Our 2010 theme was inspired by the prospect of the forthcoming interdisciplinary arts centre; a new working environment to make and present art. The season featured artists exploring ideas around work. Work is not only a human activity, it can be a geographical location (e.g. going to work) or product (e.g. a work of art).
For many, globalisation and technological change have transformed the relationship between work and place through high speed communications.
The activities of people and the places they work, often tie in with identity and how individuals or groups are perceived. Art can capture the atmosphere or culture of a work-place. Many landscapes, both urban and rural, have been constructed by an industrial past or present.
Artists have explored the cultural norms, values and expectations attached to different forms of work; un/employment, working environments and activities.
As Geographer Mike Crang points out ‘…one person’s leisure may be another’s labour…’, and some people still find it hard to perceive a ‘work of art’ as involving work at all. In the arts, terms like ‘the cultural industries’ have emerged relatively recently to describe the idea of the arts as a substantial contributor to modern Western economies. Debates continue about the ‘instrumental’ use of the arts by government for social or political agendas such as urban regeneration.
Highlights from the spring 2010 season included: Hammered! where Catherine Laws explored the work of the pianist and the complex machine that is the piano; Margareta Kern who drew on personal stories of ‘guest workers’ who migrated from Yugoslavia to West Germany in the late 1960s as part of her residency in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences; Deborah Robinson, who spent time observing daily life in the Department of Biology & Biochemistry and created images capturing the strange beauty of the aquatic lab; and Bonachela Dance Company, whose explosive dance piece was the result of long-standing partnerships closely uniting choreographer, composer and designer.
The autumn 2010 season saw performance artist Tom Marshman immersing himself in all aspects of University life with a series of mini-events in unexpected places; artist Ruth Maclennan’s intriguing video installation exposing our vulnerabilities in a global market place; and performance artist Bobby Baker exhibiting preparatory drawings and models in her new show Mad Gyms and Kitchens, created whilst in residence with sculptor Charlie Whittuck.
Listing of events in the 2010 season themed – the place of work…