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.

Text: From Ritual to Theatre

From Ritual to Theatre is a film screening programme at ANCIENT & MODERN curated by artist Ben Judd. The curatorial statement for this programme is a partly co-authored text (Cocker/Judd) extending ideas emerging from a series of discussions and pieces of writing produced from a dialogue between myself and Ben, where the notion of ritual and the figure of the initiate became used as starting points to explore our shared concerns.

From Ritual to Theatre
During the month of August, ANCIENT & MODERN presents From Ritual to Theatre curated by Ben Judd, a series of artists’ films that explore the grey area between performance and ritual.

The artists in From Ritual to Theatre reuse the signs, codes and mannerisms of rituals, rites and ceremonies. Through their restaging, these events, both everyday and profound, are used as readymades, re-exploring their value and cultural status. The work in From Ritual to Theatre explores the paradox of the parameters and freedom that self-imposed ritual provides. In relation to the cultural and historical baggage that these ritualistic acts suggest, the artists explore the role of the initiate, a position which has a strangely exempted status. For anthropologist Victor Turner, the initiate occupies an ambiguous territory where they remain “neither here nor there … betwixt and between the positions assigned by law, custom, convention”. During the liminal or transitional phase of any ritual activity the characteristics and laws of the dominant social structure are momentarily collapsed, as “the ritual subjects pass through a period and area of ambiguity”  where “they are at once no longer classified and not yet classified”. The artists locate themselves at the fulcrum where one position begins to slip into another, the shimmering point where fixed positions begin to waver. Text by Emma Cocker and Ben Judd

Artists included in this programme:
Christine Sullivan and Rob Flint, Generator, 2006, 4:00 min, colour, sound
George Gurdjieff, Hidden Symmetry 2, date unknown, 4:31 min, black & white, sound
Jim Shaw, Initiation Ritual of the 360 Degrees, 2002, 10:54 min, colour, sound
Matt Stokes, Long After Tonight, 2005, 6:40 min, colour, sound
Marcus Coates, Out of Season, 2000, 7:16 min, colour, sound
Alex Sanders, Fire Spirit Ritual, c.1970, 3:27 min, colour, sound
Bruce Nauman, Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square,1967-68, 5:00 min extract, black & white, silent
Magali Reus, Background, 2009, 7:25 min, colour, sound
Catherine Sullivan, Triangle of Need (Olympian and Doves), 2007, 7:00 min, colour, sound
Michael Curran, All My Little Ducks, 1995, 7:00 min, black & white, sound
Kenneth Anger, Invocation of My Demon Brother, 1969, 10:30 min, colour, sound
Maya Deren, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, 1947-55, 8:00 min extract, black & white, sound
Sian Davies, Thebes, 2007, 7:52 min, colour, sound
Guy Sherwin, Man With Mirror, 1976/2006, 9:00 min, colour, sound
Breda Beban, Walk of Three Chairs, 2003, 10:00 min, colour, sound
Jim Shaw, The Whole: A Study in Oist Movement, 2009, 16:40 min, colour, sound

For more information and individual screening times please see www.ancientandmodern.org