It's Not You, It's Me
30 August – 11 October 2008
Aim: The purpose of the Aim is to list the aims of the experiment and so this Aim suggests those of The Hut Project for their work and exhibition ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, BolteLang, Zurich. Asserting that they always make context specific work, The Hut Project’s overall aim for the exhibition is to question the context of the exhibition, specifically probing their first consigned commercial exhibition context. It follows their exhibition ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’, Limoncello, London, earlier in 2008, which specifically probed the artist’s new commercial context.
Hypothesis: A hypothesis sets forth the beliefs tested in the experiment; propositions based on experience and the closest thing believed to be true. This work and exhibition doesn’t have an answer to begin with, that can only come later. There are propositions, or rather hopes, that response to context, specificity and ‘provocation’ might urge others to participate or respond, and other such tenets that run throughout The Hut Project’s practice. But, we should leave the hypothesis here; it can only become interesting over time as their practice evolves.
Method :How the work is made step-by-step: BolteLang invite The Hut Project to exhibit and The Hut Project propose ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’; The Hut Project ask Limoncello artists to give a work that will constitute a work entitled ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’ under the singular authorship of The Hut Project. Individual works by each Limoncello artist will not be named nor identified, rather the single work by The Hut Project will be the work and also the exhibition. The Hut Project will install the work after consultation with each artist where necessary. Upon sale of the work The Hut Project’s 50% of financial earnings will be divided equally between all participating Limoncello artists: Vanessa Billy, Sean Edwards, Josephine Flynn, Tom Gidley, Matthew Harrison, Gemma Holt and Giorgio Sadotti. This remuneration is in place of The Hut Project buying the work of each in full and is instead a fee of sorts. The 50% paid to the Limoncello artists will then be claimed back as production cost and the remaining 50% will be considered the profit, which will be split in the usual way between The Hut Project and the galleries, in order that the work is commercially viable for The Hut Project and they do not give away all of their earnings – it is afterall their work.
Apparatus: The ingredients that make up the work: works by Limoncello artists and a William Hogarth print. This ‘Apparatus’ ponders the apparatus more than an ‘Apparatus’ usually might as it forms a crux of this text.
1) Vanessa Billy, ‘Slow (Leftover)’, 2007, Concrete, H6cm x W13cm x D13cm, Unique
Billy’s work was formulated in response to the context of The Hut Project’s exhibition and request, herself co-represented by BolteLang and Limoncello and having previously exhibited in the inaugural show at BolteLang. Billy’s concrete work can least tautologically be described as a lump. This concrete lump was the discarded excess from a work in her BolteLang exhibition. Many of Billy’s seemingly waste materials from her studio are recruited for new works. This particular piece exacerbates the aggressive grace and obstinate qualities of much of her recent sculpture, in part because of the gestural nature of the offering, a leftover. The context of this work also offers a ‘concrete’ narrative to it, in comparison with other works, which can often lend themselves to seemingly secure answers which are red herrings as they answer questions that Billy has often not posed. This work pushes and pulls solidly and is highly responsive to the context, mirroring the work of The Hut Project.
2) Sean Edwards, ‘Untitled’, 2008, Oil on Sweet Wrapper, H1.7cm x W3cm, Unique
Edwards’ indexically produced but aesthetically rendered painted sweet wrapper is, like Billy’s piece, an offering of sorts, but cannot be understood as a small one, despite its piddling scale. When The Hut Project produced the ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ series of works for their Limoncello exhibition of the same title, they choose one material to represent the difference between each of the other gallery artists and themselves. After they made, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You: Sean Edwards’ – a giant tower of brown parcel tape – Edwards was, I believe, satisfied with the way their subjective postulations around his practice became apparent through the work. For Edwards this sweet wrapper piece in some way answers the parcel tape work, although the exact language of the dialogue is difficult to pinpoint. There was something important about function: Edwards’ rendering once functional things mutely aesthetic? At once a sweet wrapper and a representation of a sweet wrapper, the representational aspect overcomes, not simply through it’s status as an artwork but also through the precise mechanism of it’s making, akin to The Hut Project’s insistence upon the mechanisms of the makings of their works.
