GI 2016 Director’s Programme: Amie Siegel “Provenance, 2013” at Tramway, Glasgow – 8th to 25th April 2016

Amie Siegel 001
image credit: Ruth Clark

I viewed “Provenance, 2013” during the GI Biennial in April.  I have delayed writing about it to give the many ideas it inspired time to settle. The artist is Amie Siegel (b 1974, Chicago, USA) who lives and works in NYC and Berlin, Germany. For the last 15 years or so she has worked among lens-based work, installation and performance. The exhibition[1] at the Tramway was comprised of 3 parts.[2] I was keen to see this as I share an interest in shining a light on economic and cultural values and how they may loop around one another.

Setting aside usage as key to authentication practice and disputes in the art world, “Provenance” can mean “where things come from” in terms of place and or history. By way of a cinematic film[3] Siegel meticulously reverse-traces the origins of some furniture (chairs, stools, desks and settees) from high-end urban collection and display, cataloguing, auction, restoration and various trades and oceans back to ongoing use and abandonment or avoidance in schools, courts and other institutions that they were bespoken for, and further still to full stop at those places as mountainous stockpiles and or in singular neglectful discard in the city of Chandigarh, India. At source, we arrive afresh at a limpid ‘Eden as omega’[4] and so the back-story of this chain of provenance completes itself.  Where are values located and how are they linked, exchanged or recycled? How do things inspire desire and neglect simultaneously? To gain insights on motivation we need some context.

Following India’s independence in 1947, Chandigarh was made the capital of Indian Punjab. It was a time of hope and idealism promising peace, democracy and a new harmonious social order.[5] Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier was called in to adapt plans with Pierre Jeanneret [6] following an accident that resulted in the tragic loss of the said plans first Polish author, architect Maciej Nowick[7].  The film’s tracking shots of Chandigarh were particularly captivating – a place of fruitful entropy and deep peace. Even in decrepitude the public halls of pillars and colourful details[8] are memorable for their grand scale and appealing proportions of height and space. An agreeable environment at one time humanised with plain, solid pieces, editioned especially to grace shared space and ordinary lives.

Perhaps that sense of elevation or maybe it could be called choreography of feeling, might be why that furniture is so desired by urban collectors and others who seek more than what they might struggle to name: personal provenance by ownership of a thing that is also an ideal[9] of beauty and harmony. Money changes hands along the chain. Yet, in the homes and auction houses the chairs retain their dignity in the line.  They are on display or placed at will of those who acquire them for often exorbitant sums[10] in hallways and homes, often renovated “to the 9s”, neglected in somehow a different way to ruination in Chandigarh. The film lingers on these mutes, silent to the ear and yet, present and as such strangely immune to the barbarity of “taste”. These things “be” in a muteness that is deafening.[11] Perhaps that is why, as the film also shows, workers in Chandrigarh sometimes avoid sitting on them. The values may be different but East and West seem to loop dysfunctional value orbits around these great, passive being-things. They bear the vagaries of human nature rather than judge them.

This was an artful film, rather than a documentary film.[12] The viewer is shown something new and learns about herself. Some viewers might just find the film suavely captivating. Others might be slightly irked by the neglect of the film itself to investigate real world exploitation and art world practices and cannibalism. However, by offering  the film as “Lot 248” and thus as object[13] and as such in solidarity with now individuated (provenanced) furniture objects, both objects become more than materiality as tradeable objects. They reverse the usual exchange by becoming real as the viewer can culturally discern them. This new and higher reality reverses the expected exchange. In this way, the artist and her art transcend ephemeral visibility and the shades that come with spotlights.

I have been thinking since and in further solidarity, that our shared human destiny does amount to more than moving furniture around in the economic or other value spaces that capital exchanges or human nature allow.

[1]  Provenance, 2013 was first shown in its entirety at the Metropolitan Museum, NYC from 23rd June 2014 to 4th January 2015. A brief extract may be viewed here:

[2]  1. Provenance, 2013. HD Video 40m 30 sec. Ed. of 5 + 2 A.P.

