While some art students may choose not to become artists, they may become remarkable writers. Like making art, art criticism and art writing are practices, questioning the qualities of visual communication, exploring the contribution of artists, building new connections and raising new ideas. Some artists are uneasy about writing, doubting the ability of words to correspond to a visual language and, all too aware of the validating power of the published word. In response to this situation, Static and WildProjects have commissioned seven art students to develop their own writing practice, through the commissioning of new texts.
‘Seminal 01’ was an open competition. Applicants from UK art schools were invited to send in one example of recent writing. Interestingly, the many responses tended to come from a small number of art schools where a greater engagement with writing is fostered, and perhaps where there is greater attention given to how art work and artist are produced through the activities of writers, galleries and audience, as well as the artist.
From over 60 applications, seven artists were commissioned to respond to the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art 2004. The selected students: Jessica Brand, Jane Jones, Robin Kirsten, Richard Mosse, Heather Philipson, Patrick Troughton and Sarah Tulloch, visited Liverpool for two days, spending an hour with Dave Beech, discussing the dual roles of writer and artist, and visiting the Biennial.
On the second day of their visit the artists also took part in ‘Seminal 02’, a live discussion held at Static, in collaboration with Splicelive. Its intention was to provide a forum where students could explore their relationship to this large-scale festival. It is expected that students are an automatic audience for the Biennial, yet outside of those working as technicians, invigilators and interns it remains to be seen whether they are engaged as an audience. The discussion explored the relevance of the Biennial within art education and whether art educators in the region have been able to make use of the resource. Students had the opportunity to confront Biennial organisers and raise issues that explored, amongst other things, the quality of the work, the unforeseen controversies and whether the Biennial as a whole could do better.
‘Seminal’ drew attention to the unique perspective of Fine Art students, standing between or across the realms of art education and the art world. The artists writing here provide valuable feedback for the Biennial, placing the onus back onto the commissioned institution, challenging them to give serious consideration to the points raised. ‘Seminal’ reverses the relationships at play in Static’s project with Darkhorse, EXIT REVIEW, where every graduating fine art student in Liverpool received a review of their degree show, commissioned from the leaders of Liverpool’s art institutions.
WildProjects is a research group set up by the Liverpool Biennial to explore audience and its many forms. The group is managed and hosted by Static and involves recent graduates and early career artists interested in developing the critical culture of Liverpool. ‘Seminal’ follows ‘Who Is Our Audience?’ a seminar exploring the relevance of audience to the contemporary practitioner. WildProjects continues to target students and early career artists to deevelop critical debate.
Static is an art and architecture organisation in Liverpool, dedicated to exploring the relationship between political, economic and social structures and visual culture. Led by an artist and an architect, Static orchestrates a range of projects, hosts an architect’s model-maker’s practice, runs studios, orchestrates discussions and produces the Static Pamphlet.