G is for…

…gravity, and the way everything feels like its falling sometimes…like time slipping away so fast you wonder how it is already December and nearly 2010. So I have realised I haven’t blogged for while so therefore have maybe a little too much to say. I’ll try and keep it succinct but that never happens does it…here goes…

Two PhD Pg Cert sessions have been and gone, one of which I had to miss due to wonderful hospital ‘meal’. I also had a tutorial with Darren Newbury, my second PhD supervisor and tutor for the Pg Cert. I had taken in my Grandpa’s photo album from his RAF travels in the second world war for him to peruse, so we got distracted with that for the initial part of our meeting. My Grandpa drew these little white ink drawings alongside some of the photos. Perhaps he was an illustrator as much as a photographer. Discussion then turned onto research diaries and their appropriateness, questioning whether this blog was thorough and enough…then on to be shown an extreme example of a past student who had written something everyday and archived them away chronologically and cross-contextually in folders. She sent out monthly excerpts to colleagues for review which I think is an interesting and very beneficial process, we’ll see if I take this up when my research gets a little more interesting. She represented the extreme end of the spectrum though, as there is no right or wrong method, just what is deemed as helpful and progressive for the student, well me. So is this blog? Perhaps if I updated it more regularly.

Conversations also examined the change in title for my PhD which might define and make the study more directive. This is currently what I am toying with – “The Transcultural Curator: Interpreting Contemporary Chinese Art (in the West)”. But do I again need to state a time frame? Or does the title then continue on too far like an innate ramble? Darren also highlighted the need for me to state the specific state of China prior to and after the Cultural Revolution from a not only a Chinese perspective but from a Western context – when and why did the West become interested in contemporary Chinese art at this time? Again re-emphasising the fact I need to define the characteristics of the period I am looking at. He also touched upon the idea of power relationships – appropriation vs gift giving recommending Donald Schön’s book ‘Displacement of Concepts’ (which I am yet to get out of the library, but will hunt it down this week). Finally, I spoke of mapping, project and management mapping, ideas and frameworks, how and what interlinks with who in a visual format. Apparently there is computer software made for this kind of organisational technique, but I quite like using index cards and post-it notes. The physicality of it all.

So as regards the Literature Review, I have decided to focus the Literature Review on one specific area of research, that of the postcolonial ideals and views on curating contemporary Chinese art. Now this has been difficult in the respect that there is a lot of material on the curation of non-Western art and artefacts, and even Eastern art and artefacts, but there isn’t much literature which actually directly references contemporary Chinese art. This information is all still transferable in most respects, although Annie Coombes essay Inventing the ‘Postcolonial’: Hybridity and Constituency in Contemporary Curating largely relates to Eastern and South African artefacts, which, as you know, South Africa was part of the British Empire, so that changes things a little. From here I am referencing Gayatri Spivak’s notion of the ‘translatese‘ and Sarat Maharaj’s translation theories. I hope to have most words down by Christmas. During this research process I also came across two fantastic thesis research databases called ProQuest and British Library’s search facility Ethos. Worth a look if you are trying to find something super specific, like I am but then the ProQuest subscription we have at BIAD doesn’t cover what I need. In a word frustrating as there is one NYU student’s PhD that is VERY relevant.

I can now confirm the exhibition I am curating at the Airspace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent. Called \”home\”, it is a group exhibition looking into how, when set in a comparable context with artists from South Asia, British artists of South Asian descent view their own origin and literal physical sense of location. This is set alongside more figurative investigations and manifestations of the self and identity, locality and vicinity, foreign and foreignness, home and origin. The show will display established artists together with recent graduates at the beginning of their creative careers, including Hetain PatelHarminder Singh JudgeSamit DasNadim Chaudry and Chinmoyi Patel. Some very exciting works to be shown! I also hope to get Basem Hassan, a previous colleague of mine during my New York days, to write a section of the publication.

The exhibition will be on from the 12th February 2010 to the 27th March 2010, open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm with free admission. The private view and opening will be on the evening of Friday 12th February 2010 so note it down in your diaries now! I have just submitted the Arts Council grant application for the funding of the accompanying publication. Fingers and toes crossed, four-leaf clover, rabbit’s foot, black cat or as my german friend Julia says daumen drücken (where you wrap your thumbs in your fingers, no fingers crossed for them)…it takes about 6 weeks.

Mandarin classes have finished now until next January. The term was concluded with travel, how to get to and from places, by what transport and also with the writing of a Christmas card…sheng dan kuai le (Happy Christmas). I should really write in characters…like I do normally, but I have no idea how to install the font or how it even works on a keyboard. I like using a fat marker in class as it writes so nicely. On the photo below I’ve even written my name in Chinese, which means autumn flowers…I kinda like it.

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