PPP : it's time to come back to it again

I’ve been ignoring my PPP for some time now, but I’ve known it’s been there, waiting for this day to come when the thorny subject of Personal and Professional Practice (and how to Plan for it).

Is my “personal” practice “professional”? If the guidelines for something being “professional” is that it is an activity that’s your main paid occupation, then no, my personal practice is quite categorically not professional. I have to work in order to self-fund my art making, and whilst it might be possible (at a push) to fund my art through art, it would take a major change in lifestyle and working ethic, and some considerable support from my wife!

But no, that’s not all. In Monday’s hangout we collaboratively worked up a response to the discussion point below regarding art practice:

“Exhibitions have become the medium through which most art becomes known.” (Ferguson, Greenberg and Nairne in The Curatorial Turn: From Practice to Discourse, in O’Neill P, Issues in Curating).

I think that here, in the twenty-teenies (or whatever this decade is called) there are far more things at play. Walter Benjamin wrote around this subject with his essay mechanical reproduction, and now we have electronic reproduction and, more significantly, instant dissemination. The exhibition is perhaps still something seen as being for the elite, although clearly this is not the case. We all have access to the galleries, accepting our geographical limitations - I would love to get down to London over the next couple of months for Fukase’s Solitude of Ravens (Kurasu) exhibition at the Hoppen gallery, but the distance and the impending house move means it simply can’t happen. I’ll have to make do with the Royal Photographic Society archives in Bradford... oh, wait a minute, they’re being transferred to London too!

So, living in the sleepy North-Western backwaters as I do, I don’t get to many exhibitions, so if the exhibition was the medium through which I get to know art, I’d be pretty much working in a vacuum. What’s art? Luckily, I have the Internet.

Granted, when you browse the culture pages of the various news outlets’ websites (such as the Guardian’s) many of the articles are written in response to, or to promote, an exhibition. It’s not always the case though. There’s a cultural thing to take into account too. I’ve said it before, and hinted at it above, but I’m a huge fan of Japanese photography. With this, the photobook has always been the dominant form, the intended form. It was only in 1990 that the photography museum opened in Tokyo, before this there were exhibitions of course, but photographs were not intended to be produced primarily for the gallery walls, they were intended to be seen on the pages of a book.

Magazines too. It has to be said that magazines a great promotion tool - getting your work seen in BJP (for photographers), or Frieze or whatever will mean that it’s seen by a serious audience. Your stock will go up. However, there are ‘zines that are the work, newspapers that are the work. I’ve got a series of collaborative zines by Erik van der Weijde and others that I’ve not seen in any other form, similarly a newspaper by Erik Kessels where the only time I’ve seen it elsewhere is as a photograph of the newspaper. That is the work. True, I got to know Erik Kessels through seeing his work in an exhibition, but not that work...

In the collaborative document, others spoke of street art (a form of exhibition it might be argued). Participatory practices that form part of the art practice as a whole, Open houses (again, a form of exhibition?), land art, workshops and demonstrations, residencies... Guerrilla art, infiltrations, giving art away. The various (potential) art practices of the cohort are quite varied.

The second question collaboratively answered was “What do you need?” - I think the overwhelming need for people to work their practice was funding, followed by some association with a gallery, some contacts on the inside of the system. One might lead to the other, a self-fulfilling circle of art. Time is another commodity that is in short supply, certainly for myself - a full time job, time for study, time to create art, time for family and friends, time to network, to promote, to research, to plan, to relax, to sleep and eat... There isn’t enough time, especially in these quite taut days immediately preceding an impending house move. We’ve not got the date yet, so things aren’t packed, but there are loads of little jobs to do, and the same will follow - a studio/office to decorate before the furniture can be delivered and the IT set up and my “stuff” settled in... It’s going to be difficult.

So, with all these thoughts going around my head, it’s time to update the PPP. I’m not sure where I’ll be going with that yet.
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