Researching Residencies: Artists and the Archive

Thursday 6 November, 7pm

This free event accompanied the project Three Floors Down: In the Studio at Borough Road Gallery. A recording of the talk can be found in the gallery’s Digital Archive.

In anticipation of the Borough Road Gallery Artist Residency 2014/15, this panel discussion delved into the varied and dynamic ways in which artists are responding to archives and collections, using them to inform their own art practice.

Curators Althea Greenan (Goldsmiths) and Lizzie Fisher (Independent/Kettle’s Yard), who both work with archives or collections connected to universities, were joined by artist Jason Singh, to open up this discussion. Singh was the Sound Art Resident at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2012, inspired by the Iranian, Afghanistan and Middle Eastern collections he produced new work ranging from the creation of software to refigure the voice electronically through collection objects to performances of break dancers translating Islamic calligraphy into movement. Greenan works in the Women’s Art Library at Goldsmiths, facilitating exhibitions and events including the ‘Living with Make: Art in the Archive’ bursary for artists, that supports 3 months research for artists and offers a venue to launch the resulting work. Fisher was the curator of Kettle’s Yard’s Associate Artists programme, which commissioned artists to make new work in response to the Kettle’s Yard collection, and exhibit it alongside these chosen objects, artworks or archive materials. The speakers discussed their own residencies, experiences and observations, followed by a Q&A.

Jason Singh is a multi-disciplinary artist, who was born in Tower Hamlets and now lives and works in Manchester. Singh often works with sound and vocal sculpting, as well as photography, poetry and moving image. He has collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery, the British Film Institute, and Whitworth Art Gallery, amongst others, on projects which aim to further develop vocal sculpting as an art form. Singh is also a keen musical collaborator, and composes music for theatre and experimental film. He regularly engages in workshops and residencies, the root of his practice being a dedication to inspire audience engagement through performance and participation.

Althea Greenan works in the Library at Goldsmiths College, University of London, in Special Collections, mostly with the Women’s Art Library (WAL), which she managed before it was gifted to the University in 2003. Since the late 1980s Greenan has been writing on the work of women artists, increasingly in collaboration with them. Her latest was in response to the work of Samantha Donnelly and titled Rubberneck, published by Ceri Hand Projects. Greenan is currently undertaking doctoral research at the University of Brighton, focusing on the WAL slide collection to question: what else can a slide do besides represent an artwork?

Lizzie Fisher is an independent curator and writer, previously Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at Kettle’s Yard (2004-13), a gallery with a significant collection of twentieth century works, run as part of University of Cambridge Museums. Previously Fisher has held positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York. She is co-editor of On Not Knowing: How Artists Think (Black Dog Publishing, 2013), a text that explores the role of ‘not knowing’ within the creative process.

This event was postponed from its original listing of 25 June 2014.

Image (L-R): Jason Singh (photograph courtesy of the artist), Lizzie Fisher © Kettle’s Yard 2014, Althea Greenan (photograph by Julian Hughes courtesy of Amelia Beavis-Harrison in collaboration with Althea Greenan)