CONNECT
Interview Series

Salon

CONNECT

iNTERVIEW SERIES BY ART CINEMA

Jessica Cottis, Orchestra Conductor

06th of July, 2020

How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days? 

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how we programme classical music. Let’s say there’s an art gallery that only has a couple of paintings, perhaps a Michelangelo and a Leonardo. Two incredible works of art, but it’s not exactly a ‘gallery’ is it. The same for classical music. There’s great relevance to hearing canonic works in different settings and with different inter-relationships. Programming thoughtfully means there’s scope to be imaginative, to reimagine and re-contextualise.

How has the confinement altered the way you communicate with your creative constituency?

I’ve been using this time to communicate on a more cerebral level. Having exchanged my baton for a pen and paper these last few months, writing is a way to stay connected with the essence of a piece of music, without actually conducting it. There’s been more deep listening, and letting thoughts occur without rush or force. I’ve been spending time revisiting some longstanding creative ideas, inspired by Nabakov’s maxim “a good reader is a rereader”.

What are the new forms of the connectedness you are seeing emerge as a result of the confinement and do you foresee a change in the way we connect post lockdown?

The resourcefulness, optimism, and virtuosity of online performances during lockdown has been truly extraordinary. But orchestral music is essentially a live experience. Coming together to make music together is incredibly profound, and all of us—performers and audiences alike—need to be safely in the same space together. I’m interested to see how the digital develops post-pandemic, and also how the acoustic can interact more freely with this, but—realistically—the classical world is suffering. In order to move forward artists and arts organisations need government support. Art is not separate from life, it’s absolutely central to it.

What topics/people inspire your communication with other whilst in isolation? 

A great deal of discussion about ethics, and how as a society we can look to share the responsibility for one another.

 

 

What is your personal experience dealing with the virtual world before and since lockdown?

As a conductor, with all the travel and the complexities of working within different cultural contexts every week, my work life usually runs very fast. Pre-lockdown, the virtual world was predominantly a means to stay in touch with family, or to hold meetings with colleagues in different time zones. Now it’s our primary means to connect, for both work and beyond the home. Instead of conducting, I’ve used this time to teach and mentor, all done online, which has been very enriching.

Has the lockdown made you more intorspective,and if so, in what way?

I’m introspective by nature, and find a great deal of meaning in my work and interests. If anything, lockdown has made me question more the external structures within which we live our lives.

Art has always served a medium of connectedness in society – how do you see it work under lockdown?

I’m reminded of a line by John Berger. He said something like: “that we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful means that we are less alone, that we are more deeply inserted into existence than the course of a single life would lead us to believe”.

Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Founder of Spirit Now! London

02nd of July, 2020

When I was a child my father threatened to lock me up in a tower if I didn’t behave myself.
During lockdown, in my tower, time went by more slowly. We couldn’t run, leave, travel, walk up towards other faces, shake hands, touch someone else’s skin…
It gave us time to think, to take a break to search our limits, our deep desires, our truth. Time for questions ?
We had to find inside ourselves the strength to be disciplined and to organise our day without surrendering to laziness, reading, dreaming or Netflix. Is idleness creative ? Can we let time slip through our fingers like sand or should we act to be part of the world? What’s its necessity?
Before lockdown, I met every week with the art lovers and patrons who belong to the non-profit organisation I funded, Spirit Now! London. We invited a museum director, an artist, a collector or a figure of the art world to share a unique moment that stimulated us and fed our minds. In a privileged setting, we took the time to listen to our guest talk about his/her passions, inspirations, ideas. We dined with him/her… We enjoyed these moments together.
Today, as we can’t assemble, how can our community stay connected ? How can we make our voice heard among so many Zoom meetings and Facetime calls?

 

We have access to so many networks, so much information, but is there a real connection ?
We are deprived of physical contacts, of the feeling of experiencing things together as a ‘pack’, as a circle of friends.
In these unusual times, Spirit Now! London decided to create memories of these exclusive moments asking some artists we had met to make videos with us. Each video allows us to dive back into an artist’s world and features a special message for our community.
Some members of Spirit Now London (publishers, foundation directors, designers) also entered into the spirit of this project. Time has come to shed light on them and get the strength of our connection as a group back.

Gary Carpenter, Composer, Professor of Composition: Royal Academy of Music and Royal Northern College of Music. Ivors Avademy : Chair of Classical Comittee and Board Member

30th of June, 2020

How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days?
I stay connected via conference calls (Zoom). RNCM composition staff have a virtual ‘social’ every two weeks or so! I meet a couple of close composer friends every two weeks. I teach via Zoom. Or teams or most recently Cisco WebEx. And a couple of pub quizzes.

What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement?
There are valiant attempts being made to connect to audiences by replicating concert events online – e.g. ensemble work to click track (some really good), concerts if partners and/or those in the household happen to be musicians. Artists are engaging with social media and confinement by exploiting its possibilities and seeking out new forms of expression and communication. Events like Wigmore Hall/BBC live concert streaming represent a tiny shoot of recovery.

Do you foresee a change in the way we connect with each other post lockdown?
There will be far greater use of Zoom and Webex as a means of communication. Apart from its efficiency, it reduces reliance upon transport (thus reducing carbon emissions) and saves travel time. It won’t totally replace face to face meetings as these are valuable human interactions – even managerial ones!
What topics/people inspire your communication with the others whilst in self-isolation?
Purely as an act of empathetic imagination, I visualise an earlier period – maybe the 17th century? – when isolation was more common and religious non conformists had to worship or meet in secret and in small numbers: a time without remote communication or convenient travel; a time when associating the wrong people led to death or imprisonment (even for eye tests). Music making would have been largely domestic – either for small groups of singers or players or for one alone as demonstrated by the huge amount of keyboard music (Byrd alone fills about 10 CDs’ worth!) and the existence of collections like the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book and so on. I wanted to get a perspective beyond loss and more on the need to invent when those things we took for granted were just not there. So I haven’t posted links to my existing work (yet) or turned to electroacoustic composition (yet) but I do have a close friend who I don’t see as often as I would like, even under normal circumstances, who is learning the clarsach as a mature student and I decided to write her a collection of pieces around her current level and a bit beyond as an unannounced present.

