Art Sheffield 05: Spectator T

ART SHEFFIELD 05: Spectator T was a city-wide contemporary art event which took place within Sheffield’s major galleries, project spaces, non-gallery venues and public sites from 28 October to 27 November 2005. The programme included a mix of emerging and established artists and comprised existing works and new commissions, all responding to a fictional Spectator T who is antagonistic to art.

Ryan Gander’s Your Clumsiness is the Next Man’s Stealth is composed of an accumulation of seemingly disparate components. On the floor of a moderately bare gallery sits a cardboard box, placed without any particular motive. The box contains double-sided tourist maps of the City of Sheffield. At first glance these maps seem to be the type freely distributed by Sheffield City Council to assist tourists in navigating the city and finding suitable accommodation. In actuality, however, they are flawless reproductions with the exception of a handful of newly added streets. These new streets are taken from maps made around 1810 and although they did once actually exist, they have since been erased from the city’s landscape to make way for large Modernist municipal buildings, as well as new post-war ring roads and roundabouts.One wall of the exhibition space has been clad in what appears to be a patterned concrete relief, akin to what one would usually expect to find on the walls beneath a motorway underpass or on the exterior side of a civic building perhaps designed and built around the 70’s. It is in fact made from fibreglass and coloured and textured to look like a concrete cast. The wall not only exists as a backdrop for a sound piece that encompasses the room, but also as a stage or a set onto which a narrative can unfold. As a reconstruction of a facade; this fortification could not be more artificial.

Laureana Toledo’s piece in response to the ART SHEFFIELD 05: Spectator T project was to document the processes involved in the creation of a covers band called The Limit. This band was put together just to perform during the show’s opening weekend, plus one trial gig in Mexico City. The special characteristic of The Limit was their repertoire: the group only played songs by bands or musicians from Sheffield. The band was actually named after the cult club in Sheffield, shut down in 1992.
Juneau projects work took the form of a free font download website, www.antlerfonts.co.uk and functioned as such for people who accessed the site. Free font download sites are a common feature of the internet, setup by erstwhile typographers unable to compete in a saturated market. The fonts available for download on Antler Fonts were created by groups from Sheffield and the surrounding area, who worked with Juneau projects to develop fonts, dingbats and icons.

Simon & Tom Bloor’s collaborative practice focuses on context specific projects, using images & texts culled from diverse sources including film, lyrics, 20th century design and novels. The works create new meanings and encourage alternative interpretations through a shift in context. In the past they have produced posters, t-shirts, booklets and stickers, sold cheaply or given away to visitors, allowing the dissemination of the work to be by the audience and outside the artists’ control. For ART SHEFFIELD 05 they produced a new series of stickers using texts taken from science fiction stories by Kurt Vonnegut.
Gordon Dalton constructed a full-scale model of a Harley Davidson, using the instructions from a matchstick model kit with lengths of 2×2” timber. This was shown alongside a series of original watercolour flower paintings also by Dalton. The display of the motorbike and the watercolours offer a set of opposite relations to each other, and within each piece.

Christian Jankowski has his works “The Hunt” and “My Life as a Dove” appropriated for a major movie produced by Columbia Tri-Star Pictures, in which a female video artist named Rosa is the main protagonist. He allows the feature film to incorporate his works in exchange for the production of his own project utilizing the same actors and cameras. Jancowski’s video work, Rosa is a film within a film which freezes the normal movie flow as the actors respond in their own words to Jankowski’s set of questions. The clichés the filmmakers employ to create their art world story inspire Jankowski’s inquiries.
In a new chapter of Twenty-Two Tasks, Joanna Rajkowska will be an artist for rent, where anyone who wants to, can ask her to perform a task (within reason – no sex or violence).

With Gifts to the City of Sheffield, six London-based artists made a piece of public art that would have a significant visual or physical impact in a public area. The coordinator of the exhibition turned up in a van at their studios to collect the work and then dumped it somewhere in Sheffield. The work had nowhere else to go but down, battling the weather or vandalism….

Ivan & Heather Morison’s project aimed to locate a patch of waste ground in Sheffield and investigate the process of negotiating the permanent planting of an area of Siberian taiga or forest upon it.

Becky Shaw’s residency at Yorkshire Art Space in Sheffield took as starting point the character of Tony T. What will Tony T do when he grows up? He is clearly bright and keen to work out what reality is. Maybe Tony T will go to university.

Ryan Gander, Juneau Projects, Jo Mitchell, Savage, Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan, Laureana Toledo and Bedwyr Williams also produced new works for the exhibition.

At the heart of Art Sheffield 05 was artist-curator Gavin Wade’s proposed context, Spectator T:

“In the early 80s the conceptual art group Art & Language wrote of a Spectator A and B. Spectator A goes straight to an artwork, waits till s/he gets the proper feelings and comprehension and then he just might look at the title of the artwork, seek information and confirmation of his experience and understanding. Spectator B goes immediately to the catalogue and press release, seeking to discover how to read the artwork. Artist and writer Dave Beech has put forward a Spectator C who isn’t interested in Art at all and ignores it. Beech suggests that there may be a whole alphabet of spectators out there. The alphabet could range from philistines to serial killers. Tony T. falls somewhere in between. He doesn’t ignore Art he hates it. He feels like it attempts to interfere with his life. The artworks presented in Spectator T: ART SHEFFIELD 05 will take a stance on whether they are designed with Spectator T in mind. Do the artworks oppose Spectator T., are they for him or do they come from a similar position as the Spectator? “ Gavin Wade.

The artists involved included Simon & Tom Bloor * (UK), Robin Close (UK), Gordon Dalton* (UK), Graham Fagen (UK), Ben Fitton (UK), Josephine Flynn (UK), Ryan Gander * (UK), Gelatin (Austria), Gifts to the City of Sheffield * [Anthony Gross, Kirsten Lyle, Lisa Mahony, Luke Oxley, Mark Pearson, Jen Wu, (UK)], Dan Griffiths, Matthew Harrison (UK), Christian Jankowski (Germany/USA), Juneau Projects * (UK), Camilla Lyon (UK), Matt & Ross (UK), Jim Medway (UK), Jo Mitchell * (UK), Heather & Ivan Morison* (UK), Damon Packard (USA), Antoine Prum (Luxembourg/Germany), Joanna Rajkowska * (Poland), Savage * (UK), Becky Shaw * (UK), Joanne Tatham & Tom O1Sullivan * (UK) Laureana Toledo * (Mexico), Bedwyr Williams * (UK)

More details here.

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