CHRIS FREMANTLE

Transformations 2017

Posted in CV, Research, Texts, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 6, 2017

Abstract for the Transformations 2017 conference in Dundee. Accepted.


ecoart as a practice of understanding the world

In 2007 the artist Eve Mosher drew a line on the streets of New York based on current science indicating the impact of a major storm surge – a hundred-year flood. The line followed the contour 10 feet above sea level. Mosher used a ‘heavy hitter,’ the wheelbarrow-like device used to mark the lines on sports fields. Mosher worked on High Water Line, as she titled the project, on and off for six months, photographing the line as she made it. The context was the noted total lack of discussion of climate change in the City and National elections.

Not long after Hurricane Sandy struck New York in 2012 The New Yorker magazine carried a story (Kolbert) about High Water Line. In the article Mosher is quoted saying, “I wanted to leave this visually interesting mark, to open up a space for conversation…” and goes on to say, “The other part of the project was to try to prod some kind of conversation on a government level.”

Some artists describe what they do as ‘eco-art’ (and themselves as ‘ecoartists’). This neologism is a contraction of “art (or arts) and ecology”. It represents a still emergent form of practice (albeit with a history back to the late 1960s) which is distinctive in several aspects, not least in seeking to ‘do good in the world’.

Key elements of ecoart include a focus on context and a concern with human interaction with ecological systems; the frequency of interdisciplinarity between artists and scientists (natural and social) drawing out the complexity of these ecological interactions; the embedding of dialogue leading to wider learning by others living and working in the context.

These elements, along with more formal considerations of making art, combine to form the aesthetic, the tangible and experiential quality of the work, the focus of judgement by the artists concerned.

Mosher’s High Water Line demonstrates all of these characteristics. The context, New York, is where Mosher lives and the work explores the relationship between the artist, other inhabitants and the immediate ecological systems. The context is also the issue of climate change, and in particular the issue of public discourse at the community and civic levels. Mosher drew on readily available science modelling the increase frequency of storm surges. Mosher was doing a field study of published science, exploring what it ‘looks like on the ground’ and what it means to inhabitants. In terms of formal considerations the work, the use of everyday, non-art equipment and materials, the temporal intervention where ‘the work’ exists in documentation, and the performative and social character situate the work in relation to other artists’ practices. Critiques of this work might ask whether it is a work in its own right, or simply and illustration of existing science? Is it merely an exercise in climate change communications, or an artwork in its own right? A key question is the status of learning, Mosher’s own and her intended audiences, within the work – does if form an essential aspect of the aesthetic of the work?

There has been considerable focus on developing our understanding of the aesthetics of social and participatory practices (Bourriaud 1998, Helguera 2011, Jackson 2011, Kester 2004, 2011), but less attention has been paid to ecoart practice. Specific attempts (Kagan 2011) to explore ecoart as an art engaged with sustainability have drawn on thinking about auto-poesis as well as Gregory Bateson’s writings. Others (Douglas and Fremantle 2016a, 2016b) have focused on the formal aspects that are rooted in what might be called core art practices such as composition and improvisation.

The purpose of this paper will be to propose an understanding of education and learning within the practices of selected ecoartists.

Bourriaud, N. 1998. Relational Aesthetics. Les Presse du Reel

Douglas, A. and Fremantle, C. 2016. ‘What Poetry Does Best: The Harrisons’ Poetics of Being and Acting in the World’ in Harrison, H.M. and Harrison, N. The Time of the Force Majeure: After 45 Years Counterforce Is on the Horizon. Prestel, pp 455-460

Douglas, A. and Fremantle, C. 2016. ‘Inconsistency and Contradiction: Lessons in Improvisation in the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison’. In Elemental: an Arts and Ecology Reader. The Gaia Project, pp 153-181.

