Saturday, 31 January 2009


This Blog has been created to act as a parallel communications interface between participating artists in IMPROMPTU, a collaborative project at Schwartz Gallery opening on March 5th 2009 as part of the EAST 09 Festival. The selected artists have access to the gallery space, a converted warehouse in Hackney Wick, for a month prior to the opening to use as a studio, the resulting activity forming the basis for the public viewing. Three areas that have been identified by the artists as the key ingredients to this project are their own practise, the gallery space and the group dynamic that is currently forming. Looking at the relationship between artist and curator, gallery and audience, private and public space, individual versus group dynamics, the project aims to re-install these relationships with a more speculative, open-ended dynamic of possibility. Please see full press release below:


5-22 March 2009, Friday - Sunday 12-5pm
Private View: Thursday 5th March 6-10pm
5-10 March - East Festival | Artists in conversation - Saturday 7th March, 1.30pm.

Luke Brennan, Simon Head, Rob Kesseler, Christina Mitrentse, David Murphy, Jonas Ranson.
Curator/Co-ordinator: Patrick Michalopoulos

Schwartz Gallery introduces IMPROMPTU the first exhibition in a series of projects initiated by Schwartz Projects, a new exhibitions strategy which seeks out dynamic and more flexible models of exhibition-making in line with current debates about curatorial practice. The instigating premise for IMPROMPTU stems from a critical reaction to the first five exhibitions at Schwartz Gallery which followed more rigid exhibition-making practices. The ‘group show’ model has been re-worked by the absence of any concrete theme for IMPROMPTU, a month-long pre-exhibition period in the gallery made available to the artists to use as a studio and by the fact that the artists have largely never before met.

These strategies contest a multitude of ingrained practices surrounding the organization and staging of a group show such as the relationship between the artists, the manifestation of their practice which will in this case unfold in real time in the space, the role of the project’s curator and ultimately the role of the gallery as a ‘holder’ of and ‘presentation vehicle’ for contemporary art. Notions of organisation in society, institutional control and the production and consumption of ‘culture’ are thus brought to the fore and re-evaluated. The gallery becomes a ‘lived environment’ in which artists and curator improvise their own respective practices in response to the evolving group dynamic. The practice of separating ideas and activities into distinct categories is tested in a taxonomical blurring that draws many accepted communication models into question. A summary of the artists’ studio-time activity can be found at

The following information is meant as a guide to each artist’s respective practice and does not necessarily constitute a statement of intent for the work developed as part of IMPROMPTU:

Luke Brennan’s work references the many hybridized subcultures in today’s world developed through evolving ritual. The confluence of these rituals, be they religious, superstitious or social, provoke him, his practice tracing the evolution of ceremony - the way it adopts and merges new practices, incorporates value into an object, a physical action or expresses itself in architecture.
Simon Head’s practice investigates dimensional shifts that occur for example when an abstract idea is drawn in two-dimensions. This shift is thought of by Head as the action between two dimensions. The force of this movement travels both forwards and backwards, alternatively referring to each dimension at an interface of the immaterial/material.
Rob Kesseler explores plants and the way in which they migrate into every aspect of our lives. His most recent work reflects current thinking that seeks to narrow the gap that has grown between the arts and sciences. The work lies somewhere between science and symbolism, in which the many complexities of representing plants are concentrated into visual statements.
Christina Mitrentse’s practice exists as a type of laboratory where the notion of interpretation and cultural construction is investigated. Mitrentse employs a variety of techniques from crafted sculptures to conceptual appropriation alongside processes of observation, collection and curation. Her practice oscillates between those of curator, storyteller, collector and archeologist.
David Murphy’s practice puts an emphasis on places that lack permanence, those located between a present very solid existence, and a certainty or probability that they will soon disappear. Generally these are peripheral spaces, islands, coastal areas, floodplains – contested, edgeless territory where the elements meet and morph.
Jonas Ranson’s more recent works are derived from observations and meticulous drawing of industrial and historical architectural sources. Hand drawn then manipulated and assembled with digital software, the final works represent Utopian/Dystopian structures, skeletal and cold, panopticons, architectural systems for surveillance and control.

1 comment:

  1. Socially Awkward

    The following text is taken from Art and Research, Journal of Ideas Contexts and Methods, Volume 2. No. 1. Summer 2008 written by Dan Kidner on the work of Chris Evans. I found it to be particularly relevant to the project when undertaking my initial research.

    The text can be read in full at

    'Collaboration is a slippery notion in the context of art production, but one that when reflected upon opens up the possibility of understanding a great many contemporary practices that seek to conjoin social aims with aesthetic ones.

    The ambiguous or unknown parts of a project become the content. The rumour, or the enunciation of the fact of the project, become the work.

    Evan's destabilizes the very idea of collaboration as something that offers real social utility in contradistinction to the autonomous art object. The artist thus delivers what could be described as a critique of collaborative, or what Grant H. Kester terms ‘dialogic’, practices, by simultaneously ‘maximising the creative potential of a given constituency’ and subjecting that constituency to sustained critical scrutiny. This critical scrutiny doesn’t simply undermine the authority of that constituency or parody its function, but rather defines the limits of or possibilities for meaningful collaboration per se. Deconstructing the very notion of collaborative activity can reveal as much about the limits of current art practice in the UK as it can about the processes of co-optation of art and culture by state controlled public sector bodies and global corporations.