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.

Publication: Institute of Beasts

A new publication by Dutton and Swindells (which includes my essay on their work) will be launched on 15th February 2011 at PSL in Leeds, in conjunction with the artists’ current residency and exhibition at PSL, entitled ‘Stag and Hound’. More about the project can be found at the PSL website here. My essay 'Moves Towards the Incomprehensible Wild' is a version of a much longer essay which will shortly be published in the online journal artandresearch in Volume 4, Number 1, Art and Animality.

About 'Stag and Hound' - artists' statement
'Stag and Hound' is the latest installment of Dutton and Swindells', 'Institute of Beasts' project - a project designed to temporarily house what the artists' describe as their more errant or wild thoughts. The works in the exhibition include objects, texts, animations and sound works which form an installation, both elegant and disturbing, that encodes a wide range of references. Stemming from the idea of an institute being something ordered and organized whereas 'Beasts' are unknown, erratic and mythologized, Dutton and Swindells divide their institute into conceptual departments, imposing a kind of idiosyncratic order, a gesture perhaps toward taming the erratic. Animated geometric forms and texts sit alongside inverted flower photographs, wall-drawings refer to celestial alignments, sound and music works are built by graphically re-interpreting activist slogans, a computer reads a pathetic and confessional soliloquy and a wall text appropriates spam e-mails selling 'Viagra'. The project has evolved into a multi-layered collage in which inconclusiveness and doubt are prioritized over empirical certainties, forming the critical sentiment that lies at the heart of the project. 'The Institute of Beasts' creates its own strange, yet strategic world-view with its chaotic aesthetic and sceptical notions of knowledge or knowing. For this outing of the project 'The Stag and Hound' the artists will install the exhibition ready for the launch on 20th January and then from 20th January - 16th February will be 'in residence' altering and shifting the exhibition, creating new works and points of resonance between existing works. The title references a tapestry 'The Stag Hunt' housed at the Cluny Museum in Paris in which the stag represents everyman and is hounded by dogs which represent the pitfalls in life such as desire, age or illness. Following on from previous installments of the Institute project such as 'The Dog and Duck' at the Kookmin Art Gallery, Seoul, S.Korea, the title of the show at PSL could also be the name of a pub, suggesting a space of potential conviviality but also of unexpected encounters.

Publication: Contemporary Art and Classical Myth

My essay 'Over and Over Again and Again, has been published in Contemporary Art and Classical Myth, which is out now and able to be purchased here. Contemporary Art and Classical Myth is edited by Isabelle Loring Wallace, Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia, USA and Jennie Hirsh, Maryland Institute College of Art, USA

Contemporary art is deeply engaged with the subject of classical myth. Yet within the literature on contemporary art, little has been said about this provocative relationship. Composed of fourteen original essays, Contemporary Art and Classical Myth addresses this scholarly gap, exploring, and in large part establishing, the multifaceted intersection of contemporary art and classical myth. 

Moving beyond the notion of art as illustration, the essays assembled here adopt a range of methodological frameworks, from iconography to deconstruction, and do so across an impressive range of artists and objects: Francis Alÿs, Ghada Amer, Wim Delvoye, Luciano Fabro, Joanna Frueh, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Duane Hanson, Yayoi Kusama, Roy Lichtenstein, Kara Walker, and an iconic photograph by Richard Drew subsequently entitled “The Falling Man.” Arranged so as to highlight both thematic and structural affinities, these essays manifest various aspects of the link between contemporary art and classical myth, while offering novel insights into the artists and myths under consideration. Some essays concentrate on single works as they relate to specific myths, while others take a broader approach, calling on myth as a means of grappling with dominant trends in contemporary art. 

About the Editor: Isabelle Loring Wallace is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia, USA. Jennie Hirsh is Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, Maryland Institute College of Art, USA.

Reviews: '…a very timely volume, with a tight focus on a significant yet seriously understudied theme…addresses the almost complete neglect of the prospect that the decline of autonomous art portends not the rebirth of Christianity as the leading context for art interpretation but the re-emergence of older, more classical, hence more buried contexts of interpretation.' 
Gregg M. Horowitz, author of Sustaining Loss: Art and Mournful Life

'As this compelling and revelatory volume proposes, classical mythology's rich territory and enduring stories of morality and the human condition provide a provocative lens through which to read and re-read the works of some of contemporary art's most celebrated artists.' 
Irene Hofmann, SITE Santa Fe, USA

Imprint: Ashgate
Illustrations: Includes 16 colour and 64 b&w illustrations
Published: February 2011
Format: 244 x 172 mm
Extent: 410 pages
Binding: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-7546-6974-6

A full contents list can be found here. 
The introduction can be read here.

