Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Reader in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Operating under the title Not Yet There, her research enquiry focuses on the process of artistic endeavour, alongside models of (art) practice and subjectivity that resist the pressure of a single, stable position by remaining willfully unresolved. Cocker’s work unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, often involving experimental, collaborative and performative approaches to writing in dialogue with, parallel to and as art practice. Her 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, and On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013, and as a collection entitled The Yes of the No, 2016. She is currently co-researcher on the project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2014 – 2017.

Publication: Being in Two Minds


My article 'Being in Two Minds' and interview 'Beyond Belief' with artist Ben Judd have both been published in the online magazine /Seconds. The interview has also been published in the online journal Soanywayin Issue 7Something and Nothing.





Soanyway is an international project centred on words, pictures and sound that tell stories. We interpret the idea of a ‘story’ very openly, in relation to fact and fiction, narration or implication, and structure or a lack of it. And we regard most history, theory and critique as stories about stories. The work is eclectic as usual, including writing, poetry, music, photography, painting, and video.

Project/Event: Invitation Only

Below are some images of the Invitation Only…  project at the Sideshow Book Fair on 30th October 2010. Invitation Only… brings together a series of book works, pamphlets, readers, scores – that operate at the level of the invitational, instructional or propositional, as potential provocations or departure points prompting future action or enquiry. For the Sideshow Book Fair these works remain invitations only: they ask to be perused, used and engaged with as part of the live event itself. Certain items may be purchased after the event: an exchange of goods is made possible only through the conditions set by an initial exchange of conversation. Invitation Only…  is a platform for presenting and engaging discussion around a body of work produced and curated by artists and writers including David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Emma Cocker and Marit Münzberg.





Image includes Emma Cocker's Field Proposals and Re-Reader (a collaboration with Rachel Lois Clapham, designed by Marit Munzberg - see detailed images below); Rachel Lois Clapham's (W)reading Performance Writing No.2 (Sideshow Book Fair), Achim Lengerer's Scriptings and WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS KEEPING IT MOVING, a one day exhibition by David Berridge.




Invitation Only was followed by a discussion event entitled R.S.V.P

R.S.V.P (Répondez, S'il Vous Plaît)


Presentation/Discussion. 6.30 pm, One Thoresby Street
Commissioned by The Book Mobile Project, a YH485 Press project for Sideshow

This event extended the ideas proposed within Invitation Only… by bringing together a number of invited speakers to address ideas relating to invitational, instructional or propositional forms of writing, text and language through the specificity of their own practices. Speakers include Emma Cocker, David Berridge and Achim Lengerer. R.S.V.P was presented in conjunction with a performance of Lengerer’s MODELS FOR REHEARSING THE SCRIPT curated by David Berridge.


Below is an information sheet with more details about the events Invitation Only and R.S.V.P

Invitation Only

Review: ANTI (for Frieze)

ANTI festival 2010
Various locations, Kuopio, Finland
28 September – 3 October 2010


Now in its ninth year, the latest iteration of the ANTI festival in Kuopio, Finland, continued to present site-specific work in the public realm, drawing together diverse live, sonic, visual and text-based practices over a single week in order to explore how artists working with writing and language navigate, read and inhabit the city. Whilst in previous years, ANTI festival addressed issues of site-specificity through themes such as walking (2009), the dramatics of domestic space (2008), body/site/gender (2007) or the relation of documentation to live(d) experience (2006), in 2010 attention shifted towards the ways in which language shapes and is shaped by both the specificity and non-specificity of its location or placement. If the spatial or geographical potential of a location is often fore-grounded in certain site-specific projects – where the term site often appears interchangeable with space – then ANTI resisted this tendency with works conceived in relation to both spatial and temporal experience.

Works such as John Court’s Eight Hours Writing used writing for marking and performing time, reflecting the durational properties of time passing or unfolding. The work involved the artist performing an unbroken act of writing, on a large-scale hardboard ‘page’ located on the floor of a school entrance hall. His inscriptions failed to accumulate into readable text, instead becoming less and less legible as semblances of words gradually overlapped and obliterated the previous layer of writing, producing a dense text whose repeated words – like ‘lines’ issued as written punishment – became increasingly meaningless or mute. However, rather than simply marking or measuring time as a clock might, Court’s durational text reflected an elastic experience of time (for both performer and viewer), where each passing minute felt stretched or moulded by the affects of compulsion, immersion, boredom or exhaustion. Other works actively marked, wasted, killed, lost or shared time through social acts of collective writing or reading – ranging from Holly Rumble’s intense bird-spotting assignments (One Minute Bird Watching) to the hours whiled away slow-stitching the lyrics to love songs remembered in the company of strangers (during performance group Toimintaryhmä Olettamo’s Embroidered Love Songs). 

