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Post Date

30 September 2014

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Burn; Immerse; Demolish. Or simply walk away.

To celebrate the launch of our Kickstarter campaign for new project, 'Temple', our Development Intern Hannah gives us an insight into other ephemeral creations from around the world...

Temporary temples. Transient creations intended to inspire, fascinate and challenge; but not to endure. One of the most intriguing aspects of David Best’s temples is their impermanence. Temple is a project constructed with the community and transformed by the offerings of those who visit. Its final gift is a public spectacle, a shared moment of wonder and reflection as the temple burns to nothing; and this cathartic moment is reflected across the world in the collective creation, and destruction, of places of meaning.

The Hindu festival Durga Puja is an annual celebration of the victory of the goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura as the epitome of Good defeating Evil. The construction of temporary places of worship is a tradition integral to the festival, and in the state of West Bengal everyday life is put on hold while in any available space – playgrounds, parks and street corners – pandals are created; temporary temples made of bamboo and cloth, created to house highly decorated life-sized idols of the goddess. These elaborate makeshift constructions, often created by communities, are free to visitors and attract both the ‘pandal hopping’ young, who gather to talk and eat, and crowds offering morning flower worship. In Kolkata, art and architecture students design themed pujas: immensely popular constructions with themes from Ancient Egypt to Harry Potter that compete to outdo each other in complexity and imagination. After six days of mantras, ritual drumming and dancing the idols are taken in procession to the river and immersed, symbolising the departure of the deity to her home in the Himalayas.

A world away, a wholly different creation: Paris Tour 13:

In a hugely popular public art project in October 2013, one hundred street artists took over a nine-storey social housing tower in Paris - thirty days before its demolition - and transformed it into a temporary temple of urban art. This massive collective exhibition, inspired by gallery director Mehdi Ben Cheikh and supported by the local council, brought 30,000 visitors to a derelict bright-orange residential block containing thirty-six apartments temporarily dedicated to the art of the streets. With aerosol, markers and sculptural elements working with the decay of the building, artists of sixteen nationalities created a non-commercial, one-time-only installation; encouraging a reconsideration of public space and the urban landscape. A month later, the building was reduced to rubble and pictures of the art appeared online for 10 days only: an ephemeral project showcasing a genre transitory by nature:

Even more transitory, perhaps, is the work of bodypainter Trina Merry (pictured above). In April 2014, using nothing but paint and ingenuity, Merry created a living temple from seventeen naked circus performers and dancers in Human Temple, a live installation at WORKS San Jose Gallery. The work’s central golden woman represents ‘the healed and loved women in Nepal’, raising awareness for ‘Beyond the Four Walls’; a social business venture seeking to empower Nepalese women. Merry was inspired by ancient uses of body paint to aid cultural healing and its implications for contemporary art, reveling in the transformative properties of a medium which changes and develops from the moment of application. It is the power of the temporary that informs these temples, their inevitable destruction. In Ireland, Temple will burn; in India, festivities end with symbolic immersion; in Paris, art is demolished by the bulldozer. And the finale of Human Temple? Its participants simply walk away.

Find out more and donate to our Kickstarter campaign for 'Temple'.

Post Date

16 September 2014

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You get what you give

Our Development Co-ordinator Soraia (pictured) recently completed her MA in Culture Policy and Management with a particular focus on crowdfunding.  Ahead of Artichoke launching their own Kickstarter campaign, here's what she learnt...

Digital technologies have radically changed the way we produce, consume and fund art.

I’ve spent the last year thinking about this subject when researching and writing my dissertation to complete a Masters in Culture Policy & Management. Working in Fundraising, I decided to investigate one of the latest trends in financing models for cultural projects: crowdfunding.

Although there are several crowdfunding platforms available to finance creative projects, cultural institutions in the UK are still taking their first steps in using this tool. Because it is still relatively new, the majority of articles related to crowdfunding try to explore what the triggers of successful campaigns are: is it the rewards?  The strong presence on social media? The popularity of the organisation?

As interesting as these questions may be, I decided to focus my research on what I believe matters the most in crowdfunding: the people.

Crowdfunding is not all about the money. It’s about the people that converge around an idea, a product, and a project. It’s about the connections that are established between investors and the organisation that creates the project. It’s about inspiring people in taking part in an idea bigger than themselves. 

With this in mind, I decided to investigate the connections that take place between arts organisations that engage in Kickstarter campaigns and their donors. I wanted to know their follow-up conversations, if organisations embrace these new donors on their future journey.

The results of my research were quite diverse, but one thing became clear: in a crowdfunding campaign, like in life in general, you get what you give. If you ask only for financial donations, that is what people will think is their deepest level of involvement. But if you ask for more – sharing the campaign on social media, advocating for the cause, volunteering – the person’s sense of impact will grow exponentially. And, by placing people as the core asset of crowdfunding, you may actually increase your chances of obtaining further gifts in the future.

I’d like to end this post with a quote that inspired me when I was exploring this topic:

‘I wonder whether at times we’re in danger of trying to make giving so easy that we get a gift but not a relationship. How many people made a text donation just because it was the easiest way to end the conversation? Would they, like me, end up feeling slightly resentful of being treated like a cash machine and never engaged any further with the charity?  Rather than talking about technology and giving, perhaps we should instead be asking how we can use technology for relationship building that leads people to become donors? What if instead of street fundraisers we had street relationship makers? Technology can certainly make things simple. But perhaps being too simple isn’t always a good thing.’

