As we move towards the first quarter of the third millennium, the impermanent and shifting influence of globalisation, economic division, migratory encounters, social media, historic narrative and tourism is having a major impact in our understanding of the making, belonging and occupying of place. It is widely documented that these conditions are contributing to a growing sense of displacement and alienation in what constitutes as place making, occupying, and belonging.
CCFT is asking how interdisciplinary artistic research practices contribute and share new critical understandings to aid this evolving understanding of place making, belonging and occupying?
'Curious Arts No. 6' (a collaborative artist book work) Published by CCA, Glasgow, 2013.
The book work, 'Curious Arts – No. 6', results from a period of residency and research in the private library at Hospitalfield House in Arbroath on the North-East coast of Scotland. The original owners of the house, Patrick and Elizabeth Allan-Fraser, were both dedicated to the ideals of art and nature and, following their deaths in the late nineteenth century, the House has been run as a trust dedicated to developments in the visual arts, literature and music in Scotland and internationally.
Given the owners’ original ideals, the House, its library and the ensuing years of residencies hosted by the Trust, have secured Hospitalfield as a part of Scotland and the UK’s cultural heritage: it is a hidden gem. Brind & Harold engaged with the House and its collections over a 6-year period. While the intention of this book is, in part, focused by the ethos of the Allan-Fraser’s, the House, its library and collections, 'Curious Arts – No. 6' is a visual and textual analysis of the qualities of the place, particularly those of the eclectic holdings of the library, that focuses on the ideals associated with nature and landscape. The archive comes alive as soon as one asks the question: how might this historical knowledge inform our contemporary understandings of the natural world? To help answer this Brind & Harold commissioned a human geographer, Dr. Nina Morris (Edinburgh University), and the academic and curator, Dr. Francis McKee (CCA, Glasgow) to join their researches into the House and its holdings. The resulting 52 page publication includes their responses as texts, as well as a visual essay by the artists, and includes an introduction by Lucy Byatt, Director of Hospitalfield House.
Published by CCA, Glasgow, 'Curious Arts No. 6' has been produced with substantial financial support from The Royal Society of Edinburgh, along with funding from the Glasgow School of Art’s Research Development Fund, with the intention that it be freely gifted to Scottish public libraries and libraries within institutions of higher education in the UK, and selected art libraries internationally. Whilst we live in an age where the internet is proliferating as one means of knowledge storage and dissemination, private and public libraries remain invaluable as models of knowledge-gathering systems and as archives vital to our deeper understanding of the world. By gifting copies of 'Curious Arts No. 6' to libraries, Brind & Harold hope to symbolically connect the knowledge held in a small private library in Arbroath with libraries and readers elsewhere.
'Curious Arts – No. 5'
CCA, Glasgow, 2011
Sculptural and sound installation
In December 2011 the CCA dedicated its major gallery spaces to a two-week programme that developed its support for writing and publishing within contemporary art practice: "This programme will review the progress of 2HB in the form of an exhibition, ... an events programme and place this activity in the broader context of an international book fair where we can consider how books travel and how we travel through books. ... It has felt like the quality and diversity of artistic practice in Glasgow has been accelerated by art writing and journal publishing, as if the intelligence and sensibility of artistic practice in the city has been harnessed to a new force. ... So, we are wondering: what kind of cultural motor is independent publishing in Glasgow, and how does writing act as a motor within the artist's own practice?"
Quoted from CCA, Glasgow - "2HB: What we make with words. Writing and publishing as motors within contemporary art practice", October 2011 (undated). Exhibition curators: Sarah Tripp and Jamie Kenyon.
Exhibiting Artists: Susan Brind & Jim Harold, Ruth Buchanan, Alex Impey, Paul Elliman, Kathryn Elkin, Hannah Ellul, Kate Morrell, Charlotte Prodger, Thom Walker, and Rebecca Wilcox.
Drawing upon research undertaken in the library at Hospitalfield House, Arbroath (an historic house on the east coast of Scotland), and by means of a sculptural sound installation, 'Curious Arts – No. 5 took the viewer on a journey from the private world of the writing desk to the landscape and a place of images, texts and the history of ideas.
'Hinterlands' for the exhibition 'Between Worlds'
Renmin University of China, Beijing, 2015
The installation, ‘Hinterlands’, comprises two related elements: a wall painting with vinyl text; and four unframed photographic digital prints arranged on adjacent walls.
The wall texts are taken from a mixture of diary notes and descriptions of photographic images made by the artists, Brind & Harold, over a number of years whilst on research journeys. The texts are not chronologically ordered but, instead, are intended to be read as a series of text-images. Through typographic layout and proximity, the texts become interrelated whilst not being the direct traces of a linear journey or journeys. Rather, they tell of the small moments of travel and experience (un-photographable in some cases) that act as the truer registers of a journey; whether that journey is outwardly bound or inwardly focused. As a result the work seeks to allow these events and the phrases used to account for them to become liminal spaces - thresholds or hinterlands - through which the viewer's own imagination may engage with the artists’.
The photographs of desert space, details of the desert floor taken in the Egyptian a Desert, are similarly intended as the traces of real events and locations, while providing ambiguous spaces of reading and meaning.
'For you …'
Susan Brind and Jim Harold
Woodside Library, Glasgow
As part of ‘Bitter Rose’, Glasgow International, 2016
including talk and performative readings
Over a number of years, artists Susan Brind and Jim Harold have been collaborating on an artwork that takes the form of a growing series of letters, with the working title Coffee Letters, that reference events witnessed since the turn of the 20th-21st Century.
