'Give & Take'. A project with artists from California and Northern Ireland. 04- 16 April 2011
Participating artists: Acitore Z Artezione, Anne Beck, Alexa Hare, Michael Hart, Christine Kesler, Dietmar Krumrey, Presley Martin, Tonya McMullan, Paulina Sandberg, Andrew Vennell.

Opening hours: Wed- Fri 1-5pm, Sat 11am-3pm
Events @ PS²
Saturday, 09 April, 5pm: Word association
Thursday, 14 April, 5pm: artist talk


Give&Take, curated by Tonya McMullan, is an experimental investigation into the individual artistic process and the risks taken when directed to work outside one's chosen comfort zone.
Five artists based in Scotland and Ireland were matched together with five California based artists, together they swapped a set of instructions and set about making work in response to the suggestions, communicating their ideas through unfamiliar means and allowing new variables to emerge in a group exhibition at the Lost Coast Culture Machine in Fort Bragg California.
The ten artists will now work on a new give and take angle intended to be an evolved version of events focusing on the concept of give and take and the new location.  The project will attempt to invigorate the dialogue between artist and viewer, artists will offer something to visitors to the gallery who will be encouraged to take what they want from it.  A transatlantic word association will take place in PS², where artists and visitors to the gallery's from both continents are invited to take part. 
For more information see project blog.
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Events @ PS²
Saturday, 09 April, 5pm: Give & Take Word Association



Give & Take will host a transatlantic word association game – the LCCM in California will also set up a hub – and a skype link will be set up between the two. A recording of the day will be taken for further exploration in a site specific location.
Throughout the week visitors can take part in an ongoing word association game – 
displayed in the gallery window is a scrolling word display unit - people are invited to 
type in words that come to mind after reading the previous persons entry.
Thursday, 14 April, 5pm: artist talk
A discussion about the project with the artists. All welcome


For more information on the 'Give & Take' project in Northern California see www.lostcoastculturemachine.org.
For more information on the artists:
Tonya McMullan

Anne Beck
DietmarKrumney
Paulina Sandberg

Andrew Vennell
Christine Kessler


Floor Plan and instructions

1. Tonya McMullan, Northern Ireland
>Here You Go<
Take a postcard and mark on the map a place of significance.  On the back of the postcard write a description of the place and include your name and email address.  A photograph of your chosen spot will be taken and a selection of the images made into postcards.  Check  the wordpress site for more information http://hereyougogo.wordpress.com
2. Anne Beck, USA
>Citizen Animals<
These animals and their speech bubbles are stickers - your task is to take these animals and the speech bubbles out of the gallery and into the street.
Before taking the sticker you must trace around the image using the pencils on the wall.

3. Alexa Hare, Scotland
>mum dad<
 
4. Andrew Venell, USA
>Supercruft Induction Station 011<
Using the remote control device press the buttons to generate abstract compositions. At the press of a button, compositions are printed onto photo paper. Several times a day all compositions are automatically posted to www.Science-Family-Government.com
5. Paulina Sandberg, Scotland
>Metamorphosis<
Please take with you a piece of the stomach and email (address on back of piece) a photo of your own, or you can ask the gallery assistant to take a picture today. 
6. Michael Hart, Northern Ireland
>Disassembled <

Move around the acetate to make new colours.

7. Dietmar Krumrey, USA DVD's are free for you to take
8. Christine Kesler, USA
>Would You Still Love Me If<
(IHNNANMAIINWTSMWIAGEAOEVRIWGPBRIMWFOHAOFTGATTFHAGANCAMEJFMOSAHP
TSTTCPHAP) ... Because That's The Direction This All Seems Headed (WICJEAMBFMTDIISRAMGSLRSAJGOVGHCAW SANGAF
FATAWAWITOMAWIEGTGTLINFTAWCINAIGEWI)

9.Acitore Z Artezione,
Northern Ireland
>INTERACTIVE FICTION
Game/Story Development Sessions<

13 & 14 April 2011 11.00-5.00pm in PS².
The artefacts from the Give & Take Project in Fort Bragg USA and its current nemesis in PS² have provided early stage conceptual material for building an Interactive Fiction as story and as game.….so we have a stream of consciousness world view (from Anne Beck), a series of human/animal hybrids (from inhabitants and visitors in Fort Bragg)... everything else is open.
For the Game/Story Development Sessions no experience is required other than an agile mind. You can drop in for a few hours or sign up for the two days. Laptop could be useful. Interactive Fiction information and the free ware program Inform 7 can be downloaded from www.inform7.com

10. Presley Martin, USA
>Text<

Presley explores relationships by pairing discovery with obsessive activity. The resulting pieces are as much a record of an event as they are works of formalist sculpture.
For Pssquared Presley has chosen to taken the text element from his work at Give and take at LCCM and slowly feed it to the gallery through the fax machine.