3) Josephine Flynn, ‘Keeping Up’, 2007, Tinfoil and Cocktail Sticks, H100cm x W30cm, Unique
A large tinfoil poo studded with cocktail sticks, previously exhibited in her solo exhibition at The International 3, Manchester, where on the opening night the sticks held cheese and pineapple, ’80s kid’s party a-go-go. Flynn’s offering of this piece is perplexing for the reason that in March this year she proclaimed that a version of this work, ‘Tinfoil Turd 2’, 2007, a similar sized tinfoil sculpture was her then favourite work because it made the audience work harder due to its inertia. The apparent ease of making and cheapness of materials played no part in Flynn’s decision to give this work, as they are both part of her carefully mediated practice. “Based on nothing more than emotional feeling", in Flynn’s words, the inclusion of this work reflects her over-arching tendency to trust her decisions based on feelings, mood, critical reflection or whatever dualistically fragile but bold enablers she might draw upon. This work seems to stands resolute in its lack of swaying by the context.
4) Tom Gidley, ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, 2008, Performance for two participants with sealed instructions, Duration Variable
Gidley has given The Hut Project an envelope addressed to ‘Participant A’, containing a sentence to be memorised by A alone. During the private view of the exhibition Participant B (a willing but unknown accomplice) will allow his hand to be physically guided by A in writing the sentence on the wall of the gallery. For their previous exhibition The Hut Project asked Gidley to paint a self-portrait; befittingly titled ‘Self Portrait Without Thinking’ it became The Hut Project’s ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You: Tom Gidley’. While more ephemeral Gidley’s performance for this work is as much a psychological game as his self-portrait. In providing an instructional performance that he will not attend, but with an end result that only he has prior knowledge of, Gidley’s piece plays with notions of control and the ability to influence the thoughts and actions of others, and could also be seen as a riposte to The Hut Project’s invitation to collaborate, or as a metaphor for the delicate relationship between The Hut Project and himself.
5) Gemma Holt, ‘G5 Paper’, 2000-ongoing, Three Reams of Photocopy Paper, H23.3cm x W16.6cm, Unlimited Edition
Gemma Holt has given three reams of her personalised paper size, G5, for The Hut Project’s work. Previously for ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You: Gemma Holt’ The Hut Project suggested that Holt represented G5, therefore they represented A4 (standard paper size). For the conceptual difference between Holt and them, The Hut Project chose reams of the off-cuts from cutting A4 down to G5. Holt’s three reams of her G5 size for this, The Hut Project work at BolteLang, points back to her, it also sums with the previous off-cuts to make A4 once more, additionally pointing back again to The Hut Project and their assumed authorship of all the works within ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’. Showing the three reams also shows the dual objectness and functionality of the work. Holt clearly likes the ‘G5 Paper’ to operate in both ways; here an artwork and there a piece of paper. It forces one to choose.
6) Matthew Harrison, ‘Photo Replica Trebuchet’, 2008, Unframed C-Print, Dimensions TBC, Unique
Harrison had room to play with this invitation to contribute a work as his solo show is concurrent with The Hut Project’s in BolteLang’s first year of paired exhibitions. In his show Harrison is exhibiting ‘Replica Trebuchet’, 2006, a remake of Duchamp’s ‘Trebuchet’, a found object trap. Alongside Duchamp’s readymade work there exists a photograph of his studio with the trap on the floor. Harrison points to the fact that the trap looks fake, a cut and paste image that verifies the authenticity of the work. For ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’ Harrison is placing his own image of his ‘Replica Trebuchet’, photographed within the BolteLang installation. The work he is giving to The Hut Project will itself be a replica image of the original image of the original installation of ‘Replica Trebuchet’. The image nestled within The Hut Project’s exhibition under their contestable authorship, determinedly acts to locate Harrison’s ‘Replica Trebuchet’ work in his exhibition in the opposite gallery space.
