YORK artist and curator Graham Martin and Nigerian political performance artist and sculptor Jelili Atiku are holding a two-day exhibition in York this weekend charting their summer collaboration.
Funded by Arts Council England, the show at Rogues Atelier, in Fossgate, is a combined response to the landscapes and narratives we inhabit.
“Our groundbreaking international cross-cultural exchange has produced photographs of actions we mounted, videos from around the world featured in the our Art and Being workshops, plus the second showing of The Raincoat Gallery,” says Graham. “You can see someone wearing it on Fossgate showing a selection of images from the show.”
The exhibition is on display from 11am to 5pm tomorrow and Sunday. “During the collaboration, we responded to the landscapes and narratives of York, Scarborough and the Lake District, making joint work and our own works alongside each other,” says Graham.
“The result is a series of photographs in which the artist is ‘in the work’. The work produced is an expression of thoughts, feelings and creativity in the landscapes we inhabit in this individualised and fragmented age.”
Graham and Jelili’s summertime activities included a residency at the Merzbarn, Cumbria, in July; Art and Being workshops at Carlisle and Woodend Creative Industries, Scarborough; a residency at The House, in Cayton Bay, Scarborough, in August; an Action event in Parliament Street, York, on August 7; and a talk at Space 109 community arts centre in Walmgate, York.
“The House is an ecological art action by Scarborough artist and lecturer Kane Cunningham,” says Graham. “The house was bought for £3,000 with a credit card, and erosion has now placed it at the edge of the cliff. We spent a creative week there.”
The collaborators’ two-hour Action event in York was called Voices From The Human Heart and involved Graham and Jelili wearing sleeping bags in York city centre.
“Two people arrive with sleeping bags in a retail landscape,” says Graham, explaining what happened that August afternoon. They stand still, then put down newspapers and sleeping bags, then climb into the bags and go to sleep.
“They wake up and chalk human messages on the pavement about how they feel about contemporary life and living, such as My Heart Hurts In Consumerism. The actions are repeated and after a while the chalks are passed to the public, who add their own thoughts and feelings.”
Graham describes himself as a visual artist who creates objects and actions with socio-political concerns and playful and poetic aspects. He has shown work in Russia, Mongolia and Germany and is director of Agency – Art, Life and Society, a curatorial organisation that specialises in the how and why of living.
Performance artist Jelili, from Lagos, addresses issues of freedom and justice in his work. He came to England this summer to give a talk and performance at Tate Modern as part of the Festival of Live Art, and his visit then brought him north for his projects with Graham.
An e-book of their collaborations, containing texts and images, is available for free on the agencyartlifesociety.com publications page.