  1. Lot 248, 2013. HD Video 5m 25 sec. Ed. of 5 + 2 A.P.
  2. Proof (Christie’s 19/10/2013), 2013. Inkjet print, Lucite 25.5 x 18.5in/ 48 x 44.5 cm Ed. of 5 + 2 A.P.

[3] See Note ii item 1.

[4] I use this phrasing as the film conveyed to my eyes a sort of ruined Eden (the biblical “garden of God”, described most notably in the Book of Genesis chapters 2 and 3, and also in the Book of Ezekiel chapters 28 & 36 (KJV)) and there is something architects do in holding space that evokes a sense of the spiritual as a material reality at best; yet destructive, tyrannical control at worst. Perhaps in the best work this feeling can be simultaneous and why it in fact as experience is “great”.

[5] concludes: “Of all the world’s ideal cities, Chandigarh has done remarkably well, offering striking monumental architecture, a grid of self-contained neighbourhoods, more trees than perhaps any Indian city and a way of life that juggles tradition with modernity. While history tells us ideal cities are mostly best left on paper, Chandigarh – perhaps one of the least likely – appears to have succeeded.”

[6] The Chandigarh Capital Project Team was headed by Pierre Jeanneret, (later Dame) Jane Drew and (Jane’s husband) Maxwell Fry – together they designed and built government buildings and housing between 1951-1965).

[7] Nowick had worked alongside American planner, Albert Meyer.

[8] Such as the semi-opaque glazing of small and irregular windows to cast beautiful light and airiness while serving as a “run” for wild monkeys.

[9] Ideals may seem like abstracted sharing: with it but not part of them.

[10] Chandigarh’s items are what might be termed mid-market, with auction prices in the film reaching e.g. $12,000 for an iron city drain cap to $20,000 for a simple light stand.

[11] My view is that objects should have rights and new forms of protection – as yet undiscovered. I have also been thinking that perhaps the immunity might stem from the tyrannical nature of the “greatness” (see note iv above) of their lines and design.

[12] For local investigatory journalism see:

[13] See Note ii above items 2 & 3 Siegel auctioned off the film (item 1 at Note ii) and preserves the auction record as evidence (Item 3).


Amie Siegel 002
Image credit: Ruth Clark

Glasgow International 2016: Catrine Val “Political Letters” Exhibition at Streetlevel Photoworks, Glasgow – 8th April to 29th May 2016

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This solo exhibition of photographs by German artist, Catrine Val borrows its title from the collected writings of Frances Wright (1795-1852), a freethinker and abolitionist who was born in Dundee. Later emigrating, she became a US citizen in 1825 and established a “Robert Owen- style” multi-racial commune in Nashoba, Tennessee. Frances had been born at the tail-end of the century of the Scottish Enlightenment that followed political Union with England in 1707. Her father’s wealth was founded on success as a linen manufacturer. Yet he was at the same time a republican and radical, who also happened to know the economist, Adam Smith. Wright’s upbringing occurred during the “Age of Revolution” that is before the “Age of Capital”[i] truly got going in earnest. This is an interesting start and historical counterpoint as we live in an age affected by information revolution and a growing concentration of capital in the hands of a small economic elite.[ii]

Associative fictions perfomed by Val are displayed as photographic stills. All are specially selected for GI 2016 from her series “Philosophers” and feature her as protagonist, setting to or off with fellow explorers and idealists in “takes” that have Scottish and women’s experience angles. In that company and in common with Wright and across time she re-imagines trades, transmissions and exchanges of materiality for intangible values. The question remains: how do we find a way to live?

