Bold Tendencies

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ARCADIA

Welcome to our additional programme page for the 2021 season on Arcadia. Each year we devote this page to the surrounding world of ideas from our Visual Arts and Live Events programmes. Below you will find interviews with artists, teaser videos, Spotify playlists and more. We hope you enjoy!

ARTIST INTERVIEW: REBECCA ACKROYD

Your new commission for Bold Tendencies is called Back in the days of bare feet. It is an interesting title — where does this phrase come from and what relationship does it have to the work?

The title comes from a conversation I had with my mum where she told me about walking around London in the 60s with bare feet — a concept that seems absurd today. The boots cast in the sculpture were hers and I wanted that connection between London then and now.

The commission has been designed to function as a rooftop sundial for the car park. Can you tell us about the different elements of the physical sculpture, and why was it important for you to make the passing of time so integral to the work?

I wanted the work to connect a different time in London to the present. There’s a nostalgia associated with ‘Swinging London’ — connotations of sexual promiscuity and a break from the black and white conformity of before. The sculpted frog heads are meant to be like sad little suitors looking up longingly at the fragmented cast of my legs in my mum’s old boots. Both elements of the dial (the legs and the frogs) reference fantasies, whether that’s rooted in make-believe or nostalgia, they each reflect an idea of female sexual liberation or desire that contributes to a narrative of “what women want” — it’s myth-making of different kinds from different times.

Click the link to read the full Artist Interview

ARTIST INTERVIEW: FRANCES DRAYSON

Either or After/Sun Dogs has a wealth of reference material including representations of the sun, celestial events and jester figures found in 16th century Nuremberg. Can you elaborate on this reference material and how it has informed your new work? 

I was researching trickery, illusion and warping, which says something about my feelings on the theme of Arcadia. I looked through 16th Century German imagery, searching for stories or representations of uncertainty or the inexplicable. A lot of the material falls within the German Renaissance period, around the time of the Reformation.  

Till Eulenspiegel is a trickster figure from German folklore who leads people astray and plays humiliating pranks. In one story, he escapes punishment by tricking Nuremberg guards into following him across a broken bridge. There is a 1515 woodcut of the bridge with its broken slats — I saw it and thought of a boardwalk, split in two.

During my research, I was struck by an image of another woodcut made in 1561 for a broadsheet by Hans Glaser. It depicts an event witnessed by residents of Nuremberg that year – accounts of the sky filled with strange, rapidly moving objects. Parhelia (sun dogs or mock suns) is one explanation of the event – they are caused by sunlight refracted by ice crystals in the atmosphere. They appear as a pair of lights either side of the sun. 

There’s hubris in trying to piece together an event from multiple accounts, freezing rapid movement in a woodcut. The result is so odd. I thought about approaching the commission as a similar kind of endeavour. I found a few more woodcut illustrations of parhelia and the sun, personified as two partial faces flanking a whole one. These appealed to me as facets of a single persona and as decoys.

Click the link to read the full Artist Interview.

ARTIST INTERVIEW: ANDY HOLDEN

The latest boulder, commissioned by Bold Tendencies and titled In Praise of Folly, is installed on the rooftop of Will Alsop’s Peckham Library and was particularly influenced by Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner series from Looney Tunes. Why was this reference so relevant to you and this iteration of the boulder series?

This one is a break with the old series, a fresh start. It is more overly a cartoon rock, still a folly, but more overtly referencing the boulders of the Cartoon Landscape. It’s built to last, unlike the timber predecessors. More visibly precarious, but in reality much safer. It brings the aesthetic in line with my film work, leaving behind the wooded DIY sphere’s and their performative baggage. It should feel like an object that has fallen out of the Cartoon Landscape, ominously looming over those passing below. But more likely it will fall backwards onto Wile E Coyote, more obviously a symbol of the times. A monument to the end of the Cartoon Landscape.

Why is it important to you that the boulder is conceived as a facade or a “folly”— why not fully enclose the boulder as a solid object?

It’s the main idea really, that it isn’t a sculpture, but a folly. In the sense of it is not built to function in the register that it presents in its facade. It’s a prop for a narrative, and anyway, from where it will be viewed it is not necessary to build a back, and the viewer will assume there is one — seen close up will allow the reveal, like seeing backstage. It was inspired by my interest in architectural follies, the idea of building something deliberately out of time, incongruous, or eccentric, in a facade only. The gap between the thing and where it was viewed from is as important as the thing itself. This seemed full of metaphorical potential so I thought it would be interesting to see how it worked when translated to sculpture.  

Click the link to read the full Artist Interview.

ARTIST INTERVIEW: RENE MATIĆ

The title of the work is a reference to a quote in Lucy Bland’s book, Britain’s ‘Brown Babies’ (2019), that reads, “We English girls took to it like ducks to water. No more quick, quick, slow for us. This was living.” Can you explain the significance of this quote and what it is referencing? 