Toimintaryhmä Olettamo, Embroidered Love Songs, photography by Pekka Mäkinen

Whilst these writings reflected the durational aspects of time spent, other work addressed the how – the intensity as much as the where and when – of writing’s timing: they operated according to the logic of kairos rather than chronos. Rupturing the flow of linear, chronological or sequential time, kairos signals towards timeliness: time ready to be seized, an opportune period where something could happen (or else perhaps be missed). In Everyday Opera Johanna Hällsten punctured the daily routines of Kuopio’s inhabitants with unexpected refrains of live opera, creating brief temporal apertures wherein the actions of selected individuals (the first blood donor one day, the last train traveller another) were momentarily synchronized within a live performance to the libretto and rhythm of an accompanying score. The potential of chance encounters and unexpected synchronicities also underpinned Sarah van Lamsweerde’s Instant Fiction, a real-time video dramatizing the actions of often-unwitting coffee-shop customers through the addition of looping subtitles culled from popular television and film. On one occasion, the recording of two rather bored looking coffee-shop staff captured perfectly the sentiment of the sub-title underscoring their non-action: ‘Why do we always have to do something special?’ 

Johanna Hällsten, Everyday Opera, photography by Pekka Mäkinen

Alternatively, some artists exploited the potential of bad or misplaced timing, where words spoken flatly failed to hit the mark. Like declarations of both love and protest, the apology is an utterance whose efficacy is dependent upon its delivery being made at the right time and place. Within ANTI, the apology became dislocated from the time-space of its originary recipient to absurd consequence: in GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN’s Weigh Me Down, a list of over 1000 anonymous apologies – ranging from the mind-numbingly trivial to the desperately confessional – were uttered by a lone runner, relentlessly observed undertaking a 12-hour long treadmill marathon. Alternatively, Heather Kapplow’s verbal communication during the festival was limited to the phrase ‘I’m sorry’; a singular statement of atonement following her previously failed relationship with Finland. Kapplow’s self-imposed constraint prevented the details of her relationship from being elaborated; the audience witnessed only the absurd labours of her attempt at making peace.


As with the apology, the art of stand-up comedy often rests in its timing. Not so in Johanna MacDonalds’ Badly Translated Stand-up, where an eight-hour set lost its verve through the hesitant translation of English jokes to faltering Finnish as much as by the overly-extended duration of the assigned task. Words intended to be delivered with urgency or intent became evacuated of meaning and meaningfulness, purposefully drained of their capacity to communicate or connect. However, for Caroline Bergvall, the event of speaking out of time or turn assumed a political imperative; her work, Flag Up, honoured the speech acts and activism of nineteenth-century proto-feminist, Minna Canth alongside contemporary Finnish artist-activist, Sirpa Kähkönen. Canth was a playwright speaking out against the oppression of women in society, whilst for Kähkönen the novelistic form of fiction and storytelling becomes used as critical devices for advocating contemporary radical social ideas. For these individuals, language operates as a tool for taking a stand; their words issue as the soundings of a dissident body speaking out or against – paradoxa. As for many of the artists presenting work at ANTI, the act of writing, reading and speaking has the capacity to activate openings or opportunities within the habitual continuum of daily life, whereby the conditions of a given situation might be considered otherwise.


Herein, perhaps, lies the dilemma at the heart of many site-specific practices in the public realm, for the interruptive capacity of the art event can often rest in its unexpectedness, in how unannounced it breaks with or ruptures the flow of everyday occurrences. Undoubtedly, it was the unsuspecting or opportune audiences  – those accidental or incidental witnesses, who were not purposefully looking out for the art  – that probably experienced the interruptive potential of the work most powerfully. However, there were times when this potential seemed somehow compromised by festival signage or the anticipatory gathering of an audience (programme in hand), whose presence often pre-empted  – and on occasion distracted from  – the experience of the live event itself.  




Publication: COPY // understudy


I will be contributing a couple of texts to this new publication.

COPY // understudy 
//////////////////////


First Edition of COPY to be launched at The Plaza Principle, Leeds, Thursday 21 October 2010, 6pm – 9pm

COPY is a new low-tech publication of critical and experimental art writing based in Yorkshire, from Critical Writing Collective. Each issue offers a proposition loosely interpreted by its contributors.

COPY // understudy contains submissions of writing as or around critical practice and page/image based works with a critical / textual element. COPY // understudy examines the notions of standing in, examined, inquired or performed; the temporary, theoretical or illusory and will be presented at The Plaza Principle, an exhibition curated by Derek Horton and Chris Bloor at the vacant TK Maxx unit in Leeds Shopping Plaza.

COPY will be available through the exhibition open 12–5pm every day, from Friday 22 October to Sunday 31 October 2010 and will also be
distributed at regional and national locations and online.

www.theplazaprinciple.org
The Plaza Principle will provide an opportunity to see a large-scale exhibition of contemporary art in Leeds, presenting the work of over forty young and established international artists. Exploiting the scale and architectural qualities of the abandoned TK Maxx store, the exhibition will present a wide range of contemporary art, with an emphasis on sculpture, installation, video, performance, and audio works.

Conference: Shipwreck

The full programme for the conference, The Semiotics of Shipwreck, at which I will be presenting a paper, is now online here. I am hoping that my paper will loop back through some of the ideas relating to failure that have been explored in other work.

