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 artistic processes and practices, 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 practice involves ‘contiguous writing’ — a mode of creative-critical writing that seeks to touch upon rather than being explicitly about. Her 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, The Yes of the No, 2016.

Publication: The Italic I (Studio as Gymnasium)

The Italic I (Studio as Gymnasium) – a 'thought experiment' produced in collaboration with Clare Thornton – has been published in Drain Magazine, in the issue on Athleticism.

Abstract: The Italic I (Studio as Gymnasium): The Italic I is a practice-based collaboration between writer-artist Emma Cocker and interdisciplinary artist Clare Thornton, for exploring the various states of potential made possible through purposefully surrendering to the event of a repeated fall. Within our artistic investigation … the studio or gallery is approached as a gymnasium within which to practice falling; however, the purpose of practicing is not towards a telos, the perfection of a given move or some future performance. Rather, falling is repeated in a move towards deeper understanding, for becoming more sensitized to the experience, more attuned to its risings and falls, its intensities and durations. In these terms, the athleticism inherent within the activity itself becomes a means for increasing one’s capacity (as it is practiced), for producing unexpected forms of embodied knowledge and augmented subjectivity.

About the issue Athleticism: The word ‘athletic’ derives from the Greek, athlēō (‘compete for a prize’). In this schema, the ‘prize’ is the thing competed for, but this can be defined in many ways: as a gift, a kiss, a drop of blood, or a ribbon. We are often told that the prize is not important but participation is. The athlete models subjectivity, the body, desire, social relations, matter and chance in order to achieve a measure of success, recognition, mastery, the deferral of death and emptiness, a place in history, an apotheosis of self-love, among other things. How can artworks, essays, thought experiments, interventions, social events and encounters allow us to critically analyze and even undo the habitual idioms, rules and expectations surrounding athleticism as a measure or even as an outcome? Is it possible to create a differently dispersed athleticism that shows us what a body can do, what a care of the body can mean, or indeed, arranges new relations between bodies in order to attain a hitherto unimaginable prize? In what ways can we think through/work away from/deconstruct the fascistic tendencies of the ‘competitive spirit’ in order to arrange new rhythms and durations, participative networks and subjectivities? Can athleticism be situated within a more radical play of performances and acts that involve unanticipated outcomes and risks? Put in another way, how can a radical undoing of the telos of the athlete lead us to redefine what is worth struggling for?

This issue of Drain presents Rachel Rampleman as the Feature Artist; a selection of work from her Body Builder series explores subjects like gender, artifice, and spectacle through the tinge of a very American lens. The work is accompanied with text by Alex Young and David Mitchell. Critical essays by Joel Nathan RoseIra Halpern and Victoria Wynne-Jones address and examine aspects of sports, youth, masculinity and addiction. The Thought Experiments section, for shorter critical works, includes evocative pieces by Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton, Sandy Gibbsand Sarah Stefana Smith. The issue also features reviews of the recent exhibitions; Germaine Koh’s League by Louise Rusch, while Sarah Walko reviews the works of Craig Drennen. There is also an extensive Creating Writing section, which includes works of poetry and short fiction by Joseph Ramelo, Germaine Koh and Nathaniel Sullivan. A compelling selection of artworks and projects by Brandon Bauer, John G. Boehme, David Cross, Robert Ladislas Derr, Henry Gwiazda, Amelia Johannes, Cheryl Pope, and Jean-Michel Rolland variously engage with notions of Athleticism, sports and contemporary culture in this issue as do interviews with David Cross by Cameron BishopAnna Wittenberg by Joshua West Smith and Matt Hern by Elizabeth Spavento.