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

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

As the discussion proceeding Rachel's interesting presentation on the nature of ideas, and how they take from, the conversation moves towards: Ideas in art & creating something with a particular audience in mind…

Pamela Sturgis - You can't create any work of art if you are worried about being criticized, its got to be much more honest than that surely, you make work because you've got to do it. That is why you do it. In the art world there are many different strands, which are tolerated, some strands will be laughed at more one group, others will laugh at other things, ridiculed or criticized…It isn't something you can escape from.

Hamish (A poet in residence) – All sorts of things go on at the same time now where are before that wouldn’t have been the case, in a way it’s quite different…

Ian Cooper- What do you guys think of the idea of doing something for theoretical approval? Or for the theoretical viewer?...

Hamish – I think this is just quite psychological you impress someone in the same way which you might wish to impress your father. Certain figures you try to impress. You all must have figures you admire. I can’t think of anything being achieved without this intense admiration that allows you to follow, at least at the beginning. You must have thought would these people have admired what I’ve done and this must have either encouraged you or…

Rebecca – (a poet in residence)Do different poets, writers and artists and practitioners engage with each other in the states because I don’t think that happens so much there doesn’t seem to be a dialogue in London so much…

Hamish - Well art is much more big business, poetry is very very small.

Daphne – Oh really? Well one of my best friends is a poet and I talk to him a lot.

Allison – I think its starts in the schools, in the states a lot of the art world in cantered around the graduate programmes, and those are still very segregated in terms not only of writing and visual art, but even in the visual arts there’s still a great deal of segregation between painting and photography for example, there’s definitely cross germination and dialogue though

Hamish – I don’t know about segregation though, its just people do different things. The art world is surely so much bigger, the consumption of images, they always have. Poetry is connected to literacy, and that’s always been very small. Poets are addressing very small numbers of people. Compared to the number of people who are potentially buying paintings.

Ian – I think the main difference may not be the media but the direction of ideas or for a superficial idea of the subject matter or something because there are a lot of writers that are not only writers in their own right but are also involved in the art world in some ways. And a lot of it is sort of alignment. Just thinking of the seven of us, all our practices are ridiculously different, we are all here as artists 'we are seven', who is to say that making a video, or object should be in the same field. The fact that poetry has been separated from visual art, artists make text pieces, I think it’s more about an alignment of beliefs and ideas. We all draw from the same well of ideas, I am not close with that many painters for instance, and maybe I don’t share a lot of the same pools. We don’t have the same dialogue as I do with someone like Adam P.

Hamish - Of course poetry is only a small part of writing, it’s a peculiar art in the world of writing I suppose. There’s something we were saying earlier about everything happening at the same time. The truth of Romanticism, the French revolution, the idea behind it was that man, nothing determines destiny except himself, one’s destiny is political one can select and chose it ones self. This slowly sort of permeates through. The variety of practice you are commenting on, everyone chooses what they can do and so it reflects that dawning of truth that there’s nothing actually telling you what to do. And on the other hand they lose any sense of being absolute or final towards some greater end, there isn’t. So you get an odd compromise.

Allison – So for you in your work does that, is there something about that kind of state of thinking that you attach yourself to in terms of being a poet? Now in this day and age when not only there are so many options, everything’s so liberal as you say, homogenized, there is a movement in poetry there’s many different streams of thought. Is there something Romantic for you? Knowing that it’s for this very small audience and the history in that…

Hamish – You mean is it a nostalgia in me that drives me to do it?

Allison – Sure, yes.

Hamish – No I don’t think it is because…no no it’s not a nostalgia, I wouldn’t say that no. What it is I don’t know.

Extract form a conversation with Ian Cooper conducted in the third week of the residency

Daniella - How does the actual experience of the Lake District differ from any ideas about the place you may have had?

Ian - It's quite similar to what I imagined, partially because in the North East of the United States we have a lot of area that's sort of similar, like Vermont or Maine. Where there's a sort of rolling landscape and, there's a connection between the towns but its, you know its sort of an adventure getting to each one. But the big difference I wasn't really prepared for was the landscape. The elevations are so dramatic, because I think for most places in America are relatively flat and especially places that are as pastoral and rural as the lakes. With cows and sheep and everything, are really like flat landscapes. So this seems like a hybrid, it sort of seems that the animals rule the landscape.

