maandag, oktober 20, 2014

Michael Landy #2

Michael Landy, in his studio at the National Gallery, London, 2013. (bron: A Little Bird, The Independent, Flash Art, FAD, the arts desk)

Michael Landy

In October 2013, Landy moved in to a new studio in trendy Shoreditch. Just around the corner from Spitalfields fruit and vegetable market, the building is one of a whole line that used to be used as warehouse storage space. “You could actually walk between all of the buildings,” Landy explains, “but, at some point, someone decided to turn them into homes.” When he and his partner, fellow artist Gillian Wearing, bought the space, they had it gutted and built on a new top floor in which they now live. Landy describes it as a “live-work space”, although the studio remains very much just that, and is separate from their private quarters.
Landy’s studio is starkly empty, apart from a bookshelf, a desk, and a couple of tables with scale models of the museum in Mexico where his exhibition, Saints Alive, which was the culmination of his residency at London’s National Gallery last year, is soon to be restaged. Landy is extremely apologetic, almost ashamedly so, for the lack of typical artist’s mess. “I am an artist though!” he hastens to add, as if a messy studio were somehow a compulsory identifier.

Landy likes to visit other artists’ studios, in fact. “Seeing other artists’ studios interests me because it’s an insight into the way they work, and some of it is quite intuitive and spontaneous. They’re really messy, though,” he adds, quite matter of factly. Take, for example, Ian Davenport. “We went to college together and we used to live together. He’s a painter, so he used to have paint on him everywhere. He’d come in from the studio and he’d have got it in the car somehow and so it would transfer into the flat.” Then there’s Gary Hume, another YBA, who has his studio just up the road. “He’s another painter, so it’s much more hands on, making things, which obviously intrigues me, but I don’t do that myself. I’m sure they get some kind of satisfaction out of it, though. Maybe I should try!”

For Landy, the emptiness in his studio is, he suggests, symbolic of the emptiness in his head. At the moment, at least. “One minute it’s full of stuff and the next minute I’m wandering around thinking ‘What am I going to do next?’ And this is the moment you’ve found me in, the moment where I’m not sure what I’m doing. Hence the emptiness. It’s not fun being me at the moment, but if I think about it a lot, I panic.” His work goes through cycles. Currently he is looking back on old pieces he might rekindle. As well as Saints Alive in Mexico, he is also recreating Art Bin for the Yokohama Triennale and is hoping to stage an Acts of Kindness project in Athens.

“I always start with an empty space,” he explains. “I like that. It partly dates back to when I destroyed all of my worldly belongings. Once you do that, you become very aware of what you have in a space and what you don’t. Before, when I had studios, I just had junk and all sorts of stuff in there and I didn’t really think about it too much. But once I got rid of all of that, ever since, it’s always been like this, where I don’t really like having lots of things around me.”
Landy’s studio is a very private space. He doesn’t have assistants either. “I once interviewed someone to be my assistant and then I thought ‘What am I going to do with them?’ Do you know what I mean? If they were here now, I’d be thinking ‘Oh my god’ and I think I’d actually end up working for them. I’d become their slaves.”
Landy does try to visit his studio daily, largely enabled by living upstairs, but this is, admittedly, “only unless I can find something else to do!” He has no specific routine to speak of. “That’s the terrible thing, in a way, because then I have to create my own routine, I have to create myself, basically. Every day, when I come here, I have to think about what I’m going to do. And the worst bit, actually, is just sitting down and forcing myself to do it, because I get really distracted. But that’s it, isn’t it? It’s just me and it in the end and no one else cares. It’s always been a struggle. This is very typical for me. I go through cycles of being very productive and then not being very productive. That’s how it’s always been. And this is the worst bit, when you don’t quite know what you’re doing.
Landy’s studio space really is more of an office space, a drawing board space, a space for birthing ideas. “It’s probably a place to go. I wouldn’t want to go to a coffee shop,” he admits. “I’m often sat there scribbling away about ideas, reading a bit, and writing things down.” Landy’s actual works are generally produced off site by artisans whom he commissions for their specific skills. “I don’t make things by hand, on the whole. My drawings I do, but not my sculptures. I normally have the idea first and then think about it a lot and find people to go and execute it. I’m quite happy on a kitchen table, most of the time. I don’t need a lot of space. I just have space, but I don’t actually need it. I think the studio is a millstone around my neck, really. It is a paradox.”

Given his destructive bent, and his lack of studio requirements, I wonder why Landy has never considered destroying his studio. “I never got as far as to destroy the studio itself,” he says, “because I never owned the studio.” Well, he does own it now, so who knows what might happen? It seems as though there’s no need to anticipate further destruction, however. “I always say to Gillian that we should rent it out.” I remind him that he has two spaces. Will he maybe let one go? “No, no. I’ll keep both. I like buying empty spaces. That’s what people are complaining about in London, aren’t they? That lots of foreigners are coming over and buying flats and just leaving them empty. And I’m just doing the same.” Not quite, Michael, not quite. Your studio spaces may be physically empty, but, like your head, they are, I am sure, full of ideas; ideas which we look forward to seeing come to fruition." (bron: ART.ZIP)

Julian Opie

Works in Julian Opie's Shoreditch studio. (bron: The Telegraph)

> Julian Opie

vrijdag, oktober 17, 2014

Mike Smith Studio: Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread: Monument, 2001.

