Connie draft 1- october 6th 2016

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Graduate Proposal - Connie Butler


What are you working on now?


I Have Witnessed First Time Experiences - Editing a publication of ten texts by artists at Piet Zwart under this title.

Nomadic Reading Room as an umbrella for other activities, or a way of conceiving how to put my activities in different circumstances. A way to instrumentalise a ‘space’ I have already created, to expand to include more of my practice.

Screen-prints and digital embroidery collages.  

Graduate Writing project. Set of interviews, reviews and short texts that look into various forms of artists publishing, those involved with creating spaces for it and current contemporary practices that take works of literature as reference material.


What are you thinking of making?


I want to create an environment that can comfortably house publishing projects, forms of furniture, sculptural works as well as prints and painting.

I want to create my own personal dream Reading Room scenario for the degree show, which in a sense is creating a particular mood and environment that frames my solo show within it.

I’m thinking of finding opportunities to work outside of the Piet, and place my practice within the city or spaces elsewhere. I would like to approach this with the mentality that anything is possible to me, and there are no restrictions.  

I am thinking of making sculptural work that can extend from the parameters of what constitutes the Nomadic Reading Room, which has been up until this point, a collection of artists publishing presented in a space for people to access freely. Initial ideas for sculptural works include, a hand woven toilet mat, an indoor water feature, screen prints and colleges and semi functional furniture like objects.


How do you plan to make it?


I plan to work with a designer and printer to realise the publication ‘I Have Witnessed First Time Experiences.’

I plan to make some furniture in WDKA, and the other works with technical support from WDKA. If possible I would be interested to look into outsourcing production if this helps workload/production quality.

I am unsure what printed material should be present as part of this show, and how controlled this should be. I liked the mix of material present in the Priorities The Talk Show incarnation of Nomadic Reading Room, as it involved trashy paperbacks as well as rare artists publications. I would be interested to play with this further, or to think about using books as a material.


Why do you want to make it?


I want to make this work because I am interested to find what a sustainable practice looks like for me. I have found the project of the Nomadic Reading Room to be a way to infiltrate spaces and create situations and encounters that my sculptural practice has not managed. In this sense it is a model I have created which I am excited to test out further and to test the perimeters of. This encounter is where the excitement lies for me. In a sense I want my sculptural practice to ‘learn from’ what has been achieved by my publishing projects and allow itself to be public in a similar way. I want to make the work that excites me, as I believe this with be most productive to the viewer also. I want to make work that is joyful and rooted in a relationship to materials but also self aware and thoughtful. What does it mean to claim a space for yourself and make your work public?  

I do not want to get too concerned with making sure that all the work is somehow coherent or demonstrative with the aims of the Nomadic Reading Room project, but somehow to let it morph and mutate into being a natural setting for other works to inhabit.

I feel an urgency around an acceleration in inequality resulting from the negative effects of austerity and increasing nationalism on society, and how to negotiate this as a UK citizen and a European. I want to find a way that my work can effectively, implicitly critique or create a space for critique, as I believe this is one important quality that art/cultural production can offer society. This can be a quiet activity, or an outlook, but I also feel by now that it requires increased action and urgent conversation.

I am interested in practices that operated outside of the white cube, but I am sometimes turned off by the aesthetics of socially engaged practices. I am looking for models and ways to operate in my life as an artist that can deployed in a form that is appropriate to the context, which i feel is the main strength in working across media.

I want my work to talk more about the awkwardness of trying to live well, how we fall short, and how crass simplifications proliferate.

The Nomadic Reading Room is a way for me to reframe the encounters my work produces, it can also have its own life, or even become a project in the future that resembles more closely a co-op, an agency or small business. It can camouflage itself into many types of spaces and collaborate across disciplines, picked up and put down, left dormant, and re-activated.


Who can help you make it?


My Graduate thesis will involve speaking with many people involved with making, curating, running and working with artists publishing and its associated spaces. This is also part of my overall desire to look outwards and use this time within the institution to extend my network and clarify my intentions.

I can use studio visits and my peers for directed feedback, and support with production methods.


Relation to previous practice?


Previously I have felt that my sculptural practice, publishing practice and the Nomadic Reading Room as a project have not sat well together and felt like disjointed strands. I hope the graduate thesis will allow for a sustained inquiry that can help me to synthesise these threads, by looking at existing models and speaking to people that operate across different disciplines and spaces to see how they contextualise their practices.


Relation to a larger context?


There are many previous and existing models for artist publishing projects or project spaces, also particularly here in the Netherlands. I also want to engage with other fields, and situate myself within the field of visual culture, and cultural production in general as opposed to only within a fine art context, although I would like the work to be comfortable in the gallery space. Within fine art I identify my practice as being from a post-disciplinary ‘art as life’ trajectory, as a commitment to a creative life.