D - To what extent do you feel the We Are Seven commune project has been a demonstration of your attempt to construct a sense of your own community and an act of rebellion, or resistance to society? Has any sense of community been affected by the experience of living in the tourist hub of Grasmere?

Ian - Well I think that for one thing, selecting 7 People that are from one area that all know each other, you know at leatt a little bit, you already kinda created this readymade clique of people. I think it would be a different situation if, say, six other people from all over the place had been selected, as there is this pre-described community and that you're sort of plonking down within another community. So there's already like, a sort of strong union of seven and you know the Wordsworth Trust or Grizedale arts have there own situation. So there's less of this kind of integration inherently, it's like a defense mechanism.

I was just in Oxford, which is quite a different town from here, obviously, and I witnessed a tour bus with about, it looked like about 45 Italian or Spanish teenagers, aged around fourteen or fifteen, getting off the bus, and all of them had the same bright red back packs. So there's this sense of unity, its almost like a costume, or a uniform and, they were sort of immediately presumptuously noisy and aggressive and its like pack mentality. Whereas me and Rachel (Foullon) going there, two people navigating quite quietly and observing things. But I think if the seven of us had all gone it would have been quite a louder experience both audio and visual too. We all look a certain way, you know, and collectively it has this sort of Adam's Family effect, right?

Continued interview with K8...

Daniella :To what extent would you say that the We Are seven project is a demonstration of resistance, rebellion, or perhaps an attempt to construct your own sense of community within the group and have these ideals been challenged by living in Grasmere itself

K8 :So you said to what extent is the project a rebellion?

Daniella :Through community or coming to a place and stamping your own identities

K8 :Do you feel that we are doing that?

D :I don't, but I imagine with a commune that it was something about going to a place and working as a group, and infiltrating the place in a way, and coming from the States that you have your own identities.

K :Well I wouldn't say that we are a rebellion necessarily, we're brought here and supported by Grizedale and Wordsworth so we're part of their operation, their institution so...How well we fit into it is questionable and indiscernible to myself. I don't think that Wordsworth has brought artists in and it seems to be something new for Grizedale also. I don't think that intentionally we are a rebellion, that the idea of us coming here is an act of rebellion. We really looked forward to it and to work together as artists. I think the idea of a commune in general like a real commune is a rebellion against society. We are not a real commune, I think that we are re-enacting a commune.

D: What would you say differentiates you as an artist seeking something from the lakes from a non artist/tourist who is also seeking something from the lake district? How do you approach your enviroment in a different way to say someone who has come on a tour bus?

K8 Hardy: Before I said that we are as much toursits and I still agree with that. But I constantly think about it , you know when I walk out of the door I see people desperatly taking photographs to try and capture their trip or Wordworths cottage or something and in the States there will literaly be a sign with a camera on it which basically means that 'this is a good place to take a photograph' and I think about these places that are constatnly photographed over and over. So I would have to say that the biggest differences between the average tourist and myself is not only in age generally, but there is some sort of critical analysis of the situation that we are in, thinking alot more about what it means to be here, where we are from, an awarness of how we produce images and how we fit in a space or not and I think that is part of our art world stance. Its a bit deconsrtuctive, its a bit critical and constantly enquireing into this. Yes I should take a photo of Wordsworth cottage before I leave to have on my own but it is probably on the internet. I am interested in what it means to constantly produce things in photograph and as images. Everyone has a digital camera and everyone is snap , snap, snapping away. We are producing such a mass of images that I am a little confused. If anything I feel a little neglected as an artist here. I want to have discussions with people and show them my work and see what they are thinking.

D Do you think that the twice weekly meetings and in the retunda and at the discussions has been benificial? Hearing about the other of the seven but also the extended discussions that have come out of them... do you think that they could have been approached in a different way that could have allowed you to get to know more about their individual practices, about their opinions as well? Do you think the discussions could have been channeld in a differerent way?