Brushing off the silver nitrate of time, wars, corruption and inequality the camera has documented much since the time of Wright’s taking of US citizenship. Its use (and misuse) is extended as visual communication grows in the age of the internet. The volume, speed and shallowness of incessant images and associative ideas, commentary and mis-information are distracting and confusing. Amidst this “white noise” and camouflage there is at stake – now as never before  – consciousness. Is it possible to think and find space for originality within a global time loop and deluge of images that is political as it is senseless? Access and unprecedented openness seem to serve to reveal banalities. Rather than challenging power the net supports it via commercialisation and manipulation of images. These seem poor exchange for intrusion or even erosion of private “thinking” space.

Val’s images challenge this poor trade by asking: can we extend common understandings to defy time and human weakness? How can we protect ourselves against the death of idealism as we may know it? Each image is displayed with the associated book of theory as object (rather like a fossil perhaps) out of which her images spring as they hang above. The viewer makes associations from theories of her own or whatever she may think she knows. Rather like a “philosophy bomb”[iii], we look at the artist consuming and translating theory. It feels like browsing vicariously, but at the same time by making new connections from transmissions like applying a square root of power. Val surfs the philosophical canon as imagist and search engine (here search: “Scotland”, “women’s experience”), making surreal combinations and arbitrary connections. However, human processing by artist and then by viewer makes this work interesting as random connections are extended from and among source materials. By shared transmission and by being apart physically in time or geography yet together in shared consciousness, we take steps beyond fantasy and reality, philosophy and spiritualism or psychology as fable and individuation[iv].

There is a refusal of meaning in the artist’s tableaux of associative mirrors and reflective translations. This is effective in illustrating the way the internet can be often used associatively and in denial of the passage of time and solitude needed for thinking. As a viewer, I found myself responding associatively and positively. The point is that if we yearn hard enough collectively then perhaps humans can transform individual and surrealist collages of philosophy and information trouvé into new creations and forms that step beyond knowledge as that which can be known.

I found all of the images in that sense and in my active association to be memorable and inter active. Val on both sides of the lens beckons us to see beyond corners and theory. We associate to share experience and consciousness naturally and in relation. In my view one of the most powerful images is entitled, “ Luce Irigaray Speculum of the Other Woman (2013)”. Irigaray’s theories of exchange and value of women’s roles is spun out by Val as a call to consciousness in the face of consumerism. Consciousness can undermine the false values of a society that can and must consume [v]. Can we channel empathy to arrive at a new creed? New ways might heal all that has gone before and passes before us now and in the future. If we can transmit through and exchange the numbing effect of internet, we might all be Lee Miller now.[vi] We can bathe in the internet as lagoon or swamp. Consciousness gives us free will to know the value of time and our place in it.

[i] So called by E.J. Hobsbawm in his book: “The Age of capital 1848-1875” part of the History of Civilisation Series by Weidenfeld & Nicholson. The fore-runner in that series is “The Age of Revolution 1789-1848” which covers the ‘Dual Revolution’ of the French and Industrial Revolutions. Hobsbawm integrates economics with political and intellectual developments in his account of the revolutions and their failures, of cycles of boom and slump that characterise capitalist economies, of the victims and victors of the bourgeois ethos which during these ages (and perhaps in contrast with our times) became the ideal and as such was exported across the globe.

[ii] According to Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century (2014) Belknap/Harvard we are on the way back to ‘patrimonial capitalism’ in which economic power dynamics are dominated by wealth and moreover by inheritance of wealth.

[iii] cf the current trend for celebrity “photo bombing”.

[iv] The artist’s image entitled: “Margaret Cavendish (1632-1673), A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding and Life” (2013) set me thinking of the fable of the “Goose Girl” and of the psychological analysis of fables and folk stories in the Jungian writings of Helen M. Luke in her “The Way of Women: Awakening the Perennial feminine” pub. G&M 1995. In that way the effect of the image thus extended and stimulated my thoughts from the memory of reading (i.e. not my knowledge of or from) that book.

[v] Perhaps Val pulls off (in my view) evocation of compassion for loss of innocence by a reference to pop culture aimed at children as consumers, Bambi by Walt Disney?

