(click on year and high lighted text for link on show and project undertaken)
 

Eight Days A Week 2001 :`UNHEIMLICH', `Die Halle',Wiesbaden, Germany - April 2001

An exhibition at Die Halle Gallery. Wiesbaden, Germany. Featuring the works of English Artists: Pete Clark, Pam Meecham. Geoff Molyneux, Paul Sullivan.

`Unheimlich' was an exhibition concept uniting British and European Artists developed by artists strongly associated with the North West of England. The exhibition hosted by Wiesbaden artists' `Die Halle' was the most recent in a series of international artists' initiatives and exchanges. The exhibition exhibited seven large paintings by Pete Clarke and incorporated work by Geoff Molyneux, Liverpool City College, Pam Meecham, Institute of Education, London and Paul Sullivan, director of Static, architectural practice and gallery, Liverpool.

Geoff Molyneux

Unheimlich' was formally opened by representatives of Wiesbaden City Council and was supported and funded by the City Councils of Liverpool and Wiesbaden, the Goethe Institute, Liverpool City College, Institute of Education, London and Liverpool Design Agencies - Yoyo and Static. The exhibition catalogue had a critical essay from Bryan Biggs, Director of the Bluecoat Arts Centre Liverpool.
Pete Clarke was also commissioned by the leading journal for contemporary art `[a-n] for artists' to write an illustrated account of the exhibition and explore the developing network of the international projects in the September issue 2001. The exhibition was reviewed in the `Wiesbaden Kurier' 25 /04 /2001.

Paul Sullivan :Drawing No.114

This work starts with the assumption that architecture is colonised by the mediocre, the unambitious, the illiterate.
It will therefore propose, through code and pictorial language (as opposed to conventional forms of architectural drawing] to counteract the march of the `bland' and the unacceptable prevalence in society of a 'dead architecture'. It will also propose that the fundamental problem in architecture is the breakdown in translation. The ability to move a thing from one place to another place without distortion (concept to building), and thus reiterate the significance of the original drawing, which must now be viewed as architecture in its most seductive state as opposed to merely a courier of controlled information.
To conclude, the meaning inherent within the piece, the deciphered text, will examine the possibility of what Heideger described as "The bringing into being of the thing that has remained dormant", in this case, an authentic means of architectural production.
Paul Sullivan: Drawing No I 14 Medium: Ink on film Size: 220cm x 94cm

 

Geoff Molyneux : Landscape
This work was, primarily derived from an exploration of landscape. Our own relationship with landscape has changed dramatically over the centuries, from appropriation through invasion, by migration to `new lands` through the search for the spiritual and through the fusion of the Classical and the Romantic in the Grand Tour, we have come to a view of the civilised : a view that reinforces Western historical hegemony. I am particularly interested in the `uncertainty' of our relationship with landscape. There are many things to be considered, whether they be personal or political, nostalgic or nationalistic.

Geoff Molyneux : Landscape & Landschaft: : Acrylic on canvas

There are both barriers to be challenged and questions of ownership to be asked. Just how comfortable can one be with what one perceives as familiar?
An involvement with landscape frequently requires a journey, an intent of direction of travel and an idea of what is going to be found. Many feelings can be evoked; maybe to enter the unknown or embrace the nostalgic. There are many choices: do I embark on an adventure of exploration and discovery, or stay safe with what is known or assumed?
A lot depends on what is accessible, on what is taken, on what is gathered, and on what is left behind. I am interested in exploring some of these notions, using familiar items such as the chair (the static) and the suitcase (the mobile), with unfamiliar surface rendering (derived from camouflage designs).
The intention is not to conceal, but to reveal, to investigate those perceptions of familiarity, to accept the transient nature of things.

Moonwaller Statue Medium: Photograph Statue des Spaziergangers auf dem Mond Fotografie

Pam Meecham : Monumnts and history
The record of our civic and national disasters and triumphs dominate the city or public square or line the avenue or street. The bronze equestrian statues of military heroes or granite faced legends of past political administrations gaze down unseeing and are largely unseen. Post-Rodin the anthropomorphic statue was not the stuff of the avant-garde.

The civic demands of resemblance and dignity meant that the avant-garde forswore the public commissions to celebrate the great and the good. The self-elected artist left the public space to the monument maker and turned to the demands of the personal.
At least that is so in one history. There are other histories to tell. The works in this exhibition are concerned with two transformations and two losses.

The photographs on which the art works are based were taken in 1997 in an aircraft hanger near Louny in the Czech Republic. The representatives of Soviet power until 1989 stand in storage awaiting rehabilitation. A colossal statue of Lenin, in his great coat and fur hat, stands beside statues of a baroque saint and a decorative maiden united in their current obsolescence. However, divested of power through political irrelevance, the statues can be transformed into objects of nostalgia or symbols of failed utopianism.

