Monday, 28 June 2010

Residency at Polymer Culture Factory

I’d intended to use my residency at Polymer to reflect on my practice and to begin work on ideas that I’d not yet had time to develop. For the most part I achieved this and more importantly got involved in activities which broadened my practice in a way that was both disquieting and exciting.

My first few days at Polymer had already been unsettling. Arriving at my new home I’d gotten very lost, been insulted, couldn’t find any food that looked recognisable and when I did get around to making work it had been destroyed. But then things took a turn for the better. I was given a teapot and suddenly I was productive and sociable. Conversations lead to new ideas and my work began to change.

After one such tea fuelled very late night conversation with Sandra Jogeva, Estonian Artist and Co-ordinator of Art Container, I agreed to have my blood taken. I’d already decided I was going to make paper in batches of 100 until I have made 1000 so the blood was to be used for one batch. Fortunately photojournalist Damaso Reyes had arrived from Brooklyn and agreed to document the process.

At 8.30am on Monday 18th May Sandra came to my room with needles, a rubber belt and sterile swabs. I wore a Russian bridesmaid’s dress and sat in the sun whilst she prepared my arm. She complained my veins were too small, tightened the rubber belt on my arm and ordered me to pump the blood with my hand so she could get the vein. On the second attempt she hit the vein but went through. Blood poured from me. I spent the rest of the day in the dress making 100 cups of tea for my many guests as well as 100 bloodstained sheets of paper.

It was UNICEF blue week whilst I was there and I was asked to do a workshop on making paper. With limited equipment I was worried how it would go but the attitude of the people at Polymer was so that encouraged sharing and collaboration. There was room for individuals to create their own work as well as work collectively. The group make paper from things they’d found and gathered including old Estonian books, krooni, wallpaper plants and bamboo fibres. We also attempted a large collaborative work that may raise a few eyebrows.

In the four weeks I made 1000 sheets of paper, 8 paper action figures, a pinhole camera, went to a lecture, sang at a church, planted some tomatoes, got involved in a sound art installation, and met interesting people from all over the world. As well as this I have had uncountable experiences and conversations that have made me rethink about art, life and morality. I’ve found that all I had to do in Tallinn to get something done is to open my door and get the kettle on.

1 comment:

Rebecca Strain said...

this is the dress I wore for my performance