Martine Syms.jpg

Still from a film called Incense, Sweaters and Ice
Still from 'Incense, Sweaters and Ice' (2017) by Martine Syms
Image courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, New York

56 Artillery Lane is an exploration of care, kinship, cruelty and love in domestic contexts. The exhibition takes place in Raven Row, a non-profit contemporary art centre constructed within eighteenth century domestic rooms in Spitalfields, London. Naomi Pearce, a PhD candidate at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), is one of the show’s two curators. She tells us how she got involved in the project, and how it relates to her studies at ECA.

Naomi Pearce is a writer whose practice-based research engages the mystery genre and forensic science maxim ‘every contact leaves a trace’. She has been awarded the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) AHRC Studentship 2016-19 to undertake her PhD in the School of Art at ECA supervised by Maria Fusco (ECA) and Dr Elizabeth Reeder (University of Glasgow).

Before starting her PhD, Naomi worked for a year as Gallery Manager of Raven Row, where Amy Budd (Exhibitions Organiser and Deputy Director) invited her to collaborate on a group exhibition. As Naomi explains… “We were interested in working with a number of the same artists and had been talking about trying to experiment with 'feminist curatorial strategies', having previously worked together on the collectively edited journal A-OR-IST”. 

A practical application of theoretical thinking

In her PhD, Naomi is working with untold narratives from the past to unsettle readings of the present. She tells us “I'm looking to develop a 'feminist forensic methodology' in my writing and curatorial practice, and 56 Artillery Lane is the first (tentative) practical application of this theoretical thinking.

The exhibition has involved handling a lot of archival material, both within institutions such as The Women’s Art Library at Goldsmiths University, but also within the private homes of relatives who are caring for an artist’s archive now they have passed away. These excursions, like my PhD research, have focused upon the era of 1970s and the collective temporary occupation of buildings by artists.”

Exploring the concept of trace

Within the School of Art at ECA, Naomi is part of the Narrative/Trace/Physicality research cluster convened by Jane Hyslop and Andrea Roe.

Conceived as a live exhibition, 56 Artillery Lane brings into dialogue contemporary artworks and new commissions with historical and reconstructed pieces, punctuated by a programme of talks, performances, workshops and screenings.

Naomi says “Trace and materiality are present across the works in the exhibition, from Barbara T. Smith's early Xerox artworks, to Anicka Yi and Fiona Clark's use of bodily fluids and bacteria traces in their sculpture and image making. 

The exhibition also includes a publication that seeks to interpret and re-present the residue of past events, whilst attempting to resist the 'experience economy' of physical reconstruction”.

56 Artillery Lane is at Raven Row, London E1 7LS from 21st April to 11th June 2017. 

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