Bath Arts Fringe 2017 – FaB1, ‘Sum – The Contemporary Sublime’

Bath Arts Fringe Festival 2017

‘Sum – The Contemporary Sublime’

Sum (runs from 26th May – 11th June as part of the 2017 Fringe Arts Bath festival, open 10am-6pm daily).

15 New Bond Street, Bath BA1 1BA

Sum is a group exhibition by six emerging artists: Hannah Ball, Hannah Dance (both currently studying Fine Art at Bath Spa University), Ollie Adams, George Bills, Jody Hamblin and Andy Walders, and is part of Fringe Arts Bath 2017. Running alongside Bath’s annual Fringe Festival, Fringe Arts Bath brings empty venues and vacant shops to life across the city, promoting and celebrating contemporary art in the Bath area and beyond. FaB engages the public with work by emerging artists and curators, showcasing a programme of powerful, thought-provoking and entertaining contemporary art.

This exhibition explores the notion of the ‘Contemporary Sublime’. Within the Arts, the sublime is defined as a quality of greatness beyond calculation, measurement or imitation. It is both awe-inspiring and fear inducing in its incomprehensible vastness. The sublime is the name given to that which we cannot encapsulate; it is the contemplation of infinity, it is transcendence, it is otherness. Sum explores how this idea fits into a contemporary context.

Traditional European notions of the sublime were conveyed through representations of the natural world’s might and magnitude, with ferocious volcanoes, relentless storms and untameable seas. The merciless power of Nature was shrouded in the mystique of the unknown and the unpredictable, undulating with a divine omnipresence, and set against the sometimes-heroic yet ultimately vulnerable image of mankind.

As our understanding of the natural world has evolved through scientific discovery, so too has our engagement with the sublime. Artists and writers of late have turned to digitalisation, government and capitalism, to name but a few examples, as a new source of sublimity, exploring their expanding vastness and their destructive potential.

Departing from the monumental physicality with which the sublime is often associated, Sum explores the complex psychologies of sublimity through performance, materiality and subtle technological application.

Sum is composed of sculpture, installation, collage, sound recording, video and 3D printing; it engages with themes of movement, meditation, the Ego, failure, absurdity and our engagement with the natural environment.

Within aesthetics, the sublime is defined as a quality of greatness beyond calculation, measurement or imitation. It is both awe-inspiring and fear- inducing in its incomprehensible vastness.

The sublime is the name given to that which we cannot account for; it is the contemplation of infinity, it is transcendence, it is otherness.

Despite being rooted in the grandeur of traditional European arts and literature, the sublime still ‘has strong relevance to existing cultural development’ (Christina Mullan). Departing from the monumental physicality with which the sublime is often associated, Sum explores the complex psychologies of sublimity through performance, materiality and subtle technological application.

‘The sublime is not only the awe-inspiring, it also informs the mind as to its ability’. (Christina Mullan)

The exhibition is composed of work by six emerging artists, including sculpture, installation, painting, collage, sound recording, video and pho- tography (as performance documentation); it engages with themes of meditation, the Ego, scale, human endeavour, failure and our engagement with the natural environment.

Within their work, the exhibiting artists are linked through performative, time-based and transformative qualities. This exhibition seeks to nd the tranquil plains of contemporary culture, through small, simple gestures and appraisals of the vast natural world.

Click here for a link to a video on Vimeo of my final installation – ‘Precipitation’. 

The initial photographs of the space that we were given:

The install of my space:

Documenting the audiences interactions with my piece:

Other works in our exhibition space:

My finished installation for display:

‘Precipitation’ Installation, 8m x 3m, balloons, nails and fishing wire, 2017.

Choreographing an audience in a space is something that I am more and more interested in. Using material to navigate an audience in and around a closed space.

Other artwork in the show was very relatable and the whole show was very successful on these terms:

A group photo of the organisers and the people involved in our individual exhibition in Fringe Arts Bath 2017, FaB1 space.

A photograph of a performance later on in the week, that I believe was influenced by my installation.

1. What was the aim and why?

The purpose of exhibiting in Fringe Arts Bath, was to use the whole experience as a platform for networking and opening discussions with other artists and professionals. Which I have achieved successfully. To assist with the curation and the organisation of this event was nothing on the scale of organising a whole residency and exhibition myself (see ‘Unseen Drifts’).

2. Where did it take place?

It took place in the centre of Bath. This was a very poignant place for passing traffic. As a result of the major publicity that Fringe Arts Bath has the idea that we were in the centre of Bath, invited people from all over into the space. I made business cards in order to achieve more of a network of people. I have had a lot of positive feedback from my exhibition. Having only made the piece in the space, as a documentation of how I want an audience to be navigated in a space I believe that it was very successful.

3. Who was involved?

Oliver Adams curated this show and there were 5 other artists from all over the world, stretching as far as New Zealand for sending artwork to be three dimensionally printed. I enjoyed working with a group of artists that I hadn’t met before. After working in Bath Contemporary Art Gallery for my internship, working alongside Oliver Adams, a co-worker in the gallery. He asked whether I would be interested in doing a group show. Since then we have done this group exhibition and I have also done a last minute proposal for another space (see ‘Held’ exhibition in Fringe Arts Bath FaB2). Also we as a group are planning on exhibiting work in the near future in different venues, after the success of this exhibition.

4. How you did it?

After submitting a proposal for exhibiting as a group in the space, we were given this opportunity.

5. Having critically reflected on this project, how would Iimprove it next time?

I would make sure that I gave myself more time for the documentation of the whole event and the planning of the de-install, with various dates clashing. However a project will always have things to get through, but I have worked out that this is why there is so much importance attached to the group in which you are exhibiting with. Having many meetings with the group before the install week, made this whole experience run very smooth. I needed to have ordered more business cards, as these ran out a lot faster than I had anticipated.

I would say critically that the most successful thing that I have learnt doing this exhibition was to treat it like a residency and because of the nature of my work existing in a space. To not plan before install week what work I want to produce, the whole idea that the work exists and only solely exists in the space is what my work conceptually means.

 

Fine Artist