I have attended a few of Turfs’ lunchtime crits, always being surprised and excited by the number of local people these engage (quite a rarity from my experience in galleries) and the crit attendees’ political and creative relationship to the local area, so when I was asked to host one I was delighted.
At this month’s lunchtime crit the artist Skye Baker spoke of her love of analogue photography and her use of narrative alongside the use of instagram as a space to present work, as well as her illustrations and their own analogue and digital curation.
The discussion we had, and the work that was shown, led us down a path into a critical conversation I am personally very interested in, one I feel is very relevant for my own context, studying Media, using video and online platforms to make and curate within my practice.
This brought up the interesting relationship between documentary, imagined narratives and the use of digital and analogue environments and mediums.
Skye’s work opened up topics on the ethics of non-fiction narratives and their use within artistic practice. How and when it is ethical, and sometimes beneficial, to ‘twist someone’s stories’ and how as artists we collect others’ data (images, words) to use within our own work, very often the people that are close to us and whose certain relationships or traits we find interesting, poetic, or critical in the context of a wider discussion.
This type of work that involves non fictive narratives, or people’s personal information or profile, is always on the boundaries of ethical practice and is more often than not very hard to decide when one has crossed this line. During the critique we discussed issues of drawing and taking photos without permission, and how the context of their eventual use changes the ethics of the the act of collecting these images.In a world where we are constantly surveyed and digitally self published the lines become more and more blurry in regards to permission and collecting data, making this kind of work more critical and more complex than ever before. I feel like the discussions we had around this seemed to be very helpful for Skye, as an artist whose work so often includes images of people, their private homes and their real life situations, although she was already engaged with the ethics of the work this discussion brought up the complexities of documenting and of online and physical gallery spaces.
Skye is studying Visual Communication at Leeds College, but grew up in Croydon, with her interest in documenting and storytelling she started speaking of a project she is undertaking, a video set in Croydon piecing together various discussions about the Croydon regeneration project. This particular project could be said to reveal the benefits of an artist using and thinking critically about various platforms and mediums, allow someone to piece together various, and I Imagine quite confrontational, views of complex political situations.
Skye’s openness into the fluidity of mediums is an exciting and refreshing view, not feeling constrained to a medium but rather putting first the criticality of the subject and the platform the work exists in.
The lunchtime crits that I have attended at Turf have allowed me a multitude of views that I find incredibly helpful. As an artist who puts critical discussion at the forefront of their practice this critique outside of a conventional institution is vital, and especially valued in a place where so many people are engaged critically with their locality, and with local politics, as are all the people I have met through Turf’s lunchtime crits.