 

Digital connectedness -via social media, videoconferencing, digital platforms- took a much more prominent position in communication strategies. How do you think this will affect the culture of consumerism in the future?
I’m not optimistic. Unless streaming platforms and labels are brought to heel with their avaricious and unjust slicing of the royalty cake, the music business will collapse. There will be nothing new of any interest as songwriters and composers will be reduced to the status of hobbyists or feel obliged to write to the tired formulae promulgated by the suits in LA. Given that classical audiences are an older demographic, they will be reluctant to return to the concert halls (or even leave the house) until vaccination is fully available. That coupled with the need for safe-distancing will make theatre and concert hall events unviable which will destroy orchestras, production companies and the venues themselves.
What is your personal experience dealing with the virtual world before and since the lockdown?
I have always been comfortable with the virtual world though not as reliant as now!
Has the lockdown made you more introspective? and if so, in what way?
I’m lucky enough to be isolating in a part of the world with hill, forest and beach walks so the lockdown is not as onerous for me as it is for many. I have got more appreciative of nature through walking, I love the birds singing outside. In terms of existential introspection, I worry about how this will all pan out given that we have a government of sycophantic, mediocre nonentities, promoted way above their skill and intelligence who probably can’t wipe their own arses without a handbook or advisor telling them how it’s done. And then Brexit…
Art has always served a medium of connectedness in society – how do you see it work under the lockdown. (Sort of see above!)
If there is anything you want to mention about your work, please do and maybe send us links to your social media so we can tag and hashtag everything.

Apart from the clarsach, I’m working with my friend and colleague, the saxophonist Rob Buckland on a new version of a piece for solo flute (Blue) for his solo recording project. I’m revisiting older pieces that never made it on the computer so I’m typesetting and revising: firstly a chamber opera I wrote with the poet Eve Salzman (One Two), then a String Quartet from 1989 and currently a large scale orchestral piece (Amethyst Deceiver) I wrote for the Hallé Orchestra in 1981. There’s no performance planned and it really is big (26 minutes and a large orchestra) so one one hand, it’s not exactly a ‘piece for our time’ but on the other hand, I wouldn’t be doing it if deep down there wasn’t still a sliver of optimism – and in any case, hope should never die!

Ann Ray, Artist

26th of June, 2020

Lockdown is by essence the paradoxical fate of the artist: to stay connected with the world, in its beauty, ugliness, softness, logic, absurdity. And to withdrew into oneself to translate one’s emotions and thoughts.

 

Half of humanity locked up: an unlikely scenario that suddenly became our augmented reality. Did the world become crazy? Not sure. Maybe the world started to stop being crazy.

A new definition of time imposed itself, an abstract and ephemeral time. I watched a world of lonely tightrope walkers who staggered and stood still, hanging in the air.

 

The time to think had finally come.

I was guided by those who inspire me: relatives, people I admire and poets.

Lockdown emphasised what’s essential:

Life is short.

What counts holds in the palm of one’s hand.

We have to take care of our loved ones.

Our memory defines ourselves, our actions and choices.

We have to re-learn how to listen, read and look. How to express ourselves and communicate. The plague of this century is our poor listening habits. Means of communication have multiplied but we’ve lost real communication. Attention rhymes with intention.

 

I was happy while creating. Work was more intense, harder, truer. I felt closer to myself and others. Strangely free.

 

I started working on collages entitled The End of Language I, II and III or a series of White Pages. I’m trying to translate the beauty of authentic contact, of a universal language.

 

I intentionally didn’t switch on my computer very often.

I’ve developed an aversion to the virtual world these past years. It’s a masquerade where overflowing messages oppress us. Where we watch ourselves turning our lives into punchlines or new images on social media which are social in name only.

 

These are powerful tools provided one uses them wisely to complete certain tasks. Not to discover art. A viewing room is useful  as a memorandum, an outline or a narrative tool – in the curatorial sense of the word. But the viewing-room is brutal, it doesn’t respect the geography of desire that is part of all exhibitions.

 

The word connect interests me as an answer, an intention, be it artistic. As a contribution to the world. I can’t be an artist without being a humanist first.

Claude Arnaud, Writer

23rd of June, 2020

How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days ?

Via my website, emails and the sort of informal telepathy through which my readers engage with my books without me having to be physically present. This process is immediately dematerialised.

What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement ?

I hope the sanitary crisis doesn’t last long enough to further dematerialise what has already been dematerialised to a large extent (I don’t have that many opportunities to meet my readers !).

What topics/people inspired you whilst in self-isolation ?

I took advantage of the lockdown to make the final corrections to my book on Corsica that my publisher [Grasset] still plans to publish in January (2021) if the world doesn’t stop spinning before that because of the virus. And I managed to write the fifth version of a novel that totally engrossed me. I stayed completely focused while writing. There was extraordinary strength and joy in the way this project occupied my mind.

While the majority of human activities, so vital to our survival, was paralysed, I had – I still have – the absolute conviction that what I was doing was vital, at least for myself. The economic but also moral tragedy (what am I doing ? Who am I ? Where am I going ) that so many people experienced and are still experiencing turned, in my case, into a radical confirmation : I think I have never been as personal as in this book.

 

What is your personal experience dealing with the virtual world before and since the lockdown ?

I didn’t deal with the virtual world before or during lockdown. I am sparing with the time I spend on social media which amounts to nought. Lockdown didn’t alter my relationship to digital technologies.

Art has always served a medium of connectedness in society – how do you see it work under the lockdown ?

I strongly believe that a book sanctifies an encounter between two temporary solitudes. This meeting can only occur when there is silence. It can happen in a public place (train, bus, boat…) but one has to abstract oneself from it to become someone else (the writer, the characters he/she has invented, the creator he/she has written about, the work he/she has analysed…) for a little while. Whether you are confined or not, it is always enlightening to do some research on the internet and find out about an author, read interviews or lectures he/she has given, go through critical reviews he/she wrote or that were written about him/her. But I don’t think the lockdown is going to change our aesthetics or our relationship to images the way the Iconoclastic quarrel or the Council of Trent did. There is a risk that the situation puts many libraries out of business, accelerating the decline of the book which is more and more marginalised in comparison with the image.