[vi] I am thinking of the image “Lee in Hitler’s bathtub, Munich 1945” by David E Scherman, featured in Carolyn Burke’s biography “Lee Miller on both sides of the camera” 2005 Bloomsbury. Miller poses sitting in the bath between Hitler’s portrait and statuette of Venus (cut off at the knees).


Provenance Redux : Archive Regained Part I

iv “Raubkunst?” (“Looted art?”) MK&G Hamburg April 2015 – vitrines’ objects casting threads of light and shade


Provenance Redux[i] : Archive Regained[ii]  Part I

In the post-internet age, the head waters of data as un-mediated information and images are unstoppable and uncontrollable.[iii]  New accessibility, together with surges of “born-digital” information channel known and found, western and non-western and analogue art and cultural objects. These new confluences are both erosion and renewal. Taken together they are causing fissures in archives and collections in terms of historical equality and contemporary moderation and inclusion. New objects and narratives are unprecedented, timely and indeed necessary in a globalised and post-Colonial world. Art professionals, collection agencies and archivists take on the dual challenges of context and ideas of provenance as they relate to economic and other values, onward culture and cultural history. All parties must adapt to deal with increased access, scope and the positive disruption all that may imply and from multiple angles and access points and on a global scale.

Speed, accessibility make for a growing clamour for open information. These become ever more so at odds with fixed art world practices and rights held within seemingly personal, informal and anecdotal circles of vested interests and private dealings. Without open records, how can objects, images or events be described and by whom? Should all things be accessible and how should contributions be enabled and judged? Does economic success demand inclusion? How can marginal or unpopular work be recognised and supported? Are archives that rely on provenance and changing labels reliable and accessible? Does access complicate attribution? Does unconscious attribution matter? Are the scope and enforcement of moral rights problematic? Is copyright worthwhile? These are all exciting questions that may offer opportunity, but only if we can open up to new thinking and fundamental change in societal and technological expectations and implications. From top level to grassroots all creative practitioners and art and other professionals, their supporters and sponsors and the public can play a part in change. For example, change to resale rights’ scope and allocation offers positive potential to cause radical and lasting change to thinking on attribution, archives and catalogues. All of that has implications for funding and other support. In this period of dynamic transition, we need urgent, active, informed and sceptical inter-disciplinary collaborations to unlock possibilities as pathways towards workable solutions.

In the meantime, it is easy to get distracted. For example, present archival descriptions are out of date; not provenance. Descriptions rely on labels derived from patriarchal colonial and imperial bygone eras. However, historical judgement (even when privileged, outdated or just plain wrong) remains relevant to the human story that shapes all of us. That narrative is evidenced by threads of ownership. It is important to also test the narrative rather than judge it. The line can be light and shade, source data for humanity[iv]. It is experience as shining thread, dark wound[v], transforming creative/destructive magma and or all or none of these, depending on the viewpoint and perspective in time.  As objects (rather than what we may believe about them at any point in time) bear witness they are our only antidote to history, appropriation, inequality and injustice. Only provenance can make them float in time in that way. Heraclitus[vi] wrote: “Everything flows and nothing stays fixed” [vii] Unity in human experience is made real in simple objects and shared narratives they justify.


[i] In English, redux (from the Latin verb reducere, meaning “to lead back”) can mean “brought back” or “leading back.” The Romans used redux as byword for finding favour from the Goddess Fortuna; Fortuna Redux was “one who brings another safely home.” In both English and Latin it is an adjective that is always used postpositively, capturing perhaps the positive spirit of the Latin anchor root.

[ii] Regained – in the sense of shift or positive disruption.

[iii] See Erik Kessels 24 Hours of Photos part of the Album Beauty Exhibition at Rencontres d’Arles during July – Sept 2013

[iv] See my image taken from exhibition “Raubkunst?” (“Looted art?”) MK&G Hamburg April 2015 – provenance research on the MK&G’s collections of art acquired via enforced confiscation during the Nazi era.

