Thursday, February 17, 2011

Colloquium poster

Poster by Eleanor Dare

Alexandra Antonopoulou: Story-making in design practice

Alexandra will present her ongoing PhD research which explores how designers and children can work as partners to create and test out fictional scenarios through play, and how this story-making process can be translated into a heuristic method for design. The term story-making in this study refers to both cognitive modelling (the thinking up of stories) and physical modeling (the making and acting out of these stories). The exploration concentrates on ways in which children can be given voice as designers-moralizers transforming the design process into a learning experience.

Alexandra sees her role as the one of co-researcher, a learner-designer and learner-researcher, leaving space for children to have power over the research and the design process. 

Alexandra Antonopoulou is a designer and PhD candidate in Goldsmiths Design Department. She has widely worked in the area of story-making as learning and designing method, researching in particular the educational-social-participative role of design. Her research involves workshops with designers and children, in schools museums, universities and digital tools for interactive story-making. 

She is also a the Course Leader for the Orientation to MA course-University of the Arts as and a visiting lecturer in Southampton Solent and Goldsmiths University.

Katya Oicherman: Torah binders as a locus of auto-biographical writing

Binding auto-biographies: Torah binders as a locus of auto-biographical writing

Textile is a way to tell a story. Text and textile, fabric and fabrication are words that in their etymological connection manifest that possibility. Halfway between being rightful objects and raw materials textiles oscillate in their function and in the way they work – as surfaces, canvasses, subjectiles (J. Derrida 1998), waiting to be acted upon and as self-sustaining and self-supporting things, which nevertheless retain something of a surface. Ever-present attribute of human habitat and corporeal culture textiles often exist in mundane, barely noticed mode, bearing traces of bodies who used them, acted upon them, conjuring up stories of different volume and visibility which in a way accompany, complement or even re-interpret life-stories that could be told by the people themselves. History of production and embellishment of textiles forms a significant part of material culture, through which the oscillation between a thing and a raw material, and the biographical story-telling potential imbedded in the subjectilian, surface-like nature of a textile can be traced as it interlaces with histories of technology, sociality, gender, aesthetics and religion, re-emerging again and again as cloth. I will discuss how contemporary biographical and auto-biographical narrative emerges as a re-casting of a traditional form of a Torah binder, a Jewish biographical ceremonial textile.
In my art-practice I selectively transpose, using hand embroidery, aspects of my auto-biography and my grand-mothers' biography into the traditional format of a Bavarian binder from 1836. I suggest that as a result of that operation the binder, uniquely embodying in its production, ceremonial function and particular history, the transition between subjectile and object, becomes a new object-sign, a position, speaking or rather embroidering from which, facilitates creation of material narratives of selfhood. Those narratives interact with and re-cast universal conventions of identity description (IDs) and subvert gender codifications of the traditional Judaica objects. Relating to the marginal tradition of Western “female crafts” and their contemporary resonance in art-practices, the co-operation of woven cloth and embroidery needle becomes a way to reflect critically on the place and function of a materialized auto-biographical narrative in a text-dominated world. Materiality of the written word and its bearer, the cloth, becomes a paradigm for reflection upon the discrepancy between the lived actuality of identity and its disembodied inscriptions in official practices of identification.

Link to the work:

Katya Oicherman is a practicing artist, researcher and teacher. She has studied textile design in Israel, worked for a while in the textile industry and continued to post-graduate studies in Textiles in Goldsmiths College, London and Modern Jewish Studies at the University of Leeds. Currently she lives in Israel and exhibits internationally. She is a senior lecturer at the Textile Design Department of Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Israel, teaching textile design and history of craft. She works on a PhD thesis on Jewish ceremonial textiles in the context of contemporary textile practices in Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Alinah Azadeh: "Mother Tongue"

Alinah Azadeh; Mother Tongue; photo- Xavier Young; courtesy - The Shape of Things

Alinah will talk about the source and form of the autobiographical elements of her sculptural work such as Mother Tongue (2009) - embodied in objects, cloth and written texts - and how this has led to the creation of larger, relational installations such as The Gifts (2010, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery) and Chasing Mirrors: Portraits of the Unseen (2011, National Portrait Gallery).