Lore Lixenberg, Founder and leader of THE VOICE PART – also voiceartist and mezzo

19th of June, 2020

How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days ?
I am planning THE VOICE PARTY annual seaside conference under the auspices of Bill Banks Jones of Tete a Tete opera in Cornwall in the autumn. If there is another lockdown caused by the second wave it will be online. THE VOICE PARTY is a political party, it is also an opera and a contemporary music group with a manifesto based on the laws of music. THE VOICE PARTY stood in the 2019 General Election in the Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency achieving 76 votes. I am memorising new repertoire. I am also working on the cover and booklet of NANCARROWKARAOKE, arrangements I wrote and recorded of Nancarrow piano rolls for my own voice, vinyl coming out at the end of the year with Rotterdam based De Player. I have also nearly dotted the I and crossed the T on a new edition of Scelsi ‘Canti del Capricorno’ that I intend to make a website for so that this cycle is freely downloadable for any singer who would like to perform it. I have finished my book BEL CANTO BRUTTO CANTO Volume 2 The Quest and am working on my next real time operas, one of which is an app. I also spend a lot of time staring out go the window at the sky, slack jawed, drinking tea, swearing at the tory party and shaking my fist at Brexit.
How has the confinement altered the way you communicate with your creative constituency ?
Social distancing is the main difference I would say. My election campaign that I did entirely in song ( all the doorstepping and hustings) would have been totally impossible under these circumstances. Also my real time opera cafe PRET A CHANTER had to stop in its current form for obvious reasons. All liveness is cancelled, only concerts Zoombie style. Zoombie concerts for a zombie virus that is an entity not really dead but indeed not really alive like a bacteria. Of course all live concerts were cancelled.
What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement?
Online.Ugh. I mean don’t get me wrong its great and all that, but also limited. I have been able to attend some really cool lectures all around the world that I wouldn’t have been able to do before this! I personally want to find a better way of using online platforms.
Do you foresee a change in the way we connect with each other post lockdown?
Well I suppose things will be a lot more local for a while. I should think international long distance journeys will be something to be negotiated. Also social distancing for audiences and performers alike. Maybe fewer people in concerts will make for a more comfortable, concentrated  listening experience? Maybe thats better for some forms of art and music than others. Maybe artists will make music especially for these new conditions that could be more detailed allowing for a deeper listening experience? I made a piece in 2012, that I have been performing regularly ‘PANIC ROOM – THE SINGTERVIEWS in which I created a character called PANIC. The show presented the end of civilisation as we know it, set in the fulture 4 billion years from now as the sun is exploding into a red dwarf. With CCTV cameras everywhere in the building, I spied on the audience in the foyer and sang to them over the foyer tannoy system. From this I picked an audience member to be in the PANIC ROOM with me, a pretend space capsule backstage, within which was all the music of earth to be saved from the exploding sun. The conversation, beamed live to the concert hall audience, mediated by a screen, was with a complete stranger and, involving much wine, lasted until the moment we both ‘died’.Inspired by this experience I created a PANIC ROOM YouTube tv channel for a while with lots of short encounters, where I ‘Singterviewed’ loads of people, an imam, a priest, a hairdresser, policeman.all kinds of people. In fact just before I left Berlin, Isingterviewed a coronavirus. That concept/show…is ongoing and it struck as being rather prescient and could have been created for a post-pandemic world eager to avoid a second wave of infection, something of which I am not particularly proud. Of course screen mediated ‘SINGTERVIEWS” are perfect for zoom performances. There is a lot to deal with in the UK at the moment as a performer. In that sense, coronavirus is nothing compared to brexit. Going from pandemic to brexit kind of puts a seal on the lockdown, chucks UK cultural life into a sarcophagus and throws away the key. I think the problems after lockdown will be rather more political than biological. The Tory party are obviously cultural vandals, who seem intent on posing as many problems as possible for British artists and offering no solutions. So connections will have to change also for those reasons.

 

What topics/people inspire your communication with the others whilst in self-isolation?
I would say nothing in particular and everything in particular.  A desire to communicate. A desire to capture an idea and develop it.  A desire to explore new forms where man has never been before!!! These are things that occupied me before isolation though so in some ways those things have not changed. I live in the same house as composer Frederic Acquaviva and its been great to have the time to talk to him and actually finish conversations!
Digital connectedness -via social media, videoconferencing, digital platforms- took a much more prominent position in communication strategies. how do you think this will affect the culture of consumerism in the future?
People will make fewer unnecessary journeys which is a great thing for the planet. Having said that, I am planning a very analog party conference in Cornwall with Bill banks Jones mainly because you can’t really go surfing over zoom, but it will be online if it has to be. As I said earlier, learning tools will be easier to access. I ‘m  hoping it will make it easier for people with disabilities to find work, as work can be done online from home so it makes the playing field more level for that community, some workplaces being somewhat inaccessible, travelling being sometimes more of a challenge and more expensive, and thats a fantastic thing. Not that it should stop physical places being more accessible, but in the meantime it accesses a whole load of great people. I heard this point brought up in PM questions in parliament as something that has been campaigned on for many years suddenly happening overnight.
 People will wear pyjamas more. One of THE VOICE PARTY manifesto bullet points is ‘create don’t consume’. I think its great that people buy less shit that they don’t need. Maybe this lockdown has made people finding their creative side more important. On the flip side, what I have found pretty revolting is the way in which performers have become free content providers for shitty hyper-capitalist, uberised companies such as Spotify, the half dead digital zombie streaming platform. Many performances have been streamed for free which is great, until you understand that the people performing had an entire year of work cancelled. I think that needs to be addressed or music making will be exclusively the preserve of the rich once again.
What is your personal experience dealing with the virtual world before and since the lockdown?
Well I’ve been learning how to code before, so I would say pretty intense. That being said I didn’t Skype and zoom as much as I do now.
Has the lockdown made you more introspection? and if so, in what way? 
I would say it has revealed my latent introspective nature. In what way? Well I suppose being able to have a good think and actually having the peace and quiet to allow the thoughts to thread into something concrete and reach a conclusion.
Art has always served a medium of connectedness in society – how do you see it work under the lockdown.
I think art has served as a medium of connectedness, but also of division. In particular in the UK. It has often struck me that some artforms actively work to keep people out ,and obscure connectedness and understanding. I hope the lockdown has encouraged individuals and institutions to reassess what they are doing, why they do it and who for.
Nemanja Nikolic, Artist

16th of June, 2020

Isolation and the current crisis have not caused great change in my life, but I am very well aware that this shows that I belong to a group of privileged people.