Event: S1 Assembly

I will be chairing this event at S1 Artspace on Saturday 5th February 2011. 

S1 Artspace presents S1 Assembly on Saturday 5th February 2011, which concludes S1’s anniversary project FIFTEEN and launch of the new premises with a day of discussions, presentations, screenings and events that aim to reflect on the history, evolution and role of artist-led activity and the questions and issues facing artist-led activity today

S1 Assembly has been organised through dialogue amongst the S1 Studio Committee and will be based around four key areas of discussion: WHY/WHAT/HOW artist led activity, COMING OF AGE – how to move on without settling sown, TESTING SPACE and BEYOND SPACE – DIY, association and collectivity. Areas called into question include  the history of artist led activity as dissent, resisting institututionalization, models and aims of artist-led activity, creative ecologies, the relation of artist led space to wider ecology of city, the significance of the studio within contemporary practices as spaces of risk and speculation and the role of sociality in networks.

The event will include contributions from Neil Mulholland, Rebecca Fortnum, James Shorthose, Candice Jacobs (MOOT), Jim Prevett (Space), Megan Wakefield, Andy Abbott, Julie Westerman, Haroon Mirza, Thom O’Nions (The Woodmill) Megan Wakefield, Niki Russell (Reactor), (Tether) and The Royal Standard plus other speakers to be confirmed, and will be chaired Emma Cocker, a writer, Lecturer in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University and S1 Studio holder. 

S1 Assembly aims to provide a platform for networking and will include a chance to view the FIFTEEN exhibition, look around S1’s studios and a temporary library made up of material contributed by artist-led groups and organisations across the country. A buffet lunch and cakes will be provided, followed by curry and drinks after the event, all contributed by S1 studio holders.

Publication: In Other Words In Other's Words And Other Words

My text, Without Rhyme or Reason on the work of Vlatka Horvat has been published in In Other Words In Other's Words And Other Words, in conjunction with Vlatka Horvat’s solo show at Bergen Kunsthall, which opened 21st January 2011. With texts by Nuit Banai, Emma Cocker, Tim Etchells, Naomi Fry, Hugo Glendinning, Matt Keegan, Tevz Logar, Matthew Lyons, Solveig Ovstebo, Graham Parker, November Paynter, Christian Rattemeyer, Jovana Stokic, and WHW. Designed by Ben Cain.

Project: Fragile Materials

I have been invited to participate in a conversation with artist Clare Thornton, as part of her research project Fragile Materials, which will form the basis of her 3 month residency at Aberystwyth Arts Centre May - July 2011. Clare’s research will feed into an artist bookwork that she is developing concerning the texture of conversation. I will be spending some time with Clare during her residency, walking and talking around these ideas. I have previously worked with Clare during The Summer of Dissent project at Plan 9 (Bristol, 2009) and as part of Urban Retreat, a project led by Sophie Mellor in Barrow-in-Furness resulting in the publication, Manual of Marginal Places. More as the project unfolds. 

Project update (September 2011)
The 'conversation' involved an intense few days of discussion, focusing on our shared interest in the motif of the fold and various conceptualizations of folding. Some of the thoughts and ideas from the discussions will be posted here shortly, and will undoubtedly be developed within future writing.

Clare Thornton
Performance Installation
Saturday 3 September 2011, 1-4pm
Red Lodge Museum, Park Row, Bristol
Some of the ideas we talked about around folding relate to a forthcoming exhibition and performance installation that Clare is developing, entitled Unfurl, at the Red Lodge Museum, Bristol. A Tudor Lodge, the opulent setting for a tableau poised to unfurl. Pleats of delicate cloth, lengths of red ribbon, a model sits waiting for his painter. As the piece unfolds, the Artist’s material transforms the scene in our midst. The Audience are invited to come and go as they please, exploring the Red Lodge interiors and returning to the durational Performance as it unfolds over three hours. Unfurl is framed by the Artist's research into depictions of the Fold in paintings, historical interiors and in critical texts. Through the production of objects, garments and writing the Artist explores display, concealment and transformation.