 

GIFTING SHOCK
Published in 'The Visual Artists' News Sheet, Issue 3, May- June 2011
Tonya McMullan discusses her first project ‘GIVE AND TAKE’ in Northern California that featured a collaborative process involving 10 artists from Scotland, Northern Ireland and the USA.
Just over a year ago in Barcelona, I spent two weeks with the California based Anne Beck (1), when our residencies in the city overlapped. Anne’s practice has frequently involved book-making and mail art projects. She  had recently moved to Fort Bragg, a small town fifty miles north of San Francisco and spoke idealistically of setting up a contemporary gallery.
A few months after leaving Barcelona I received a surprise email asking for proposals for exhibitions, from the Lost Coast Culture Machine (2) an artist-run culture space, papermaking facility and shop in Northern California focusing on interdisciplinary and sustainable creative practice. I thought of Anne immediately; but also another contact of mine, Paulina Sandberg (3) an artist based in Edinburgh, Scotland with whom I had set up Echo (4) an artist led initiative. 
I moved from Edinburgh to Belfast in 2009, and myself and Paulina set up Echo in 2007. Echo has realised a number of projects locally and internationally exhibiting in hotel bedrooms, office blocks along with art galleries engaging in open and participatory work. Since I had re-located to Belfast Paulina and I chatted and idly brainstormed remotely through Internet and postal services – sending one another suggestions of films to watch, opportunities and artists to look up.
It seemed for me a logical progression to develop a project with these two friends the far side of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. I approached Anne and Paulina with the idea of rounding up five artists – forcefully marrying pairs of artist and providing a framework for artists to swap instructions and make new work based on these correspondences.
The project was titled ‘Give and Take’ was supported through the Arts Council for Northern Ireland Travel Award. Given the reciprocal nature of the project myself Anne and Paulina agreed it should come full circle landing back in Belfast.  PSsquared accepted our proposal to host ‘Give and Take: Part II’.
In discussions with Paulina we agreed which artists could be involved by drawing from our recent experiences – Paulina selecting Alexa Hare, Edinburgh based and a co director of the Embassy Gallery (5) in Edinburgh. I approached Acitore Artizone, an artist familiar with collaborative practice; who in 2006 had begun researching emergent models and theory surrounding public authoring within collaborative practices. The other artist involved was Belfast based Michael Hart – who was also familiar with collaboration, and comes from a printmaking background. In  2010 I worked with Michael on the ‘Printwin’ project organised by The Belfast Print Workshop (6), which matched printmakers with other artists unfamiliar with print in an attempt to introduce the medium to a new audience.
Anne co ordinated the California side of things approaching Andrew Venell (7), Christine Kesler (8), Dietmar Krumrey (9) and Presley Martin (10) with the idea, a brief discussion amongst the artists led to the matchmaking.  Andrew is a multimedia artist whose work incorporates new media, collage, video, interactive narrative, sculpture and performance to highlight the absurdities and anxieties of as he describes – our  heavily mediated life. Christine uses paint, drawing collage and found materials – for ‘Give and Take’ at PSsquared, Christine asked for street debris to be posted to her for re-purposing. Dietmar’s practice encompasses mixed media looking at  language communication and personal articulation. Presley uses found materials; and his work, mostly sculpture-based has an underlying obsessive and meticulous quality.

‘Give and Take’ in some respects was a gift exchange. Walter Benjamin, in the chapter entitled Fancy Goods inhis 1928 publication One-Way Street (1928) remarked that “Gifts must affect the receiver to the point of shock.”(11). And indeed when the ten ‘Give and Take’ artists swapped sets of gifted  directions given to them by a complete stranger on the other side of the world; the hope was that these would shake and shock  us all out of our holding patterns and  translate into a fresh approach to art making.
On the 8 June 2010 the pairs of artists were introduced virtually and a deadline of 19 July 2010 12 noon GMT was set for the swap, the deadline was in place to ensure artists did not give instructions influenced by those they received. From there artists went ahead and followed the instructions for the next seven months – some seemed to get an easy ride – Presley and Michael for example both offered one another the same task – to go for a walk.
A couple of artists choose to ignore completely some of the tasks – I asked Christine Kesler to consider the “weaknesses in her vicinity” – to which she replied 'too dark' and continued on to the next option.  Alexa instructed Dietmar  to make a mix tape – something he admitted he had never done in his life before. He then went onto constructing a life size figure wrapped completely in the brown tape from five cassette tapes respectively entitled Sessions Presents Summertime Gold/ Mike + The Mechanics/ Praise and Worship: The Highest Place/ Jimmy Ponder; Down Here On the Ground / Yes; Fragile/ Third World/ Hold On to Love; Keith Jarrett. Organ, Hymns, Spheres. This work perfectly complimented the fascination Alexa has in her own practice of music paraphanelia and fetishisation.