Doctors and medical workers are the real heroes in this time of crisis, but also all the people who had to go to work every day in the past weeks.

I hope many lessons are being learnt from this heart-breaking pandemic. For example that in the future, countries must invest more in public health and that we also have to pay attention to potential new crises that lie ahead, such as climate change. But I am not optimistic about these issues, I think that we as a society need to learn better from the past. We need more solidarity in the future.

 
 

 

It has been inspiring to see how people broke limitations caused by quarantine using online platforms, live streaming, public talks and other solutions to keep creating content and communicating.

Still, for me, nothing can replace a face-to-face conversation or going to exhibitions, concerts and other art events in the real world.

I’ve used these days of isolation to do what I love most: drawing, painting and watching movies.

Hélène Delprat, Artist

12th of June, 2020

 
How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days ?
 
I stay mainly in touch with my friends. And also with my gallerist, Christophe Gaillard, who keeps me updated about his project, our projects. I only discuss what I do with him. I don’t like to talk about my work with anyone else. I want to spare the others ! I don’t like to talk about myself and I’m not interested in the fate of what I make. Sometimes I would like to meet more collectors but not for the reasons you would expect. What I like is to discover milieux, jobs I don’t know.
 
What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement ?
 
I have no idea. I’m waiting. I’m very pessimistic. For now I take things one day at a time. My only wish is that we become aware that books are important, that they save us. That we don’t give a damn about Zara or Gucci and that we don’t give a damn about 50% off deals, that it’s not because things are on sale that we should buy them.
Going far away for three days ? To do what ? To choke with rage at the sight of people confusing an artwork with a scenery for selfie.
The confinement has already produced pages and pages of ‘lockdown diaries’. The worst is that everyone feels important. I’ve stopped listening to the news – they all say the same things. Only the doctors and the economists are interesting. They don’t make declarations, they analyse. Politicians have been rather ridiculous.
I’m worried – and that’s not what I want – the world will come out of this crisis the same as before. The situation won’t lead to a post-war period as coronavirus isn’t a war but a warning. For now we have the impression that we are learning from our past attitudes and we make new resolutions. But we make resolutions when we are scared. Once fear, once compassion – ‘take care’ – die, everything will start again : overconsumption, the superfluous, the constant prattle, and a disinterest in what we find moving today. And the hatred of others, the desire to make money will come back.
There is nothing new under the sun. It’s my nature says the scorpio.
 
 

 

Digital connectedness -via social media, videoconferencing, digital platforms- took a much more prominent position in communication strategies. How do you think this will affect the culture of consumerism in the future ? Do you think it will change the way we experience art?
 
To develop new forms of relationships to artworks, we would need to already nourish a relationship with art. And we very well know that it’s not the case.
Who can understand artworks ? Who even knows that artworks are to be understood ? Who knows how a painting is produced? How a film is being made ?
Without education, it’s a lost cause, it’s impossible to dream of anything. And fun, ludic (I hate this word) images aren’t the solution. The relationship to the artwork, the thoughts born from an encounter with art are difficult. I can see no reason why this would change. Art requires time, concentration. Hmm…
 
A new way of encountering an artwork would be to access it for real, to be able to get closer to it but it’s less and less the case. It would mean to see again. To be able to get closer to it without being jostled, without having to endure the audio-guides sound. The silence. And then to complete one’s experience, as a spectator, as a viewing body, with information read on the internet.
I think – and it’s awful to say this as it’s a super elitist position – that an international museum of art, a kind of reader’s digest guide to art, consisting of copies would be perfect. Sufficient at least. Just like Lascaux 2 [the facsimile of the famous prehistoric cave located in Montignac in southwestern France]. We would take a tourist train like le ‘Petit train de Montmartre’ during the visit. And everyone would be happy. We would be able to eat or dress up as Leonardo da Vinci or Magritte while travelling in time. It would be a sort or Disneyland or Vulcania [a volcano theme park situated in central France] with attractions. An EPCOT [a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida inspired by an unrealised concept of experimental planned community developed by Walt Disney] of art. L’Atelier des lumières [a digital art centre that holds monumental immersive exhibitions using 140 video projectors and a spatialised sound system] in Paris is very successful and suits the majority. Let’s go for it: illuminations projected on cathedrals, gigantic slideshows with elevator music !
 
Ali M Demirel, Visual Artist

9th of June, 2020

As a visual artist, I am used to traveling frequently to different countries for festivals and exhibitions. But when back at home, I was quite enjoying being alone and isolated. I must admit that I enjoyed the certain ‘absence’ Corona brought to our lives. The ‘addiction’ to overdose activity and our dominant ‘presence’ in nature was something I was questioning in my artworks lately.

My latest solo show ADA at Arter Istanbul in 2018 was based on films I have made about human absence, how nature is taking over abandoned structures. It’s a strange feeling for me now to observe this is happening in our reality.

However, this doesn’t mean that I like what’s happening to humankind now. We are responsible for what is happening, this is not the fault of a little virus but the vulnerable weak system we have built. It is up to us now how to fix this and not repeat our mistakes!

As an artist, creating and reflecting is a way of existence for me. But personally, I am not very attracted to virtual alternatives being developed. It is very crucial and important that we can stay connected, create and share online but I also believe that we can build a higher quality of connection with micro-politics in physical space.

 

As an example of this, I had an idea to project video-art on my windows to my neighbours (whom I did not know and didn’t have a real connection before) and to individuals randomly passing through my street.

I asked artists whose work I like a lot, and all of them responded positively and with a great enthusiasm. I have already made some new connections within my neighbourhood and met new artists and showed them on my windows, which is the most exciting interaction I’m having during this period so far.

