How Near is Here?

This is a text wot I wrote for Collective as part of their symposium How Near is Here? from last month,

Proximity Machine, notes from How Near is Here using a title of a book work project from 2012 by Rosalind Nashashibi, which sought to fabricate a speculative, durational and spatial narrative between closely arranged film and image stills, newspaper cuttings, sculptures and personal imagery


Modern Edinburgh Film School stages my practice as an artist with curating, producing new collaborative projects, publications and critical writing. These work together on themes of learning about film and its ideas, moving image artists and their films, sculpture and poetry and new expressions, founded in discussion. It was commissioned in association with ESW in 2012 and during the course of 2013 presented film works in a range of configurations including screenings, discussions, group shows, publications and commissioned installations at galleries across Edinburgh. In 2014 it was programmed as part of Glasgow International at GoMA presenting a new work The Silver River based on 16mm film works by the New York-based artist T.J. Wilcox. More recently it has concentrated on written works including reviews on Studio Jamming at Cooper Gallery, Isa Genzken at Inverleith House and Counterpoint at Talbot Rice Gallery. Forthcoming is research, an essay and conversations on the subject of Women and Film for GoMA in 2015.

It is shaped by a genderless title and interested in the subjects of film, and its ideas, presentation, discussion, display, duration, its possession of time, its equipment of visibility/invisibility and the location or unlocation of its [film’s] presence, seeing its subjects through a city, and it is set and engages like a prism, to its materials: the art school, the galleries, individuals, literature, university, artists, audiences, history, spaces, characters. Modern Edinburgh Film School appears and disappears, it is not a solid form with a space or a resident gallery, rather it navigates broadly between different galleries often making overlaps appear and reflections visible.

This frames my perspective and reading of the day’s talks, discussions and the works presented.

Alexandra Baudelot presents sequences of projects on the screen about her co-directorship of Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, mentioning the arts organisation is housed in a large-scale defunct factor that was one occupied by a famous French choreographer. Its trans-disciplinary approach, its scale and site in an area of deprivation close-by Paris reminds me of Tramway, (and The Hidden Gardens, the rural itself is imported) and the sense of heavy industrial spaces realigned to form spaces where we can “reinvent ways of being together” and that art is “never disconnected” from external society, it is perpetual and in motion, alongside it. Artist become resident at the laboratory for extended durations, without pressure to make a specific work, making it a thinking and observing place. It stages a question about artists’ roles in ‘regeneration’, who employs them, what they are being asked to vocalise, what it exposes them to. And to what I might have heard/misheard as artists (especially young and emerging ones) being used in the “soft power-side of poverty management”.

Janna Graham draws into her presentation a sequence of ideas and statements of conflict, the liminal, austerity, cuts, of tensions between public and private concerns, relating to economic development, social housing and poverty. She speaks from a curatorial construct The Centre for Possible Studies, based (historically it seems the Centre has been de-housed) on the Edgware Road in London, this Centre a satellite body of and is supported by the Serpentine Gallery, though she insists throughout its different intentions, its differentiation. In this talk, contrastingly effervescent and enthusiastic, flows ideas central to the austerity cuts, human rights management and social machines, that identify, target and oust the poor, the immigrant, the ‘housing precarious’, the sex worker ( I tweeted ‘eviction as a form of safe sex’), and programmes of business improvement as forms of ethnic and ethnicity cleansing. She stalks about the ‘diplomatic effect’ and hijacking the word, phrasing and meaning of curatorial to in effect justify forms of social exclusion. She talks about policing (artist as police-person) and memorialising, making archives of human memories before shift-stepping those lives away from a district and replacing it and them with luxury housing.