Mother Tongue (2009) was the completion of a two year process following the sudden death of my (Iranian) mother just after the birth of my first child. I wrapped three of my mother's rice cookers in wool and silk, then bound them in black binding and wrote three translations of the same song -based on a Sufi poem by Rumi - on them. It was the song that was playing when I was in labour with my first child and I remember my mother sitting there translating it to me from Farsi to English, all three of us connected in a single moment. My curator called it the 'prologue' to The Gifts (2010), because of some of the themes it draws on; the core relationship through an ancestral line from my mother to my daughter through me embodied in everyday objects, the transmission and gradual loss of language, the cultural specificity of the text itself, the ritual of wrapping as a form of closure.
These became important in the collecting and collaborative wrapping of the 999 objects for The Gifts and a materialisation not only of each individuals identity within the work but also of our encounter with each other. The place of narrative, texts expanded with the Chasing Mirrors project and their relationship to objects donated as a kind of poetic directory. I will trace the narrative journey between these works and how it has enabled me to develop a sculptural language that has text, textile and live encounter at its heart.”

Link to the works:

Alinah Azadeh is a British-Iranian artist. Her background is in fine art – painting, video and digital media - and in 2001 she completed an MA in Contemporary Media Practice at the University of Westminster. Recent works include The Gifts, (2010) a suspended installation of 999 objects given to the artist by the public and wrapped in cloth. This commission, for Bristol Museum and Art Gallery through The Shape of Things, was her first major solo show in the UK. The Bibliomancer’s Dream (2009) and Dream On (2010), two large-scale, interactive book installations commissioned by South Bank Centre, London were developed in collaboration with sculptor Willow Winston. Chasing Mirrors: Portraits of the Unseen, is a collaborative installation for The National Portrait Gallery, playing with ideas of non-figurative portraiture. Many of her public installations result from processes of collaboration and participation, with other practitioners, specific groups and/or the public. She works across disciplines, and is currently focused on working with cloth, poetry, mirroring and personal or found objects. Alongside her public work, she makes smaller works, including fabric sculptures and drawings.

Alinah Azadeh; The Gifts; photo- David Emeney, Bristol's Museums, Galleries and Archives; courtesy - The Shape of Things  

Alinah Azadeh; Chasing Mirrors: Portraits of the Unseen, photo - Anna Calvocoressi; courtesy - The National Portrait Gallery, London.

Eleanor Dare: Lost memories and embodied traces

Lost memories and embodied traces in the Marriage of Eliza Dagworthy 1915

Like many people I have gaps in my memories, and thus in the symbolic narrative of my life. Before the age of nine my childhood memories are largely without detail. By and large those years may therefore be described (at least by convention) as ‘lost’. As a visual artist and artist-programmer the notion of such an aporia or cognitive deficit is particularly problematic. In the absence of representation what, if anything, can be retrieved, and what exactly can be communicated to others? In a wider philosophical sense such questions of representation and stable meaning have a high degree of cultural urgency. Indeed, Marita Sturken (1999) urges us to examine the ‘cultural encoding of forgetting as a loss or negation of experience’ (1999: 252). Her question ‘what is an experience that is not remembered?’ (234) is one of the fundamental riddles of my own childhood. Must such experiences be framed as a ‘loss of self’, a ‘loss of subjectivity’ as Sturken asks (243)?
Lost Memories and embodied traces is a computationally based project about the representation of my missing childhood memories. The focus of the project has been to explore the notion that memory is not an exact replica of events but is pieced together in a dynamic process that is strongly influenced not only by past experiences but by social contexts and sensory responses. In this colloquium I would like to present my ideas for the Lost Memories and Embodied Traces project, explaining how the project attempts to establish a theoretical framework for embodied autobiography. My attempts to address my own amnesia have so far taken the form of generating two artist’s books and writing image manipulation software that uses EEG and GSR (Galvanic skin response, sometimes known as a ‘lie detector’) biosensors. The research has also drawn upon Philip Ausslander’s notion of ‘the performativity of performance documentation’ (the title of his 2006 paper), Peter Fritzsche’s paper ‘The Case for Modern Memory’ (2001), and, of course, Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida (2000) among many other sources. I will also screen a short film demonstrating how my embodied software and subsequent electrocution alters the photograph of my grandmother and childhood carer, Amelia Dagworthy.