Lenin's image was un-valourised in the west as a product of Socialist Realist dogma. Now transformed it acts as an uncanny reminder of the losses of the past: the works confront our own political and aesthetic amnesia. They confirm the failure of the modernist aesthetic to be anything but an exercise, a ritual, for reaffirming traditional beliefs about art and the histories that it represents.

Pete Clark : City going to sea ; Receding storeys

'Pete Clark
The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognised and never seen again'. Thesis on the Philosophy of History, Walter Benjamin.
'The city does not just refer to a set of buildings in a particular place. To put it polemically there is no such thing as a city. Rather, the city designates the space produced by the interactions of historically and geographically specific institutions, social relations of production and reproduction, practices of government, forms and media of communication and so forth. The city, then, is above all a representation. I would argue that the city constitutes `an imagined environment'.' Metropolis: the city as text', James Donald.
Old poems, bits of text, half remembered quotations, holiday postcards, photos of old relics, images of city streets and suburban parks provide the source material for this recent work. The paintings are perhaps a form of evidence, like historical scars on a social landscape.
The works are presented as curious `pairings', associated but disconnected images of the margins, consumer corners and facades of the `contemporary' city. They explore spatial environments, image recognition, fiction and the commonplace.

Pete Clarke February 2001
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INTERNATIONAL 35 : UNHEIMLICH

Pete Clarke gives an account of his involvement in an exhibition that is part of an ongoing network of exchanges between artists from the north west of England and different European cities.
FREUD, IN HIS ESSAY exploring psychology and aesthetics, took the concept of "das unheimliche' literally to mean 'the uncanny' or'unhomefy'. For Freud this sense of the uncanny was not new or alien, but the exploration of interrelated concepts of 'the outsider' and'the resurfacing of the hidden'. This hypothesis provided a useful metaphor for'unheimlich artists' to explore location, history, the language of the city and the sense of place in an ever-closer European context.
The exhibition 'Unheimlich' at Die Halle, Wiesbaden, Germany included work by four artists who, whifst different in terms of practice, share similar concerns for engagement and audience. Geoff Molyneux's large-scale landscape painting explores issues concerning ownership and territory; Pam Meecham's evocative photographic documentation of monuments to utopian communism provides evidence questioning historical memory and its social amnesia. Paul Sullivan made the large Drawing No. 114 to critique the failure of the modern building to imaginatively go beyond bland functionality. My own mixed-media paintings and texts are intended to reconstruct a poetic representation of the contemporary city.

Die Halle is an artists' collective that runs an exhibition programme in a converted launderette. These German artists are typical in their outwardlooking and positive desire for new ways of working in a more seamless Europe. It was interesting to explore the differences and similarities in the artists' sense of ambition, assumptions and facilitating processes compared to the UK. Wiesbaden - like its comfortable spa town equivalent of Harrogate with its surveillance capacity on Menworth Hill - has shades of the unheimlich.

It is the gambling capital of central Europe. Also, bored American GIs conscripted to keep the post-war peace created an anarchic Fluxus experiment in the context of the USA's European centre for military high command. Wiesbaden still contains the seeds of the uncanny with Fluxus musician and performance artist Ben Patterson remaking classics like Swan Lake as video presentations in his German bathroom. He has been invited to Liverpool to undertake a project in 2002.

Revealing what is'hidden' - or perhaps what is not always visible - strikes me as a very useful strategy for contemporary artists in an administered culture of continuing globalisation. Survival and enabling strategies seem to be about second-guessing cultural and political shifts and capitalising on chance encounters to generate artists' networks and initiatives. This combined with concepts of making place with the emphasis of the'regional devolved in the international' is the fundamental starting point for the uncanny artists. Unheimlich has become an exhibition concept creating European possibilities developed by artists strongly associated with Liverpool and the North West of England. The exhibition at Die Halle - funded by the City Councils of Liverpool and Wiesbaden with support from the Goethe Institute in Manchester - is the most recent international exhibition.

These artists' initiatives started in 1997 with the exhibition 'Zimuns' in Hertzliya, near Tel Aviv, bringing together artists from England, France, Germany and Israel. This was followed later in the year by artists from Israel and England at Die Halle. In 1999 artists from Germany and Israel came together for the reciprocal'Discourse' show at Static Gallery in Liverpool. A recent example of this developing network was a project in Bassano, Rome when artists, including Geoff Molyneux, made outdoor installations in the ruins of the old mediaeval town. Forthcoming projects in 2001OZ include developing collaborative links and exhibitions between artists from Liverpool, Cologne, Hagen, Wiesbaden, Rome and Tel Aviv.

