Sid and Jim began as an artist duo making work together but now it acts more like a title that we attach to any work or project that either of us are involved in.
That includes stuff like participating in artwork by another artist, curating digital and physical exhibitions and other methods of facilitating others such as our podcast.
But in answer to how we describe ourselves, it's probably slightly skewed in the direction of organisers - even in our art-making it always tends to feel more like it's creation through curation. However, that might just be due to the way that we think about authorship; it seems like everything has already been invented. There are no original, new inventions because even the smallest part of the product is made out of something already existing.
Pre-sliced Orange Segments Installation View, 2017
Curation / Facilitation
It's always fascinating when artists try their hand at something that traditionally would resemble curation. Not to say that curators don't produce great shows but it's a turning point when there's a moment of realisation to how much they are actually responsible for. We don't necessarily describe ourselves as curators to avoid the strange authority that it sometimes puts in place; we enjoy the idea that we're on a similar plane to those who we are enabling to have their work in an exhibition or on a website. We work with them to produce the final thing as opposed to it just turning up on our doorstep or inbox. This is definitely something that a lot of curators do but prior to putting on developing platforms and shows of our own, the curator wasn't a role we fully understood and so the term can be a bit confusing to some.
We see our art-making through a more curational lens because we don't really believe anything is original. We do actually make some of our own works in the conventional sense but, even when we do that, we feel like we're more focused on the reframing of subjects, highlighting things or aspects of things that makes us think or question. A lot of what we do is ripped from familiar situations or scenarios and we enjoy the referential nature of that. By acknowledging what has come before or what might have influenced a work, an audience is able to bring their own thoughts or feelings to whatever that might be, which guides how the piece is received meaning there are potentially infinite interpretations. Re-appropriation used to be a bigger part of our work but it's changed slightly in recent times, instead of re-cycling we're more re-imagining or re-making.
We share a studio, but it’s rare that we’re both there at the same time, pretty much all of the ideas come from chatting, either face to face or over Facebook Messenger. We both enjoy similar content online so there’s a lot of sharing of memes and plenty of late-night YouTube binges. It’s quite easy to see these sort of activities as non-work, but the media you consume with other people influences how you converse, and in that sense it flows into our methods of making work. Editing online documents simultaneously using Google Docs or Sheets allows us to work together without having to be physically together, we gather ideas and plan events here, the ability to work on the same document allows us to have a conversations on a platform that acts as some sort of studio (and is slightly further away from the memes).
There are some roles we fit into because of certain skills, or the different equipment that we own respectively, most of the time the jobs are relatively interchangeable, and the roles we take on are influenced by who is available at the time. One of the main benefits of working together is the ability to be in two places at the same time (kinda like Hermione), it makes our practice a lot more flexible, and we’re able to fit it around our jobs comfortably.
Remember that Time, Performance, 2015
Imagine a Plinth, Performance, 2015
Imagine a Plinth, Performance, 2015
Imagine a Plinth (2015)
Performance involving the fabrication of fictional characters, places and events through the artists presenting of a variety of objects
Remember that Time? (2015)
Performance piece where the artists share fictional home movies with an audience
'Remember that time?' was performed at 'I'm so tired' at Central Saint Martins in London
The SketchUp Residency
Like Google Docs, SketchUp is something we use as part of the planning process, imagining how something might exist if it were to be installed. Before we made The SketchUp Residency we were applying to lots of residencies, but were deterred from solidly committing because it was tricky to squeeze them around both of our jobs. We decided to make something that was easier to fit around people’s day-to-day activities but still gave them a space to explore something that may be beneficial to their practice, as well as a platform for the end points of their residencies to exist.
Esther Merinero, The SketchUp Residency
Mirror in the Text (or Nesting Narrative), Performance, 2017
Jobs / Funding
Our jobs aren't directly related to our practice but more reflect our general interests; Sid works as a runner for a visual effects company and Jim works front of house at Chisenhale Gallery but we also do one-off freelance jobs from time to time. These activities play the role of exposing us to something that we might not have been exposed to if we didn't work there.
At the moment all our projects are self-financed but funding is definitely something that we're definitely going to pursue; being able to pay the artists we work with would be amazing and it's certainly one of our long term goals. The connection between making art and getting paid is a very tricky one, it's potentially something that's pigeonholed a lot of artists who realised they hit on something that people wanted to buy and then gave up trying anything else. Not that there isn't value in refining ones practice but we see making art as an opportunity to put your eggs in many baskets so it would be challenging for us to attempt to begin a production line of 'sell-able works' (if that's even a thing?). Saying that, we all want to get paid for doing what we love, so we have massive respect for all those artists who are able to make a living off their practice, that's the dream.
