Twin first came in contact with Cara Mills at her Central Saint Martin’s degree show where she presented The Labour of Ideas — a giant shredder which methodically rated then shredded hundreds of her art ideas which fell like snowflakes, gradually amassing to a five foot mound of destroyed work plans. Mills took this art work and developed a second piece, Painting Machine a highly visceral work which spluttered and almost aggressively threw paint creating a new art work experience every day. Fresh off the back of her recent exhibition at Fuimano Projects, Machine: Part A, Part B, Part C & so on… Twin sat down with Mills on the sunny rooftop terrace of RCA where she is currently studying to talk about what makes an idea art and how it feels to be a female artist in today’s landscape.
I loved The Labour of Ideas so much. It draws on all these projects you had in your mind and you’re making all of them, in a way — was that the point?
Yes! I get bored really quickly with my ideas, and I thought there was something interesting about the process artists go through to make ideas and why they chose one and why not another and where do those ideas go when you don’t use them? Where do your thoughts go when they’re forgotten? They’re still there, but not being realised or spoken. I wanted to see their full potential. It was all about this concept that I wanted to make something physical but using all these ideas and I was tongue tied on how to approach that and do it. What was ironic about the piece was there was no hierarchy between the ideas – there was in the ratings sense that they were all rated out of ten – but at the end they all created this pile, and they all had the same shredded weight in this pile.
You had a lot of ideas, the pile was impressive!
It was five feet! I think I started writing down my ideas from March until the degree show, like ten hour days of writing down ideas. The sound of the shredder was really visceral. You became very aware that things were being shredded and destroyed, but that you were also creating.
So in a way all those ideas led to this final idea, The Labour of Ideas machine?
No, it was more a series of tests… I was really inspired by auto-destructive art, that something could be destructive but also creative. Looking at it now, that’s what I was doing. Also the systematic approach – one of the ideas in the shredder was ‘Make a piece about shredding your ideas’ so it was very much in the project. When I’d finished the piece I was empty of ideas… I didn’t really know where to start again. So, that was the end of the idea culmination — but I still write all my ideas down.
It’s really interesting to think about what makes us realise and not realise our ideas…
I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a painting, then don’t do it. What interests me is why? I’m interested in ten years time to look back on my ideas, and maybe then I’ll have one of those ideas I really want to make at that time!
I also liked how with The Labour of Ideas that you could see the ideas, and see the performative piece and machine and take from it what you wanted.
At the CSM show, the same people kept coming back. People were saying that they felt like over time they came back a few times and told me they felt like they were killing my work, like a piece of your work is dying by me coming back, because they’d be reading the idea then watching it shredded. It’s like if you caught it at that moment then you saw it, but then it was shredded, deleted. It’s like you’ve made an idea in your head, is that done? Or do you need to realise it? I was interested in the actual physicality of an idea, like it was one pile made up of hundreds of ideas, metres and metres of paper.
Do you have a mission statement or motive behind your need to create art?
I think it’s about communicating ideas really. I think you get an itch to get it out of you. If it’s stuck, it’s not enough to say it or draw it, you need to make it and leave it there and let it manifest. The journey between thinking and making is really hard.
Your most recent exhibition showed The Labour of Ideas and Painting Machine. What is it about making these really visceral present machines?
It’s about detachment of myself as an artist, and as a creator. I like making something and setting up a situation and letting it happen. The machines will be churning away. I’m very interested in the gallery time frame, the gallery day being the limit but also the potential of the work. The solo show I recently did was three and a half weeks long, so during opening hours that was when the machines were going. The pile would never get any higher than it would be allowed to than the days in the gallery. They’re part of the work. The machines performing and I leave them and the audience see that process.
There’s an artist called Michael Stailstorfer who installed an art piece ‘Forst’ at Sammlung Boros in Berlin. It was a steel machine frame which turned a tree trunk and leaves on the ground, as the machine circled gradually the leaves and branches turned to dust creating piles on the floor — first leaves, then dust. I went to see it a few times, and each visit it was a different experience in the two year life cycle of the art works presentation.
That’s so interesting — something I’m thinking about a lot at the moment is ‘what is destruction’? So I’m using a lot of sandpaper on sandpaper and do we expect something to be grounded to flour — when does destruction become creation? When is that? Who decides that? I think what was interesting about the show was that with the Painting Machine it was chucking paint at the wall and kind of being destructive but also creating moments, and with The Labour of Ideas you could come in on the first day and it was a tiny pile of shredded material, and you could come in on the last day and it was this impending five foot mound!