K8 Well I think that the idea of the discussions is really great public forum. I thought it would have been great to have had a chance at a public open studio... if people would like to know more about an artists practice well you cant really learn about that in a meeting. That could have happened. As an artist you want to show people your work and see what sort of dialogues thatb would create, and this is far different from the New York art world and I would get totally different feedback. I think if we had have been asked to just present out art it would maybe of been less engaging. I am not sure. I had few preconceptions. I was pretty much baffled until I arrived. The first two weeks at summer hill were nicer in terms of dealing with tourists but here it was a little exhausting as there is just too many tourists around here but on the other hand there is just as many walks, and you could find solitude. I can see that this is just like a retreat here but on the other hand is just boatloads of not very well thought out tourism.

D It terms of your interactions within the commune, how do you feel as an individual within a group? How do you feel it has gone?

K8 The two different cottages has severly hampered the idea of the commune. I mean we still exist like that and we are still a team but we have to start splitting up the money and the kitchen and you know groceres. One night they are up till one playing a puzzle and we are just here not knowing what is going on.

D So do you think that when you were at Summerhill you got the groundwork done and got the ball rolling?

K8 I think so yeah. There was much more time for group interaction and room and stuff like that but they both have there ups and downs. I think that the greater part of the commune exists in comradory which is what I think you were talking about. You know democratic communal living being achived or what have you. It was never really laid down. It was rather felt that we would intuitive it as free thinking individuals coming together. I just took things as they came and I guess for me the only things that could improve and still can is just resources and you know there is an archive right across the street and we can't get into it! We dont have access to it. Things like that could have improved. Just efforts to be condusive to our desperate practices could have been improved.

Interview with Allison Smith-

Taking place at the end of August just before the end of the project. Alli
son was working on Notion Nanny (an example of a traditional notion nanny can be seen in the image above), a project developed with B + B, The Qube, Oswestry and in association with Craftspace Touring. She met with local makers of craft, in order to learn about the revolutionary potential of traditional skills. Rather like a nomadic apprentice Allison was in search certain local traditional skills such as basket weaving and lace making and potential revolutionary dialogue.

Daniella-What differentiates you as an artist-tourist from a non-artist tourist?

Allison- I want to say I'd be looking at the landscape differently, but I don't know weather that would be entirely true, in a way I probably am like a lot of other tourists, I think because of my project I am doing here there are a lot of specific things I thought this place could deliver, or I have particular things I am looking for.

D- Do you feel the Lake District has lived up to any pre-conceived ideas you may have had about the place?

A- The Lake District is beautiful, my preconceptions are met, I had also heard that it was also touristy, so I was not surprised to see tour buses. I have been trying to experience this area by getting to know people who have actually been living and working here. I came to the Lake District to engage with local makers. I tried to do research before I got here, to locate people through word of mouth, in order to engage people in a dialogue about the work they do.

I am interested in historical re enactments; I recently did a sort of civil war re-enactment with artists. I have been interested recently about notions of making as re-enactment and studio practice a historical re-enactment.

D- Which particular ideas and interests (I am thinking of your muster project) fed into your conception for the commune project?

A- The was the first time I had started to imagine my work as a public enterprise, and the desire came to produce a kind of dialogue or community around my work. With The Muster, the idea gains momentum and people get involved, and even though things get made and shown, the core energy is around a collective dialogue. Being in a "commune" was intriguing to me in that sense, that part of making work is this dialogue, so I wanted to think about different ways of articulating that or just to expense it. But I never conceived of this residence as a commune project per se.

D- How have the twice weekly meetings been part of informing those dialogues?

A- Everyday I am having great conversations with everybody. There is something to be said for "deadlines" and for making our dialogues public. I think we have all taken our time and our projects here seriously.

D- Could you comment on the staddeling effect of being involved with both Grizedale and wordsworth trust.

A- To me I don't think that they are impartial observers. It has become increasingly clear that the we Are Seven project, was expected to be more than a communal residency, rather a project about communes, a fictional commune. Even though we all sort of knew we would be living and working together, we weren't prepared to theatricalize our time here. We were thinking in terms of wanting to have time to think and work productively, not to engage in a Utopian fantasy, or to parody it either...

It seems that Grizedale's approach is more about challenging the premise of artist's residencies, which perhaps we had taken for granted. Are they trying to teach artists a lesson, American artists in particular? At its worst moments it has felt like we are being treated like the unwitting participants of a reality TV show. Like "lets see what happens if we put these American artists in a situation and start the cameras rolling…What are they going to do?" The very notion of "how this experience has lived up to my pre-conceived ideas" belies an assumption that we arrived with false or naive hopes. I can understand if the organization wants to challenge people's assumptions about the Lake District, in which case they could have engaged us in a mutual dialogue about that. But it is quite a different thing to feel you are being spoken about in the third person and scrutinized at a distance.