Helguera, P., 2011. Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook. Jorge Pinto Books

Jackson, S., 2011. Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics. London and New York: Routledge

Kagan, S. 2011. Art and Sustainability: Connecting Patterns for a Culture of Complexity. Transcript Verlag

Kester, G. H., 2011. The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context. Duke University Press

Kester, G. H., 2004. Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art. University of California Press

Kolbert, E., Crossing the Line, The New Yorker, November 12, 2012 accessed at http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/11/12/crossing-the-line-3, 31 October 2016

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Unveiled: The art which will help and heal in new hospital | Herald Scotland

Posted in Arts & Health, CV, News, Producing by chrisfremantle on June 16, 2015

Nice piece Unveiled: The art which will help and heal in new hospital | Herald Scotland by Helen Puttick, Health Correspondent, in the Herald about the Therapeutic Design and Arts Strategy for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s new South Glasgow University Hospital and Royal Hospital for Sick Children.  I’ve been responsible for responsible for the overall programme, working with Ginkgo Projects, since 2010 (this might sound like a long time, but bear in mind the NHS Capital Planning team have been working on it for 10 years).

 

London LASER reflections

Posted in CF Writing, CV, News, Research by chrisfremantle on June 17, 2014

The two other speakers at the London LASER took us on a tour of the edge of two different human experiences.

Los Ferronautas, who are currently working with Arts Catalyst, took us on a journey of exploration of the railroads of Mexico, largely abandoned post the neoliberal-driven privatisation in the mid 90s. An extensive passenger network now lies in ruins because it was not ‘financially viable’. It only provided a means for Mexicans to get around their large and mountainous country. Somehow you know that the automotive industry had something to do with this. Los Ferronautas built a hybrid vehicle (SEFT1), an “abandoned railway exploration probe” that could travel on road and rail, and used this to explore what remains of the network. They found that it also acted as a “transmitter of stories.”  In parallel they explored the visual representation of the network including early 20th Century paintings celebrating the engineering (initially exported from Britain and Ireland).

Cristina Miranda de Almeida took us on a journey around our increasing hybridity as the internet of things emerges. She explored the emerging interval space between ‘here and there’, ‘you and me’, the past, present and future, different scales and durations. She started with the beautiful analogy of data emerging from under water (behind a screen) to become part of our everyday lives, quoting Manuel Castells saying that soon computing will be paint on the walls.

For me the real moment of joy was when she show an image of a CAD rendering of a building entitled ‘spam architecture.’ As I’m sure we all have, I’ve notices the ‘flows’ of subject lines in my spam folder and wondered what could be done by exploring the patterns that lie in amongst this waste material. The way Alex Dragulescu has worked with this aspect of ‘big data,’ turning it into a proposal for architecture, put a big smile on my face.

We also had a good, if too short, discussion on multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinarity which I found really helpful in pushing my thinking further, so thanks to those who asked really good questions. My presentation is below. Thanks again to Heather Barnett for putting the programme together and continuing to make the London LASERs well worth the trip.

New Economics for Artists

Posted in CV, News, Texts by chrisfremantle on July 1, 2013

Harry Giles’ excellent twenty (?) questions on the cultural economy in relation to its own inconsistencies and in relation to certain other economics that we all might have experienced (4 months working for London Electricity in their call centre in Victoria in about 1990-1; 6 months working as an outdoor clerk for a firm of solicitors; 4 years working as an amanuensis for a paraplegic philosophy professor whilst at University; 10 weeks as an unpaid intern at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York one summer during University).

Harry Giles

I wrote this brain-dump for Andy Field, who was asked to prepare a presentation on “how artists can think about new financial models for themselves and for audiences”. He collected 150 bits of advice, sold them for £1 each, and used the proceeds to pay a violinist to play music for the length of the presentation: hurrah for the meeting of form and content! I keep attempting to write something long and thoughtful on art and money and how it all fits together, or maybe organise a conference about it, or a piece of action-research, or… well, none of that has happened yet. Maybe it will. In the mean time, two very nice people recently reminded me that I’d written this, so I reread it, and it turns out I’d already said most of the things I’ve been thinking about. So here it is. it’s a start, anyway.

“New…

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A Manifesto for a time when the environment bites back

Posted in CF Writing, CV, Texts by chrisfremantle on October 12, 2010

One of 30 presented at State of Play (Saturday 9 October 2010, James Arnott Theatre, University of Glasgow) an event organised by AHM.

