ARC

By the end of unit two, once again Stanley Black found himself on a sticky wicket. His return to political art had backfired, he had hoped he had contextualised his work and clearly explained his intent however he had failed in this attempt and once again his work was deemed unacceptable. Having been called into the office (for a stern chat about his judgement and future direction) for the second time during the course it was becoming clear to him that his initial aim of ‘testing the boundaries of taste, decency and acceptable discourse within the academy’ had been achieved. As stated during unit two, the main objective of Stanley Black’s political work was his ardent defence of freedom of speech.  

Having assessed the timetable I realised that there were four more opportunities to showcase work before the final degree show. I decided to set myself two objectives for the upcoming unit. The first was to show a new work at each of these injunctions and the second was to enhance my professional development by working on a series of collabrations.

 

INTRODUCING

BLACK&SMITH

"Black&Smith are a artistic double act. Hailing from opposite ends of the Overton window their work explores modern political discourse (or lack of it.) Interested in the bridging of political divides by encouraging dialogue, co-operation and consensus. Exploring art through the use of humour, absurdity and irreverence."

 
 

BLACK MARKET ART

Much like the Angels Den of unit one, Dragons den was again the opportunity to show work to industry insiders and receive critical feedback. I decided to present a performance piece, where I would explain the story of Stanley Black and the events that led to his warning letter. Part of my thinking on speech centres around the idea that if topics are not allowed to be freely discussed and debated in an open forum, they are essentially pushed underground were they become more toxic and dangerous. I therefore also decided to produce a series of works called ‘Black Market Art’.  As I was pivoting towards censorship as a theme, I thought it would be funny to re-edit my ‘Waterloo’ video, remove all the visuals and leave only the sound. This was intended to be a comment on self-censorship and a continuation of my redacting process. As I explained in my presentation, I had started to view my warning letter in terms of Aristloe’s competing virtues. This is the notion that in some circumstances two competing virtues are at odds with each other and at one stage a decision has to be made on which virtue is paramount. In this case for the university administration it is the intersectional and identity politics notion of diversity, for myself, the classically liberal notion of freedom of speech.

IMG_0836 (2).JPG

INTRODUCING

UNCOVERED

COLLECTIVE

"The main objective of Uncovered Collective is to act as a showcase for artists and art practise. To reveal that which is obscured. We aim to do this by holding group exhibitions by producing works that respond to the environment in which they will be shown and to explore the themes that these environments raise. We understand that contemporary art is now an idiosyncratic act and is no longer dictated by movements. We are therefore not bound by a particular style or medium but instead are unified by our shared outlook and beliefs. By bringing together disparate methodologies through the art of curating we aim to make a coherent whole. The individual becomes collective. We believe that art has an important role within society and culture to disseminate ideas, to promote new ways of seeing and to question paradigms and stale ways of thinking..."  

FINAL PRESENTATION

The final presentation we were required to give differed slightly in format to either the pecha kucha or the post graduate forum. For this exercise, Edwina placed us in to groups of four, having in mind a shared interest or theme. Our task was to discuss our work and to ascertain any similarities and differences in our practices and then present our thoughts and findings in a ten-minute presentation. The talk was timetabled for a week after the ‘Postopia’ exhibition, which had been a massive drain on my time and I was unsure if, as a group we would be able to meet the deadline. I had been thinking about our work and the only link I could find was that myself, Mitch, Fibbie and Chenchen all dealt with the self, although myself and Mitch were more outwardly facing and social-cultural whilst Fibble and Chenchen’s work was more inward and personal. With the self and identity established as a theme; I wanted the talk to be funny and my main objective was to amuse my fellow class mates and tutors, so I suggested that we present the talk dressed up as each other, knowing that this panto trick is always inherently amusing. I put together a five-minute slideshow of our previous works interjected with statements. Whilst this was playing, we all got up and walked out for dramatic effect. We quickly got changed into each other's clothes, donned our wigs and returned to fits of giggles and laughter. We had each written out a statement for our counterpoint to read. Mitch had set the tone by writing an amusing and self-deprecating piece and I followed suit. In keeping with the outward/inward theme Fibbies and Chenchen’s talks were more personal in nature. In the subsequent discussion Edwina said that our interpretation was correct and she had placed us together because of our masculine/ feminine dichotomy, with each of us following the atypical stereotype.  

BAGGY TROUSERS

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, 

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Having stated in my unit three tutorial I wanted to explore censorship with a light and humorous touch. I decided to display a blackboard with lines written on it aping the title sequence of ‘The Simpsons’ and attempting to portray a naughty schoolboy aesthetic for the pop-up exhibition, as held in the main reception space. I decided to call the piece Baggy Trousers in homage to the 80’s band Madness. Suggs, the lead singer had wrote the song as a direct response to Pink Floyds ‘Another Brick in the Wall.’ Pink Floyd were public schoolboys and the song deals with, what they saw as the repressive and conforming nature of the education system. Suggs didn’t recognise this experience, having been to a state school where he had a bit more of a craic and instead wanted to write a joyful and celebratory track.  

