We Are Seven: Artist Commune Project

The We Are Seven Commune Project was a month long artist residency for Seven New York based artists. A collaboration between Grizedale Arts and The Wordsworth Trust, the artists were based in the scenic tourist hub of The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, Lake District, UK. Artists were Ian Cooper, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Rachel Foullon, K8 Hardy, Adam Putnam, Dana Sherwood, Allison Smith.

Location: Edinburgh

The Embassy is a non-profit making artist-run gallery. The gallery holds a yearly programme of exhibitions and events, hosts video and performance nights at Edinburgh College of Art, and exhibits at off site projects including Zoo Art Fair.
Current Embassy Committee:
Angela Beck
John A. Harrington
Norman James Hogg
Daniella Watson

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Participating in the We Are Seven Commune project were Ian Cooper, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Rachel Foullon, K8 Hardy, ADam Putnam, Dana Sherwood and Allison Smith.

When I was first assigned the role of project manager for the Seven, I got slightly over excited about the prospect of working with them to articulate, present and document their discursive output and input. My notebook began to fill up with interesting and I thought innovative ways of dealing with working through and putting the groups process 'out there' for public consumption. Obviously these thoughts were only my thoughts and the really interesting thing for me would be the approaches the Seven artists made. There was an expectation about which ways they would utilize my presence and how their enforced idleness could be disseminated. There would be no way of knowing what would occur and how best to channel and irrigate their discussions when the time came.

Perhaps my over excitement and eagerness to perform got the better of me, as I got the impression that the group got the impression that there was an attempt to mould them in particular directions. I hope that wasn't the case as from my point of view I only wanted to act as a filter and facilitator for them. Maybe if I hadn't been there watching over them they would've found their own, more visible ways of operating, we could have been more open and generous in our approaches.

Anyway, twice weekly meetings were designated as the main format for Sevenly discussion and debate. The first meeting took place over at Grizedale's Summer Hill, where the Seven were hosted for the first two weeks of their commune project. This meeting proved to be a sort of damply thrashing out of possible ideas for meeting themes and possible structures, with an interesting discussion on the nature of operating as an artist/tourist. Adam Sutherland (Director of Grizedale) suggested that the group had the potential to use the commune project in a directly performative way. (See www.themuster.com for an illustration) However horses led to water aren't necessarily gonna drink...Here's a little snippet.

Daphne- Shall the meeting commence? What do you say seven?...I was thinking that maybe we should establish how long we should have these meetings for. Due to audience exhaustion I don't think they should be more than one hour. More or less...

K8- Audience being?

Daphne- Whoever, well today we have three audience members, but other days we'll have more...If its interesting I would say that if we are in some kind of heated argument...(laughter) debates are happening...Then maybe we can go over a bit.

Adam Sutherland- Are you going to have the meetings at seven? Are you going to do everything in multiples of seven? Seventy minutes?

Adam Putnam- Well one thing that me and Rachel talked about before when we were off some place is that some of us know everyone's work and some of us don't and at some point it would be great to have like kinda an intro to everyone's work somehow?

K8- Like a background? Well aren't we having Wednesday and Thursday meetings?

Adam P- Well the idea was that...The Wordsworth trust invited us to meet us and we can invite everyone there to our cottage to have five minutes to present what we do and have some wine...

Daphne-...I wonder...I would kinda argue against that and say why? Everyone does that. I am more interested in what we are going to do here. What purpose to go through slides? Why not focus on the here and now?

Adam S- Quite a lot of the people at the Wordsworth trust would be interested in what you do and there would be no reason not to...What do you call it...Feed their interest.

K8- I think we should work in our background if we are leading a meeting. And if you have something completely separate then arrange a time after the meeting to meet up and find out what we do.

I think this would have been a good idea with hindsight (of course) Giving opportunities for the seven to collaborate and discuss their experiences and group dialogue, as Daphne puts it 'focus on the here and now' The idea K8 has of almost We Are Seven daytime workshops would have worked well also. However the conversation continues...

Adam P- Yes, let them find out what you do.

Ian- One thing I would say to counteract that a little bit...I mean its all very interesting...Is that people project whatever you do and it is always a misconstrued version of that. It seemed that everyone we talked to at the cocktail event (Wordsworth trust reception and introduction event) thing seemed too willing to help but were curious about how they could help. Maybe by informing people as to what we have done and seeing where our interests lie and seeing physical things and documentation might make it a little more grounded...

Adam P- It's a conversation starter, I mean amongst ourselves...

Adam S- It's kind of if you're role playing or not. There is a kind of opportunity in this quite a theatrical set up in a way. There is seven, and its quite a theatrical place, it's a museum, an archive, and its a little bit toy town as well...In a way...Because it's a tourist place...and you have the opportunity to play a theatrical role and if you make it explicit about who you are and what you do then people will certainly help you. I guess it depends on what your aims are. I guess you all have slightly different aims. But if your aims are about producing an individual piece. I mean as individuals producing work, that could be one strand but there might be another idea about what the group are doing, about what the seven are doing then perhaps it is worth thinking about that...

Daphne- Wait are you saying that it is an opportunity to treat this as a theatrical thing in itself?
Adam S- Yes

Daphne- OK, that is interesting.

And it was interesting, but after all the discussion a more conventional presentaional mode was decided upon. Idivudual projects were continued and idea of what the comuune could be was sidelined for the time being...

Please feel free to post comments about which direction you think the Seven could have gone with the project at this early stage.

Did the We Are Seven artist commune project decide to:

A) Embark upon exitstential S & M with the landscape

B) Stay in and cook food

C) Hang out with the poets at The Wordsworth Trust


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