Archives for the month of: July, 2012

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The IFS newspaper is just going to press – 500 copies will be printed and ‘guerilla distributed’ around galleries, book stores and travel hubs – as far and wide as I can get them.

See the newspaper here: http://www.newspaperclub.com/INDEPENDENTFREESTATE/newspapers/20552-independent-free-state-final-edition

Press Release:

The Independent Free State is a ‘blueprint’, an imaginative possibility, that explores the correspondence between physical and psychical realities. Itis a site for transformation, a place for thinking, dreaming, seeing. The cry for a state of independence is universal, political and deeply personal: it takes courage to try and find your site of freedom, it’s not a safe endeavour.

I reflect on how territory has been re-drawn as I re-draw and ‘whitewash’ as I see fit. It’s a powerful act to re-draw land mass. With a flick of the brush or pen, perhaps hundreds of square miles of territory has been eradicated. Oceans wiped out. Mountains obliterated. Whole communities, cultures, war zones are reduced to colour, tone and contour. Isn’t this how those in power have always thought of the map – regardless of what lives may exist there – take a pencil and re-draw a border where one did not previously exist?

The figures are not quite human, they are human-objects: simulacrum. But they are female.  Female ownership of land, property, children, of her own body is a modern concept: territory of her own. Though her body has always been ‘of the land’ – a place of discovery and endeavour, an unknown territory to be taken, a place to ‘stake your claim’.

Here, map and female form have become one. They’ve synchronized and melded, each transforming the other. You could call this feminization of the map. Her territory: occupied territory. The map’s flesh-toned urban sprawl becomes her. Drawn images incorporate the contours, roads, railways and edges of the land  – seeking out drawings that already exist.

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At the same time, a new billboard poster will be on display on the Blackfriar’s Road in London just south of the river near Tate Modern for the month of August. It will be a back-lit installation and I hope, highly visible, in a prime location for the duration of the Olympics, when the eyes of the world’s media will be on London.

The Independent Free State lives on.

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The Independent Free State mobile billboard toured around London on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd July 2012. The following images are from Day 2: Westminster, Central London and selected iconic locations. The Olympic Stadium was also on my ‘hit list’ but we couldn’t get anywhere near it. Stopping on the roadside in Central London is a precarious business – however the Independent Free State and the photographer went unchallenged the entire day which was a surprise in this summer of high security.

I like how the context of The Independent Free State re-invents and re-presents itself in each location – whether it has two large cannon pointing at it outside the Imperial War Museum, peace flags waving in the background outside Westminster, three young women like classical statues lined up in front of it somehow echoing the female forms in the image, the reflected image in the previously ‘occupied’ territory of St Paul’s cathedral, a statue of Churchill looking down on it or the prestigious Lloyds, Shard and ‘Gherkin’ buildings looming up behind it…

These ‘Planning Proposals’ detail ‘imagined’ artworks to be located in/on specific trees within Chalkwell Park in Southend-on-Sea Essex. They were printed on to vinyl banners and left on the trees for 7 days, launching at Village Green Festival.

I see these proposals as an intervention – the artworks may or may not be viable but they are certainly possible -with the right will and funding. They also ‘test-out’ the public’s response to ‘regeneration’ planning applications and ‘public art’ within their locality.

Text/email comments have included:

‘I am very upset at the prospect of the trees being used for so-called art! Leave the trees ALONE!’

and

‘Lovely old tree best left alone!’

‘To whom it may concern,

I am appalled to learn that you want to put an ugly chavvy stiletto shoe ( and call it art) in such a beautiful tree! Why would anyone want to spoil our natural art forms, which are the trees? It is a stupid idea and totally unecessary!
Yours annoyed’,

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The Independent Free State billboard has attracted some ‘exuberant’ comments including:

‘Free it up ………. ..surrender your walls , the people must draw !’

‘love the vibe’

‘Cool kids – where do I get my passport?’

Post-‘Village Green’: a moment to reflect – a pause before the next phase. The billboard has been out on tour for 3 days now. I’ve had to let go of it, send it out into the world and await the photos and GPS tracking documentation. Also in the pipeline: a time-lapse sequence of the entire live event.

The live event really ‘happened’. I’d put into place so many contingency plans to enable children to draw – in the event, they totally got it and went with it and very little ‘management’ was required. Around 80 individual children made drawings on the day. The thing just grew organically as the space was filled. So at the start there were some big bold drawings then as it progressed drawings were scaled naturally by the children to fit any available space. Young children have natural composition skills – an innate sense of what ‘looks right’ that we sadly lose as we grow-up and over-thing and over-rationalise everything…and learn to distrust our intuition.

The resulting drawings were joyful and exuberant  – the children were asked to draw: ‘something that looks human but isn’t human…’ this crowd of hybrid figures then ‘became’ the occupants of the Independent Free State. The collaboration between the existing artist drawings of hybrid ‘automaton’ figures and eclectic historic, pre-historic and global-cultural appropriations and the children’s freed up figures was frenetic, exciting.

Every child was first asked to make a drawing on blue graph paper on a red clipboard – this helped them to focus on what they wanted to draw – the drawing was then given a red ‘Independent Free State’ stamp – a kind of validation  – a ‘passport entry’ for the Wall – the billboard. This functioned as a kind of pseudo bureaucratic ‘permission’ to ‘go for it’. Which they then did.

Being asked to imagine a non-human human was a brief of sorts – there had to be some parameters otherwise we’d have got cliche cartoon (Pokemon) characters and bad graffiti ‘tags’. I observed how respectful the children were of each others space, the other drawings. Although they were not told they could not add to or draw over other drawings, it was clear they are schooled enough not to ‘go over the lines’. Which is something that could certainly be challenged. I’ve worked with students before where they’ve been asked to co-draw ie work on the same drawing and/or develop each others drawings. It’s a fascinating exercise in personal space and boundaries of course but also of your own sense of authorship/ownership. It’s not easy.

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