link to a short film of my electrocution and embodied image manipulation here:

Eleanor Dare is a fine artist and lecturer in Arts Computing, at Goldsmiths College. Her practice centers upon the meaningful capabilities computation has to offer new book forms. Her doctoral research is primarily concerned with embodied and situated digital narratives.

Nela Milic: Wedding Bellas

Nela Milic
Wedding Bellas

Nela will present an ethnographic record of Wedding Bellas, a photographic project about female desire for roots and stability. It explores a wish to belong. It acts as a comment on aging, migration and marriage, but can be a record of an individual’s urge to hide personal problems, as a human need for dressing up etc...
The project presents brides passionately attached to the objects of their marriage. That is evident from the photos - women in wedding dresses have a physical connection with their rooted fellow. Wedding dresses are surrounded by other wedding iconography, but the image is not a joke – it is a serious matter - an event of desperation and illusion shot as on a true wedding ceremony.
The photographs are stories of twelve women who all found themselves at different points in their lives at the time when they refused to leave. Many have been rejected by their partners, by their landlords, by their employers, but majority have been refused to stay in the country by the state. The women showed an extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness in the face of sometimes all of these rejections happening at once and the burden of so many problems caused them to escape into fantasy by opting for equally stable, rooted and good looking ‘Queen’s subjects’ – a lamp post, a tree, a traffic sign – London landmarks... With the mix of the text and image we trouble the perception of migrants and refugees in the UK today. The project is funded by European Cultural Foundation with women from Migrants Resource Centre and females who wanted to join them.

Nela Milic is a producer who works across theatre and visual arts. She had a diverse career, from arts and political journalism to feature, art and documentary film production, thriving in the production and programming of culture industry for fifteen years now. She developed projects for the Barbican, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Lyric Theatre, BBC, and others. She regularly produces performances for multi-disciplinary festivals and often works in site specific (community or corporate) environments. As a coordinator of Refugees and the Arts Initiative, a British national organization for ‘refugee arts’, she dealt with over a 1000 practitioners. As a freelance practitioner, she delivered projects with different outcomes – a collage, an installation, a feasibility study for deverse contexts including John Lewis, Light Gallery, FTS, Miramax, Film Four, new Asian cinema and others.

Evelyn Friedlander: Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum

Evelyn Friedlander
The Story of the Czech Scrolls Museum
The Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum houses an exhibition which tells the story of how 1564 Torah Scrolls and 400 Torah binders came from Prague to London in 1964, how they came to be in Prague and what subsequently happened to them. Most of the Scrolls have been sent on long-term loan to communities and museuma all over the world and have become important and tangible focal points for their new communities as they strive to come to terms with the Holocaust. These Scrolls came from hundreds of small rural places and are often the only survivors as all the people were murdered. The Torah binders add up to a unique textile collection, probably the largest of its kind in this country and a hitherto unknown study opportunity.

Evelyn Friedlander is the Chair of the Memorial Scrolls Trust and is the Director of its Museum which was opened in September 2008. She has organised exhibitions on rural Jewish life which have been shown in Germany, England, Czech Republic, Austria and the USA. The last one was on the Jews of Devon and Cornwall and was exhibited throughout the West Country. She is currently working on a book about Judaica in England, dealing with the section on textiles while other specialists will deal with silver and manuscripts.

The Museum hosts occasional loan exhibitions such as The Second Life of Czech Torah Scrolls (from the Prague Jewish Museum) and Krakow’s Jews between the Wars (from Krakow’s International Cultural Centre).