AHM – Ainsley Harding Moffat ‘WORK AS IF YOU LIVE IN THE EARLY DAYS OF A BETTER SOCIETY.’ Sam Ainsley, David Harding and Sandy Moffat are a collaborative group working with individuals and institutions locally, nationally, and internationally, who share similar or related aims and aspirations – namely to place the arts centrally in the making of a new Scotland.

It’s not often that artists organise conferences and symposia, but in the tradition of Littoral, this one brought together an excellent introduction to the current Scottish cultural policy context from Philip Schlesinger; a reflection on a career trajectory from Christine Borland; a critical theory dérive on the statelessness, medievalism and prosumers from Neil Mulholland and some words of wisdom from the older generation in the form of Sam Ainsley and Sandy Moffat.  The next event is 2 April at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.

It went a bit flat at the end.  I think there had been such a good range of presentations that the audience didn’t know how to respond effectively.  There is a sense of imminent doom, not least because of the underlying ideas shaping Creative Scotland, impending public sector retrenchment and the end of the buoyant art market.  But no-one could quite put the target in focus.  It was certainly helpful to have Peter McCaughey’s rallying call for the audience to join the Scottish Artists Union en masse.  There is a need to bend Creative Scotland into a relevant shape (the conceptual underpinnings having been shown to be deeply flawed and the current spectral suggestions that its role is akin to an investment bank being laughable).

But equally Brett Bloom’s talks Temporary ServicesArt Work initiative to establish a national conversation (in the US) on art, work and economics is also very much to the point.  I suppose my question would be, was Christine Borland the best choice?  She spoke eloquently about the importance of getting involved in Transmission and the challenges of developing a career, but there is a point where an artist is represented by one of the foremost galleries and is exhibiting in major international bienniales is reinforcing the existing model of artworld career success, rather than offering alternatives.  If one of the problems is, as Bloom suggested, the proliferation of MFA programmes producing young artists geared for a conventional route, and as Schlesinger commented, the current model works on massive overproduction from which a few stars emerge, then we need to explore alternatives rather than re-state existing models.

One of the real challenges for the future events planned in this series is to explore how fine art education can or is reinventing itself, and how artists are operating outside the artworld.  This was hinted at, and Christine Borland’s comments that there is evidence that doctors engaging in medical humanities as part of their education are demonstrably better able to deal with ambiguity than their peers was an interesting point of departure.  What is it about a fine art education that enables engagement with other disciplines to wider social benefit, and how can we construct pedagogical models that promote this?

Art Work: Ayr

Posted in CV, Producing, Research, Texts by chrisfremantle on September 16, 2010

Artworkers won't kiss assTemporary Services‘ project Art Work has raised important questions about the personal economy and practice of artists. On the back of one-off newspaper-format publication, distributed free throughout the US and internationally, Temporary Services have kick started a discussion about the ways that artists and creative people use alternative economies to once again challenge the idea of competition and the market dominance of culture. Temporary Services produce exhibitions, events, projects and publications. They say “The distinction between art practice and other creative human endeavors is irrelevant to us.”

The Scottish Artists Union has invited Brett Bloom, one of the founders of Temporary Services, currently based in Denmark, to speak at the SAU AGM (7.00pm 30 September 2010, Stills Gallery, Edinburgh) about Art Work.

Brett Bloom will come to Ayr on Saturday 2nd October for a discussion with anyone whose interested in participating. It’ll be upstairs at Su Casa, a new cafe in the Lorne Arcade, between the Gaiety and the High Street at 2pm for as long as it goes on.

Preparatory Reading:

Art Work, the publication;

Helen Molesworth’s Work Ethic, catalogue of the Exhibition (not available online);

A response to A Call to Farms, a book resulting from a dérive organised by Temporary Services and Brian Holmes.

Health, Nature and Art: the GROVE project at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s New Stobhill Hospital

Posted in CF Writing, CV, Research, Sited work by chrisfremantle on March 2, 2010

New Stobhill Hospital Sanctuary, Photo: Laurie Clark

Invited paper as part of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh,  Theory in Practice programme:

“Health, Nature and Art: The Grove Project at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s New Stobhill Hospital”
2 March 2010.