Alice Farnham, Conductor and Artistic Director of Women Conductors with the Royal Philharmonic Society

5th of June, 2020

How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days?

Well there’s no conducting going on right now of course – no orchestra, and no operas.  But I am teaching.  I am making videos of exercises for my students, teaching on zoom and even running group workshops.

How has the confinement altered the way you communicate with your creative constituency ?

It is all done online, but I use FaceTime and zoom much more than I ever did.

What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement ?

Yes, in a way it has.  Some of us who have been so incredibly busy for so long now, have time to connect.  Conductors are generously sharing their thoughts on music and even running masterclass.

Do you foresee a change in the way we connect with each other post lockdown ?

Yes.  We will be much more comfortable with reaching out to people who are not physically close.  I have taught students in Australia and US, and it never occurred to me that I could continue to teach them whichever country I happen to be in.

Digital connectedness -via social media, videoconferencing, digital platforms- took a much more prominent position in communication strategies. how do you think this will affect the culture of consumerism in the future?

 

I think it will have a lasting affect.  However, I believe there is nothing better than live music.  I see it as a way of connecting people, and introducing them to new ideas and art forms as well as appreciating artists performing in venues we can’t reach.  But the real thing will be even more thrilling when eventually we are allowed to return.

What is your personal experience dealing with the virtual world before and since the lockdown ?

I am much more comfortable with it now.  But sometimes it makes me sad as I miss the real thing.

Has the lockdown made you more introspection? and if so, in what way? 

As a conductor I am used to periods where I am learning scores and don’t see many people.  These are much shorter than lockdown so far, but it is not as frightening and lonely an experience as it is for many.

Art has always served a medium of connectedness in society – how do you see it work under the lockdown ?

It is essential.  Art of all types.  I am a musician, but a passion of mine is painting which I have never had time to devote to it.  Since lockdown I have painting almost every day.  I also listening to radio dramas, podcasts, audio books and watch live streaming of plays.  I am finding music sometimes a little too painful as I want to hear it live, so other art forms are giving me real solace.

Stephan Balleux, Artist

2nd of June, 2020

How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days ?

In a few emails I sent to friends from the art world I shared lockdown thoughts adding images of what I was currently doing in relation to the pandemic. I also published a few posts on Instagram.

I decided not to communicate excessively during lockdown. I don’t believe in sharing my internal personal journey, my doubts and my small victories on social media. I need some distance and I don’t like to show my emotions or actions on these platforms. Many galleries and institutions multiplied virtual exhibition tours and artist studio visits or online presentations. I followed almost none: my lockdown routine was linked to parenting as I have two young children. The time devoted to work and web surfing was drastically reduced.

Moreover, I like what happens on the internet when it is about sharing information but I don’t like it when marketing becomes too visible. It is obvious that big organisations have hired some staff to do their PR and that social media do well in time of pandemic but they make people with less means look amateurs.

 

What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement ?

I have been working since last September on a new website. It will be a dynamic communicating tool. I am planning to use it to show the work I have done over the past fifteen years. I also want to create sections where, like I a curator, I can establish links between the different parts of my work. I will also add texts  that I have written. I rely heavily on this communicating tool that I have neglected these last years. I  want to show and exhibit my art on the internet according to my own criteria, my own tempo… It will then be relayed in social media.

I also intend to invite more people to visit my studio to allow for direct contacts between them and my paintings. I don’t think this health crisis is going to change anything beyond the growing awareness that we can make do with what we have at home. I can see people becoming more resourceful. But my impression is that as soon as this crisis is over, we will go back to normal, equipped with a few more remote work tools.

What topics/people inspire you whilst in self-isolation ?

Because of this crisis, we have been forced to stay within the family unit – in my case it is a typical family with Dad, Mum and two children. The fact that we were together hugely influenced my work. To be constantly with my children, taking care of them more than usual, having time to enjoy these moments made me want to produce work with them, about them and through them. Opting for this orientation in my work has been on my mind for a long time but the current situation made me naturally follow this direction.

I do not have access to my studio anymore for logistical reasons so I designed a new, smaller one in one of the rooms of the house. The sizes of my pieces have shrunk and I am focusing on ‘poor’ forms of art : drawings on paper, watercolours, small oil on wood paintings. There are so many uncertainties about our future project that we have lost our bearings. But we have also been experimenting and I think it is a very fertile response. This is no time for self-assessment. It is time to let go and listen to what is coming to our minds without too much critical thinking. I must admit that what is coming to me pertains to the imaginary more than to a reflective approach. As for reading, I went back to authors I love such as Rebecca Solnitt or comic book writers like Ralf Koening who ferociously mocks the stereotypes ingrained in our societies. I also looked at legendary artists like Van Eyck and Giovani Bellini… a form of return to the sources.

Digital connectedness – via social media, videoconferencing, digital platforms-  took a much more prominent position in communication strategies. how do you think this will affect the culture of consumerism in the future. 

I believe that nothing will spare us from the subjection to the market law. Nothing.

 

That being said, all these digital tools existed before the crisis and we already used them a lot to communicate. What changed is the frequency, the fact that we now use them non-stop. I think that these tools are available to artists in order to create a self-sufficient and fascinating media. It is just a matter of investing time and money. It is true that the time devoted to communication impinges on the time devoted to creation. I personally decided to invest time in sharing my artistic approach, in creating my own media. More than a marketing strategy, it is about sharing elements on the challenges and questions which are so central to my work. It is also about expressing my thoughts without intermediaries.

Artists have a lot on their plates. They are in charge of their studio, the admin of a company, the archiving of their work, the logistics of their exhibitions, the promotion of their art, submissions for open calls etc… On top of all that, there is a social demand for transparency and a voyeurism of the artistic practice. It is time-consuming and we need to be very strategic about what we show and what we do not show.

What is your personal experience dealing with the virtual world before and since the lockdown. 

Lockdown has had an effect on my relationships to digital technologies but opposite to the majority’s. Digital education and communication tools like videoconferencing software have had a very negative impact on my body. I experienced violent headaches and an unpleasant impressions of dizziness after hours spent videoconferencing and teaching online. To me, physical human interactions seem more than ever the best way to communicate.