[v] See “A Place to Live – and other selected essays ” by Natalia Ginzberg as chosen and translated by Lynne Sharon Schwartz (pub. 2003 Seven Stories Press NY ISBN 1-668322-670-6) – in her essay “no fairies, no wizards” (April 1972) Natalia writes a crit of the presumptuous pedagogy of an example of modern children’s literature. As she sees it “non-fables” are hollow narrative that in the example she cites, “…demystify a child’s concept of a wolf. And yet wolves do exist. However much you appease their hunger, they are still wolves and they still eat people. Besides actual wolves, there are people who resemble wolves; the world is full of them. I do not see what benefit there is in children thinking that wolves become tame if you feed them. Nor do I see any benefit in children not fearing wolves. It’s a mistake to think fear is something bad. Fear is something one must endure and learn to tolerate…..Suppressing fear and anguish means suppressing joy as well.” Perhaps archivists can find a parallel joy in the fear provenance may inspire.

[vi] Heraclitus – Greek philosopher c.500 BC, as quoted by Plato in Cratylus, 402a

“Raubkunst?” (“Looted art?”) MK&G Hamburg April 2015 – hard evidence: sales catalogues of confiscated objects


For Birds’ Sake now at La Fabrica, Madrid 14th April – 28th May

We are delighted to share news of success and details of a further exhibition for Maria Sturm and Cemre Yeşil and their project “For Birds’ Sake”.

The project is introduced in their own words:

A transcontinental city, a symbol of schism and encounter, Istanbul is a catalyst for great stories. But this is not one of those stories written by men extolling their exploits, neither is it a story for Istanbul; it´s a feminine coded story for a group of men who rule their lives by the song of some birds. These are birds with a cheerful song, displaying a varied chirping song during the mating season and twitters while in flight. Their physical beauty and their song mean that they are considered to be cage-birds, i.e., there has always been a desire to possess them. While it is not known how long they can live in the wild, birds bred in captivity have an average life-expectancy ranging from eight to ten years. Due to the Bosporus’ geographic location as a transit point on the migration routes between Africa and Europe, men encountered these birds through their song. Such fascination and close relationship between breeders and birds, transmitted from one generation to another, has led to photographers Maria Sturm and Cemre Yeşil  to portray this community in “For Birds’ Sake”, a work published as a photobook by La Fábrica and now presented as an exhibition in the Gallery in the care of its book editor, Gonzalo Golpe.

Cemre Yeşil is a Turkish photographer based in Istanbul and London. The British Journal of Photography — Ones to Watch issue (February 2015) introduced her amongst the 25 most promising new talents in global survey of emerging photographers with the work ‘For Birds’ Sake’. A selection from her ‘An/other’ series is in Istanbul Modern Museum’s photography collection. She is the founder of FiLBooks; a space dedicated to photo books, artist talks and workshops in Karaköy, Istanbul. She is represented by Daire Gallery in Istanbul.

Maria Sturm is a Romanian photographer based in Berlin. She made 3rd place at the Photo Annual Awards 2014 in two categories with the works “Common and Uncommon Places in Israel” and “Be Good” and was selected for PHE Descubrimientos in 2015 with the work „Be Good“. “Be Good” won the DOCfeld Dummy Award in Barcelona 2015. Saxa has only good memories of working with her as part of a group show in 2013 at the Lighthouse, Glasgow.

We wish Maria and Cemre every success with the exhibition at La Fabrica

For Birds’ Sake Information


Rufus Pollock: ‘Making an Open Information Age: power, freedom and inequality in an age of bits’


On 16th March 2016, CREATe hosted a public lecture by Dr. Rufus Pollock[i], titled: ‘Making an Open Information Age: Power, freedom and inequality in an age of bits’. This lecture was given as part of the series on ‘Openness, IP and Innovation’. In this article, I want to describe the content and process some thoughts at the end. If any one finds this of interest, please do get in touch.

The premise and vision is that we have already entered an era of Information. Access to this Information should be free and open. There is a call for action to make this work.