"Mike Smith Studio was commissioned to undertake a Research and Development study to ascertain whether it would be possible to produce a replica of the empty fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square for Rachel Whiteread. The replica was to be produced in water-clear polyurethane resin, and would measure 5 metres long by 5 metres tall by 2.5 metres wide and weigh 11 tonnes. The R&D would identify all aspects of the project; site survey, local authority permission requirements, material sourcing, mould design, structural engineering, construction, transportation, installation, budget requirements, time scale. The challenge was to produce the largest ever cast polyeurethane object.

Since a turn-key solution was required MSS was responsible for the management of the complete project. The focus of the first phase of management was Research and Development, in particular finding the material that would work on this scale. Various resin manufacturers were consulted and after choosing one, a testing program was developed in order to ascertain if the material would meet the demanding requirements the project would impose on it. After conducting the testing and selecting the material we proceeded to construct the moulds, pour the resin, repair and clean the cast, and finally install the piece to time and budget schedules.

The demands of the project required highly creative solutions. The material would start out as a low viscosity liquid and transform to a solid via expansion and contraction, rising to a temperature of 130 degrees centigrade. The pressures created in the mould could cause unsatisfactory distortions in the final casting unless the design of the mould could control and rectify them. Material shrinkage had to be taken into account, so that the finished castings were the same size as the original granite plinth on which they would sit as a mirror image. These castings had to perform structurally at such a scale. An analysis carried out by acredited structural engineers was therefore incorporated into the mould design. Finally the moulds were designed in such a way that they could be assembled and removed in parts. Lifting frames were also designed for the two sections to be installed in position in Trafalgar Square.

The casting was very complex due to the demanding nature of the material and required the fabrication of two inner and two outer moulds. After several test castings it was determined that aluminium would best suit the fabrication of these moulds due to its thermal conductive properties which also gave an excellent surface finish to the resin. Rubber gaskets were used for sealing the sections of the inner moulds. The fabrication of the outer moulds involved considerable and complicated folding and forming of the aluminium extrusions in order to replicate all of the decorative details of the original plinth. Mild steel was chosen for the structural work surrounding the outer moulds and for the internal hydraulic jack mechanism because of its strength.

The restrictions imposed by the local authority with regard to working on a listed monument made the installation of the work more complicated then it would have been otherwise. Scaffolding had to be erected around the granite plinth for safe and precise alignment of the two cast sections. The installation could only take place between midnight and 8:00 am because the road surrounding Trafalgar Square had to be closed to allow for crane access. Crowd control barriers were put in place to deny public access during the installation process. This procedure was repeated six months later for the removal of the sculpture." (bron: MSS)

Mike Smith Studio: Mark Wallinger

Mark Wallinger: Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, 2001.

Mark Wallinger: Forever & Ever, 2002.

"This was a complete solution wherein MSS designed, fabricated and installed this work for Mark Wallinger. Due to the fragile nature of this work (adhesive vinyl in three colours on aluminium sheet 800cm long by 400cm wide by 250cm tall) and its complexity, we were asked to undertake both the installation and removal of it at the various exhibition locations. This ensured that the work was handled correctly and was not damaged in the process of installation. The first installation was at the Bloomberg Space in London, where the work had to be lowered over a 6 metre drop before it could be assembled."

Mark Wallinger: State Britain, 2007.

"The brief: The studio was approached by Mark Wallinger and Tate Britain to carry out a facsimile reproduction of the protest by Brian Haw in Parliament Square, London. We were to reproduce all of the items which formed the 40 metre demonstration two days prior to its removal by the Police. This was undertaken almost entirely from photographs, all the readymade items such as teddy bears, umbrellas and thermos flasks were identified and sourced. The painted or printed banner images were scaled and reproduced in a manner identical to the original. Over one thousand, five hundred items were amalgamated to reproduce the demonstration."

Mark Wallinger: Y, 2008.

"Mark Wallinger approached the studio after receiving a commission from Magdalen College Oxford. The proposal was to create a tree approximately 11m wide x 9.5 m high x 13 cm thick. The form would be fabricated in painted mild steel and permanently sited in a flooding meadow within the college grounds. The form of the tree was derived from a mathematical formula which generated the fractal type image. The studio undertook the complete package of work; from initial computer based renderings for the planning and proposal, through the design and fabrication process, to the completed installation in the meadow." (bron: MSS)

Mike Smith Studio: Julian Opie

Julian Opie: Luc and Ludivine Get Married, 2007.

"The brief: Julian Opie asked the studio to research the production of paper cut images to produce an edition of portraits. They were to be similar to Victorian silhouette portraits, with elliptical frames and blown domed glazing. The images were produced from cut black and white paper laminated together, certain parts were highly detailed and extremely fragile. The finished images were framed in a CNC machined material, which was sprayed to give a waxy black finish. The three hundred and fifty two framed images were then packed in custom made boxes for storage and distribution."

Julian Opie: Dancers, Various Sculptures & Lightboxes, 2012. (bron: MSS)

> Julian Opie