.
Detail from The Wreck of the East Indiaman 'Dutton' at Plymouth Sound, 1821, 
by Thomas Luny (oil on canvas) NMM Collection


"Shipwreck is the evidence of a failed performance; the remainder of an endeavour somehow prevented from reaching its goal (curiously describing both the event itself and its subsequent residue). It signals trajectory of action suspended part way through, a break or rupture in the timeline of a journey, progress stalled. Shipwreck is the site of an unfulfilled task, an unresolved quest, a mission left unfinished, incomplete or abandoned mid flow. In this paper, I want to address the motif of the shipwreck as a specific manifestation of failure – in turn, attempting to recuperate a critical, even affirmative, value therein; asserting that it is through its failing or irresolution, that the shipwreck remains a particularly potent motif for artists."

Publication: Over and Over, Again and Again

Here is the almost finished version of my essay Over and Over, Again and Again which is going to be published in the forthcoming publication, Contemporary Art and Classical Myth (Ashgate Press, 2010). An extract of the text has also just been published in Failure (ed.) Lisa LeFeuvre, (Documents of Contemporary Art, MIT/Whitechapel, 2010).

Over and Over, Again and Agai

Publication: The Restless Line, drawing



Here is the finished version of my essay The Restless Line, Drawing which will be published shortly in Hyperdrawing: Beyond the lines of Contemporary Art, (I.B.Tauris, 2010)
The Restless Line, Drawing

Event: Invitation Only



I am currently developing a project entitled Invitation Only for the forthcoming book fair as part of Sideshow, Nottingham. The Sideshow Book Fair presents an afternoon of multiples, zines and bespoke artists’ publications. This independent fair will stock affordable, handmade artists’ books, comics and zines alongside catalogues, rare volumes and limited editions. Stalls include Staple Magazine, Bookworks, Via Vaudeville! Joff & Ollie, John Newling, Hinterland & The Reading Room, Tether, Nottingham Visual Arts, LeftLion, Georgina Barney, Backlit, Emma Cocker, Marit Muenzberg (Lemon Melon), David Berridge (verysmallkitchen), Rachel Lois Clapham (Open Dialogues), YH485 Press, Sovay Berriman, g39 ....

I wanted to use the opportunity of the book fair to further explore ideas around invitational or propositional forms of writing, which I have been developing through a number of recent projects. As such the stall I am proposing for Sideshow is structured around the title Invitation Only and will also be presented in conjunction with a discussion event, R.S.V.P (Répondez, S'il Vous Plaît).


The book fair and discussion event will take place at One Thoresby Street, Nottingham.

Invitation Only brings together a series of book works, pamphlets, readers, scores … that operate at the level of the invitational, instructional or propositional, as potential provocations or departure points prompting future action or enquiry. For the Sideshow Book Fair these works remain as invitations only: they prefer not to be sold - possessed by any single individual - but rather ask to be pursued, used and engaged with as part of the live event itself. Certain items may be purchased after the event: an exchange of goods is made possible only through the conditions set by an initial exchange of conversation. Invitation Only is a platform for presenting and engaging discussion around a body of work produced and curated by artists and writers including David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Emma Cocker and Marit Muenzberg.

David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Emma Cocker and Marit Muenzberg have worked together on a number of projects exploring the relationship between writing, exhibition and publication. Invitation Only focuses explicitly on the invitational or propositional imperative within their recent practices in order to develop future dialogue around this shared area of concern. Invitation Only will be followed by an event and panel discussion entitled R.S.V.P where a number of invited speakers address ideas relating to invitational, instructional or propositional forms of writing, text and language through the specificity of their own practices.
R.S.V.P (Répondez, S'il Vous Plaît)
Presentation/Discussion. 6pm.
This event brings together a number of invited speakers to address ideas relating to invitational, instructional or propositional forms of writing, text and language through the specificity of their own practices. Contributors currently include Emma Cocker and David Berridge: a full list of speakers will be confirmed as part of the Sideshow Book Fair.

Project: Pay attention to the footnotes (Kuopio)




Pay Attention to the Footnotes, Kuopio (2010)
Emma Cocker (with Open City)

Documented during the timeframe of ANTI festival, Kuopio, Finland
29th September – 3rd October

The documentation attempts to provide a tangential record of the festival, whilst testing a project conceived in relation to urban city space against the site-specificity of Kuopio.

No.1 documented whilst locating Holly Rumble’s One Minute Bird Watching
No.2 documented not far from Rosie Dennis’ Downtown Kuopio
No.3 documented on route to Kira O’ Reilly’s Untitled Bomb Shelter Action for Kuopio, Returning
No.4 documented 12 minutes into Regin Igloria’s The ANTI 10K Run Write Run!
No.5 documented in the vicinity of Caroline Bergvall’s Flag Up
No.6 documented at the site of Maija Hirvanen’s On Ice Anti
No.7 documented round the corner from Sarah van Lamsweerde’s Instant Fiction
No.8 documented 16 hours after Johanna Hällsten’s Everyday Opera