing an exhibition that tours many venues and exhibits work from an international society into a building such as High Cross House is really positive as it promotes the work to a new audience. 

Also on display in two separate rooms, was an exhibition of bookbinding, produced by a bookbinding class of six members. The exhibition explored their learning process and collaboration within this medium. As a collective group they chose a focus topic to produce work within to produce an edition of 16 books for sale. I felt that as both exhibitions were so technically focused in terms of exhibiting a particular skill set, they worked well together. The commercial nature of both exhibitions also tied them together well as an aesthetic. It was really positive to see an opportunity to exhibit work given to such a small group. Viewing the open studios was also a really positive experience as I got to view artists work whilst still in progress as well as finished artworks for sale, on display in their studio spaces. Artist residencies such as this are vital for emerging artists and its really sad to see that spaces such as this are depleting due to lack of funding. This level of exposure is critical to artists who are starting out their careers or even further along as it is getting significantly harder to make your way in the art world. It is such a shame that High Cross House is due to close shortly as it is clearly displaying high quality exhibitions, creating important opportunities for local artists and is a important example of Modernist architecture. 

Weblinks:

The Orangery, Saltram House, National Trust Property 

20th November 2013

Exhibition Proposal Meeting Review - Siobhan Fedden

The Orangery at Saltram House is a functional space intended for the protection of citrus plants in the winter months. In the summer, the trees are removed as they can grow outside in the summer climate. As it is empty in the summer months, save for a few tree’s and objects such as a stone sink that are permanent fixtures within the space, the National Trust have made it available as an exhibition space for artworks. I visited this space to gain further knowledge of it as I have the opportunity to submit a proposal for an exhibition within the space over July and August 2014.

There are many key factors in terms of the space that need to be taken into account when considering an exhibition within the space. One of which is the windows that cover the south facing wall. This lets in a lot of light and heat in the summer and some of these windows have to be kept open to keep the space cooler. The space is very much open to the elements which could effect the display of work with electronic parts or easily degradable components such as paper. Electronic parts may also be considered hazardous as the National Trust cannot provide exhibition supervision and the property is often visited by families with small children, so health and safety has to be taken into account. There is also only one plug socket within the space which could possibly limit the positioning and amount of electronic equipment. It could be interesting to work with light based artwork, as the space only gets natural light within it. However the space is only open from 11am until 4pm and in the summer, a light based work would best be seen early morning or late evening.

The space is relatively large, with high cream walls with white skirting boards and accents. These initially come across as a perfect space for the display of artwork, however as it is a listed property there can be no drilling or nails into the walls, which creates problems for hanging artwork. Sound based work could also be considered as out the question as the acoustics of the space mean that sound echo’s a lot. Although this all comes across as very negative, it creates a set of boundaries for the space that as a curator I would have to work within. This is a positive learning process and actually cuts out a lot of the decision process for me in terms of choosing artwork to exhibit. Evaluating the fact that the work is unsupervised, the space is very much open to the elements and some tree’s permanently exist within the space which brings the outside indoors and makes clear the function of the space, the obvious option is to exhibit work that is intended as outdoor, public sculpture. Though I would also consider exhibition performance artworks, as they would not be effected by any of the boundaries of the space. 

Weblinks:

mylostthoughts asked: Hi! Have you ever worked with/curated new media art? If so, what do/don’t you like?

Hello, I am sorry to begin with a question but “new media art” is such a broad term, what exactly do you mean by that? As in art that involves the internet in some respect like virtual art or internet based interactive art,video game influenced art, time based mediums such as digital film or art produced that relates to or works with computer robotics? Listed above are obviously only a few examples. Its just easier to answer your question if you are more specific. Personally, I often work as part of my own artistic practice with time based mediums such as sound, instillation film and other forms of projection so I find them really exciting on a curatorial level when I am creating exhibitions of others work because they present a lot of challenges. In terms of new media art as a whole I feel that for me, although its very challenging to curate, it is really important to exhibit in the art world as it is very contemporary and often has new ways of engaging and involving the audience.  

