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.

Event: Life - A Users Manual

I will be chairing this event (below) as part of Art Sheffield 2010 Life: A Users Manual . I hope that this event will provide a space to further tease out ideas which have been emerging in some of my recent writing including Performing Stillness and Performing Collectivity, around the affective experience of collectivity and community (particularly through the prism of Spinoza's Ethics).

In Conversation Event
Saturday 24 April 2pm
Showroom Cinema

Frederique Bergholtz will discuss some of the issues raised by Art Sheffield 2010 ­ Life: A Users Manual. Frederique Bergholtz is a co-curator of Art Sheffield 2010 and director of the rolling platform If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution.  

She will be in conversation with participating artist (and lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University) Becky Shaw, following which there will be opportunity for discussion, facilitated by Emma Cocker (Writer and Senior Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University)


The title of Art Sheffield 2010 – Life: A User’s Manual, refers to Georges Perec’s 1978 novel in which he builds up a detailed picture of the inhabitants of a single apartment block by describing the spaces in which they live, the objects in their rooms, the photos and paintings on the walls. There is something to this concentration on detail and the relationship between the individual and the collective that seems timely to explore when we feel as never before, especially with the current crisis, the effects of economic and social pressures on our everyday actions. Attempting to grapple with such global changes and not be overwhelmed by them, venturing to ask ‘where am I in this?’ is where art and the encounters it creates can be most powerful.
A key concern is to explore the notion of ‘affect’. Often used interchangeably with the experience of feeling or emotion, it is essentially an ability to affect others and in turn to be affected by them. Art Sheffield 2010 - Life: A User’s Manual proposes that unspectacular acts of everyday ‘affect’ might be a way to chart a path through current circumstances. Affect, not understood in the romantic sense as the catharsis often promised by art, but as the potential for embodied interpersonal experience which may suggest the next possible step within the bigger picture.