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.

Exhibition: The Alternative Document

The Alternative Document
project space plus, Lincoln
Curated by Angela Bartram
13 February – 11 March 2016

Artists: Tim Etchells, Jordan McKenzie, Rochelle Haley, David Brazier & Kelda Free, Hector Canonge, Rachel Cherry, Luce Choules, Emma Cocker & Clare Thornton, Kate Corder, Chris Green & Katheryn Owen, Andrew Pepper, Louise K Wilson, Bartram O’Neill. 

About The Alternative Document Exhibition / Text / Publication
Beyond most ephemeral artwork a memory remains in the mind of the observer and this forms part of the legacy of the fleeting event. However, memory is mostly a personal experience, that shifts, mutates, and fades over time to become distant, different to its origin, and in this way its archival potential is unreliable. To overcome this dilemma a variety of lens-based archival methods have become the tradition of recording the ‘actual’ event in as far as it is possible. Although a recorder, of any variation, can provide footage that gives place and context of the archive document, they present a dilemma – how much do they indicate what it was like to ‘be there’. For recordings are mediated and translated for posterity through the direction of the person holding the device and document their viewpoint and subjective encounter with the work. This creates an archival document open to subjective discussion, as a memorial and work in its own right, and of which alternatives are often sought. It is in this way that the disciplinary ghettos of event and documentation are abandoned in favour of a mode of practice that allows for a greater level of mutual critique. For documentation is also subject to the same vagaries of time as the event itself.

Concerned with the ephemeral and how it is perceived Peggy Phelan represents a position on this subject of “you have to be there” in order to understand the ephemeral. Phelan acknowledges that a performance “become[s] itself through disappearance.” This argument draws empathy, but in practice is a less than pragmatic account of the reality of experiencing ephemeral works, for how is the work to exist beyond the moment if not recorded in some way. The symposium seeks to expand on the idea of ephemeral and its loss, and by offering a platform where alternative acts of legacy can be discussed. Hosted by the University of Lincoln the conference will take place in Lincoln Performing Arts Centre on the 13th February 2016. It will run in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name at the university’s gallery Project Space Plus, which will open on 12th February 2016.

Publication: A 16 Stage Lexicon on the Arc of Falling

‘The Italic I – A 16 Stage Lexicon on the Arc of Falling’, an article and artists’ pages by Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton, has been accepted for publication in a forthcoming special issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT), on Showing and Writing Training, (ed.) Mary Paterson (publication date, 2016).

About the issue: This special issue of TDPT is concerned as much with form as it is with content, interested in the ways that discourse and dialogue about training affect not only training and its stated aims, but also the ways in which these methods and devices are accessed, remembered or reproduced. Questions posed by this issue include: What is the difference between what you do and how you talk about what you do? Who is unwelcome and how do they know? What remains unsaid? What remains undone? What gets undone? Would you say all this to someone you are training with? What kinds of discourses are (in)credible? What have you already assumed? What is impossible to explain?  What can only be known in retrospect? How does it feel? What kind of person is produced by this process and how will they talk? What is (in)substantial? What will change if we do things the same way we talk about them?  What will happen if we don’t? What will change if we don’t change anything that we’re doing right now? What is impossible to articulate in words? What are the secrets of your method? How do you know you belong somewhere? Who do you think you are talking to?

Below is an extract central artists' page from our article, ‘The Italic I – A 16 Stage Lexicon on the Arc of Falling’.