The quote references meeting, loving and dancing with black men (specifically black G.I.s) during WWII. The more I read it the more weighted and nuanced it becomes. I think the onus is on this idea of ‘living’… that whiteness feels alive when dancing with blackness. Is this the same when the roles are reversed? And at what cost? When whiteness and blackness are intimate, who comes out alive?  Quick, quick, slow is a rhythm that we are all familiar with. no more quick, quick, slow means a change of pace, a reconfiguration, a high hat, an 808… it’s rhythm and blues… it’s blackness.

no more quick, quick, slow was first conceived as part of the Bold Tendencies 2020 summer programme. That summer was a significant time, both in terms of our easing from the first COVID-19 lockdown but crucially the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. Did the climate of that period influence how you thought about the work, and has this changed with the new iteration for 2021?

The work came about, not only as I was thinking about but being bombarded by performative allyship in the form of black squares and images and slogans and all this (literal) white noise that became more violent than the usual silence black folk are used to. This is when I started ruminating on this word ‘leadership’ because I was so confused by who was steering the ship. It sure didn’t feel like black folk were.

Throughout those heartbreaking moments in 2020, I didn’t encounter a single moment of genuine empathy and love from an ‘ally’ (sadly, nor was I expecting to). ‘DANCE WITH ME’ is the invitation and the call out. ‘LET ME LEAD’ is the opportunity to hand over agency and power. The same goes for this year and the next and the next. Ain’t nothing changed.

Click the link to read the full Artist Interview.

ARTIST INTERVIEW: HAROLD OFFEH

The spaceship design is inspired by the Mothership in the film Space is the Place (1974) which stars Afrofuturist Jazz musician, Sun Ra. Why were you drawn to the work of Sun Ra, and in particular this mothership?

I think Sun Ra represents and offers a particular approach that is radical and visionary. As a black man he represents the power to shape your own narrative and identity. He embodied a mythic narrative he created for himself but also encompassed others. It wasn’t perfect and it wouldn’t be my vision, but it provides the example of the power we have to realise and exist in the fictions and fantasy we create. The mothership is a powerful symbol of transformation and transition.

In advance of the spaceship’s arrival in 2021 you organised a public Open Call for people to contribute their own “messages for the future” — what was the reason behind this, and how will it contribute to the final work?

I really wanted to extend an invitation as widely as possible. Again, I’m interested in spreading the process of imagining the future. This was particularly timely in 2020 where with the pandemic and lockdowns people were having the reflect on the present situation and speculating on a post pandemic future. My aim is to broadcast many of the audio contributions from the ship itself and provide links to video and images created. The experience of the ship should be a platform for these other visionary prophets. 

Click here to read the full Artist Interview.

Hail the New Prophets — Open Call

In advance of the arrival of Harold Offeh’s first public sculpture for Bold Tendencies 2021, the artist sent out an Open Call. Between June — December 2020, people around the world were invited to contribute “messages for the future” that would be incorporated into the physical sculpture and a stand-alone digital archive.

Inspired by the prophecies and myth-making of futuristic jazz musician, Sun Ra — also the inspiration for Offeh’s mothership sculpture — this question came at a vital time, in which the future had never looked more uncertain.

A selection of clips taken from audio and video submissions have been included in the above soundscape that plays from within the ship, including short pieces of poetry made and read by children as part of our Creative Learning Workshops, spirited debates from our 2020 Art Trainees about the future of the city after the pandemic, and even speculative collective tarot card readings. 

View the full archive of Open Call submissions and listen to the complete Soundscape

ARTIST INTERVIEW: JESSE POLLOCK

For Bold Tendencies 2021 you will create a new sculpture, The Granary — finished in reflective “candy orange” powder-coat. Why did you choose this form and colour for the sculpture, and what are some of the core ideas behind the work?

I’ve always loved the form and function of a staddle stone, raising produce from vermin and damp. In this case, the staddle stones are human height, allowing the granary store to be safely refuged from contemporary life. The occupier can hide away, a countryside retreat. I imagine the occupier saying something like ‘I want to get away from it all’.  I feel like staddle stones represent the precautions we may need to take, raising us from the high tides of monotonous bullshit. The finish is important, the highly reflective finish is acting as a warped mirror, reflecting you as the contributor and hypocrite. I see Candy Orange as a futuristic rust colour; walking through the British countryside, it is pretty hard to not find some rusty agricultural equipment. I’ve been making steel sculptures for 6 years or so, always asking ‘can it go outside?’ and ‘will it rust?’. Getting my works powder-coated in a jacked up rust gives me great pleasure. 

How do you think about your new commission in relation to the Bold Tendencies 2021 programme theme of Arcadia? 

The Granary asks the question: was Britain once a better place? Was it a quaint lush land, can we have it back please. The Granary is an example of our fantasy of the countryside and the rose-tinted views of what has been before us. At first it indulges in the beauty of this fantasy, but in reality what you have is a beaten, forced and frustrated product. I like to think my work is neither positive or negative, not pure nor evil, but in balance with chaos and harmony. The Granary is an escape to the countryside, an escape from civilisation with the stern reminder that you are also the enemy.  

Click here to read the full Artist Interview.

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