To understand this we have to accept that all public Information is published Information. If it is published it should be free to use, build and draw on as a support to continued innovation and creativity. Free and unrestricted access should make us fairer, freer and more creative. Many have been evangelising about this since the beginning of the internet age. Creative industries such as Music have been struggling to come to terms with digitisation and the disruption caused, for example, by Pirates. Concern to date has centred on how to make the internet pay. How can I protect my ideas and monetise them? Rufus says that these are false concerns as they are rooted in mistaken mental models and based on poor power dynamics. If we continue on this path, the default will be dystopian and we will literally be dragged down by the gravity of mis-placed power.

This seems as obvious as it is profound. Nevertheless, it is difficult to focus on. To illustrate, Rufus cites the example of medical research and its costs, financial and human. Naturally, science, research and testing cost money – perhaps as much as 95%  of the cost of production of a new drug. Developers patent results to prolong a successful drug’s shelf life. This denial of access however has human costs as the drug may be too expensive or not available. It is a monopoly and the result is “dead weight” loss – literally and metaphorically. People suffer and die and ineffable possibilities are quashed. The opportunity cost of lost innovation and creativity are immeasurable. Moreover, the present system encourages inefficiencies of private testing and inadequate publishing and debate. Huge sums are spent on marketing with comparatively little left to fund new drugs for rare conditions.

Rufus proposes making an open system to deal with this unacceptable log- jam. Continuing with the drug example, he says it is simple: Where should investment go? What should consumers pay? How should this be managed? In the first place, we have to realise that the Information in the Information Age is different. It is “non-rival” Information i.e. what lawyers might call intangibles or intellectual property. To date our social rules (law) to deal with this have come from the pre-internet age when most property was physical (land, chattels) with scarcity or rivalry understood. The same rules cannot be aligned in this way to intangibles or other “things” we enjoy such as art, literature or movies. Also, we can enjoy something more and more these days without owning it. Increasingly, we share openly and that is the basis of the new age and new economy – both are exponential and magically unbounded.

The difficulty lies in modelling for this new economy. Rufus suggests a few yin and yang ingredients:

Venture capitalist involvement – if interest is determined by use and remuneration. However, we cannot rely completely on the traditional Capitalist model. “Consumers as citizens” need to be informed by expert mediators. Nevertheless, the model as a whole and to function freely must be free of control by government or “robber Barons” (who have cropped up recently due to the mis-match between Information and the creaking social (legal and democractic, political) systems not designed to take them on). Consumers must be less passive. They still must consume, but as active citizens. They will pay their taxes and perhaps a “creativity levy” with other venture capital to a “funding pool”. That pool will be used in 3 ways:

  1. to pay remuneration to artists, science and technology innovators and developers;
  2. to make upfront investment in less popular innovations and research;
  3. to fund work that citizens vote for.

Item 1. will be demand led and that will determine the amounts paid out. There will always be popular songs, drugs etc.. Channel 2. will require expert guidance as there must be capability to encourage non-mainstream art, music or science. Stream 3. will be driven by user vote, existing perhaps at the moment as Kickstarter or even XFactor. To do this fairly, we have to think about separating collection from allocation. Also, we must understand that market-based demand has its place in an open funding model.

If society can move towards the open model, we (the people) should make together a fairer, freer society that is open to innovation from diverse sources. We must nurture ideas. At this point, Rufus flashed up an image of Einstein as a baby and asked us to re-imagine potentiality. We must be rigorous in the application of new solutions that are both Top Down (by advocacy, persuasion and evangelisation on open knowledge) and Bottom Up (by creating more open materials and publishing, working  in co-operatives, using alternative funding and incentives).  All solutions require activism, politics. Existing rules based on mistaken mental models simply have to change. We cannot go on as we are. Perhaps even democracy carries no guarantees of access and freedom if we do. For that reason alone we must act, building community and models to activate and transport human innovation to new territories and inclusive, productive freedoms.