 

MARSHALL AND MARSHALL

INTRODUCING

 

Marshall and Marshall are a artistic double act. Exploring notions of sexuality, desire and commitment. Paradoxically interested in the subversion of some and the maintenance of other traditional gender roles their collaborations hope to explore the often-fraught negotiation between the sexes in the contemporary age.

POSTER EVENT

Much like the poster event of unit two I decided to ignore the brief and instead viewed it as an opportunity to promote my free speech critique. Being the final event to showcase new work before the degree show I viewed it as my last chance to engage in a cheeky art gesture. As previously explained, I had intended to give a series of talks after the Christmas break, however after my written warning and due to the subject matter of some of the proposed talks I was advised that this was not a good idea and I should reconsider. Which I subsequently did. 

DEGREE SHOW

The degree show marks the accumulation of two year’s worth of research and learning. The structure of the two-year course is excellent for artists, allowing for plenty of time for development and critical interjection from the tutors. I therefore viewed the exhibited work as the final statement of Stanley Black and the end-point of his adventures in academia. This meant I wanted to tie up several threads of my practise and as a completist by nature present a work that unified the various strands of my practise.

(STANLEY BLACK IS...) COLLECTING DATA

00.png

My initial hypothesis, which I explored during unit one in my ‘Scared Cows’ series was that there are certain subjects that have to be approached and discussed in a particular (politically correct) manner. During unit two I became interested in this mode of thinking and started to research its origins, first principles and presuppositions that form the basis of this particular way of viewing the world. The ideas and assumptions have their roots in the disiplines which follow the Frankfurt School's notion of critical theory. I became deeply interested in evolutionary psychology as it appears to offer a more scientifically robust view of human nature and is closer to the common sense approach rather than the fanciful claims made in abstract theories that seem to have no bearing to reality. I therefore wanted to conduct a scientific test by collecting empirical data. Having become aware of ‘The Political Compass Test’ and the statements presented within it, I calculated that the entire class if surveyed would appear in the left-liberal quadrant of the graph. My initial idea was to produce a visual pun with everybody on the left and only me on the right. This would highlight my political black sheep status amongst the group and the wider art world, although the left/right divide is an economic spectrum and on the social scale I am just as liberal as everyone else. The title ‘Institutional Echo Chambers’ again aims to highlight Stanley Black’s belief that there is an orthodoxy of thought within the academy and institutions are not just bricks and mortar but are filled with people. Whose ideological slant and ideas shape the structure and have a real-world effect on policy and procedure.   

(STANLEY BLACK IS...) PERFORMING

My second critical decision came in terms of framing. In both of my tutorials it had been mentioned that my idea was interesting but a little one dimensional and both tutors recommended that I needed to expand on my initial premise. Having toyed with the idea of a live performance or audience participation through an interactive question I decided the most fitting solution was a video prologue. The aim was to introduce the viewer to the Stanley Black persona, whilst maintaining distance and highlighting his political leanings and stance. I wanted to make the video look like a cheap infomercial (although not badly made, meaning technically I would have to be on point) and play around with the ‘is he joking/is he being serious’ delivery I had explored during unit one. Under the premise of confirmation basis the subject matter informed the structure of the piece. Stanley Black’s aim for the video was to offer his view on the technical varsity of the scientific method and its findings, which often contradicts and opposes the findings and claims found within gender studies literature and research. Confirmation basis was also in keeping with the ‘Institutional Echo Chambers’ title and allowed me to offer a stanch defence of scientific truth (especially evolutionary psychology) and a harsh criticism of my belief in the fanciful claims of the gender studies departments. Dismissing epistemological arguments;  I have always been interested in the audience reaction to my work and in some ways, it is this reaction that is most important aspect to my political art, rather than the artworks themselves. My aim has always been to test people’s beliefs, presuppositions and first principles and my intention with this work is to determine which side of the fence the viewer stands.

 

Having filmed, edited and added the animations to the video work, the next challenge arose through the location I was allocated. I was given an excellent spot which encompassed the whole of the corridor. Being away from the group suited the nature of my work but did mean I would have to work with the entire space. With only two weeks to go until set up and with prior commitments to the events team, my challenge was threefold. The extra work would 1) have to fill the space 2) look good 3) be quick to make.

(STANLEY BLACK IS...) APPROPRIATING

There is only one plug socket in the corridor, so this meant the location of my video work was pretty much fixed.  I decided I wanted a piece that would span the entirety of the adjacent wall. A prefabricated, multiple object seemed like the best solution and fitted with the Stanley Black aesthetic I had established during the course. Having already explored cake and the yellow vest as political symbols; I decided to work with the Donald Trump MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat due to its political implications, its bold colours and the speed in which I could have them made. I became interested the MAGA hat as a symbol, due to its polarising nature. Especially amongst far leftist internet activists who view the item as a symbol of white supremacy on par with a Ku Klux Klan hood rather than a simple signifier of political allegiance (surely no different to wearing a I love the Tories t-shirt, or a Labour is great badge.) By slightly changing the text I wanted to subvert the meaning and playfully reclaim the cap as art. The message is also meant to be gently teasing and hopefully can be read as a sly dig by Stanley Black and his overall view of the contemporary art scene.

(STANLEY BLACK IS...) DESIGNED FOR LIFE