Project/Publication: Lemonade everything was so infinite.

I have been invited by Marit Münzberg  to be involved in a project that takes as its starting point an unfinished sentence by Franz KafkaLimonade es war alles so grenzenlos.

Limonade es war alles so grenzenlos. 

(Kafka, Franz, Briefe 1902–1924, Fischer Verlag, p.491)

Limonade es war alles so grenzenlos. was one of Franz Kafka's last sentences published in the Aus den Gesprächsblättern in the publication of his Briefe 1902–1924. Hélène Cixous, who writes a short text on this sentence, translated it as 'Limonade tout était si infini' (which – in the english version of the Hélène Cixous Reader – is further translated as 'Lemonade everything was so infinite'.). Taking the translation 'Lemonade everything was so infinite.' seven titles will be published written by seven different writers/artists – David Berridge, Julia Calver, Emma Cocker, Rachel Lois Clapham, Marit Münzberg, Tamarin Norwood and Mary Paterson.

Each title will explore one of the seven segments of this sentence - 'Lemonade', ' ', 'everything', 'was', 'so', 'infinite', '.'. The titles will be published every three months starting in July/August 2011 with 'Lemonade' by David Berridge. While the first publication is in production Julia Calver will work on the second segment ' ' with the possibility of relating the content to what David Berridge has written/created in the first title etc ...

This form of publishing does not only aim to investigate Cixous's translation of the sentence itself, but also intends to explore the grammatical connection of the different words in the sentence, the possible interconnectivity/collaboration of different voice of the writers/artists, the words in their own grammatically disconnected function and ...

Each invited respondent will work with one of the segments from the unfinished sentence to produce a book/let in dialogue with Münzberg , which will be printed using a risograph process and distributed by LemonMelon publishing. 

More to follow as this project develops.

Exhibition/Project: Not Ready Yet

Not Ready Yet
curated by Niki Russell

For the exhibition Not Ready YetTomas Chaffe, Emma Cocker, Tom Godfrey and John Plowman explore the notion of 'willful irresolution', inhabiting an empty shop unit as a space in transition, between uses. Their inhabitation of the building proposes to rehearse a different use, exploring the gap between previous and future function, where the site is approached as no longer shop and not yet exhibition. Activities unfold physically and temporally within this space, punctuating the extant architecture of the building in ways that remain somewhat expectant rather than certain. A review of the exhibition can be read here.

Image: Emma Cocker, Oh, When (expectant archive)

Oh, Whena research residency and archive

As my contribution to Not Ready Yet, I am proposing to undertake a ‘residency’, using the exhibition as the ‘frame’ or ‘conditions’ within which to work. The extant architecture of the shop unit is approached as an empty or expectant structure, a thinking space for exploring the relationship between rehearsal and irresolution, for developing an emergent taxonomy of unreadiness, a nascent vocabulary to speak of the not-yet-ready. 

Image: Emma Cocker, Oh, When (field proposal). 

Different spaces within the exhibition will be used for different stages or aspects of the research; each space will be ‘set-up’ in anticipation of its related activity, arrangements of expectant furniture waiting to be animated or activated through future use. The residency will be structured through a series of overlapping phases of activity, which might vary in length, not necessarily corresponding to the weeks of the exhibition. The first phase (see documentation below) is one of 'making ready', where a team of 'research assistants' inhabit the project's production space, assembling the archival boxes for subsequent research. Further phases of activity will gradually unfold over the course of the exhibition. During my 'residency' I will be also archiving notes and documentation here.  

Image: Emma Cocker, Oh, When (production space). 
With thanks to 'research assistant' Chloe Morley.

Image: Emma Cocker, Oh, When (ellipsis). 

Publication: R.S.V.P. Choreographing Collectivity

My essay ‘R.S.V.P. Choreographing Collectivity through Invitation and Response’ has been published in the online journal Rhizomes, in their forthcoming issue entitled, Hives, Tribes, Assemblages: New Collectivities. This essay develops a paper presented at the Language, Writing and Site seminar, originally commissioned by ANTI, the festival of performance and site-specificity in Kuopio, Finland, 29 September 2010. My essay can now be read here.