Both could be seen as live sculpture in a way, and also be interpreted on so many levels…
I don’t want to make highly cerebral work only accessible to artists and intellectuals, I want to make something visual that people can interpret in different ways. I’ve looked a lot at performance work and I’m really interested in that — how much the audience plays a role, and what expectations artists put on their audience to complete a work. With ‘Painting Machine’ it was a very different experience depending on whether was moving, or when it was off. I like with kinetic work when something is moving it’s very different when it stops, sort of like how people are very different when they’re speaking to when they’re not. When it was moving it was aggressive and painting and when it was off it was very sculptural and poetic.
I was wondering if we could talk a bit about your experience as a woman in the art world?
It’s funny that you say that… on Facebook this morning I saw a post which said “Enough of Jackson Pollock”. It looked at Lee Krasner who was Pollock’s wife, who was making incredible paintings, and it was so insane because as soon as Jackson Pollock died she went into his studio and her paintings got so much bigger… I find that every artist I’m reading about are all men. I find it really frustrating. I think female artists are making incredible work, and I think historically men were more written about but today I think it’s really important for female artists to be louder otherwise it’s just going to continue to be a man’s world.
How do you navigate that?
I think you just don’t tolerate it. You just see yourself as an artist whether male or female. I think female artists need to not be afraid about working in such a male industry. Just be aware of it, and don’t take any shit.
The story behind Tennis is very charming. The Denver-based band, made up of husband and wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore, was born out of wanderlust. Sailing down the Atlantic coast, the pair embarked on their first attempt at making music together and created their premier album, “Cape Dory”.
Seven years later and now a “proper band”, they have come full circle: to create their fourth album, “Yours Conditionally” they sailed around the Pacific. Swooning love songs framed by dreamy melodies echo their romantic story but it’s evident that Tennis goes deeper this time around. Working out the complexities that define love, identity, and feminism, the latest album sees the band at their best yet, pairing their back-to-basics approach with a worldly confidence.
Twin catches up with Alaina to find out how it’s done.
Tell us more about the album title, “Yours Conditionally”.
It was about boundaries with regards to my relationship with the world. It included my marriage, my friendships. Over the years, I feel like I was unintentionally conforming to certain things and expectations and ideals of like how a woman should be, whether it’s a writer and a performer or a wife. I thought of how unromantic it would be if I signed a letter to Patrick, “Yours Conditionally”. And we were laughing about it but then he was kind of like, no, but that means so much.
So was it about a more mature and sensible love?
Exactly. I’m a little cynical towards romance and forever and all those things and yet here I am in this long term, straight, monogamous marriage. I try to challenge myself to do better. If I’m going to write a love song, I try to do something different. I want to write a love song that’s sincere and smart and not identity erasing or self-effacing, which love songs tend to be.
Processed with VSCO with c8 preset
How conditional do you think the record turned out to be?
I’ve actually made a conscious decision with this record to be a lot more open, taking more emotional risks, because I noticed that whenever I did do that with the song, I feel like people responded more, even if they didn’t exactly know what I was referring to within my own life. It’s like a symbiotic relationship. So I set that goal for myself, to do more work and be a little less guarded.
In terms of your process, were you looking to get back to the simplicity of the beginning?
That’s exactly what we were looking for. And I don’t think it had to be the sailing trip so much as it was eliminating the ways in which we were trying to prop up the expectations of the industry. We gave ourselves permission to undo everything we’d ever done for the sake of making whatever we wanted with the same sincerity and goal of just pleasing ourselves, as we had with the first record.
What was that like?
It just felt so good, I can’t explain it. It brought back the joy of writing, the freedom of the first record but with some measure of skill and ability of having made several albums.
Listening back to “Yours Conditionally”, how do you think your music has changed?
I definitely hear maturity. When I listen back to our previous records I hear all the ways in which we were experimenting and growing and trying new things. I hear that sort of transformation throughout all our records and this record is really a pleasure to sing because I was able to write myself in mind instead of pretending I was somebody else.
What are you and Patrick looking forward to as Tennis?
I am definitely looking forward to Coachella. That’s going to be a very surreal experience, especially having grown up going to the festival. I was nineteen when I went to see Radiohead, and now we are going to be playing on the same day as Radiohead!
That’s incredible, congratulations!
Isn’t it? It’s almost like a life achievement that I didn’t even know I would want. If someone asked me, make a list of life goals, I couldn’t have even thought of this one, so I am very pleased (laughs).
A three-part series ‘Chuck Forever’ explores the core cultural scenes that have made Chuck Taylors so iconic. In the latest instalment we are transported to LA, where Long Beach recording artist and style icon Vince Staples guides viewers through Chuck Taylor’s influence on street style and hip hop music in urban Los Angeles.
The video, directed by award-winning filmmaker Karim Huu Do, taps into Los Angeles’ youth culture; it shows how music and fashion combine to build enduring subcultures. During the film, viewers are also introduced to Los Angeles Lakers star Jordan Clarkson, and Born and Raised founder Spanto, who each explain their relationship with Chucks, and talk us through the way they choose to dress.