Even if I could embrace this idea that, for the sake of an art project, we are here to form a temporary commune, it's hard because there was no initial drive on our part to do so, and furthermore, knowing you are being watched often brings forth a natural desire to rebel, to defy expectations. It makes your mind wander, creates a mental noise..."what's being expected of us?" as opposed to "by us, for us." It also feels like we were being given an assignment.

A lot of us a genuinely interested in notions of the "romantic", particularly with respect to history and landscape, and we are aware of the constructed nature of both, as well as the trappings of nostalgia. There's a very heavy sense of criticality and questioning of romanticism within the culture of Grizedale, obviously. It's just ironic that in this case it is their institutional heavy handedness which makes it difficult to experience the romantic, not, for me, the so-called "let downs" of the actual place. I have felt more let down by the prescriptive and cynical institutional point of view I have encountered here more than anything, which has made it difficult to explore romantic engagement or detachment on my own terms. It's as if there is a correct answer and we are getting it all wrong.

D- To what extent have you felt scrutinised or observed?

A- Little things like in the beginning if we were being given our money, it was like, "wait let's record this, how are they going to deal with this?" I just feel like somehow we are being made fun of in some ways. I could give you examples...

I've had a really amazing experience though, despite the fact that there is little apparent interest in our particular projects and instead their interest lies in the idea of a commune that is destined to fail, which really feels like a set up. I have met some really interesting people, learned some new skills, and had great conversations with the other six artists. I have started a blog at www.notionnanny.net thaat details my experiences so far.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Extract from interview I conducted with K8

K8 Hardy works with video, film, print and performance and is a founding member of the publishing collective LTTR, a queer feminist art journal, lesbians to the rescue.

(image Wynne Greenwood and K8 Hardy, New Report Morning Edition performance documentation)

Daniella - That's interesting you mean its like a reenactment of a commune...?

K8 - A commune, this is not our real lives...in the Lake District...we are all individual artists in New York City. so this is far from our real lives.

Daniella - Did you have any ideals or sense of wanting to construct your own sense of community as a group rather than being here as individuals. And if so were these ideals challenged by living in Grasmere, with the tourists etc? Was this a distraction?

K8 - Yeah, I think the tourism is a distraction, I think it being a tourist town is a distraction, I mean tourism is a distraction in its essence, right? Or an attraction. But we are tourists as well, its a little unsettling to see the buses swoop in and loads of tourists get of and swarm the town like little ants, as far as creating a commune, being productive, I don't know...

Daniella - well how about the idea of being a group of people here...?

K8 - Well I feel like we kind of are like the tourists, but living here perhaps a bit more jaded about tourism in general, and you know I think we are quite complicit, we are an attraction, we give talks...

Extract from interview with Adam Putnam

(image below blue corner as featured in Adams solo exhibition at Sandroni Rey)

Adam's practice is based in performance, photography and video. Recently taking interior architecture as his main point of departure, he creates intimate inanimate spaces which begin to perform through light variations within itself. These become literally charged with its own presence, the stage becomes actor.

Daniella - could you outline some of the preconceptions of the Lake District you may have had before arriving?

Adam - I didn't quite know what to expect actually, I think on the one hand it's a lot less...I think I was expecting something a lot more rugged but by the same token there is a feeling of history that I wasn't expecting just in terms of the houses, stone walls and such.

Daniella - And how about other elements like Grasmere village itself?

Adam - I saw images of the little hamlet and I was a little surprised by the actual town, I didn't wasn't prepared for so many hotels or...I didn't realise that this was such a tourist destination, I felt like the whole area was a tourist destination and I was expecting something more like a small town, not endless hotels and souvenir shops on the other hand, it's quite nice to see all the different kinds of people. I guess I'm surprised at how many people come here, it wasn't something that I had heard of before the residency.

Extract from interview with Rachel and Ian, talking here about particular aspects of the residency

Daniella - To what extent you've felt observed and scrutinized throughout your residency at The Wordsworth Trust?