I enjoyed the talk from a charismatic speak who was prepared to tackle and present some ideas for an open funding model. Someone in the audience (grey beard) thought it sounded Reithian, like the old Patrician BBC. Another (brown beard) thought perhaps spotify was the answer or an answer. I am circumspect, processing.  My interim thoughts on Rufus’ Information Age and Model are:

  1. Who decides and mediates culture?
  2. What sort of data is it? How is it used and stored? Does it disappear from the canon as people “forget” its context and physical power?
  3. If we accept e.g. Monet’s work is worthwhile even only as “Information” to build on, who protects his, any artists’ oeuvre as cultural material? How is it valued and looked after?
  4. Might we end up with no appreciation of the history of originality? Might we become cynical? Unmotivated (to be original) data grabbers? Rufus has spoken elsewhere of “the glitter of bits” – tantalising – but not all internet sharing and communities have good intentions.
  5. Who will mediate pastiche, plagiarism, fraud and criminality? Will these concepts disappear?
  6. Experts, mediators – who selects them and how are they qualified? For example, if we see law as an information system, lawyers have the knowledge and training to mediate? Codes of conduct apply of course to lawyers.
  7. Might we kill Einstein, but create Frankenstein? Or simulacra. Maybe not e.g. “uncreative writing” such as Krauss[ii] is refreshing, good…. and it takes on and subverts “the rules” of writing (write “what you know”) and law (privacy).

I questioned Rufus in private afterwards about 4. and 5. And cited the context of human nature (can be lazy) and he acknowledges that there may be a problem regarding “attribution” and “corruption of files”. Provenance research and authenticated archival materials seem essential and timely. I reflected later on 7.

This new Information Era is as inspiring as it may be unnerving. Fakes and forgeries dazzle and burgeon. There is an archival imperative. Make no mistake, this is revolution. Do we face a cultural “year zero”[iii] or a shining and unbounded open future? Our culture and shared histories have new potentiality as foundations for the new territory of the era of Information.

Global citizens you need to consume, use, act, archive, disrupt – now!

[i]  Dr. Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge, an international non-profit focused on promoting the sharing of information. He was formerly a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a Mead Fellow in Economics at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge and remains an Associate of the Centre for Information and Intellectual Property Law at Cambridge. A short introductory film:

[ii] Chris Krauss – uncreative writer explains herself, uncreativity and motivation s in an interview with The Believer:

[iii] Cambodia’s Holocaust and Year Zero

For Birds’ Sake – January 16th Opening + Book Launch – Daire Galeri Istanbul

Daire Gallery presents a collaborative exhibition and book ”Kuşların Hatrına // For Birds’ Sake” by Cemre Yeşil and Maria Sturm, which focuses on the shrouded relationship between the Birdmen and their birds, between 16 January – 13 February 2016. ‘For Birds’ Sake’ photo book, published by La Fabrica Madrid and launched at Paris Photo 2015 will be launching in Turkey for the first time on the opening day.

Gelirseniz pek seviniriz. // We would be happy if you drop by.

Cemre + Maria 
For Birds’ Sake 
An escape, 
a life-long journey,
a shadow that is being carried away, everywhere they go.
A father, a lover, a healer.
A fight.
An illegal tradition.
An addiction.
A meditation.
Something they need in order to feel good.
A demanding care.
A gentle touch.
A white box that contains darkness
in order to make the bird sing more beautifully.
A very nice conversation,
a language that derives from birds,
…and two women trying to learn how to listen and speak.

Shanghai Sacred

Liz Hingley + The ‘Shanghai Sacred’ Project

The Photographer + Ethnographer, Liz Hingley came recently to the University of Glasgow to talk about her project, “Shanghai Sacred”. The event was organised by the Centre for the Study of Literature, Theology and the Arts. She has recently been working in China in collaboration with Professor Benoit Vermander of the Xu-Ricci Dialogue on the ‘Shanghai Sacred’ project. She says:

“For the last 15 months I have been based in Shanghai exploring the cities multi layered religious identities, beliefs, and influences of Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Baha’i and Russian Orthodox communities. My photographs and writings document the ingenuity of religious practitioners, both locals and outsiders, when creating ‘sacred space’ in a constantly changing urban and political environment. 

