Been a while. I spent the summer doing a fair amount of admin and plotting and am now ready to Start Some Stuff through the autumn. This missive serves as an update to where I’m at and a clean slate.
Possibly the big news is I finally retired my Twitter presence after 12 years actively posting stuff to their service. I outline my reasoning here but simply put, it wasn’t fun anymore and Twitter isn’t good for society so I don’t want to participate in that. This means I am no longer active on any commercial social media, which feels good. It also means this newsletter and my blog are the primary places I post stuff now.
A lot of the admin this summer was based around the Pete Ashton’s Art website which I felt was geared too much towards pushing my Artist Career towards getting exhibitions and the like and less about my process and general practice. There’s nothing wrong with the former, but the latter is what interests me at the moment, finding threads in the small and seemingly random pieces I’ve made over the years. So I went through archived Dropbox folders, my Vimeo account, my diary, invoices and other records and pulled together everything I’ve done since 2000 which has in some way contributed to my art practice. The resulting 100-odd entries are quite discombobulating and aggressively unuseful, but that’s kinda deliberate at this stage. Seeing it all there, and putting it all out there, is really helping me judge what I’ve done and decide what I might do next. Over the winter I’ll start to categorise and theme it a bit better, but for now, this is my 2010s
I have an exhibition scheduled in the diary for February 2020 at Artefact. Details are vague right now but it will be for four to five weeks and come under my new 1972 banner. 1972 was the year I was born and, like everyone, my year of birth has followed me throughout my life from drop-down menus to passports. 1972 defines me, yet I have no memory of it. I was just a baby and totally unaware of whatever was going on in the world. So I decided to have a look. What I found will directly inform my work over the next year covering issues around, space colonisation, nostalgia, suburban colonisation and the shift from post-war modernism to neoliberal economics in the 1970s. Amongst other things. I’m taking a few weeks off in November to nail my ideas into a plan, which is when I’ll properly announce them.
I’m still working at Loaf, the community bakery in Stirchley. I work there 3 days a week in the back-office and the shop. I remain the only person there who cannot bake, and I see no future where I might correct that. I’m happy and it suits me very well. Because Loaf is a worker co-operative and I’ve been there for over 6 months I’m now a director of the company along with everyone else. Which is nice.
As I said, the blog has been revived as the place I write stuff. Here are this weeks postings: - On Leaving Twitter - the whys and wherefores. - Making your own Media - in which I explore the notion of “small pieces loosely joined” as a metaphor for a healthy internet derived from how societies actually group themselves, and then list all the tools and platforms I’m using or would recommend for a range of media publishing. - Birthday Books - wherein I describe the books I received for my birthday this week. - Sunday Reads - spinning tops, Nazis, Icelandic art, microbiomes, Greta and the social rituals of maintenance. - an edition of Sunday Reads which I would normally have put in the newsletter. Shall I put it in the newsletter anyway? Why not!
A Short Film of Spinning Tops by Charles & Ray Eames This makes me want to make films about small things.
Germany Has No Nazi Memorials - This Atlantic article compares the Southern US States prior to and during the Civil War to the Nazi regime prior to and during WWII, specifically with how the USA should deal with monuments to the losing side in the former, and it feels like part of an interesting recent trend to look at the history of what we might call regimes and states that committed atrocities comparable in some way to those of the Nazis but who got away with it. Say, for example, the British Empire. There are often calls to remove statues of figures from the Victorian era who did terrible things as agents of the state but they’re often seen as fringe extremists who hate this country. Cities such as Bristol and Liverpool who cannot easily hide their profiting from slavery have made steps in this direction but the rest of the country feels like it’s happy to ignore the legacy, even when that legacy is being weaponised to support right-wing agendas.
Death, volcanoes and Nazis in the family: Ragnar Kjartansson, wild man of Icelandic art - I like Iceland and I like art, so this coming top of the Guardian’s best art of the 21st century (most of which was thankfully not chosen by Jonathan Jones) was intriguing.
I was raised with this idea that Iceland is the end of the world. Now everyone wants to come and go on hikes. I’m scared of Icelandic nature. The older generations think nature is death here.
Caesarean babies have different gut bacteria, microbiome study finds - I am increasingly fascinating by gut bacteria (the microbiome), where it comes from and how it affects us. It feels like there are new discoveries made about it all the time, which is unusual in this era.
What a Prehistoric Monument Reveals about the Value of Maintenance - First, the revelation that the Uffington White Horse has to be maintained with new chalk. Second, the revelation that this maintenance has been going on for 3000 years, organised by local people. Third, the notion that this maintenance was by design, forcing locals to come together regularly for a communal activity. As modern societies have developed this sort of activity tends to be parcelled off to “the council”, from litter-picking to street repairs, so maybe we should reclaim some of it? It does happen, of course. The Britain in Bloom movement in the UK enables locals to clear litter and tend to plants in public spaces in return for social bonding. It’s hard to fight the “this is what our taxes should be paying for” mentality though, or the small-state ideologues using volunteer activity to further their agenda.
This is your phone on feminism - “We love our phones, but we do not trust them. And love without trust is the definition of an abusive relationship.” Feminist theory is a fantastic tool for exploring lots of things and I love this take on how we engage with technology has developed over the last decade.
Greta Thunberg and Her Hail Mary Climate Movement - There has been a LOT of noise circling around young Greta this las month with plenty more to come, and this profile felt like the fairest and calmest I’ve read about where she’s coming from and what’s happened to her. It’s also, apropos of nothing, full of some wonderful photography.
And that’s it for today. I’m not sure what format these newsletters will take in the future - maybe just a roundup of blog posts for those of you who don’t use a RSS reader - but it’ll be in your inbox soon.
Thanks as ever for your continued interest in my interests.