Rachel - Well my first impulse is to say i don't feel observed at all, I don't feel like anyone's being looking in on us. I have had the paranoid big brother thought, are there cameras in here? Just as a passing thought, because maybe I feel under scrutinized or something, for one thing I feel like this the commune thing is kind a funny because we've really been treated as this group. That's very unusual for artists because usually its so about an individual, your work and what you have to say about it. To me its strange and funny and unexpected that we are at week three and a half of this month long residency and nobody at Grizedale knows anything about what I do in New York, as an individual. Or my own multi-part practice. You are I have talked about the curatorial stuff but I've really not shown my stuff to anyone. In a way I think thats nice, its like a break from it but at the same time its starnge to think that I'll leave here having met a bunch of people and nobody really knows what I do or what I think about on my own.

I have subsidized that for the purpose of the group. Its very unusual.

Ian - I definitely think its unusual I mean in most cases artists are put in groups, specifically in exhibition or publication context. But its always that its the work thats in the group, and the individuals are sort of secondary. The personalities are secondary, theoretically its that the work has been grouped. And in some senses the way Allison curated, bringing the six of us, there is a commonality to our work. But whether or not light has been shed on that? The thing I think particularly about the Wordsworth Trust...its between the Grizedale Arts residency and The Wordsworth Trust and one of those groups is an arts group and the other is a literature and poetry group, primarily. We happen to be living at the latter, almost every individual who has asked us about our work, and their ideas about art are not that contemporary, lets say.

(image of Ian's work below titled Killed Revealed courtesy the artist)

To a certain extent I do feel scrutinized, not as an artist and not as an individual, but as an American put up here, payed for etc. And recently we've had some conversations with people and there is a little bit of latent hostility or...but we've come quite close with the poets in residence which has been amazing and enriching. I do feel impotent here though, I am not in my world, I don't have all the things I need to make things. In a crazy sense its about when is the next meal and how to deal with that

Rachel - I think this project, while its a great experiment, I think it does acknowledge the fiction of trying to observe artists at work because like any experiment behaviour changes when you are being observed. I also just think many elements I feel are superficial, how can we be observed as individuals interacting if Grizedale or anybody knows us as individuals. Theres never been any sort of introduction to us as individual agents.

(image of Rachel's work titled Pioneer Place Car Souvenir)

Daniella - So do you feel some sense of being watched almost like a reality TV show? To feel exploited in the fact that the project wasn't clarified (by whoever) to you, or even the idea what it might actually be about? And it was really left up to you to decide, do you feel...

Rachel - I think that no matter what it was an amazing experience to give a group of artists money and time and a place to just be. That is the most amazing gift, to me in my mind that is what the grant is for, and everything else is the framework you have to give it structure for whoever is approving the funding.

Ian - There are residency programmes in the States where a group of artists have a living situation, each artist gets a studio and they are expected to work in the studio somehow. So that was one thing that wasn't really thought out...there was more of a scramble of where are these people actually going to sleep at night, so I think just by that alone the focus became the living situation. This panic of this house is just not that inhabitable. When people decided that the Sykeside cottage was just fine, and I found myself cleaning this filthy toilet covered in urine and hair and shit, I was like what am I doing? What am I doing here right now? Certainly living and cleaning are things that might happen in life but the idea that we had to ad hoc a living situation and then make it ready for us...setting you aside, nobody was really interested in putting forward the effort.

Daniella - How do you feel the (twice weekly) meetings have gone. Do you feel that thats been the main output, the time when you can be listened to. Do you think that going with a presentation has been the best approach?

Ian - If it was just us- the Seven- tonight I would be doing a different presentation. Because everyone has a semblance of what I do, I have things I want to talk about but bringing them up at the rotunda thing, out of the fucking thin air, would be so random and require so much explanation. Everyone had different opinions about this and I guess I didn't push it enough. But now that its nearing the end I really do feel strongly that we should have all had a night or several nights where we gave straight up slide lectures on our work for whoever came in the same way that the poets do.

Rachel - I feel that everyone would've been able to facilitate our experience better if they understood what we do. I'll be talking to somebody from Grizedale and all of a sudden I realize they don't know-what it is I do- Without that conext it is just superficial, or floating on the surface.