Julien Cahn, the Chief Marketing Officer at Converse, explains how, “Los Angeles has played an important role in revolutionising youth culture far beyond the west coast. Chuck Taylor has been part of all of that. He’s a symbol for underdogs, rebels and individualists all around the world.”
The newly launched series focuses on the daring, confident spirit of youth culture and celebrates the impact of Chucks on diverse cultural scenes all over the world. In the first instalment, Stranger Things star Mille Bobbie Brown introduced us to the use of Chucks in film, asking what kinds of characters wear them, and why?
The Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin is a private collection of contemporary international art. With the gallery’s focus on time-based media, the ‘Jaguars and Electric Eels’ exhibition is perfectly in keeping with its ethos. Made up of 39 artworks by 30 contributing artists, including installation artist Isaac Julien and sculptor Guan Xiao, ‘Jaguars and Electric Eels’ includes video installations and even fragrance-based art. The works are rooted in our understanding of evolution, investigating an alternative interpretation of anthropology and zoology.
Taking its inspiration from 18th Century explorer Alexander van Hombolt, who was the first researcher to point out how the forces of nature, both animate and inanimate, work together, the name of the exhibition is a reference to Hombolt’s chronicles of the New World. The chronicles were published in 1853, in a special edition entitled ‘Jaguars and Electric Eels’. The collection of works in the exhibition describe a reality that no longer distinguishes between the natural world and artificiality, but sees them as a whole and as equals.
‘Jaguars and Electric Eels’ explores some notable themes, including looking at the existence of indigenous people today, hybrids and synthetic forms of life, migration, and the different influences that impact our constantly changing perceptions of reality.
The exhibition will run until late November The Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin.
On Wednesday 20 August, a steady stream of suits, hipsters and minor celebrities (Samwell Tarly from Game of Thrones – yes, really) flooded into Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen’s performance area. In the darkened room, lit with blues and pinks and reds, an audience was assembling to see a hotly-tipped, up-and-coming musician.
The lady in question was Blackburn native Charlotte O’Connor, aka Charlotte OC. Despite being tapped as the sound of 2014, Charlotte’s path to stardom has had a rather slow beginning. Although she had a record deal in her teens, she was dropped and the album never saw the light of day. In the ensuing years she worked in her mum’s hairdressing salon.
But talent will out, and now this slight, leather-clad figure, complete with perfect, blunt-cut fringe, captivated the audience from the get-go. Her rich, soulful voice filled the room, accompanied by two keyboard players.
The stand-out track is her latest EP, Strange. An ethereal, haunting song with distinctly dark undertones, its electro feel was bewitching in the performance space. The tempo changed for a ballad, and then poppy Hangover’s toe-tappingly good beat swept the audience to the finale. During Colour My Heart, Charlotte’s voice developed a raw and emotional quality that contrasted with her previously upbeat songs.
Charlotte OC is clearly going somewhere. The only complaint was that the set was all too brief. Strange releases on 22 September.
Artist Taryn Simon’s work is a fascinating blend of photojournalism and art photography. Often taking the form of a visual inventory, she’s famed for her meticulous research and crisp photographic execution.
Among her projects, the 2007 book, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar delved into America’s secret places such as a nuclear waste storage facility in Washington State to a cave where a sleeping black bear and its cubs are monitored by biologists studying hibernation,
Her new show at the Tate Modern is no less obscure, or engrossing. A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters is a complex genealogy of family histories. Four years of research that took just two to photograph, the installation traces a series of 18 family bloodlines, each with its own individual story.
The opening chapter centres on a living Indian man who gives the project its title, having been declared dead in official records. Other real life characters include an Iraqi man who was apparently employed as Saddam Hussein’s son’s body double and a member of the Druze religious sect in Lebanon who believes in reincarnation and re-enacts remembered scenes from previous lives. It’s a magnum opus that’s not to be missed.
A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters is at Tate Modern, London, 25 May to 6 September. tarynsimon.com
Caption: Excerpt from Chapter IV, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters a. Gold-plated Iraqi Al-Kadissiya sniper rifle seized by members of the American Defense Intelligence Agency during a search of Uday Huessein’s palace in Baghdad. The inscription on the gun transalted from Arabic reads: “A gift from the president of the republic, Mr. Saddam Hussein.” Saddam Hussein produced gold-plated weapons for use on ceremonial occasions and as gifts. Defense Intelligence analysis Center, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. b. Latif Yahia impersonating Uday Hussein. Undisclosed location, Ireland.
Caption: Excerpt from Chapter VI, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters 51. No. 326, 27 May 2009. Inglewood, Queensland, Australia.
52. No. 327, 27 May 2009. Inglewood, Queensland, Australia.