Introduction to Studio Blog

STUDIO BLOG is AGYU’s Internet resource alternative for curators to conduct virtual studio visits and other collaborative projects with artists. Foregrounding the relationship of curator and artist in a process-based collaboration made public, STUDIO BLOG began as an experimental means for Canadian curators to conduct on-line studio visits with artists from other parts of the country and create a living document of the diversity of contemporary Canadian art practices. The project developed in reaction to the influx of curatorial programs that attempt to make curatorial practice and research an academic and hands-off “discipline,” perhaps at the expense of a practice based curatorial methodology (and we are a University-affiliated gallery so this seemed relevant to our “public programming,” University student engagement, as well to our pedagogical function at York University). In contrast, STUDIO BLOG looks toward finding strategies that facilitate experimentation in curatorial practice and present a platform for new curatorial processes with the hope that new methods/models may emerge, ones that come from a direct encounter with artists.

STUDIO BLOG was conceived as a means to experiment with online forms of research. It is designed to facilitate relationships between artists and curators that begin with the materiality of the artist’s studio and the reality of their “place” of production and extend outward as they diverge, discover, and present themselves/each other’s working practices alongside their exchanges. The project is intended to bring together young emerging curators (i.e., Nicholas Brown and Jesse Birch, while they were still Curatorial Studies graduate students at York University and University of British Columbia respectively) with emerging and established artists, as well as more established curators (Daniela Castro) with an artist in an unlikely collaboration (Rodrigo Matheus), and writers, in order to gain fresh perspective on the work of artists by conducting alternative forms of research for their articles (Lise Hosein), or for artists, in order to create a situation for them to work unconventionally with a curator and explore more actively their artistic practice (Jennifer Murphy). We have extended the program with calls for “collaborators” and ideas of points of departure for the project) so that we can keep the process organic, responsive to curators’ and artists’ needs, and most importantly, inclusive. If you have an idea please contact Emelie Chhangur: emelie@yorku.ca

Our STUDIO BLOG archive has grown. And transformed. While initially devoted entirely to cross Canada exchanges, STUDIO BLOG now extends beyond Canada’s borders to include artists and curators living in different countries and on different continents of the world. The participating artists and curators are beginning to use the very concept of STUDIO BLOG as a point of departure to create new forms of “a process-based collaboration” online, diverging from the traditional forms of the “studio visit” (for instance, the video visit between Rodrigo Matheus and Daniela Castro, both based in São Paulo or the eight-month collaboration between Lise Hosein and Jennifer Murphy that resulted in a single work of art based on their exchange of images and text), while revealing in the process something about an artist’s practice in the place of their production.

The inaugural STUDIO BLOG began on 26 September 2007 and featured Vancouver artist Mark Dudiak visited virtually by Nicholas Brown, a Toronto curator/writer and MA candidate in Art History at York University and Toronto artist Jon Sasaki visited by Jesse Birch, a Vancouver curator/writer and MA candidate in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the University of British Columbia.

On 6 February 2008 we launched STUDIO BLOG — THE SEQUEL. Birch, then based in Amsterdam at De Appel Curatorial Training Program, visited Kerri Reid’s studio in Toronto, years after seeing her BFA exhibition (2003) at Emily Carr in Vancouver. Nicholas Brown probed further the relationship of an artist’s place and the structure of their space of creation in the production of work as he followed the transition made by Christian Kleigel in Vancouver from art student to architecture student.

In Fall 2008, STUDIO BLOG diverged, splitting into two branches and variations of development. Both branches were reflected in the redesign of our website and a total overhaul of the STUDIO BLOG format to allow for further variations new formats. Both were launched on September 17, 2008:

(1) On the one hand, there were artists and curators located in different cities in dialogue about the artists’ work. Nicholas Brown and Jesse Birch continued their ongoing project, mirroring each other activities with Brown in Toronto conducting a virtual studio visit with Vancouver artist Abbas Akhavan and Birch from Vancouver visiting the studio of Toronto artist Sandy Plotnikoff. The pair of studio visits, published on STUDIO BLOG, used the artist’s studio as a context to frame discussions first about the artist’s practice and then about specific individual works. These studio visits created an archive of information on these artists’ work for future reference.

Also at this time, Brown and Birch re-visited the studios of Toronto artist Kerri Reid and Vancouver artist/architecture student Christian Kleigel, enhancing their initial dialogue and bringing us up to date on works-in-progress that were discussed in the first installment.

In another bifurcating branch of their exchange between Toronto and Vancouver, Brown and Birch reverse this principle to create a new series entitled Snap/Shot STUDIO BLOG. For the inaugural installment in this on-going series, a single work by Toronto artist Jen Hutton and Vancouver artist Ron Tran was chosen by each curator respectively as an entry point to engage in a more general discussion about the artists’ practices.

(2) On the other hand, artists and curators from the same city collaborated to produce a single work based on their mutual research into each other’s practices. For fall ’08, artist Jennifer Murphy and curator Lise Hosein produced a collaborative artist project that built from themes related to parallel interests. Published on STUDIO BLOG, the final project was the culmination of a six-month process that began with three months of conversations, followed by a three-month Blog exchange, with Murphy uploading images (found and original) in response to texts (found and original) uploaded by Hosein and vise versa.

Winter 2009: STUDIO BLOG — Toronto, meet Halifax; Halifax, meet Toronto.

Narrowing the gap between Toronto and Halifax, the winter installment began with virtual studio visits between new AGYU Assistant Curator Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot visiting Halifax artist David R. Harper and Dalhousie Art Gallery Director/Curator Peter Dykhuis visiting New York-based, Toronto artist Brendan Fernandes. We were proud to pursue seriously cross-country collaborations and fulfill one of the original mandates for this project. We intend on continuing this dialogue (Toronto/Halifax) while expanding it to two other centres in the next year: Montreal and Winnipeg. It was also nice to involve curators at institutions to participate in alternative curatorial pursuits and hope that more participate so we can see further experimentation happening between artists and curators within the scope of institutional practice. These studio visits were launched on January 28, 2009.

In the spring 2009 edition, Toronto writer and curator Earl Miller discussed Music Video (Meditation I), a newly commissioned work featured in The Communism of Forms exhibition at AGYU, by Brazilian artist Laura Belém, before and after viewing the work as well as before and after she visited Toronto. Nicholas Brown, following up on an earlier STUDIO BLOG with Toronto artist Sandy Plotnikoff, interviewed over 20 of the artist’s collaborators, revealing the relationships forged through the working methods of the participatory art practitioner from the perspective of those who have collaborated with him.

Welcome to Studio Blog.