For images see:

Liz’ images show the diversity of the many migrants and ex-pats, endlessly trading places in a world mega-city. They have been there in the past and are there now; always and forever on the city’s terms, yet somehow or in some way finding privacy and sacred space. Themes of landmarks, waterways, privacy and compounds centre the images and the many underlying human stories, deconstructed objects and rituals that perhaps reify ideas of what ceremonies might do. For example, these may include mashed-up folk-street observances of the “setting free” of market-bought fish into the Huangpu River. Consequences evade expectations[1].

What is sacred space and where might it be found? Reading between the images, it may be present in the resonance of practices, in communal impromptu gatherings and quiet, private rituals. It might be anything, anywhere, it makes no difference. Anyone might find it in a car park or shopping mall. There exists in sacred space the possibility to change the unnatural order of things: the relentless city, the real place of commerce, currency and trade, spatially vast, unnatural, immutable and uncompromising.

The possibility emerges as subjective, intuitive, inexplicable. While it might be brought forth by externalities such as cities, objects, it remains free, un-owned, and un-trammelled.

“Sacred space” might be a dimension of recovered cosmic consciousness, discernment, something numinous that is also ready to hand, natural and engineered, fluid and confined. A prescience that reveals: human culture as destiny, as offering and in our hands.

[1]  Article: The Economist 12th September 2015 – “Animal Spirits” – in Shanghai, the popularity of “fang sheng” or “animal release” grows, damaging the eco-systems and environments that animals (fish, snakes, turtles, birds, ants) come from and to which they are “returned”.

Saxa’s Metamorphosis in Thinking about Art

We attach our Report + Bibliography (5 + 1 pages) that documents our recent experience and considered reflections on Saxa’s metamorphosis from trading partnership to charitable trust in full, and by way of the following phases:

Phase I: Availability of art and development of emerging artists

Phase II: Image or Object?

Phase III: Findings, continuing questions + metamorphosis

We conclude that Saxa will need to develop rather a deeper appreciation of objects, ownership, and authenticity by seeking answers to further hard questions such as: What rights are given and what obligations are expected of artists? What art objects should be categorised as collectible work? What do access and availability mean in relation to the art objects? What sort of verifiable authentication, chains of ownership and records of provenance may help the practice of art and encourage trust in emerging creativity? How is an exchange of real objects to be encouraged alongside both ownership and an understanding of creative practice that can be preserved for future reference as cultural material?

If any aspects are of interest, please get in touch.

saxa metamorphosis + bibliography

Saxa: Current Projects and Plans


Saxa Arts Trust is an independent charity. Our charity number is: SC044358. We wish to  assist in making available and encouraging an audience for a wide range of original and editioned art work from both Scots and International artists. Simultaneously, we would like also to increase understanding and awareness of artistic practice , matters of copyright and licensing that underpin rights, provenance and integrity associated with works of art.

current projects and plans

Presently, we are involved in discussions regarding a commissioning pilot. This requires ongoing research and testing and thus will not happen quickly. As we are independent, not-for-profit and net-based, we feel we are free to experiment and should allow ourselves space to do so for best effect in the longer term.

In the meantime, we are developing links with the Glasgow School of Art by sponsoring the saxa arts trust prize (£200- September 2015) for “lens- based work” re graduate courses M.Litt. and M. Des..

During July 2015, we are again sponsoring some travel, accommodation and professional passes at Rencontres d’Arles, France. This is a welcome networking event as well as an opportunity to catch up on new work and trends in lens-based media and critical discourses.

A further recent and ongoing development is involvement with the Scottish Society for the History of Photography ( SSHoP offers further interesting perspectives, critique and contacts. We are pleased and honoured to be involved in lending some mutual support at this interesting time.

We continue to support other one-off events and relevant projects that support our preference for collaboration and sharing fair values.