January 2009, Noah Becker talks with Tamsin Clark

January 2009,  Noah Becker talks with Tamsin Clark
ROOM Artspace, London UK


The following is a series of discussions Noah Becker is conducting with the most prominent Whitehot Magazine writers. In this interview Whitehot London's Tamsin Clark discusses her recent projects.

Noah Becker

Feb 1at 6:00am

Whitehot has always been aware of your impressive history in the arts. Can you tell us something about your future or current projects?

Tamsin Clark
February 1 at 6:52am
Thanks Noah! Well at the moment I’m working for a very interesting Not-For-Profit space in South London called Studio Voltaire. It’s a gallery and studio complex housed in a beautiful old chapel building (although at the moment it’s snowing and our office is freezing cold, I’m sitting here wrapped up in my scarf and coat!). I run the studios at Voltaire which is exciting because it brings me into contact with loads of different artists and gives a bit of an insight into their practices. I tend to think that it's the Not-For-Profit/ artist-run spaces that are producing the boldest projects.

I also work for R O O M Art space in East London where I’m involved with a lot of the programming. At the moment we’re planning a show called ‘Collaborators’ which involves around 35 artists who are all donating work or making editions for us. I’m so excited seeing the works popping up; it’s a really fun process. We are really into putting on events there, as well as doing shows we want to use the gallery as an object/ resource with which to explore ideas, whether that is in an exhibition format, or a massive dinner party..!

I’m always dreaming about projects so I’ve actually sort of taken a decision to just investigate things that interest me in a more casual way, just interest for interest sake, rather than thinking about an end product. I’m very interested in the different ways that artists use their studios, for example, and I think this is going to be something that occupies my curiosity for a while..
Noah Becker
February 1 at 10:53am
The idea of using the space as work is very advanced. I'm interested in the way people inhabit ideas or spaces. It's important not to freeze to death when you are doing non-profit curatorial work. So these levels of respect come into play. Sometimes pitching a tent and lighting a campfire is a must, even indoors. Ideas come to me in chilly weather so maybe you are lucky. London has this image of being a gray rainy Charles Dickens style place with Damien Hirst as a modern day Jack the Ripper carving up the roast beast for the teaming masses. But then it has things like the Hayward Gallery and Lisson Gallery and the Tate, this major contemporary scene. Is there a large division between the haves and have not’s, the Oliver Twists of the London art scene and the Royal Families? I'm talking about the freezing campsites of  alternative art spaces  in relation to the humidity controlled environments of the larger galleries or museums.
Tamsin Clark
February 1 at 12:32pm
Noah, you’ll laugh when I tell you that at R O O M last year we showed an artist called Kieran Brown who made an installation turning the whole gallery into a radiator with a wood burning stove sculpture that was fired up for the opening party!

The elite you speak of surely does exist here and while I have a feeling that the Lissons and Tates of this world will prevail I hate to think of the more grass-roots spaces that are doing really innovative, supportive work being swallowed up in financially difficult times. Perhaps it’s a question of being in a different camp altogether (to carry on your metaphor..) and that the Non-Profit spaces are doing different work. I suppose really we’re talking about shops and tourist attractions versus something that supports an art community from the bottom.

I don’t want to sound too righteous either, in a way it’s ok that a variety of situations for experiencing art exist, after all sometimes it’s great to go to a big Warhol exhibit and get a decent cappuccino after! Here in London I do think there's a bit of evidence to suggest that people are becoming more curious about discovering what’s off the beaten track, but I’m sure those 'humidity controlled' environments will always be the biggest draw. I love your image of Damien Hirst, though I have my doubts about him sharing a roast dinner..!
Noah Becker
February 1 at 1:31pm
When I go to a Warhol exhibit I feel like either taking a bunch of speed and working for a week without sleep; or inviting all my former girlfriends over only to dive out a 10th story window to their horror as they wait outside. Come to think of it, have I ever been to a Warhol exhibit? I've read every book about Warhol there is but I would love to visit the museum of Warhol. There were some nice small Warhols at Art Basel Miami Beach 2008. Little baby Warhols that looked like they fell out of the lining of the silver factory couch when everything was hauled out of there.
Warhol played by Guy Pierce in the movie Factory Girl sucked. His Warhol was maybe good for the people who knew Andy personally but my vision of him is different. I’m sure that the Warhol people agreed to things and helped because Hollywood can make you chew off your leg in the name of greater fame? Also Hayden Christensen as Bob Dylan was total shit, that movie made me embarrassed to be an artist and a musician. What a huge tragedy Factory Girl was! Last night I woke up and turned on the TV and there was that scene of Sienna Miller screaming at Guy Pierce as Andy saying "You fucked me up Andy!!! Fuck you" Andy is a sacred cow to me so it makes me mad when people like him and Bob Dylan get shit on by a bunch of shallow film school grads who made it big. Why does Hollywood do that kind of shit? It’s ironic that Andy Warhol who was so transfixed by fame and Hollywood ends up portrayed in a Hollywood movie as an evil creepy drug pusher who fucks up a bunch of models.  
But enough of my Warhol rant. That is a pathetic thing to think about and I hope someone agrees with me.  The coincidence of my campsite analogy fits into the Warhol reference. The Factory and Warhol had this glamorous image but that was a different use of space. The media picked up on the silver Factory and it's a Hollywood image now. The image of a curator in a non-heated space reminds me of New York in a totally different way. Stupid shit like the heat going off in the middle of winter is always happening in New York. New York is a bunch of image with a certain amount of substance I  guess. Maybe London is dodgy like that as well?
Tamsin Clark
February 4 at 1:38am
Well London is feeling very like New York at the moment - everything has stopped from a heavy snowfall and I get to be cozy at home as no-one is going to work! Although this is the first time that I ever remember that happening here so I'm enjoying every minute!

