To coincide with These Days, the current group exhibition presented both physically and digitally with COMA, curator Sebastian Goldspink has spoken with gallery director Sotiris Sotiriou and gallery assistant Chengyang Yu regarding his motivations when curating the show. The conversation covers Goldspink’s investigations into problem-solving while painting, time and it’s relation to memory in art-making, and other sources of inspiration.
SS & CY: In These Days what is it that interests you about the transition and intersection of acting as an image maker, in the creation of the Video8 footage included in the presentation, to a curator of other people’s images?
SG: I think initially the decision to include an element in the exhibition which featured Video 8 footage was an aesthetic one. I like the look of this type of footage. The show is called ’These Days’ but is very nostalgic. The footage is from the first day of me trying to work out how to use my parents video camera in 1990. It is clumsy but also has an innocence and vibrance. It was also about something that many painters have told me that essentially no one ‘wins’ painting. It is a battle that repeats everyday. This was me I guess standing in solidarity with the painters in the show. Showing struggle in the pursuit of beauty.
SS & CY: In your text you speak about “… Footage that was only unified by the fact that it purely represented my eye.” Can you speak further about this, and about how differing individual tastes become unified in the exhibition?
SG: When I approach a group show I always start with the artists but interestingly I never assemble a group of artists based on their visual similarity. I look at something broader that’s harder to define. I look at tonal qualities and mix them together. This approach embraces difference and looks at the mix as a whole.
SS & CY: When we discuss painting being about problem solving this is often referred to in a very physical sense. What artists/artworks in particular in These Days focus on this physical grappling and why did their inclusion interest you?
SG: I think Jasper Knight’s work in the show is the embodiment of this idea. The work is made up of fragments of previous works that he destroyed. He describes being in his studio and being frustrated with his current output and wanting to start afresh. He took a hammer to the works on perspex and then realised that he could assemble an entirely new work from the fragments.
SS & CY: It is interesting that you use the phrase “these days” with a sense of duality – referring to both the past and present, like parallel timelines. How do you acknowledge this parallelity in These Days?
SG: I think once again it’s a consequence of being quite nostalgic. I always tend to view the present through the lens of the past. These days are always about now and before and even the future.I am also keenly aware that the past changes as we re-imagine and mould it to what’s happening now. Our futures and present are constructed but so are our memories of time. This speaks to the idea, on an artistic level of works being text that are re-contextualised. Their meaning is fluid and not set in stone nor roots din what the artist intended for them to be.
SS & CY: When we spoke before this interview the topic of not having seen all the work included in the show was brought up. It seemed to allow you a sense of mystery but also provided you, as a curator, with another problem to solve. Did working like this create a sense of closeness to the creative processes of the artists included?
SG: I definitely do. I am essentially more interested in artists than I am in individual works. I like fostering long term connections with artists and supporting their work over time. It’s true I always like being active in the process.I feel that I am an exhibition maker. For me the process of creating a show is an act of problem solving and that struggle reflects in some ways the process that artists go through to make work. Having the proximity that I have to artists gives me an insight into these processes and struggles and I am always left fascinated by this glimpse into these worlds.
SS & CY: You end your text with lyrics from the song These Days by Jackson Browne. Can you elaborate on the relevance of this piece of music?
SG: I’m a big fan of the Velvet Underground. The non profit artist space ALASKA that I created in 2011 was also named after a Velvet Underground lyric. This song These Days was made popular by the Chanteuse Nico in her solo work away from the Velvets. It was also used with great effect in the Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s just a really beautiful and imperfect song. I like that it is at times discordant yet it is so earnestly trying. For me that struggle or frisson is everything. It’s reflective of the show and the struggle of painting.
SS & CY: Thank you Sebastian, it is a wonderful show, congratulations.