Kate Gray talks about Collective Gallery’s move from Cockburn Street to the City Observatory on Carlton Hill, and its [the Hill’s] state of a place to observe Edinburgh and be observed, to be a substance of function (held in the Common Good) within the Hill’s overlaps of social and protest gathering space, monuments, tourist destination, natural space and gay cruising ground. It inhabits a site of multiple meanings and histories that converge to further an examination of contemporary art not divorced from its social circumstances, and again hints of relationships between public and private which draws her talk toward a project at private school Fettes College and a large-scale sculptural outdoor performance installation by Tatham/O’Sullivan, a scripted guided tour of sculptures held inside the body of a cartoon cat - An Indirect exchange of uncertain value, speaks for much of what is spoken about today as does the word ‘project’ which by now has taken on a hallucinatory repetitive hypnotic quality. I confess I hate the word ‘project’ it seems now in its insubstantiality and endless echo tired and limiting. We are all housed inside an orange glowing sports arena Meadowbank that itself sits precariously, a future target to the stinking breath of a private housing developer. I spend time looking at all the lines of vinyl on the arena’s floor that somehow reminded me of the 1991 Third Eye Centre exhibition Self-conscious State (one of the artists used this sports metaphor) and how flimsy yet solid and significant are the lines drawn between public and private.

Fulya Erdemci from Istanbul and Amsterdam talks about co-curating the 13th Istanbul Biennial beginning her presentation with a film of the conflicting violent circumstances around the presentation of the exhibition, specifically the mass civil unrest triggered by the urban regeneration of Gezi Park from a Commons space to private shopping mall. Scenes of tear gas, protestors trapped under falling walls, masses of people on the march, terrifyingly over ammunitioned police officers and water cannons overshadow sequences of works by artists and form a reminder of the derivation of the word ‘barbarian’, a kind of outsider, and which she uses as a byline for her curatorial expressions.

Dublin-based artist (and one time town planner) Dennis McNulty screens two films that illustrate his interests in embodied knowledge relative to other forms of knowledge actively sought and gained. He talks about the strangeness of moving from one space to another and how we unconsciously take stock of that alteration and adjust accordingly. Within this he suggests the creation of spatial narratives. These two films works, Interzone is a cinematic journey conjoining dissonant regenerated spaces in Dublin and makes references to space exploration and mapping the surface of the moon, following that satellite’s fluctuations in gravity. The second Precast is documentation of a performance round a site in East London highlighting its multiple social and economic functions, its housing policies, underpasses and loaded architectural interests. I don’t know what spatial narratives become exposed, but I drew comparison to anthropologist Dr Andrew Irving’s psycho-geographic videos taping people recording live their thoughts as they walked the streets of Manhattan, their inner self spoken thinking narratives, current state of mind, issues and concerns mapped onto their live relationship to their environment, all its contingencies, stimulus, distractions, lights, colour, people, shapes, noise, temperature and memories.

The final keynote talk is from Albena Yaneva a professor of Architectural Theory in Manchester and Visiting Professor to Princeton. She discusses three buildings: The Eiffel Tower, Paris, The Whitney Museum of Art, New York, and the Olympic Stadium, London. (And in my mind I think about another: SFMoMA, currently closed for an expansion to house the Donald Fisher of GAP fame’s large art collection, designed by Snøhetta). First she discusses in detail the architect Serero winning a competition to temporarily remodel the top of the Eiffel Tower, the proposal in response to a competition involves bolting a Kevlar structure to the top of the tower, doubling its surface area of viewing platforms. The plan using a morphing DNA computer model replicates the patterns of its original spire. While the proposal is real, the competition is not, the winner is a fake. Its object promotes controversy, publicity and re-inspection of its image, the tower, which is relatively invisible in its longevity and stasis. I like how she describes the Whiney Museum of Madison Avenue as resisting its own expansion and describing it as a mistake, a building that houses a collection of living American artists which is static and solid, an impenetrable upturned pyramid, never in motion. She insists any still image of its facade contains all its history, and its actors, which catalogues a series of failed attempts to expand it and a cast of interested and involved players: its sponsor, its neighbours, the city, its architect (1961), etc. and in evidencing its histories it becomes a portrait of Yaneva herself.

