Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Artist and The City - Artist Profiles - Adam James

The Artist and The City is a Two-Part collaborative group exhibition at AirSpace Gallery and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on- Trent, curated by Jean Milton and Anna Francis.
Between 2014 and 2019 a consortium of art groups, led by B Arts, will be working together to re-imagine Stoke- on-Trent as an ‘Artcity’.

Artcity is a five-year, artist-led programme that aims to:
• Improve the quality of place and life in the city for those who live here
• Create a new story for the city - modelling new ideas for the city’s future.
• Make it easier for artists to access spaces in the city, to make things happen.

The project in particular, sets out Stoke- on-Trent as a place for art and artists to thrive. This two part, two-venue exhibition examines the situation for artists in Stoke-on-Trent, past and present, and examines the efficacy and viability of the notions and themes surrounding Artcity.

Four contemporary artists - Adam James, Carla Wright, David Bethell and Sophie Bard - are exhibiting in both venues - in response to archived artists at The Potteries Museum, and in response to the idea of a future art city at AirSpace Gallery.

Over the next few days we'll be highlighting the artists and their works. The Artist and The city runs until 22nd February, 2015 at The Potteries Museum and until December 13th at AirSpace Gallery

Adam James

London artist, Adam James’ practice, working across film and performance, has developed from an on-going interest into ‘outsiderness’, specifically the social and cultural characteristics of outsiders, concentratin on an exploration into the use of role-play (specifically Live Action Role Play or Larping), improvisation and game mechanics as a means to generate choreographic content, with the aim to better understand personal, social and cultural constructs.

Adam James - Wasteland Rituals
Adam has just completed his latest performance, "Wasteland Rituals" in conjunction with Legion TV. Set in Wick Woods, this project seeks to question exclusion through physical interaction with objects and other people.

The participants known as ‘players’ used various forms of communication via sculptural objects. Through this James hopes us to question how collective identity plays a part in social exclusion.

Taking the form of a two part audience based Larp (Live Action Roleplay); this performance merges audience and performers in a shared collaborative fiction. This work expands on the artist’s previous work examining fringe groups and individuals within a games-based context.

Utilising parallels between performance art and LARP, James developed the use of game mechanics as a means to generate choreographic content.

Showing at AirSpace Gallery
The Checkerboard Crew (2014) Video (10')

Pervasive Larps, are a type of game in which the world and all its inhabitants are treated as unwitting players and stages for roaming immersive storytelling. The film presented in this show, is the documentation of an immersive Larp called ‘The Checkerboard Crew’ played in an enclosed brownfield area of Stoke.

Originally conceived as a Larp game to be run in a hip area of East London, it has subsequently taken on a life of its own, having been replayed across Europe. With each new iteration maintaining the core rules and concepts, the characters and fiction are adapted to suit the location. Here, participants seek to imagine what a future city may look like; exploring the city’s unlocked potential through the artistic endeavours of a group of strange silent travellers with the gift of foresight.

The night vision footage depicts players using a variety of improvisational techniques to explore Stoke by Night in a quest to reimagine underused, dormant and derelict spaces. Working collectively, players used characters created in intensive workshops to reinterpret the world around them. Players were tasked with leaving behind marks, physical or embodied, which might serve as beacons to a brighter future.

In order to refrain from overly analytical approaches to the task, play was conducted almost entirely in silence.

The two most important rules of the game were:
1) To transform the quality of ‘the thing’. 2) A collective consensus must always be reached.

Showing at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
Some Later Primitives (2014) Video (10 minutes)

For ‘The Artist and The City’ James has investigated the life and work of John Currie, as a starting point for a new Larp. The curators selected one of Currie’s best known paintings ‘Some Later Primitives and Madame Tisceron’ (1910) for artist Adam James to respond to, as this particular painting seems to talk about the life that Currie could have had, as a member of an important group of young and precocious artists and creatives, a number of whom went on to have very successful careers. Many of James’ works explore extreme and unpredictable behaviour in society, and stem from his relationship with a father that he never met. 

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