• Avoidance-Avoidance

Ash, Jesse, 2020, Book, Avoidance-Avoidance Sternberg Press, Berlin, Germany. ISBN 978-3956794285

Abstract or Description:

Avoidance-Avoidance is a book that assembles a project where a play is staged amongst art works and presented in four iterative exhibitions and performances. In the project, that combines scriptwriting, installation, sculpture, painting, film and print, the audience follows an evolving dialogue that plays out a bitter argument between two ex-lovers to address ideas of contemporary transparency. Each stage of the project was performed by local actors in the language of the host institution alongside over 30 specially produced artworks.

Avoidance-Avoidance addresses the effects of state and commercial surveillance through an interdisciplinary methodology which asks the question: ‘Can the politics of transparency be addressed through the processes of art making?’ Building on previous doctoral research on the act of speaking and the political agency of rumour, the project focuses on the processes of making, performing and speaking. Accordingly, it uses an iterative, generative and self-reflexive structure to invite the audience into the private production processes and public presentations of intimately crafted artworks (etchings, watercolours, drawings, sculptures, spherical oil paintings, film) alongside theatrical processes (scriptwriting, casting, rehearsing, performing and directing). These methods are explicitly exposed in the introduction: ‘For each iteration Ash adapted the dialogues and settings and created a new body of works to act as both backdrops and props for the unfolding site-specific performances. The project was conceived to evolve not only through time and space, but also through the conditions of performance. It now takes the form of a book assembling traces of these events’ (Elsa Coustou, p.11).

The publication is designed and conceived with the subject of transparency at its heart. This was addressed by revealing the process of making theatre and art work sequentially through the book - moving from sketchbook notes, rehearsal images, material production processes and then exhibition and performance documentation. The generative process of script writing and translation is also central to the publication, accordingly handwritten marginalia edits have been included alongside choreographic notes. The book extends the field of art works staged alongside performance by directly implicating processes of making as a method of seduction and illusion. Materiality has a primary focus in the publication and thus proposes a distinctly material lens through which to view the politics of transparency and the public/private platforms of digital information.

By presenting the process of art-making as an act of being seen, the project creates a new perspective from which to address the subject of transparency. For example, working between the fields of theatre, visual arts and politics, the creative and performative acts of art and theatre were identified as crucial components in how to understand and, crucially, how to combat fake news and online propaganda: ‘the only thing that can really work at that level [to counter fake news and propaganda] is art, because art can unpick and work in that space and create new types of relationships’ (Peter Pomeranstev, p65).

Findings such as this were brought about by inviting leading professionals from the fields of acting, curating, politics and the visual arts to reflect on the content the project generated. Contributors included Elsa Coustou; Peter Pomeranstev, who has testified on the challenges of the information war to US and UK governments; Ansu Kabia, an established actor working in film, stage and television with Netflix, BBC and HBO, and Daniel Sinsel, a renowned painter represented by Sadie Coles, London, one of the world’s leading international galleries.

Author of introduction, etc.Coustou, Elsa
Author of dialogsinsel, daniel
Author of dialogPomeranstev, Peter
Author of dialogKabia, Ansou
Official URL: https://www.sternberg-press.com/product/avoidance-...
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W110 Drawing
Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W120 Painting
Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W130 Sculpture
Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Creative Arts and Design > W800 Imaginative Writing
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: The Royal College of Art, CCA research fund
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2020 18:12
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2021 16:50
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4294
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