Ian - It didn't help our credentials amongst the Wordsworth Trust or Grizedale People that out of sight, out of mind, I they don't actually see the work that we have accomplished, and some of the people in this group are pretty fucking accomplished. If you just see us as people just going 'Oh shit theres no bed to sleep in' then all of a sudden we are just some random civilians.

Rachel - The other day Richard Stanton from The Wordsworth Trust said "A bunch of pathetic artists from New York in conversation" and he has no idea what we do. There's all this insanely successful stuff that nobody knows about us.

Ian - Arguably nobody should need to know, but that is not the way the world works.

Daniella - Do you think it would've been better to find your own structure, maybe having more regular meetings with slide talks?

Rachel - Some of the artists in the group didn't feel like they needed that. I feel that If I were to structure the programme for another group of artists I would route it in a core lecture series on the artists work and then the twice weekly things are incredibly valuable, to open something up to other people, writers, administrative staff. Returning the artists voice to the archive.

Daniella - Do you think there has been a misunderstanding about the Commune Project, and the kinds of activities that you would be engaged in?

Ian - We are engaged in so many things here

Rachel - I think we do lots of things that the people who live here never do. We go all over to seek out car boot sales. We are meeting so many people that live here, and we are so excited about this other cultures junk.

Ian - to come here for some downtime from our busy schedules is amazing but when you get the feeling that there is some nebulous hidden agenda or structure that somehow we are not fulfilling, we start to feel guilty, and we want to just use this time as planned or as not planned.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dana Sherwood's Dove cottage presentation.
Breaking out of the confines of the Wordsworth Trust Rotunda Dana decided to host her event within the wonderful spooky surrounding s of Dove Cottage. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived here for eight and a half years from 1799-1808. The cottage is Grade 1 listed and is a remarkable tourist attraction, with over 70,000 visitor's passing through each year. On this particular evening in August as the photographs show the cramped conditions helped to foster the charged atmosphere. Rather than conducting a talk about her own work Dana invited Robert Williams a local artist and Fine Arts leader of Cumbria Institue of Art and Design to stage an event.

Dana- I thought that this was a really good opportunity that instead of talking about my own work, for me I was interested to learn something different. I had been hearing a lot about Robert Williams for the past couple of years, about his work and interest in the supernatural, taxonomy and natural history. All these subject are very intriguing to me, and so since he is also from the area I invited him to come and talk at my talk.

Robert- What was in my mind when Dana asked me to do this event was that given the relationship that this building has to a writer, to the literary tradition and given the idea that Romanticism had this relationship to the supernatural I though that I would bring a performance that I first did in 2003. A performance that has to have a literary relationship. So what I have to present to you is an event of several parts.

(Several members of the seven can be seen reading from the scripts that Robert has given them as part of the performance. They are in fact re-enacting a seance, which is a strange similarity to their re-enactment of a commune)

Robert- The first part (of the performance) is lots of different transcriptions of exactly the same information, the same material. The original was written in the early years of the twentieth century by a British academic, M.R. James. He is very famous within British popular literature for writing the scariest ghost stories ever written. What I want you all to do, or the opportunity I am going to give you is the opportunity to interpret and re-interpret this information and to make other things out of it. That's the whole nature of a transcription after all. Working with the same information but we are modifying and changing it and we are moving on...

(Aha, transcriptions, this is what I am working on now, and I guess what I hoped for this blog was to give voice to the many interpretations of the We Are Seven project. Roberts performance closely resembles to me the potential as a group to modify behaviour and interpretation of actions, being willing participants the whole thing is light hearted, enjoyable and does not give the feeling of being manipulated even though that is exactly the case)

Robert is seen below in grey and looking pensive ...A brief outline of the performance...Five volunteers in each group, each reads from a script and each has been given a particular letter of the alphabet to which lines they must read. This is in order to give people a new view of the events which take place and it is essential that each performer holds on to the nature of their particular given character. After the initial group reading each performer is summoned into another room and then reads the entirety of their lines out in full whilst being filmed by Robert...When each performer has fulfilled this voluntary duty the performance is completed.

Robert is seen below wearing grey and looking pensive...are things going to plan? The reasoning behind the event was not explained in advance but everybody appears to be co-operative.
An in depth discussion about the event and spiritualism generally continues long after the performance has finished.

