Shady Dealings With Language is a series of four events guest-curated over four different cities – Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh and London – examining and exploring the art of language and writing. The first of these events takes place in Leeds, entitled Language Urges, it seeks to consider the effect of language on the body. Including the work of the late Callum Millard, Eric Prenowitz and Bridget Hayden and hosted by & Model Gallery, Language Urges will examine the urge to articulate, communicate and question our innate desire for language, interrogating what is gained and understood, but also that which is lost as we translate our thoughts through language.
Hope ‘Leye spoke with Claire Potter, the curator of Shady Dealings With Language to find out more about the first of these four events.
Hope ‘Leye: What gave you the idea for Shady Dealings With Language?
Claire Potter: My own practice moves between writing, performance art, poetry and performance poetry, so in a way the whole tour is an expanded research project that draws in the works of other artists. Not just the people I approached to curate this project but also the people they wanted to work with. It’s a mixing pool of people’s terminologies, and the approaches they have to the these three terms of performance, art and writing. Even though I’ve found everyone gesturing towards the same sorts of ideas around these terms, there has been a lot of interesting crossover in how people use and understand them, but what’s really interesting is how even with similar reference points people use these terms for very different reasons, and through the events it seems that this is something that is starting to unpack itself.
HL: Would you say your interest lies in deconstructing language?
CP: Yes definitely, and we’re really lucky to have Eric Prenowitz as one the guests for this first event in Leeds and Lauren de Sa Naylor who has curated Language Urges. She is currently tutored by Eric, and so has a very close relationship with him and with everyone else also, including Callum Millard who passed away a few weeks ago. I was really interested in these people co-curating these events, not just as curators but also individuals combining elements of their personal practices and research interests. The event then becomes a platform for their typical approach to making work, plus providing an opportunity to address remnants of never realised art projects, and using that as a tool to create an event; Lauren was very interested in interpersonal dynamics and the relationships between collaborators as well, and is keen to see how hey can help bring out new aspects from each other’s practices and work.
HL: Is Language Urges as a series more focused on processes than final outcomes?
CP: It’s an expanded research project for me and I prefer for the series to be thought of as an expanding platform, where ideas are passed and shared on and new discussions are generated and created. The idea of ‘artist as researcher’ is embedded in the whole process; as a researcher you have intuitive ideas for projects sometimes, but there comes a time when you have to assess what your doing, and articulate and explain it as a sort of creative process in itself. Sometimes in my strongest moments of self-doubt it almost feels like an odd creative pyramid scheme, in the least literal of senses, and I have to constantly question my role. It sits uncomfortably with me that we would prescribe a particular role to any of the artists, researchers or curators working on this and that’s sometimes where that feeling of some sort of pyramid scheme comes from. I dislike the idea of creating hierarchies by setting out a clear chain of processes and prefer to just view those involved as all equally valued collaborators assisting in developing the show together as they feel is needed. Language Urges is more like a pool of research, providing an opportunity to contextualise new and existing art practices within it.
HL: If Language Urges is a starting point of kinds, where do you see Shady Dealings with Language progressing to?
CP: I’m not totally sure and that is what’s exciting. There are lots of possibilities for expanding the series, perhaps through the blog or even hijacking the proofing, editing and press publication processes, and incorporating them as well into the series of events. I’m really interested in the series’ ability to change, develop and evolve, and hopefully myself and the other curators I’m working with will all arrive at the same end points together.
Shady Dealings With Language will then continue with events in Manchester, Edinburgh and London.