Paper Bag Research Forum

Ah how quickly it came and went…. Or more how quickly the three weeks following it went, what with mid-year assessment casting its long shadow over art school and my husband breaking his collar bone only one week after officially recovering from breaking his other collar bone. And breaking off a wee bit of his leg-bone for good measure, to ensure full invalid status.

In the midst of this the One Day Wonder post-mortem has been repeatedly postponed.  Or at least the public sharing of it has; In between the various man-and-child caring tasks I have been contemplating its outcomes and possible developments and this is what I have been thinking:

I found the overall dynamic of a research-based exhibition surprisingly generative and enjoyable. It was more than just the freedom from the need to present a cohesive, resolved exhibition, although that was in itself significant. I found the experience of exhibiting work as a mid point of process somehow much more exciting than the usual exhibition as culmination and end point of a given project. Despite a degree of apprehension I found it both enjoyable and useful to open up the making/ thinking process for discussion with a group of peers.

The project provided me with the opportunity to develop a whole lot of work that I had been thinking about for a while, without concerning myself too much about outcome or how it would all work together in the gallery. Maybe it made me reassess failure as an active driver in research, for while I am conscious that bad might be good, I find it difficult to hold the value of failure in the process of critical decision-making. I decided that in a research exhibition the inclusion of potential failure would be essential for useful discussion and critique and it seems that this embrace of a working level of uncertainty is not only generative and exciting for my working practice, but appears to generate a degree of energetic and polarised response from the audience.

The question is how can this be applied in the usual exhibition situation, where the exhibition probably is the culmination of a project, and stands of fall on its merits as finished work? It has me wondering if a practice, worked out as a series of exhibitions over time, could be an ongoing proposition; a never answerable question elucidated upon but not concluded, art as thinking rather than consolidated into thought.

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