I know there has been a lot of buzz around art projects and creative content shared on the internet but I did not have much time to get involved. Taking care of my children was my priority. In normal circumstances, I can’t even deal with the huge amount of data created daily on the internet. I suffered in the past from a Facebook addiction disorder so I don’t use it anymore but I often check Instagram as its contents is not too prolific (you can’t click on links for example). It is a learning tool that I find very inspiring as it is a way for people to share personal thoughts for professional purposes.

It is weird: during lockdown, there has been a surge in phone calls and they lasted longer. I managed to paint while I was speaking on the phone. I have the impression that my friends were doing the same.

But as I said, I have not been very active on social media. I am suspicious of oversharing and outpourings of emotions online. I noticed that many online behaviours during lockdown were desperate calls for attention even though we are not visible anymore in the real world. The situation opened doors to news arenas in my practice. I will share them in due course, after stepping back and reflecting on this period which allowed me to take a break before going on.

I wanted to initiate a project during lockdown but it was impossible because the materials I needed were out of stock: I wanted to create VR artwork. I think we have reached a point where it has become easy to handle this technology. I can feel something coming, a revolution in the visual and sound experience. It is the pre-cinema stage. And that is where the future of shows lies. It is only an intuition and it is still very vague.

I am positioning myself at the two extremes of the spectrum: painting as a low tech and thousand-year-old practice and the VR of the future.

Rusen Gunes, Violist

30th of May, 2020

We are deeply saddened by the recent and sudden passing of Ruşen Güneş, violist. Our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. We had the privilege to count him amongst our connect series contributors. Here are his wise thoughts.

How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days?
My main channel to stay connected is the internet at the moment, I also stay in touch with my entourage via emails and keep on reading the news.

How has the confinement altered the way you communicate with your creative constituency ?
There hasn’t been much difference so far. In fact I prefer this so called lockdown as I feel my encounters with people are less intimating.
What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement
I used to enjoy meeting people for a drink and a chat, unfortunately everything is virtual now, so I am missing those days but I can bare it.

 

Do you foresee a change in the way we connect with each other post lockdown?
I don’t think there will be any major difference communication wise, everything is virtual but as humankind we still need to find our ways to stay connected.

Has the lockdown made you more introspection? and if so, in what way?
Introspection ? I still write, read and watch. My only concern is that I worry about my kids, They are all adults, all 4 of them. I am also worried for my young friends it will be a huge ‘operation’ to return back to the ‘normal’ AGAIN.

Art has always served a medium of connectedness in society – how do you see it work under the lockdown.
You can never kill art.

Sigrid Kirk, Co-Founder Association of Women in the Arts, cultural strategist and adviser

29th of May, 2020

I co-founded AWITA nearly 4 years ago with the vision of building a supportive community of professional women working in the arts, and to support this community through networking, mentoring and professional development,

Some of the challenges thrown up by the current Corona (Covid -19) public health crisis are quite unique, and it is clear the we way work, do business and socialise together is changing. Initially I spent a-lot of time reaching out and speaking to women across the entire arts ecology, asking how they were feeling, what impact Coronavirus was having on their businesses, work and home life, and what AWITA could do to help. It immediately became clear that what people wanted more than anything else was to feel part of a community, that a collective sense of ‘we are are all in this together’ was important. We launched AWITA C-suites, focused 30 minute sessions led by senior arts professionals.

These have included Navigating a New Era of Social Media, Sales Strategies in a Time of Crisis, Project Planning without a Timeline, Our Duty of Care and Communication Strategies. I was a little cautious about scheduling too many of these, as we watched the cultural sector stampede to digital and I was concerned about the over-saturation of online content, but the reaction has been incredible.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of senior arts professionals, giving their time and expertise with immense candour and warmth. Although the sessions are closed, we record and edit the content and post these online with key takeaways for a wider community of female arts professional to access. We feel that now is the time to share and support with honesty and compassion.

This has been a time to pause and reflect, but also an opportunity for us to try new things and reassess our mission and values. We may now be physically distanced but we can still be socially engaged. I feel compelled, now more than ever, to continue to build a strong network that supports and cares for professional women in the art world.  As borders close physically, it is important to extend our conversations collegiately and internationally. Our new familiarity with digital and virtual interaction has had some upsides, and means we can explore meaningful ways to build new relationships and online peer to peer mentoring.

 

To paraphrase Churchill ‘a crisis is a terrible thing to waste’, and as much as we can’t return to normal because normal was the problem, this pandemic has pushed us all to think about how we work digitally to create meaningful and content rich interfaces, and to consider who our audiences are. It feels like there are some fundamental shifts occurring in the way we want to work and live. Perhaps our workplace will no longer be a single location but an eco-system of a variety of different locations and experiences and we will make choices to support convenience, functionality and wellbeing.

 

Consumption has slowed down, there is no longer such urgency, and we have the time and space to pause and reflect. My hope is that we won’t race back to the old normal but that a different art world will emerge, and the global carousel of gas-guzzling carbon spewing art fairs and biennials that we were all spinning around on, won’t restart. Obviously I can’t wait to get back to Venice with a Bellini in hand, but with less of the artificial sense of urgency to see and be seen, to buy now and buy more. The fixed horizon feels less hazy and more precise. I feel I have a better sense of who I am, what I want and what I am good at, and what really matters. In a needs hierarchy where health and safety are priorities, it’shard to argue for the role of art. It has been interesting to see how artists have responded while in isolation – and wonderful to see so many working collegiately with care to support each other eg Matthew Burroughs #artistsupportpledge which has so far raised £20 million for artists through small online pay it forward sales. Keith Tyson’s Isolation Art School and Bob and Roberta Smiths art education are further examples alongside a more campaigning approach by Jeremy Deller, Peter Liversidge and Mark Titchener. Equally many artists are working quietly, in their studios and it will be interesting to see what emerges. Even if the work isn’t specifically about Covid-19, one imagines the stains or traces of this time will mark the work, even if in subtle ways, and historically this could be a significant period culturally.