Mirror in the Text (or Nesting Narrative) (2017)
A twitter feed belonging to the receptionist of a fictional gallery, which goes through varying periods of activity
'Mirror in the Text (or Nesting Narrative)' was created for the 'Digital Artist Residency'
A Workable Buttress (Mixed by Hand) (2017)
63 sandcastles representing all the pubs recommended to the artists during their stay in Wigan, arranged geographically
550 x 520 ccm
'A workable buttress (mixed by hand)' was created during The Old Courts residency in Wigan and exhibited at 'Location, location, location' at The Old Courts in Wigan
Both Before and After (2017)
Leftover posters, CDs and other ephemera advertising a tour date for the fictional band The Left Book Club
Digitally printed posters, CDs
'Both before and after' was created during The Old Courts residency in Wigan and exhibited at 'Location, location, location' at The Old Courts in Wigan
A Workable Buttress (Mixed by Hand), 2017
Both Before and After, 2017
Storytelling / Narrative
Fiction is definitely something we consider when we're thinking about new works but this mostly is due to its relation to storytelling; even when our works aren't necessarily to do with fiction there's some sort of attempt to convey a story/idea.
Obviously, the idea that the art we make tells a story is not exclusive to us, all works of art could be said to be somehow involved in narrative construction but we tend to be conscious of the way we do this. It often comes in the form of props when showing a film or the works having a site specificity. The role of this is to create something that is a simulacrum of the current world but causes a second glance or thought, so instilling a feeling of uncanniness is definitely on the agenda.
This also comes from our interest in other forms of representation such as film, theatre and books which almost exclusively employ some sort of fiction whether it's dressing up historical events or writing a story from scratch. Just as in a film there would be set that contributes to the ideas/story being conveyed, we attempt to have a certain level of conceptual/aesthetic consistency within a work.
Some artists who we consider to do this well would be Louise Ashcroft who's performative talks are interspersed with props in a "show-and-tell" style, Rachel Maclean's films are magical in the darkest sense of the word; creating this bizarre computer-generated landscapes she populates with equally bizarre characters and Ryan Gander with his infamous Locked Room Scenario.
Footsteps from Upstairs, 2017
Footsteps from upstairs (2017)
Wall text for a previous, fictitious exhibition held in the same gallery space, as if the gallery have forgotten to replace it.
90 x 89 cm
'Footsteps from upstairs' was exhibited at 'A Show About The Show' at Scaffold Gallery in Manchester
The Tower of the Winds casts no shadow (2016)
A leaflet for a fictional commission for a new art work that would replace the fountains at the front of Central Saint Martins
24 x 13 x 15 cm
Digital Print, Plastic Leaflet Holder
'The Tower of the Winds casts no shadow' was exhibited at '2D 4D Open Studios' at Central Saint Martins in London
Keeping the dog company with a jury of seven (2017)
A fictional phone-in radio show featuring the artists discussing a court case that occurred in the space 100 years previously
Digital Audio, Radio
'Keeping the dog company with a jury of 7' was created during The Old Courts residency in Wigan and exhibited at 'Location, location, location' at The Old Courts in Wigan
I can't hang the pillow on the fridge (2017)
A film made using footage of parents telling their children off for drawing on the walls, shown in a 'child-proofed' space.
HD Digital Film, Child corner protectors, Socket plug covers, Children's animal stickers, Magnetic alphabet letters.
'I can't hang the pillow on the fridge' was shown at 'Antidote' at Central Saint Martins in London and 'The Morning After the Year Before' at Studio 24 in Leeds.
For more information
The Tower of the Winds Casts No Shadow, 2016
Keeping the dog company with a jury of seven, 2017
Digital / Site Specificity
In terms of the digital works having a site specificity, there are a couple of different levels. Sometimes, the notion that the digital is a place in itself, takes on an important aspect of the work. In Mirror in the Text (or Nesting Narrative) we control a twitter feed belonging to the receptionist of a fictional gallery, which goes through varying periods of activity. The work has never been shown in a gallery setting but has existed as a part of several social media residencies and an online exhibition. The fact that we're able to limit what the audience is able to see of Millie's "real world" is important to the piece, since we're attempting to create a world which is described but rarely seen.
The other level appears in most of our other moving image works; we create an environment within which the films exists, one which is relative to both the films content and concept and is just as important. These small details are similar to ones you find in a feature film, whether it's props or extras, they all contribute to how the audience experiences the film. The difference in our work, is that these ideas take centre stage along with the film, as opposed to being background features employed to maintain the illusion that what you're experiencing is real. Hito Steyerl and Jon Rafman are among some of the artist who do this very effectively.