At a certain point in the evening I thought I had seen the ghost of Wordsworth, I was a little scared until I rationalised it down to a simple case of retinal saturation. This apparition just happened to be green.

This is another short section from the very first meeting, the group are discussing potential directions for the twice weekly meetings to take...

Adam S - so do you think in each meeting a different person will lead the subject?

Adam P - Group meetings each week but one person will come to the table with something. I mean like I say right off the back I would be really interested in hearing more of your (addressing Daphne) stories about your project about you walking down Broadway, I think there is some interesting parallels with the walks through the landscape here and I was talking about with Mark, who is joining us, about his different experiences of the landscape through walking and what you might be looking for. And that is what I think I have understood through watching you constantly videotaping. Its like what is Daphne videotaping? It's a sense that its the way you see things or if you like...if two people have a conversation...Even in the past couple of days I have been thinking like...oh...I had a conversation with K8 about performance. I mean like for me I have a kinda weird idea about performance and landscape...

Daphne - Well I think we already have three fantastic themes, Walking, Performance, and Publications. Other themes? Throw out some other themes that Seven might discuss...Landscape, Romanticism, Craft, The occult, Death...

Adam P - Like the idea about when me and Dana were having the conversation about the time when she scared the shit out of me, coming into the house, I mean bedroom with an epitaph that we saw that day. I don't know...

Daphne - Coincidences...

Adam P - Geometry...

Daphne - OK these are some really good things...I am going to read them again...walking, performance, publications, landscape, romanticism, craft, the occult, death and dying, ghosts, coincidences, geometry.


Daphne - So what you're saying that when you travel you downplay your Americanisms?

Group - Yes

K8 - Well the more you blend in the more you can see...

Rachel - The other thing is that we are specifically artist tourists, we are not regular tourists at all, we are artists and I wouldn't say I feel shame with being an American, but hesitant, sometimes I feel like I am stealing something, taking something

Adam S - Yes, artists are the worst plunderers, but the relationship to England is slightly different isn't it?

K8 - Yes I feel different being in a colonial power

Allison - When I have spent time in France, its similar, when you first get there its like a privilege. Like I can fit in here, I recognize this place, I know these people and then you very quickly find out its an extremely different culture. You become very self-conscious about that and so I am feeling that that is probably operating in this space too. Its even better here too that they are speaking English, what a relief, and I am thinking I can slip into this role.

Rachel - I notice subconsciously that I have this like pass card. To be like that I am an artist and I am doing this thing here. I don't know how anyone is going to react to that, its not like its all access.

Daphne - Thats interesting because I don't feel like that way at all. I mean I definitely plunder. I do it everywhere. Whatever I am taking I am going to theoretically make it into something new that other people will get some kind of pleasure...

Adam P - The feeling of not wanting to intrude, I have that feeling from going from the city to a rural setting. It is actually more aggressive if you to rural England...Look! Here are the city slickers! I am like yeah but you don't know me! It's definitely a self-conscious insular culture, which is also built off tourism. I keep finding myself making connections between the Lake district and Maine because I have a history of going there. They have this sense that if your grandparents were not born there then you are not from there.

Adam - None of you, no one is from somewhere realistically.

Mark - I think its to do with the length of sojourn. Initially you have a sense of space, which is visually appealing, but you don't really understand it and over time this translates into place.

Adam S - For the first time in history in Britain there are more people moving out of the city than are moving in. Its only just happened. Its significant for places outside of London.

Rachel - Are the majority of tourists in the lakes English?

Adam S - I can't pull a survey to mind, but there will be one. It means a lot to the English the Lake District. Its very specific.

Allison - I think this whole idea of escape is really interesting particularly for everyone's work, you know like when is that radical? And when is that reactionary? And I think its is interesting to compare these things. You know like with William Morris who is completely commodified and considered this suburban Englishness yet in his politics was actually pretty radical. His kinda escape was about looking back to a different time a different way of making things, artists working together...its really interesting to work through that. When did it stop being radical? When did it become a tourist attraction?

Dana - We should add exile to the list.

Adam S - When you do escape to somewhere that is kind of a retreat does it lend itself to ordinary experience? One of my issues with the Lake District is its very banal interpretation of place. It should be full of more interesting place. Its very prescriptive of what the countryside should be. It should look like this. Its a complex place it is just not allowed to be.