Commissioned essay which interrogates the potential of boredom and anti-climax in relation to artistic practice and the programme at Bloc gallery in Sheffield; and which recuperates a value for the provisional and unresolved. The text explores how the act of waiting and hesitation - and how moments of indecision and disappointment - not only form part of or underpin the process of certain artistic practices; but also how they might wilfully remain in the exhibition of the work itself. Read the full text here.
Images: (left) Graeme Stonehouse; (right) Chris Clarke
" ...Waiting is an episode of time in which the quickening pulse of adrenalin and slow rhythm of boredom struggle to conduct the pace of passing hours. Witness the bored thrill of the anticipatory queue gathering force; or the restless lethargy that seeps into spaces where waiting occurs - the languid non-place of the airport lounge or the back seat of cars, child-filled and travelling along incessant motorways. Waiting is a threshold across which the future is conjured; the interminable limbo of all adolescent dreams; a chasm of pleasure and irritation into which the unspoken fantasies of the everyday might fall or take flight.iii Situational or abstract, it is performed along a spectrum of expectation that ranges from awaiting the familiar or repeated, to anticipating the not yet known. The duration of waiting is equally ambiguous, for it is inevitably too long and yet somehow never enough. Think of those involuntary moments of indecision when the unfulfilled wait is finally abandoned.
The nature of unresolved waiting, when an end or destination remains at a distance, creates the liminal experience of being not-yet-there; a period of restlessness or temporal vacuum in which a range of random, repetitious or equally resourceful practices might develop to occupy the void. Within the recent curatorial programme at Bloc, a number of artists have appeared to evoke the feeling of being not-yet-there by reflecting upon the more disquieting durational processes that underpin the making of work. They seem to draw attention to the habitually unseen or hidden experience of practice - the hours of inaction or hanging around; the doubt, indecision or disappointment; the relentless searching and waiting for something tangible to emerge or for ‘the art to happen’.iv Arguably there are stages of both intermission and inefficient labour in even the most prolific practice, however in this context such episodes are not only an implicit part of making work, but rather creep in from the periphery to be put to use at the heart of the work itself, where they become strategically emphasised or indulged; deliberately extended or prolonged. The act of waiting becomes the site of practice...."
Read more at the 'Discourse' section of the Bloc website here.
- emma cocker
- Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University. Emma's research focuses on artistic processes and practices, and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ therein. Her practice unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches, alongside a mode of ‘contiguous writing’ — a way of writing-with that seeks to touch upon rather than being explicitly about. Her writing is published in Failure, 2010; Stillness in a Mobile World, 2010; Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Thought, 2011; Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art, 2012; Reading/Feeling, 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and the solo collection, The Yes of the No, 2016. More recently, Emma trained to be a qualified yoga teacher, interested in how a heightened awareness of the body and breath, alongside meditation and attention practices, might be integrated into art-writing, artistic practice, pedagogy and research.