Chance, unpredictability and the ART of Failure 2012
For my degree dissertation I chose the Praxis Project Option, which provides an opportunity to focus upon a chosen research subject through the parallel practices of art and written enquiry (Praxis refers to the process in which a theory is enacted or practiced, embodied and/or realized – the movement of thought into action). I produced an A3 size artist’s book with sleeve. The book was created in the form of a glossy exhibition catalogue and included a 6000-word essay. It contained the 'failures' of 23 artists who were invited to send an original or jpeg image, postcard size, for inclusion in the book with a short sentence on the concept of failure.
'Being experimental inherently includes a certain amount of failure and it is through working with the failure that unexpected successes happen’ (Louise Bourgeois).
There is something contradictory about setting out to examine the part that failure plays in an artist’s practice. Failure is not something we usually talk about, or want to talk about. We want to talk about our successes and to hide our miserable failures; the mistakes, errors, and misjudgments that we are ashamed about. Failure is about collapse and disgrace and is certainly not promoted as a universal virtue. But I am a Roman Catholic brought up with failure and quick absolution for the error of my ways, accordingly how could I not fail to take up the challenge? The catalyst for this project was an optional four-week workshop at Leeds College of Art as part of my Fine Art degree, which explored ways in which visual artists have responded to the concept of failure in their practice.
(sub)Missive was the culmination of a mail art project, set up by the Artist's Book Collective, in which artists from the UK, Europe, US, Canada and Australia each collaborated with an artist partner to create a new book work. Using the social networking forum as a platform for collaboration, artists investigated the dissemination of ideas with particular reference to (mis)communication and power relations. Taking the hierarchical construct as a brief, each participant devised a set of instructions ranging from the single word to the diagrammatic and distributed them to their collaborative partner. The results of this experiment were displayed as part of the 12th International Contemporary Artists Book Fair in March 2009 @ Corridor Gallery, School Of Design, University of Leeds. I used recycled materials, envelopes, milk cartons, and used postal items. The overall theme was based on a quote from Yoko Ono on 'In- structure' - words containing IN were central to the concept. The instructions I received from Samantha Harris were very loose so and so I was able to interpret them into the way I wanted to work. I used her processes to construct a postal box containing 6 envelopes made from milk cartons and reconstructed envelopes. I incorporated typewriting, sewing, cutting, folding, collage and drawing.