Agrifashionista.tv launched with the work of Pablo Bronstein in June 2008. The station will evolve and develop over the next 2 years with a programme of artist projects and audience response. On this site you will find process, thinking and criticism of evolving art works. Each work will be presented from a series of different perspectives, not necessarily the artist‘s own vision of how their work would look best. The programme starts with Paternoster Square by Pablo Bronstein and three short films by Maria Benjamin documenting the filmmaking process. Each work is cross-referenced through a blog - both text, audio and video response to the artist and the work. As an online viewer you are encouraged to contribute to this body of material – it is easy to do and no one has to know who you are. Are the visual arts really as unpopular as we think they are, is there a purpose for art outside of the gallery/consumer arena, does art making actually impact on culture and society? A few questions you might like to answer.
Background to the project
Interview with Agrifashionista Director Adam Sutherland
Fiona - Agrifashionistas is a terrible name don’t you think?
Adam - Yes, Alistair (Deputy Director of Grizedale) made it up as a joke, but then it stuck, everyone wanted to change it but none one did. Never make up a title for anything as a joke and then use it as a working title it always sticks - my alternative was hay foot straw foot, yeh like even worse -I just like the story - in the 1st world war the army were teaching farmers to march and they didn’t know left and right so, hay foot straw foot, left right… that’s like us, country bumpkins trying to broadcast
Fiona - Don’t say that, its going to be wonderful isn’t it? And by the way Grizedale might be bumpkins but A Foundation definitely are not.
Adam - Well it is going to be a god awful mess - I promise - but that’s the point, a mess of material, projects presented and viewed from multiple angles, kind of all represented at once, different parts of the art world and the real world
Fiona - Like what exactly? how do you mean different parts of the art world, are there really such different parts, it’s such a small world anyway, can we afford different parts?
Adam - No of course we cant, but that is what we seem to have made, lots of different tiny worlds, all fighting their tight corners. I think the project will illustrate the absurdity and in a way richness in a way a view of it all in entirety, much more interesting than in bits. You know me I am always looking for accord, one voice, one way, one people, one love, brought up a hippy - I just cant help it - even if I am the most bad tempered person on the project
Fiona - but why bring all these voices in why not just ignore the bulk of this stuff just do the good bits, the really great art
Adam - Well actually that just seems boring, international art has been roled out for the world and now everyone can see how to do oit there so much ‘good’ art around, isn’t it just a bit boring, I don’t want to see another bit of ‘good’ art, I’d almost rather see ‘bad’ art it can be more surprising. I think also there is something that just seems wrong, dishonest, in a way, kind of unhealthy, the art world has suffered from to much of that elitist approach don’t you just end up with a bunch of super consumer goods for the super consumers?
Fiona - And back to what Agrifash is actually about - a broadcast, TV about art made by artists - I think what interested me first about the project was the idea of making quality TV about art that really reflected the complexity of the form, the process, the thinking behind a piece, all that. Mainstream TV is so linear - a story about an artist or art work, a bit like a fairy tale and it’s just not like that, well not in my experience, the best bits are so often just not apparent in the end result - you know a quite boring dry piece can have the most fantastic back story
Adam - Well the idea of the project was in part to think about ways to make interesting tv about art but there are a few other things running through the project - an interrogation of artists why they do what they do and who its for? I think we are all always asking that, but this is an opportunity to examine across the board, for artists to ask that of each other, for different publics to ask the artists, both the interested and uninterested to ask these things. I am also interested in finding ways to make interesting and watchable content, at Grizedale we want to try and find a way to work that doesn’t involve the visiting audience, all the problems that servicing an audience entails and the unsatisfactory nature of that relationship between audience and work - well like walking past it going mmm.
Fiona - but I don’t find that unsatisfactory, your talking about the gallery space, I love galleries and seeing work in them what’s wrong with that?
Adam - I generally find I get it or don’t get it, that’s a bit flat really. I cant be bothered to go to see stuff in galleries anymore, I mean it’s ok to a point but what with the travelling and all the other really rather bleak experiences in galleries, the snooty staff, the shit café, the underfloor heating making your legs ache, its not really so conducive to an experience of anything other than mild irritation
Fiona - Jesus Adam maybe you should just admit you don’t like art, do something else
Adam - Yes that’s a thought that does occur to me pretty often, especially after I ve seen some pumped up highly funded art project that has just been so uninteresting, like that Postman thing in Manchester the other day - after that I really wanted to do something else career wise. I guess a lot of my ideas about art doing something useful come from a desire to validate my own activity
Fiona - well me too but I think it is validated, I really do seriously believe in the value of art, it does change things, enhance life, all that you know… stuff
Adam - But not as much as TV, or not anymore, the artist now competes with amazing technology, it’s like a craftsperson has to compete with a car builder, no beautifully crafted teapot can challenge a contemporary car - it’s like a slug against a cheatah
Fiona - I’m not going to get into that argument. What are we are meant to be talking about, what else is this agri thing actually about?
Adam - Well I am also really interested in the live and prerecorded thing, drawn from m y own experience with live art and performance, I guess its an extension of my dissatisfaction with the visitor thing, a live audience is equally difficult to deal with, they need to be serviced, entertained. There’s been a bit of a schism in the performance art world with the whole body art visceral performance/entertainment thing and the ‘performance for camera only’ approach, and a kind of unsatisfactory activity between these two positions. Documenting engaged practice, that’s a boring thing isn’t it? That’s part of this in between place, where it’s not entertainment and it’s not pure documentation, it starts to be the work. I think with this project I like the idea of working with an audience that is part of the work, like a TV audience, they have a role to play and the whole thing can be recorded and edited, another story can be created from the material. Reality TV is obviously a point of reference, things like big brother have strong relationship to engaged practice, the whole ordinary people are more interesting than extraordinary people idea - big brother has rather lost the plot now focusing on extraordinary ordinary people a kind of worst of both worlds - it’s super depressing watching don’t you find
Fiona - No I love it - but within project the idea is to create a number of different stories from the material, by using different crews and editors, a multi screen, multi perspective view of the work, but I do just worry about this, will it just be a mess, will anyone understand anything from it? Shouldn’t we just be trying to make the best possible filmed version of the work
Adam - That’s the narrative approach - anyway most individual works don’t need that level of attention. This presentation is all about the relationship between works, ideas, I am not really so interested in the product and I think actually most people are much more interested in how ideas relate, that’s where ideas come from isn’t it, from the misunderstandings, cross references, accidental collisions. This multi screen approach should give the viewer a number of options, the full on assault - which would be my preferred option, all going at once chaos, or they could watch one screen or watch one work fours times in different interpretations, and so on
Fiona - I suppose that might be interesting
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