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The Way of the Artist at Work

the way of the artist

Research Centre
Art and Design Research Centre

Date
2010 - ongoing

Reconfiguring the Life Class

The work responds to a photograph of an artist painting in his studio by John Thomson (1837–1921) during his travels to China, found in the Wellcome Collection Archive. The reading of the photograph suggests the artist is able to paint himself, in a moment of self-reflection, but what if this could continue in an infinite reflection of mirrors through space and time, and where would it lead?

The performance workshop is devised and presented as part of China Birth and Belonging Conference at the Wellcome Collection London 2010. The performance-workshop explores: first, the relationships formed by the artist with participants towards a specially designed outcome of life class, combining conventions of copying in drawing practice adapting aspects of performance and participatory art practice; secondly, the possibility of a performance document and its post production made during the live production of drawings; and last, the relations between the results of the drawing activity and the strategies of the photographic and video cameras in an attempt to disrupt the documented reality of the unfolding narrative. In doing so, the potential of a ‘reconfigured life class’ questions the constructed reality in participatory documentation, re-appraises the role and status of the life model and life drawing, and presents new critical approaches to teaching drawing in the contemporary life class.

Other performance-workshops part of The Reconfigured Life Class series include: Straight to Video: A Body in Part, Strang Print Room, as part of Art Schools: Inventions, Invectives and Radical Possibilities, a conference at University College London 2010; Cut/Copy/Paste, a symposium and performance event part of Live Notation: Transforming Performance Matters at Arnolfini, Bristol 2012; and Delete/Copy/Paste, which was part of the Transart Institute MFA Summer Programme at Supermarkt Berlin 2013.

Researchers involved

Yuen Fong Ling

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