Homegrown Blog – Part 1: (Live) Art Historian
(Live) Art Historian
I write about images all the time. I stand for minutes in front of objects. I note down my thoughts. I tell people about what I’ve seen. I pour over pages of reproductions. I compose lectures and lead seminars on art from ancient antiquity to the present day (although my research specialism is the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century). I think about objects (and line and form and colour and texture) in relation to theory (what would Foucault say?) and history and contemporary resonance. I engage. And yet, this experience is a new one for me, for I have never written about live art.
I first encountered live art in Digbeth in the old factory spaces of Minerva works and during Birmingham’s annual Fierce Festival; you could say that my interest in live art is somewhat ‘homegrown’. Those performances were some of my favourite artistic encounters. Ever. To me, live art feels ephemeral, intangible and deeply subjective. Those are the reasons why I love it, but it makes it harder to fix with words. Over the course of this project, I am going to be doing just that. I’ll be using the opportunity to think about live art, watch performances, talk to the artists and mentors, and write up some thoughts. I’ll be drawing on my own practice as an art historian, relating what I see and feel to what it makes me think about, art historically, teasing out cross-cutting issues and themes. This opportunity will also give me space to re-approach my own research and I will share some of these thoughts too. I hope that this project will enable me to think through issues around laughter; liberty and identity; the relationships between word and image and, my most recent research/teaching project, iconoclasm. I think the latter is particularly pertinent to this project for, as I so often point out to my students, ‘every act of creativity is first an act of destruction’ (Picasso).