Max Pugh, Film Maker

26th of May, 2020

I spent the last fourteen years gathering visual material for an experimental documentary film about my relationship to the planet. It was a mostly pleasurable and inspiring process, but it wasn’t until I woke up, a few days into the lockdown imposed on us all by the pandemic, that I realised that now was the time for me to start turning my global collection of images and sound into the artwork I had imagined all those years ago. Banned from straying more than 1km from my house by the French government, I stared at my immobilised roll-aboard suitcase and thought of the connection between my post-apocalyptic images of the airplane graveyards in the Arizona desert taken in March 2017, and the daily news images in March 2020 of 96% of the world’s airliners now grounded. So many clipped aluminium wings showing me a way to live differently, to slow down and reconnect with my own immediate surroundings rather than constantly chasing time and space. I remembered that these surroundings were chosen by the very first artists; the Palaeolithic poet-painters of the caves at Lascaux and Peche Merle nearby. The connections I began to make in this new-found zone represented an opportunity to stop ‘making sense’ of everything and to abandon the idea of conventional narrative entirely. I found that my attention to detail had increased and my perception of my reality was open to so much more than I had initially packed into my initial ‘thesis’ which now appeared reductive.

 

 

So I look at the weeks and months ahead and find myself at peace with this new relationship, one which I fantasised about but never thought possible. There is more pressure from the digital, to the point that its infinite variety and complexity is at times overwhelming; as if the entire universe is multiplexed into a single piece of fibre optic cable which terminates in the bottom left corner of this 500 year old stone house, but I have found compensatory solace in watching the spring morph into summer outside. The baby swallows nesting under the eves of my roof have taken flight, even if the airliners still have not.

Julie Polidoro, Artist

22nd of May, 2020

‘To live is essentially to live the life of another: to live in and through the life that others have been able to construct or invent.’ Emanuele Coccia, The Life of Plants. A Metaphysics of Mixture

The economy has brutally been subjected to a new priority. Purely and simply: life. We suddenly pay more attention to doctors than to economists.

I now feel that I am an interdependent entity, that I live in symbiosis with the ‘others’ in every sense of the word – other human beings, other species, the wind. I am at one with them and I love this sensation.

The fact that life can perpetuate itself by merging with ‘others’ makes me feel alive.

I suddenly have the same needs, the same schedule as everyone else. I am not ‘a’ plumber, ‘an’ escort girl, ‘a’ sailor anymore. Having to comply with the same restrictions as everyone else, I feel close to all human beings.

During my daily walks, I started watching every single tree I came across, examining how its leaves sprouted a bit more every day. I experienced the passage of time through the growth of plants. I have had to reorganise my time to make this possible.

I now make sure I take breaks when engaged in activities that really matter. I give myself time the same way we let dough rest when baking bread.

I have realised that making things in a hurry is not sexy anymore.

Inevitably, my new project for 2020 is linked to the strange situation we live in. All of a sudden, my problem becomes everyone’s problem. We are all facing a crisis without borders. It is a very strong feeling.

 

This forced pause allowed nature and animals to breath again. I hope this forced pause awakens us to the urgency of protecting ourselves and protecting nature which amounts to the same thing.

I am not only a content in a container. What counts is my interaction with the environment. I cross over space and I merge with the elements.

My new series of paintings is entitled Going out inside (Uscire dentro in Italian, Sortir dedans in French).

The circumstances led me to a provocative gesture. I imagined an outside space which has to be framed under glass to stay outside and uncontaminated.

How to translate formally the act of looking a landscape without standing in front of it, watching it through a window like animals in a zoo ?

What does outside mean? Can the outside become part of the household ?

All of a sudden the landscape is not an external space anymore. It appears to me simply as a space where I feel welcomed, where I can find my place.

And instead of getting rid of the insect crawling on my hand, I look at it.

We are in something with the same intensity and strenght as it is in us.

I wish each of us feels immersed in an outside that is like a home.

Paul Harris, Clarinettist, Composer, Author and Educator

19th of May, 2020

The whole concept of connectedness is so central to thinking, to doing, to being a human being.  Thoughts and actions really only have meaning when they have context. And that context is born of making the appropriate connections. In most human interactions, transient or more permanent, making meaningful connection is essential, whether achieved non-verbally, through body language or facial gesture or verbally through empathetic conversation.  Without meaningful connection we  are no more than objects.  Not individuals.  And we must remember that each individual, given the opportunity, has a view, a take on life, or an angle that might cause our thinking to move in a new (maybe more valuable) direction, or might encourage a deeper insight.

In these times of lockdown, most connections between people have to be virtual, so it’s essential that we try our best to discover the most effective manner in which to make these work.  What we often miss are those subtle, non-verbal signals people are constantly sending out – signals that many  can read instinctively, allowing connection and communication to take place in a subtle, sophisticated and many-layered fashion.  In non-video communication of course you can’t see the person with whom you are communicating; and even with video connections (and the usual attendant problems) we need to rely so much more on what we say.  The precise words we use and our inflection of those words with their (often complex) implications can have such an effect on the person who receives them.  Lockdown has made me so much more conscious of this.

During this time, there has been much online virtual music making, which is wonderful.  So many musicians have recorded and shared their performances. And there has been a vast amount of teaching, which has been successful in varying degrees.  I’m enjoying my online teaching – and have done my first online Inset. I’ve been thinking hard about the strategies we normally use in these activities which need careful adapting to work in the virtual world.

 

But the virtual world is virtual, both in the sense of being both a simulated world and a world that we’re near, we’re virtually in, but not quite. There’s no doubt that it is a wonderful second best – but second best is probably as good as it can ever be.  It doesn’t quite allow us to sense and be affected by the concentration, intensity of thought, and on-going non-verbal signals of communication that make life (in this case, teaching and performing) so powerful and indeed, meaningful.

This interlude has given us the time and opportunity to connect with ourselves – it has allowed us to think inwardly, maybe to re-connect with our core values and passions.  So that when we do eventually reconnect with the real world, we can do so with even more energy and clarity.  There’s no doubt that we will have learned much in this strange but curiously necessary episode in our history.  And I’m sure we shall take the best of it to use in the future. But real connections must ultimately win over those that are virtual.