Parallel networks are the very successful 'Eight days a week' projects that link artists and galleries in Liverpool and Cologne. A major exchange project planned for 2002 will celebrate the anniversary of the twinning of the two cities. 'Eight days a week' has had a significant influence on my own practice; the collaborative paintings I make with Georg Gartz from Cologne have established a creative dialogue generating ideas about authorship, tradition and authenticity in contemporary painting. Our forthcoming exhibition in November at Kunstwerk, Kunstschalter EV takes place during the International Art Fair when the private view is part of the Die lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of the Museums), a celebratory evening for the visual arts organised by the City of Cologne and Stadt Review magazine. Geoff Molyneux has also recently returned from a residency in Basel and Paul Sullivan at Static is developing new spaces for international residencies and collaborations.


These exhibitions create forums to establish exchange possibilities and dissemination of individual's practice to a broader European audience. The value of this dialogue and reciprocal projects demonstrates the growing development of artists' initiatives and networks facilitating art practice, criticism and engagement in a devolving and decentralised Europe.

PETE CLARKE IS A LIVERPOOL-BASED ARTIST, LECTURER IN FINE ART AND MEMBER OF THE RESEARCH GROUP ANOTHER PLACE, UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL LANCASHIRE, PRESTON. ______________________________________________________________________________

Introduction by Bryan Biggs Directour of Bluecoat Art Centre,Liverpool

Given art's capacity to reveal what lies beneath the surface, to present the familiar in unexpected ways, even to unsettle the viewer, the title chosen for this exhibition seems oddly appropriate. Freud, in his essay of 1919, took the concept of unheimlich - in English literally `unhomely', or uncanny - beyond simply equating it with a sense of the unfamiliar, of arousing feelings of dread. For him, the uncanny was not "new or alien, but something which is familiar and old-established in the mind and which has become alienated from it only through the process of repression.

" It could be argued that in the media-saturated age we inhabit, art no longer has the capacity to disturb, its shock value being instantly consumed by our appetite for sensation. Away from the hyped up blockbuster exhibitions of recent years, for instance in London, where this phenomenon has been so spectacularly evident, art however continues to exercise its power to quietly resonate and to engage, not through novelty, but through re-framing the familiar, re-presenting what is perhaps already known but which has become hidden or forgotten, consciously or not.

For the four artists exhibiting here, Freud's articulation of this duality, of finding the familiar in the unfamiliar and vice versa, provided a useful trigger in sparking off discussions about their different art practices, and the curious connections between the work they would exhibit together in Wiesbaden. Inevitably, their discussions led to an exploration of the idea of heimat, opening up questions both about their own sense of homeland (ostensibly the City of Liverpool, but through work and other connections and circumstances, elsewhere as well), and also about how their creative work would be received when exhibited away from home: placing the familiarity of their own art in an unfamiliar setting, what critical and aesthetic responses would showing in this new context abroad elicit? Would the readings of their work be any different in Wiesbaden from those generated in the UK? The continuing dialogue between the artists involved from both countries will no doubt provide some answers, as well as prompt new questions, when they meet again this Spring.

Although all four UK artists work in very distinct ways - photographic, sculptural, with paint , with drawing and object making - each nonetheless approaches his or her subject through a process of re-reading, of interrogating the familiar. Photographing a collection of discredited public monuments to communism that she came across in the Czech Republic, Pam Meecham confronts us with documentary `evidence' of a failed utopian enterprise, questioning historical memory and collective amnesia in relation to the reconfigured political map of Europe.

Paul Sullivan's large drawing critiques what he regards as the failure of much modern architecture to go beyond bland functionality, as he seeks to reclaim the practice as a site for imaginative thinking about our future living spaces, using drawing discursively, rather than as a blueprint for mediocrity. In Pete Clarke's mixed media paintings, accretions of visual and textual fragments build up a picture of the contemporary city, not as a place of topographical familiarity or urban cohesion, but as a shifting environment of social relations and contradictory forces. Rendering a common-place yet redolent object (such as a suitcase) unexpected, through covering it with camouflage material, Geoff Molyneux explores our relationship to landscape and travel, raising issues about ownership and territory, and the comfort of home.

And it is the concept of home in its broadest sense - the idea of a place, both physical and mental, where we feel at ease (be it a building, city, landscape, memory or ideology) - that these artists collectively disrupt, not with the intention to alarm, to create in us a sense of
Jas unheimlich, but to reveal what might serve as an alternative title for this exhibition, home truths.'

All those involved are grateful for the support of those organisations and individuals who contributed to this event:
Bryan Biggs, The Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool
Dr Wolfgang Kort, The Goethe Institute, Manchester The Kulturamt of Wiesbaden
Liverpool City Council

Paul Moy Associates

Ian 0'Reilly : clubowy@yahoo.co.uk
Alan Scroggie:scrog137@yahoo.co.uk
Static Architectural Modelmakers and Static Gallery,

Preston University of Central Lancashire
Liverpool Community College


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www.eightdaysaweek.org.uk

web site: Tony Knox