Abstract:

This paper sets out the Art & Architecture collaboration resulting in the GROVE project for NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde’s New Stobhill Hospital.  This project, based on a strong conceptual framework, uses artworks as part of the construction of a environment where the experience nature plays an important role in healthcare. The paper discusses the practical aspects of this major new public art work and looks at the theoretical ideas of the artists, architects and NHS Arts & Health team.

The author, as part of NHSGGC’s Arts & Health team, has worked closely with Thomas A Clark, lead artist-poet; Reiach & Hall Architects; four other artists, and NHSGGC’s Capital and Commissioning Teams to deliver the project.  The project was conceived and developed by Thomas A Clark and Reiach & Hall over a 6 year period prior to commissioning, and has been funded by Scottish Arts Council National Lottery Public Art Fund, NHSGGC Endowments, NHSGGC Staff Lottery, as well as a wide range of community groups.  It forms one of a series of Arts & Health developments as part of NHSGGC’s Modernisation programme.

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Language of Sculpture

Posted in CF Writing, CV, Research, Sited work by chrisfremantle on January 29, 2010

Invited panellist, Language of Sculpture, International Sculpture Center Conference, London, April 9 2010.

Antony Gormley, Lucy Orta, and Peter Noever will headline the International Sculpture Center’s 22nd International Sculpture Conference, “What is Sculpture in the 21st Century?”, being held in London, UK, April 7-9.

This monumental event will explore topics including: The Languages of Sculpture; Public Perception and Investment; and The State of Education. In addition to the keynote speakers, conference highlights include an international roster of presenters, opening reception at Tate Modern, free admission to Henry Moore Exhibition at Tate Britain, daily ArtSlam sessions for attendees to show their work, workshop demonstrations at Chelsea College of Art & Design, and a gallery hop, as well as pre and post event optional activities.

Registration Deadline: March 16, 2010. Find more information and register online @ http://www.sculpture.org. Questions? Contact events@sculpture.org or USA 609.689-1051 x302.

Ayr to Zennor

Posted in CF Writing, CV, Exhibitions, Sited work, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 15, 2009

The Artist as Leader

Posted in CF Writing, CV, On The Edge, Research, Texts by chrisfremantle on May 6, 2009

The Artist as Leader programme: I have been Research Associate since 2006 working closely with Professor Anne Douglas, in a partnership between academic research and practice.  We have recently published the final report from the first phase of work, and are in the process of developing new initiatives.

See Research and Writing > The Artist as Leader

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Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom

Posted in CF Writing, CV, Exhibitions, Producing, Research, Texts, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 6, 2008

Greenhouse Britain: (2006-2008).  I had the pleasure and honour to work with Helen Mayer Harrison, Newton Harrison and David Haley, .  The project developed new thinking about the impact of climate change on the island of Britain.

Producing and Project Managing > Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom

Greenhouse Britain web site

Working in Public

Posted in CV, On The Edge, Research, Texts by chrisfremantle on March 26, 2007

Working in Public:
Art, Practice and Policy

This On The Edge (OTE) Seminar programme taking place during 2007 (I am a member of the Steering Group for the project) aims to develop a new level of thinking in relation to art practices that work within social and cultural spheres of public life. At the heart of the programme is a significant, long term case study – the Oaklands Projects, California (1990-2000) developed by Suzanne Lacy (an internationally renowned artist). The series will focus on the issue of what quality means by connecting the experience of Oaklands to recent work and critical thinking.

Each event is hosted by a different venue in Scotland and consists of an evening public lecture followed by a morning seminar discussion. The programme is part of a significant development of research and learning in the visual arts as they relate to the public sphere.

