Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Laura White artist talk at The NewBridge Project

Last night I attended an artist talk by Laura White at The NewBridge Project. "Laura White’s practice focuses on a negotiation with the world of STUFF, i.e. interactions with materials and objects, exploring ideas of value, profile, association, meaning and behaviour of materials, individual and collections of objects. Things are explored both as material stuff and anthropological signifiers, that are capable of revealing the human condition - vulnerabilities and capabilities, value systems affected by consumerism and material status, and object/human dependencies. Her works occupy a fluid space, on one hand demanding critical discourse, and on the other their own ambiguous and intuitive logic.

Laura White’s practice is interdisciplinary including sculpture, installation, drawing and photography. Her web site ‘Tenderfoot’ launched in 2017, is an on-line space for exploring materiality through her own writing, forums, events and a curated space where she invites contributions from artists, writers, and makers. White also runs participatory events for example, 'What it means to handle stuff - auto-pedagogy - a course in butchery’, which saw White bring RCA students and staff from Raven Row Gallery London together to learn butchery skills under the guidance of a professional butcher, here looking at what it means to learn a skill and to deskill, the environment we learn in and the groups we learn with and skills we can access both as an amateur and as a professional."

The tone of Laura's talk reflected that of her practice; she spoke with generosity and honesty. It is clear that Laura knows her stuff, and approaches her practice with a great deal of rigour. However, the work is rooted in the everyday, and I find that the familiarity of the materials used helps me engage with the work.

Laura is currently working with a choreographer to explore the body in the work. Up until now the body has physically been absent from the work, but is present through the making of the work. By working with the choreographer, Laura is exploring whether it is too literal to have the body within the material.

Laura spoke about the three elements to her practice:

FIELDWORK - research, out and about, with other people, everyday encounters

STUDIO - playing with materials, investigating materials, processes

WRITING - reflecting on interactions and experiences, sometimes writes site-specifically and then leaves the writing to be discovered in the situation. 

Laura uses her website, Tenderfoot as a place to share her writing. Every three months she invites a guest to contribute to the website. Tenderfoot also shows documentation of workshops that she has done with other people (DIWO - Do It With Others).

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