Report: More than shaking an online tin, Spring Giving, London

Post Date

09 July 2014

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Blood on the Streets in Nottingham

Our Administrator Steve invites us into the world of blood letting with a truly unique trip to the hairdressers.  Photo by Lamar Francois.

As someone who’s always been ridiculously squeamish when it comes to anything involving blood, it can sometimes be a bit tricky being the partner of a performance artist whose main source of material is his own blood. And when said performance artist is Jamie Lewis Hadley, who’s current project, the aptly titled Blood on the Streets, involves live phlebotomy and an in-depth lecture on the history of blood letting, it’s safe to say that I was in equal parts excited and nervous to take in the first performance.

However, just over a week ago on a sunny evening in Nottingham, I did just that.

The idea behind Blood on the Streets is to provide the general public with an informative and visually engaging 30 minute performance lecture on the history of the barber surgeon and their previous involvement in and subsequent separation from the act of blood-letting as a means of curing common ailments. Now what makes Blood on the Streets that little bit different from your average performance lecture to the usual ‘white space’ art crowd is that it takes place in the windows of a number of modern day barber shops up and down the UK, making it instantly accessible to literally the ‘people on the street’.

At 7:45pm one warm, Friday evening on a cobbled walk-way in Nottingham, I waited anxiously outside the vibrant 28 Barbers for the debut performance to start.  Camcorder in (shaky) hand, a large medical curtain pulled across the window to obstruct the audiences’ view and guard the aesthetics of the piece before the big reveal, the crowds began to gather.

As the local church bells chimed in the count of 8 o’clock, the curtain was pulled back and the performance began...

Now, if I were to sit here and go into detail about the lecture, the intriguing use of props, the fascinated passers by, the lovely Dr Belinda Fenty, the leeches (sort of) and of course, the blood, then I’d be giving away what makes this groundbreaking piece of performance art so appealing.

So instead, I would advise anyone who enjoys the extraordinary, the thought-provoking and the little bit gory to go check out a performance for yourself...coming soon to a barbers near you.

Photo by Lamar Francois

Post Date

30 June 2014

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Meanwhile in another muddy field

Artichoke Communications Officer JoJo was back on home turf last weekend for a moving performance exploring life in the trenches during WWI...

Something special happened in a muddy field last weekend.  No, I wasn’t welly-clad on Worthy Farm.  I was in Monmouthshire, South Wales for National Theatre Wales’ latest production Mametz.  Written by Welsh poet Owen Sheers, it was a site specific piece based on the Battle of Mametz Wood in France.  One of the bloodiest battles of WWI, a staggering 4,000 men of the 38th (Welsh) Division were either killer or wounded as they tried to gain control of the forest.

I grew up in Monmouthshire, and went along to the performance with my dad, whose interest in all things WWI grows by the day but is a lot harder to please when it comes to theatre.  Set amongst the beautiful surroundings of Great Llancayo Wood just outside Usk, we found ourselves being led through a trench and then to a pair of old farm buildings which had been converted into makeshift performance spaces.  The story focused on a group of young soldiers, some from Wales, others with Welsh ancestry who were desperate to fight, all frighteningly young and under-prepared, now facing the terror of the wood in front of them.  We got to know these characters, their mothers, wives and lovers, before following them ‘over the top’ of the trench to battle, for an intense finale in the wood itself. 

As we made our way along rain began to hammer down on us.  But the cold and wet felt incredibly fitting, as we watched these characters drag themselves through the mud to an inevitably violent demise, some by their own shells, or by a bayonet. 

It was 100 years since the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that very same day. It made you think about relatives and the part they played in the war who are no longer with us, nor are their stories. I know my dad was as moved by Mametz as I was, thinking about his own grandparents experiences and then his parents in the following WW2. Here was immersive, site-specific theatre helping us to remember, to imagine the horror of life in the trenches, and the futile, uselessness of war.  ‘War is the end of dialogue’ one of the characters said, I couldn’t agree more.

Mametz was one of the first events of 14-18 NOW a cultural pogramme of events to mark the centenary of WW1.  

Post Date

19 August 2013

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New addition to the Fourth Plinth

Remember when Artichoke took over Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth with Antony Gormley’s One & Other back in 2009? Well, the latest artwork for the plinth has recently been unveiled – simultaneously unveiling the media’s love for double entendres.

The Mayor of London presents 'Hahn/Cock' by Katharina Fritsch on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth. This playful 4.7m high cockerel is made from stainless steel with epoxy outer and is saturated in intense, ultramarine blue. The sculpture communicates on a number of levels; its strong colour and size stands out against the grey formality of Trafalgar Square, whilst the cockerel itself ironically references a male-dominated British society. The cockerel is also a symbol for regeneration, awakening and strength. Fritsch is well known as an artist for creating iconic images of animals in a single colour that are instantly familiar.

'Hahn/Cock' is a striking addition to the Fourth Plinth, which has become one of the world’s most celebrated public art programmes since the Fourth Plinth Commission was launched in 2005. The programme has seen the site host a range of innovative art commissions including Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005-07), our obvious favourite: Antony Gormley’s One & Other (2009) and most recently Elmgreen & Dragset’s Powerless Structures, Fig.101 (2012/13).  The Fourth Plinth programme is part of the Mayor’s vision for Trafalgar Square to be a vibrant public space and also encourages debate about the importance of public art in the built environment.

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