7) Giorgio Sadotti, ‘Whipcracker, Zurich’, 2008, Performance, Duration Variable
Lastly Sadotti’s performance. Last as it should be, as Sadotti asked that the other Limoncello artists decided on which works they would give to The Hut Project before they were told of his performance. Some background facts: Sadotti has been visiting whip-cracking conventions in middle England; whip-crackers can be as precise in their whipping so as to pluck a flower from a flower bed; and whip-cracking is traditional in the Alpine regions of Switzerland (by happy coincidence). During the private view Sadotti will employ a whip-cracker to ‘translate’ the installation, whether it will move three inches to the left or end in relative shreds is unbeknownst at this point. This uncertainty plus Sadotti’s insistence on ‘translation’ rather than destruction goes some way to discouraging the most aggressive interpretation of the work. Like Gidley, Sadotti’s work attempts to revoke The Hut Project’s notion of authorship. If they will author the work of other artists’ works Sadotti will have a final say in how each will look. The most overt tussle.
8) William Hogarth, ‘Time Smoking a Picture’, London, Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, 1822, Framed Copper Engraving and Mezzotint, H65cm x W48cm
The Hut Project own this Hogarth print and it is displayed both as part of, and as a framing device for, their exhibition. Father Time is represented smoking onto a picture on an easel, which is slashed by his scythe. Smoking pictures with wet varnish was used by forgers and fakesters to age the appearance of the painting. The inclusion of the work, amongst other layers of meaning, alludes to The Hut Project’s work that is both implicitly by them and explicitly not by them. As they have used the image for the joint invitation card with Matthew Harrison for their BolteLang shows it also acts as a viewfinder or subtext for both, drawing out points of comparison between themselves and Harrison.
Results: Results cannot be known until the exhibition is installed.
Evaluation: An evaluation compares the results to the method and critiques the method. With no results this evaluation awaits the reality of the work, rather than the idea of it. Although of the method alone it can be said that each of the Limoncello artists donating a work is likely to have a work in an exhibition because while the artists may not be named they may easily be identified. It can also be said that pricing work ‘conceptually’ according to a fair or devised pricing system is foolish and we will all likely go bankrupt if we continue this.
Conclusion: If a conclusion answers the aims and hypothesis, and relies on results and evaluation, this conclusion will be as much a non-starter as each of those sections. A few speculative conclusions though: where The Hut Project invited response certainly the artists have responded, some more responsively than they might usually practice themselves; the work effects an articulation of languages of fluidity and specificity, especially with regard to authorship; the work forces relationships between Limoncello artists to be compounded, dialogues to be generated and work to be made – the work forces the artists into a kinship beyond the fact that they are represented by the same gallery. Another speculative conclusion: The Hut Project has put faith in the Gestalt theory of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.
A pointed view is that BolteLang and Limoncello are direct contemporaries, both young commercial galleries; BolteLang invite The Hut Project to exhibit and The Hut Project ask BolteLang to be complicit in allowing Limoncello to infiltrate their gallery. The Limoncello artists are asked to allow The Hut Project to author their works. What exactly Limoncello is asked to be complicit in is more difficult to articulate, perhaps because it is based too much on emotional response over reason. Another speculative conclusion on what it is that Limoncello is asked to comply to: ‘Limoncello’ travels to Zurich through the agency of one of the artists, The Hut Project, rather than Limoncello; perhaps Limoncello accepts it’s own brand, which perhaps it should not, Limoncello is not Marks and Spencer afterall.
It’s not you ‘Limoncello artists’, it’s me ‘The Hut Project’ and it’s not you ‘BolteLang’, it’s me ‘Limoncello’ is territorial pissing that merely serves to provide a platform from which to jump. This text is Limoncello’s gestural jump because this ‘me’ feels like a ‘you’ and it is a ‘me’ that can point to other ‘me’s’ rather than ‘you’s’ through this Apparatus list at least.
William Hogarth, ‘Time Smoking a Picture’, London, Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, 1822, Framed Copper Engraving and Mezzotint
The Hut Project ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, 2008, Works by Limoncello Artists (detail). This image: Vanessa Billy
The Hut Project ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, 2008, Works by Limoncello Artists (detail). This image: Sean Edwards
The Hut Project ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, 2008, Works by Limoncello Artists (detail). This image: Josephine Flynn
The Hut Project ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, 2008, Works by Limoncello Artists (detail). This image: Tom Gidley
The Hut Project ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, 2008, Works by Limoncello Artists (detail). This image: Gemma Holt
The Hut Project ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, 2008, Works by Limoncello Artists (detail). This image: Matthew Harrison
The Hut Project ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, 2008, Works by Limoncello Artists (detail). This image: Giorgio Sadotti