About your Warhol comments though.. I think we’re starting to see these overlapping roles in the art world now which really interests me – that artists are wanting to be gallerists and curators as well as making art or even as an extension of their practice – that these roles have become a bit more fluid and creative.. Noah Becker the publisher/ artist/ saxophonist is a good example! Perhaps Warhol with his Factory was the pioneer of that and that’s something that makes him such an intriguing figure.

There’s a real mystery about Warhol too, you’re never quite sure who he was and what his viewpoint was. Someone told me the other day that he was a deeply religious person and furtively gave lots of money to Catholic organizations. One finds these little snippets about him from time to time that are so intriguing! I was just reading ‘Philosophy of Andy Warhol’ the other day – it’s such a genius book and something you can just dip into and be inspired! I love those long prose sections where he lists all the different smells you experience walking through New York. I think those writings have been quite overlooked.

Funny as I’m not sure I have a glamorous image of the Factory, super cool yes, but not quite glamorous. I think Warhol was seduced by ‘characters’ which often meant glamour. With someone like Edie Sedgwick Warhol could see all these different elements of her persona, not merely that she looked beautiful and glamorous in front of a camera but that she was vulnerable too.

I wonder if it would be possible for a space like the Factory to exist now? It does seem such a product, not only of Warhol’s crazy vision, but also of a time.

Noah Becker
February 4 at 8:36am
I'm not sure that a space like the factory could exist now? But Andy Warhol really seemed like a person who would be into all the machines. He would think it was was really great that everyone is using computers. There are those videos of him doing the computer paintings of Dolly Parton and Debbie Harry. As I have mentioned before my Facebook friends include some Warhol Superstars. So it's hilarious to me how all these computers have effectively de-glamorized a lot of things. There was a time when people who used computers were considered "Computer Geeks" but now everyone does so it's not possible to differentiate between a computer geek and a so called hipster.
Can you picture the Warhol Superstars sitting around the Factory checking their emails? Edie Sedgwick tagged a photo of you from the album “Factory Fun”. Who knows maybe the Factory would have been an internet cafe if computers existed in that way during the era. But back to London for a second and your stuff… What are you excited about in London in terms of new artists? Recently I interviewed Boo Saville and her work really excites me. This is a London painter I think is great, Boo Saville. But you can mention whoever you feel like even non-artists
Tamsin Clark
February 5 at 1:32am
Really a lot of the time I think I’m most influenced by the artists that I know. A lot of thoughts come out of visiting someone’s studio or a conversation about what someone is up to in their practice. Today I was in my boyfriend’s studio and we were looking at the models that he’s painstakingly constructing from cardboard, watching the way a piece unfolds and discussing its process can be really special. I love talking with artists about their work or just gossiping, drinking coffee and talking about shows we’ve seen, it’s all great stuff.

I’m very excited about an artist called Richard Bevan who is just fresh out of college at the Slade. That’s a nice story actually because the start of my friendship with Richard was that I wrote a short piece for Whitehot on a screening of his that I went to kind of by chance and was totally blown away by; then this led to us corresponding, doing a show and collaborating on a poster project. It’s brilliant when something like that happens a bit randomly and a creative relationship begins.

Then of course everyone is talking about the Nicolas Bourriaud’s Tate Triennial at the moment and I think Tris Vonna-Michell and Katie Paterson who are taking part in that are interesting artists. I’m also a real fan of artists’ film and that’s something I’m intrigued by and want to concentrate on more.

I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of art that goes on in a city like London, you really could spend every night of your life at an opening and that’s part of what’s exciting about being a curator I guess is finding your path through that, what interests you and what you single out from the mass.

It’s interesting that you mention non-artists alongside artists. Those categories are interesting, even how artists themselves define what they’re doing.

Part of being in a city is real sensory overload anyway, that so many parts of experience are aesthetic. I love signage, shop fronts, parks, markets.. There was a great sandwich shop near where I used to work and I used to love watching the way the old guy there made sandwiches. I remember watching him and thinking this is every bit as good as art!

Noah Becker
February 5 at 7:14am
Thanks for taking the time to chat. We look forward to your new projects.


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Editor-in-Chief: Noah Becker

Noah Becker is founder and editor-in-chief of Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, a visual artist, jazz musician and writer.
Web: www.noahbeckerart.com       
email: noah@whitehotmagazine.com



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