Aesthetics and Ethics of Working in Public
Suzanne Lacy and Grant Kester
27 March, 18:00 – 20:30 & 28 March, 9:30 – 12:00
The Foyer Boardroom, 18 Marywell Street, Aberdeen
Tel: 01224 224250

Representation and Power
Suzanne Lacy and Tom Trevor
22 May, 18:00 – 20:30 & 23 May, 9:30 – 12:00
Centre for Contemporary Art, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
Tel: 0141 352 4900

Quality and Imperfection
Suzanne Lacy and Simon Sheikh
19 June, 18:00 – 20:30 & 20 June, 9:30 – 12:00
UHI Executive Office, Ness Walk, Inverness
Tel: 01463 717 091

Public Dissemination Event: Cultural Rights and Entitlement
The core group presentation and exhibition with the support of
seminar presenters (September, TBD)

Booking is essential for each event
For more information: www.workinginpublicseminars.org
On The Edge Research,
Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen, AB10 7QD, UK

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Remember Saro-Wiwa

Posted in CV, Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on November 10, 2006

Remember Saro-Wiwa, the Bus, the first Living Memorial by Sokari Douglas Camp

I’m working with PLATFORM on this major public art project.  I’ve been involved since July and this is the day of the official launch.

Producing and Project Managing > Remember Saro-Wiwa

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Culture and the New Scottish Parliament

Posted in Civics, CV, News, Producing by chrisfremantle on October 2, 2000

This event was focused on the Scottish Government’s draft National Cultural Strategy.

NATIONAL CULTURAL STRATEGY

Public meeting at Lumsden Village Hall to take place on 2 October 2000

This is an open invitation for you to join us for an unique opportunity to hear Rhona Brankin MSP, Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport, speak about the new National Cultural Strategy. The meeting is being held at Lumsden Village Hall at 7pm on Monday 2 October 2000. The meeting is open to everyone interested in culture in the North East of Scotland and there will be an opportunity to ask questions and raise issues with the Deputy Minister.

The National Cultural Strategy recognises that our culture is not only the arts, but is also the buildings and landscape of Scotland, the language and traditions, and that culture permeates every aspect of our lives. A strong and vibrant culture can have enormous social and economic benefits. The Scottish Sculpture Workshop initiated the programme of discussions on ‘Culture and the new Scottish Parliament’ because one of the strengths of our culture is discussion and debate. This is an opportunity to speak directly to the key politician with the responsibility for government policy on culture.

On the publication of the National Cultural Strategy Rhona Brankin MSP said:

“The breadth and vision of this document are in themselves radical. Scotland’s culture can flourish and can be accessible to all. It can develop and exploit its international potential. We can celebrate excellence and we can celebrate diversity.”

The National Cultural Strategy is available from the Scottish Executive on 0131 244 0340 or on their web site at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/nationalculturalstrategy/.

The Scottish Sculpture Workshop is an artists’ residency centre specialising in sculpture and known internationally. We provide a resource for artists including residential accommodation, facilities, and technical help. We initiate projects involving artists and facilitate the commissioning of public art in the North East of Scotland.

The meeting will take place in Lumsden Village Hall which has recently been upgraded with an award from the National Lottery Halls from the Millennium Scheme.

I very much hope that you will be able to join us for what promises to be an interesting and informative evening where you can hear about the National Cultural Strategy and raise issues concerning culture with Rhona Brankin MSP, Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport.

BACKGROUND

The Scottish Sculpture Workshop initiated a programme of discussions about the potential impact on culture of the proposed new Scottish Parliament in 1998 when we held an open meeting in Lumsden Village Hall prior to the referendum on Devolution. A note was taken of the meeting and ciculated

In 1999 we followed this up with another meeting, on this occasion prior to the elections for the new Scottish Parliament. This meeting took the form of a ‘cultural hustings’. The candidates for the four parties standing in our constituency we all invited to answer questions from an audience. Again a note of the meeting was prepared and circulated, and on this occasion was also published in Artists Newsletter.

The meeting at 7 pm on 2 October 2000 will therefore be the third meeting in the programme.

We would like to thank Gavin Renwick for stimulating the idea to hold these meetings and Eric Robinson for chairing them. Lumsden Village Hall has provided an excellent venue for these meetings.

This note was originally published on the Scottish Sculpture Workshop website.

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