Virginia Damtsa, Visual Art Dealer and Artist Agent

15th of May, 2020

Our current Covid-19 life has made us introspective in terms of how we wish to continue our daily life and our daily business after this pandemic.

Artists, Galleries, Museums, Art Fairs, Auction Houses and all of us Creatives are waking up to the new reality of how to make virtual and online business viable, as well as friendly and confidential, while still attractive to clients. The idea of re-invention or re-adaptation is making us push boundaries, innovate and also assess the viability of unsustainable practices.

Institutions are already adapting to the ‘new normal’. This week, FRIEZE NEW YORK launches its online viewing room. The fair is bringing us more than 200 international galleries online. There will be live conversations and curator’s highlights of the fair via video platforms.

The OTHER ART FAIR offers online studio visits in London, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Brooklyn. They plan to include online studios from Dallas, Chicago, Melbourne and more.

Auction House Christie’s conducts its ‘online only’ sale; ‘ANDY WARHOL: Better Days’, a selection of Warhol’s photographs and polaroids. Its competitor, Sotheby’s, teams up with Google and leading figures to launch an online auction to fund the International Rescue Committee in response to the spread of Covid-19 in vulnerable communities.

 

Online is not a substitute for the real experience of seeing art in galleries, museums, art fairs and auction houses. If anything it reinforces the need to see the real thing. The popularity of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre is due to its digital online promotion. But then we need to really see it, experience it, to be able to understand it and own it. Real culture is through experience. The experience of visiting an artist’s studio, going to a museum or to a gallery are irreplaceable.

For the moment, ‘Virtual art’ is the new normal norm but we are all longing for a real art experience again.

Rolf Hind, Pianist and Composer, Professor of both and Research Associate at Guidhall Schol of Music and Drama, piano professor at Trinity Laban.

12th of May, 2020

How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days
All the usual methods I suppose: FB, Twitter, Zoom for meetings and chats.
How has the confinement altered the way you communicate with your creative constituency ?
I’m spending much more time on social media – posting compositions, mine and others, my own reflections. Having to have meetings with collaborators by Zoom rather than in person,  but that works fine.
What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement ?
I feel an increased sense of intimacy as any encounters with people, even virtual, become very loaded. I’m trying to reach out to people beyond the known audience I have in simple ways, not trying to be careerist about it, but appreciating the honest power of communication of ideas in these isolating times.
Do you foresee a change in the way we connect with each other post lockdown ?
There SHOULD be one. I’ve no idea if it will happen though…
What topics/people inspire your communication with the others whilst in self-isolation?
Meditation, birdsong, Sanskrit, poetry, yoga, Wagner, German, Ozark.
Digital connectedness -via social media, videoconferencing, digital platforms- took a much more prominent position in communication strategies. how do you think this will affect the culture of consumerism in the future. 
I hope it will make things much more porous, less hierarchical…

 

What is your personal experience dealing with the virtual world before and since the lockdown?
It’s been pretty intense. My father died last month, so that was a horrible experience in itself, and made worse by not being able to se him. So quite what a “normal lockdown” would have felt like I can’t imagine. My mum, who is 86, has finally come to terms wit FaceTime and it’s and absolute Godsend. so I guess I’m noticing its power for good… imagine if we didn’t have this virtual world now.
Has the lockdown made you more introspection? and if so, in what way? 

I’m very introspective anyway. My natural default state is silent retreat, so this is actually very comfortable for me. I LOVE the quiet, the time, the presence of nature and the absence of pollution. As I heard someone say the other day, it reminds me of the Seventies!!

Art has always served a medium of connectedness in society – how do you see it work under the lockdown?
More necessary than ever. Art is a vital tool for self-expression, for coming to terms with experience, for individuals and for societies. Societies in extremis need that even more.
Alison Myners, Chair of the Royal Academy Trust

8th of May, 2020

How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days?
The Royal Academy is an artist-led organisation. Founded by artists with artists still at the helm, lead by Rebecca Salter our fabulous President. Our Royal Academicians independently and collectively represent many voices and are involved in many activities at this extraordinary time . The Academy has a great virtual programme with life drawing classes, tours around some remarkable exhibitions such as David Hockney’s 2012 and 2016 shows and Picasso and Paper, activities for the whole family. And of course we are still running our Royal Academy Schools – the only 3 year postgraduate course which is free of charge for our students. It is tough not having them in their studios at the Academy but the teaching goes on virtually and we will still have their Summer show in June 2020. You may also have seen Grayson’s Art Club on Channel 4.

How has the confinement altered the way you communicate with your creative constituency ?
We are all virtual now! Emails, zoom, links of every form of communication to stay connected with audiences, participants alike.

What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement ?
Our digital presence has increased enormously. People want and need to stay connected and to participate in creative processes. Perhaps never more than now. This pulls together families and friends in shared digital activities, people in different locations who can create together or tour and discuss shows.

What is your personal experience dealing with the virtual world before and since the lockdown?
I am not wild about the idea of connecting forever through screens, I love people and personal interaction and the Royal Academy has a fantastic body of supporters and friends coming through the portal of Burlington House every day, I look forward to welcoming our Friends again.

 

However I feel very fortunate that we live in an age where we are able to stay connected in such unprecedented times. Imagine if we did not have this luxury! I have however spent more time ‘viewing’ shows virtually in different locations now than perhaps time might have permitted previously and have vowed to set aside half a day each week just to stand before the actual works – this is what I took for granted and what I truly miss.

Has the lockdown made you more introspection? and if so, in what way?
I have always been a bit introspective. I have worked for several years as a psychotherapeutic counsellor and being able to self-examine is a key part of this.

Art has always served a medium of connectedness in society – how do you see it work under the lockdown?
It is very challenging not to be in the presence of the actual works but I think the Royal Academy has such a brilliant group of supporters and friends and they have not only stayed with us but are also increasing their visits to our digital and virtual platforms in a way I might not have imagined. I know that there is something comforting and familiar in travelling with the Academy and we are all so grateful for the way in which we are able to stay connected with our audiences through our exhibitions and taking part in activities from the comfort of their homes. I have also had many email, calls and zooms with our Patrons and supporters.

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