Luke Fowler

7th November 2013 - Plymouth Art Centre

Artist Lecture Review - Siobhan Fedden

The work of Luke Fowler explores history and perception through time based media, utilizing new and archival footage to create a portrait of a particular event, figure or time. On display from the 5th October 2013 until the 1st December 2013, Luke Fowler’s film ‘The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott’ is a 61 minute long exploration into the life and work of Edward Palmer Thompson, focusing on his role in education in Yorkshire. He was employed by the Workers Educational Association to educate those without access to higher education at the time, such as: the unemployed, miners and factory workers. With its focus on access to education, this film could be considered as a comment on current educational shifts that are and have been occurring in terms of cost of higher education and steps taken towards a focus on non-creative subjects. He describes his work, not as an attempt to teach others about history but a way for him to teach himself.
In a talk given by Luke Fowler at Plymouth Art Center, he discusses the finer points of film projection and time based media. He spoke about formats of display for his work in response to a question about the length of his films. The duration of his work is often over an hour long, so it has to be taken into consideration how this could lead to difficulties in viewing the whole work. To combat this, Luke Fowler has a preference for cinematic display, choosing to display his artwork either in a real cinema or by providing multiple chairs within the gallery space. In response to this I asked him why it is important for him to create a mock cinema in a gallery rather than providing a single chair for individual viewing. He explained that cinematic experience is an integral part of his work as his practice is in film, so wishes to create an environment in which the audience can comfortably view the full length of his work. This lead me to ask why he doesn’t just display in cinemas. He made it clear that if it were feasible he would only display his work within a cinema, however there is a lack of support for independent and art- based film and gallery spaces provide a new home for this form of filmmaking. This really says something about the shape of the art world today, that artists are having to try to work within ever decreasing spaces and really work within their own means; artists are being pushed in at all sides, even those who are considered successful.

Weblinks:

SS Blue Jacket - Karst, Plymouth

31st October 2013 - 17th November 2013

Exhibition Review - Siobhan Fedden

After attending a talk by Simon Bayliss, one of the curators of SS Blue Jacket, my hopes were not high for the exhibition as the display of the curators work within the exhibition seemed questionable, in terms of taking advantage of other artists work to validate the concept behind their own practice. However upon attending the exhibition, I was surprised to find key aspects that really stood out for me in a positive way. The links to sexuality in the work were obvious but not forced as I expected, except for in the accompanying writing in the exhibition guide. The exhibition guide gave an unnecessarily over sexualised account of the story of SS Blue Jacket and although beautifully curated with some interesting texts, at £7 per guide, the cost seemed excessive.

My initial reaction to the exhibition was very positive, as I found the creation of a sunken cinema as exhibition space for the work of Lucy Stein and Shana Moulton, to be really interesting in relation to the curation of The Mirror Stage - Simon Fujiwara. The dictation of audience through the positioning of chairs strongly effected the way the artworks were viewed. The sunken cinema provided multiple deck chairs for relaxation when viewing the film, creating more of a cinematic experience, where as the single chair in front of Simon Fujiwara’s video created an individual viewing experience. Having this individual viewing experience really showed me how his work is so personal, it would feel wrong to have watched it in any other way. Unusually, spaces such as dark rooms had not been created for cinematic viewing but the films had been displayed in such a way that they could still be seem clearly, this was a very positive aspect of the exhibition as it meant that the films and other artworks fitted together in a cleaner way. I also felt that the films were well curated so as not to distract from the painting, through the positioning of one in the sunken cinema which was not in the main gallery space and the other, by Simon Fujiwara, positioned behind his painting that was also part of the artwork, preventing noise and imagery from the video to effect how the paintings on display were viewed. The curation of the paintings at first glance seemed very traditional, evenly spaced around the room, however upon further observation I found them to be hung lower than expected, which made viewing to be quite jarring. The even spacing of the work was aesthetically pleasing and the distance between the works meant that the mismatched framing didn’t effect the flow of the exhibition, however it meant that the cracks and exposed piping within the exhibition space became very obvious, as the work did not distract from these 

I was lucky enough to be able to get first look at the exhibition as I attend the opening of it. However I felt as though, to really appreciate the exhibition I would have to visit again at a later date because, due to the numbers attending, it was too loud to hear the video artworks. One thing that was unusual at the art opening was the provision of oysters and sausages, which taking into account the sexual connotations behind the exhibition, became a very obvious innuendo. This crude humor felt out of place against the artists work, as though they were poking fun at the sexuality within the works. Although I came into the exhibition in the belief that it would not be enjoyable at all, I was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong. It was a very considered exhibition and the film based artworks were very engaging in their curation. 