The letters, based on the artists’ own experiences and observations, are written by an anonymous ‘I’ – from different years and various international locations – to an unknown ‘you’ – whose location is not known. The letters reveal a relationship, by means of reflecting upon historical and current events, and moments shared, that reaches across continents, cultures and time.
For you … was developed as a sculptural installation and a reading for the ‘Bitter Rose’ project that took place at different locations in Glasgow (8 April - 2 May 2016) devised for Glasgow International 2016, by writer, poet and musician Tawona Sithole and artist Birthe Jorgensen. Sithole & Jorgensen invited selected artists to devise a work for chosen locations distributed across the City of Glasgow so as to interact with the different communities located within and dispersed across the city.
Key words: Place Identity, Conflict Zones, Border Territories, Liminality, Peripheral Spaces and Voices, Access to Spaces, Right to Speak and Dissemination.
This exposition explores concepts of liminality, access, and means of expression using the divided island of Cyprus as a main case study for analysis and reflection. The exposition is structured in sections or liminal means of expression, which are punctuated, interrupted and / or interrogated by "normative" voices such as "historical facts", definitions, museum displays, etc. published by voices of authority or agency:
Poetic dialogues: These are descriptive letters, Coffee Letters, co-authored by Susan Brind & Jim Harold, written while travelling and in a state of liminality. The letters have no direct addressee nor any formal signing-off. They are intended as fragments of letters, and moments of time passing from an unidentified “I” to and un-named “you”.
Photographic essay on the Buffer Zone, Caesura, part of an ongoing series of images by Jim Harold that document the landscape along and within the demarcation lines of the UN-brokered Buffer Zone (established 45 years ago). These photographs are intentionally understated images that touch upon the zone’s state of disruption and dislocation (physical, social political, and cultural) and that of a returning, if misshapen, appearance of idyll within the uninhabited landscape.
Exploring the role of the 'self' and the 'other': Part 1, by Ana Souto, questions the role of the 'other' and the 'self', the outsider educator negotiating postcolonial tensions around agency and access with local students, open to interpretative quotes from established authors, reflections through texts and images.
Exploring the role of the 'self' and the 'other': Part 2, by Susan Brind and Jim Harold, reflects on the use of Travelling Colloquia and Nomadic Dialogues as methods to enable meaningful exchanges with people with local knowledge. This is exemplified by the CCFT Nicosia Colloquium, 2016; Timeless Encounters: 'Place of Barley', Agios Sozomenos, 2018; and the Buffer Fringe 2019, Nicosia, in addition to conversations in the space of the City.
Three other sections reflect a multiplicity of observations, facts and voices that, collaged together, reflect the complexity of place, and the processes and methods used to explore these ideas.The main methodology of this submission is practice-led and phenomenological in nature, moving from visual, textual, and reflexive ethnography to autoethnographic scenarios, explored and analysed through dialogue and exchange. This collaboration between the authors sits under the umbrella of the Creative Centre for Fluid Territories (CCFT), an international research centre which interrogates how interdisciplinary artistic research practices contribute to and share critical insights about place making, belonging and occupation. The core participants in CCFT are a group of artistic researchers, architects, designers and cultural theorists from England, Scotland, Norway and Cyprus whose practices, individual and collectively, seek to consider the role of artistic research in shaping narratives of place. Attention has been given to the diversity of each creative and academic practice to allow for the expression of difference as a dynamic aspect of interaction. CCFT’s working methods build on an established mutual respect; track record and insight, rooted in a continued collaborative relationship that has emerged through trust and dialogue. The collaboration focuses on practice-based research methods, exploiting the creative intersection between image and text, presented as performance, publication, installation, architectural and design interventions, and spatial practices.
CCFT’s key methods are the use of Travelling Colloquia and Nomadic Dialogues as strategies to explore the meaning(s) of ‘place’ from different locations, perspectives, and across time. This exposition, focusing on Cyprus as a case study, offers a multidisciplinary collage of contrasting voices which does not aim to resolve the question of liminality, but add liminal voices and spaces to the debate.
Note: The descriptive text about CCFT, its membership, focus and approach is extracted from the group's aims and objectives and is part of an introductory text in a forthcoming publication Fluid Territories, University of Bergen, 2020.
Creative Centre for Fluid Territories (CCFT), is a peripatetic international research group that contributes to discussions about interdisciplinary practices and how they articulate critical insights about place making, belonging and occupation.
Building on last year’s contribution to buffer fringe 2019 - ‘The Urban Glenti’ - CCFT proposes to create a unique dialogical and negotiated creative exchange to take place on-line within a dedicated exposition: Images, sounds, texts, interviews, moving image are going to be used to contest the idea of fixed documentation in order to acknowledge how our relationship to places are not static and where conflict/tension/uncertainty also defines the creative process itself.
CCFT’s work methodology builds on an established mutual respect; track record and insight, rooted in a continued collaborative relationship that has emerged through trust and dialogue. Our focus is on practice-based research methods exploiting the creative intersection between image and text, presented as performance, publication, installation, architectural work, design intervention, music works and spatial practice. In the intersection of these formulations, we seek to explore the expanded concept of “the atlas” as a dissemination strategy. ATLAS – the order of memory - simultaneously linear and cyclic, ordered and labyrinthine, open to infinite interpretation and analysis — a form of mnemonic iteration – physical and virtual.