“I used to think you could change the world with explosive acts, now I realise you can only change people one at a time.”
We were sat on a red metal bench in a precinct in some provincial town just north of Hull. Flat day, grey but not dark, warm but you still need a jumper. Felicity Black has invited me over to her caravan park retreat for an away day. Or as she calls it “Another bubble.” After extensive time away on self imposed ‘art exile’ she’s back to kick off what she left in the dust over 7 years ago.
The opening scene in series 2 of Peter Kay’s Phoenix nights sees Den Perry, owner of rival club “The Banana Grove”, lob a lit cigar into the paper waste basket after sarcastically remarking to his eager friend: “Long live the Phoenix!”. Cut scene as Brian and Jerry screech on the emergency brakes exiting the car park:
“JERRY! THE CLUB’S ON FIRE!”
I wanted to talk about emotion but I didn’t know what to say
I can’t tell if I feel shaky because of the caffeine or the experience, though one probably helps instigate the other…
But I should begin….
[The following interview took place over a number of weeks in Spring/Summer 2015 and held the form of an informal conversation saved inside a communally editable Google Doc between Dean Brierley, Director, Caustic Coastal, and James Schofield, Manchester & North West Editor, Corridor8.]
‘There are no stupid questions, only stupid people’ // ‘There’s no stupid questions, only stupid answers’
Mumbled critique and soft focus exhibitions, cosily paired with ambivalent ambient attention - that’s what you’re aiming for yeh? Just swipes/likes/favs - #powpowpow. The provincials have become the trendsetters as a container for critical anxiety, entangled in their web of socio-repercussion and online back patting. What is expressed is not what is felt, what is felt is drafted but not published, what is published is a regurgitation of gallery PR wrapped with *current thought/trending topics* // softly scattered description and some meek (positive, always positive, ofc positive) opinion (?). - in short writers writing for an audience. Driving this is the kind of platforms which drip feed stabilised content, clawing at a desire to extrapolate their audience whilst instigating a kind of abbreviated critical production. The lack of overbearing cultural production/saturation in the provincials provides a foundation for embedded models to hold ground.
Without risk you lose danger, production that’s safely bound in endless perimeters on an endless timescale allows everyone to sit around without fear, without the punch to take chances. The point at where you lose an end, or remove the real life precarity becomes the point where you lose a focus, narratives slip out of people’s hands…something which has been sliding into the ethos of certain cultural venues in Manchester.
Interview between Eloïse Bonneviot and Lawrene Lek for the launch of Thinking like a Mountain.
Thinking like a mountain is an interactive archive of mountain accident data. It invites the player to step in an imaginary world, where the logics of labeling is undone and the rationality of information is reshuffled.
I suppose the immediate problem with hitting up the Berlin art scene (or any art scene for that matter) is the innate cliches and preexisting ideas we all hold, whether via our social media feeds, word of mouth arts publications, our mental rendering of a place can often be a highly tweaked version of its IRL counterpart. The particular point of this trip was to attempt to dive below the obvious and easily accessed strata of Auguststraße commercial galleries and the likes which alongside the big hitter Museums seem to saturate Berlin's artistic landscape.