The results were mixed. Some artists admitted they were totally uninspired by their given instructions – and found it painful to find a common ground for exploration. Others drew great inspiration from the task – and some (including myself) seemed to follow the instructions they set rather than those they received. These realisations only became evident at the artists talks when visitors asked questions about the process. In the middle of the project, we all found it difficult to articulate what was going on and hard to imagine how the show would turn out visually. In hindsight each artists interpretation, deviation and discipline showed how each individuals approach differed and allowed another layer to be revealed in the project.
The collaborative installation process and resulting show, became a rich and engaging experience in itself – with unforeseen twists and turns occurring at the last minute. With so many artists involved; and the scale of their work being large, we set about arranging the exhibition to make the best use of the height of the ceiling and in between spaces. This strategy of arrangement was required to respond to Andrews instruction for Paulina, her resulting work had to face East at the time of exhibition.  With so many constraints and considerations to take on board – aside from our attempt to make the show work visually – we had a daunting task before us. Ultimately we found a compromise,  a word key to the entire project.

Personally, in my view one of the most rewarding exchanges was between Acitore and Anne who each took a generous approach. They set about developing the project and eventually installing the work together when they met for the first time at the LCCM.  Anne's mission was to create an ‘Interactive Location Based Mobile Game Challenge’ for the public. The project is ongoing and comprises of a virtual application about re-imaging the local community and environment. Anne used the public exhibition as a data gathering exercise – allowing visitors to suggest what content they would like to see in the game. The Fort Bragg local authority have since expressed their interest in supporting the project.
Acitore received a huge wall chart mind map via post from Anne – hundreds of words and statements connected to one another. Acitore choose a single speech bubble from the mind map “animal human hybrid” – and created a wall based chart again engaging with visitors to contribute to the chart by drawing their own hybrid animals and attempting to make sense of the statement. Each of their projects shared a sense of being part of a larger work and a surveying procedure that asked the audience to evaluate their ownership and creative potential.

‘The Give and Take’ project is continuing, drawing on the fertile exchanges set up between the participating artists and the public. We all have resolved to regroup in Belfast and have decided on a course of action for ‘Give and Take: Part II” at PSsquared Belfast. Each artist will work individually (none expressing strong desire to repeat the laboured exchanges of Part I) taking the concept of give and take and using one of the strengths of the Lost Coast Culture Machine show – the interactive element. Artists will give something to the gallery and invite visitors to take, Presley will send daily texts into the galleries scrolling display unit, we will host a transatlantic word association game setting up a skype link with Lost Coast Culture Machine Breeding another element into the project which I hope will gain momentum and develop further.

Many of the artists involved were not familiar with collaborative or participatory practices and so this way of working was a venture into new territories.  The artists were paired together with a purposeful push to create frictions between their methodologies, practice and personalities. Overall ‘Give and Take’ was by its very design a controlled experiment – exploring how individuals respond to an enforced task and exhibiting how a conglomerate of ideas/inputs can creatively addresses the role of influence/authorship.
Tonya McMullan (12)

Notes
1. Anne Beck www.anastomose.net
2. Lost Coast Culture Machine  www.lostcoastculturemachine.org
3. Paulina Sandberg www.paulinasandberg.com
4. Echo www.echogogo.co.uk
5. Embassy Gallery www.embassygallery.org
6. Belfast Print Workshop www.belfastprintworkshop.org.uk
7. Andrew Venell www.andrewvenell.com
8. Christine Kesler www.christinekesler.com
9. Dietmar Krumrey www.dietmarkrumrey.com
10. Presley Martin www.presleymartin.com
11. Walter Benjamin In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). Fancy Goods, One-Way Street (1928)
12. Tonya McMullan www.tonyamcmullan.co.uk


Saturday, 09 April: Word Association

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