Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Operating under the title Not Yet There, Cocker's research focuses on the process of artistic exploration and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ emerging therein; on models of (art) practice and subjectivity that resist the pressure of a single, stable position by remaining wilfully unresolved. Her mode of working unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches to producing texts parallel to and as art practice. Cocker's recent writing has been 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 (Affect), 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and as a solo collection entitled The Yes of the No, 2016.

Hidden Narratives

Hidden Narratives
19 Jan until 19 Apr

Susan Hiller, J- Street Project.

I have been commissioned by Dialogue to write a review of 'Hidden Narratives', an exhibition which reveals the narrative urge in contemporary art, exploring how artists create scenarios, characters or scenes in which the viewer is encouraged to construct their own reading. Hidden Narratives features work in different media by artists including Simon Le Ruez, Zarina Bhimji, Susan Hiller and Shizuka Yokomizo, and specially commissioned pieces by Kate Allen and Sophie Lascelles. The review will feature in 'A tricky business: the art of politics, the politics of art', an issue of Dialogue (March 2008 to May 2008) which addresses the idea of art as a site of protest and testimony. This issue of Dialogue examines what it means to be a politically engaged artist. What, if any, are the criteria in the first place – and who sets them? How do artists balance the competing factors of retaining a political edge and being free to pursue their own ideas, with the agendas of art institutions, funding bodies and commercial galleries?

"... A number of artists in the exhibition present domestic spaces or places of inhabitation as the location of these contradictory tensions. In their work they allude to relationships brokered or broken; to lives lived or imagined, to specific and at times ambiguous conditions of existence played out and negotiated between observers and those observed; between the powerful and the powerless. These strange proximities invite closer scrutiny as to the nature of the narrative played out in each context; further interrogation of the way that each narrative has been hidden or concealed. The gesture of hiding can function as an act of both repression and protection; of care and cruelty; of safekeeping and survival, but also one of guilt. Meanings might become lost to moments of individual forgetfulness, whilst selected histories are strategically denied – carefully eradicated by the slow creep of collective amnesia. Hidden narratives can speak then of both poetic and political motivation, where on the one hand they might defer fixed meanings in favour of the potentiality of fluid interpretation; or else signal the mute testimony of voices that have been wilfully silenced and existences that have been methodically cancelled out."

Read more in Dialogue here