Weblinks:

Art Education, Funding and the Future of the Arts

Siobhan Fedden

I visualise a dystopian future where the rich create branded artists and branded spaces in an attempt to control taste and art production. Art is no longer taught in education due to government cuts and arts funding only exists through the rich. Art ends up seeming like high class snobbery to most as the rich push its elitism, so many children are never given the opportunity to engage with art or even feel as though they are allowed access.

Imagining a possible future where art isn’t taught, do skills get lost or will they be passed from generation to generation, so it would be up to individuals to teach their own children or do we group together to create spaces/environments in which to pass on knowledge, teach the history and skills of art without the institution. Passing on individual knowledge gained from what institutions taught us about art but also what we learnt ourselves, our own individual account of the history of art.

Art now isn’t modern art or postmodern art, the art movement that is in effect right now is the movement of brands, the commercialisation of individuals, turning their whole living breathing existence into “valued” art, to the point where a woman who created spot paintings for Damien Hirst valued a painting she has created that was branded a Hirst, over one she created that would visually be identical to a official Hirst but not actually one. It was just his brand that gave value to the work. This movement of brands is only going to get worse, with privatisation of funding due to government cuts. Individuals like Saatchi will monopolise the art market, paying for particular individuals to become brands, having complete control over gallery/commercial systems because they have money and controlling the art the public get to see.

It seems that artists get exhibited because they happen to meet someone, that they are in the right place at the right time as much as the quality of the work. So when exhibited art is fully controlled by those with money, if you are an artist spending time within the right circles, as long as your work is good, its only a matter of time but if you do not have access to these circles, then what can you do?

This teamed with removal of art from education, which removes the possibility of people being taught to question what art is and to not just accept that what is in the gallery space is good art, will lead to a complete homogenisation of art practice unless steps are taken to create a new movement that focuses on getting art to the public, about the utilisation of non-branded space, about working within your own means and making the audience question what art really is and to not just trust the institutions when learning about art. Perhaps these spaces need to be more than exhibition spaces, that showcase art that is outside the branded commercial systems but also educational spaces, a way of teaching the audience about art once it is removed from education. The internet, in terms of dissemination of information, has to be taken into consideration in this. Art history will still be available online, the information can still be accessed. However, it is a very passive way of learning that is closed off and so wide due to the shear quantity of information that individuals will never learn all of it or even know how to decide which bits are valuable. There is so much information that making active steps to look at art or parts of art history that are not easy to find online is important, otherwise institutions will monopolise the art viewed online and control the way we view art. We need to break out of this movement on branded experienced to focus on the creation of spaces that are not controlled by the rich, that show the public that money does not decide what is good art, that art is more than just an economic tool, that it has value even if the government doesn’t feel that money should be put into it.

Funding to arts is getting lower and lower, until the point it will cease to exist, only private funding from rich individuals will exist so they will see to dictate what art is so a movement will hopefully occur where artists/curators will shift their focus from galleries / commercial systems and become more DIY in their approach, setting up their own exhibition at very low cost, without outside funding. This underground movement will grow and begin to dictate which art is good. But it wont be a stop gap or creation of a small space with the intention of growing larger (expanding) to create a TATE - esque experience. It will be about utilising/renting/borrowing small spaces and creating short lived exhibition spaces so there is no focus on cost (cost of building,cost of water,cost of, etc). The only cost involved will be small amounts of electricity and possibly low rent cost, shared over multiple people to keep it down. To survive when there is no money for art, when funding is completely cut it will come down to individuals and groups of individuals to make art happen.
Even now, the public often view art with distain, as something elitist and inaccessible so don’t try to engage with it, which clearly means there is something already wrong. Artists/curators need to find new ways to educate the public about art, to give them a level of understanding but institutions are so scared of giving people this level of understanding in case they call bullshit on it all, in case they realise that the rich are creating the brands and that just because an artist is a brand doesn’t mean their art is good or more valuable than an un-branded artists work, that art isn’t about money or how much an artwork costs but about communication, about ideas and conversation between the object and viewer, how it makes you as an individual feel and how it creates an experience for you.