Yvonne, 2014, screening 17 October at Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh

Yvonne, 2014, screening 17 October at Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh

Yvonne (2014)

Yvonne, new cut 2014

Yvonne, new cut 2014

Queer Information

Modern Edinburgh Film School is delighted to announce an open call for poetry, text and spoken word pieces for publication in its first anthology.

This anthology includes works from invited artists. Modern Edinburgh Film School stages my practice as an artist with curating, producing new collaborative projects, publications and critical writing. These work together on themes of learning about film and its ideas, moving image artists and their films, sculpture and poetry and new expressions, founded in discussion.

Queer Information, the title of this anthology seeks works that correspond to the themes of my project: relationships between, often abrasive, things, objects, editions as performance and evidence, screenings as prisms, noise and sound as form, language and discussion as catalyst, language as extract and space, alternative curatorial pursuits, titles (where one thing can have many titles, and many things can have one title), queer evidence, discreet activity, poetry in gay discotheques, the experimental, durational and extended, substances, properties of materials and the changes they make to their environment, genderless titles, clairvoyance and invocations, morning and evening philosophy, films and social invitations, “On Spaces of Uncertain Function”, “A Transmitter of Mysteries”, “Filming Day for Night, its message is open and allusive”, “This space evaporates, pursues, too, yet requests time”, “flowers and questions, indoor: blue, black, permanent”, “Sculptural revisions, additions, equally found on photographs, maybe poetry and possibly films” and “Displayed revisions echo future actions.”


This call is open to visual artists who work with text and voice, spoken word performance and poets, a connection to Edinburgh is not necessary, inclusion makes no inference of sexuality, works from queer communities are welcome,

For further information please contact Alex Hetherington (alexander.hetherington@gmail.com)

Submissions to alexander.hetherington@gmail.com

Please include name, the title of the work, and a short biography

Deadline is Tuesday 11 November 2014

The publication will be A5, and I am seeking between 12 and 18 works depending on response and length, the anthology will be the catalyst for a future live event

Modern Edinburgh Film School is publishing its first anthology of poetry and spoken word texts this winter, and features works from invited artists and writers and works from an Open Call which will be posted subsequently.

To raise funds for this publication I have produced a greyscale B1 poster 130gsm paper, rolled or folded, number and signed with Modern Edinburgh Film School rubber-stamp.

The edition comes in a limited number, 25, plus 5 Artists Proofs. £20 including all postage etc, or by donation to Paypal,  alexander.hetherington@gmail.com or via http://modernedinburghfilmschool.bigcartel.com/product/queer-information

Funds are for production, distribution and a small fee for the artists. And if this works will sell the edition to raise money for a POET DISCO night later in the year/early 2015.

Let’s see what happens. 

Your name will be included in the publication, Queer Information

Modern Edinburgh Film School is publishing its first anthology of poetry and spoken word texts this winter, and features works from invited artists and writers and works from an Open Call which will be posted subsequently.

To raise funds for this publication I have produced a greyscale B1 poster 130gsm paper, rolled or folded, number and signed with Modern Edinburgh Film School rubber-stamp.

The edition comes in a limited number, 25, plus 5 Artists Proofs. £20 including all postage etc, or by donation to Paypal, alexander.hetherington@gmail.com or via http://modernedinburghfilmschool.bigcartel.com/product/queer-information

Funds are for production, distribution and a small fee for the artists. And if this works will sell the edition to raise money for a POET DISCO night later in the year/early 2015.

Let’s see what happens.

Your name will be included in the publication, Queer Information

Queer Information, version 2, work in progress, 2014

Queer Information, version 2, work in progress, 2014

queer information, work in progress, anthology 2014

queer information, work in progress, anthology 2014

A perfume, Hot Mess Disco Saved My Life, Poet Disco, The Free Arc of Life, The Social Media of Too Long, ghost orchid, B1, 2014, this edition, signed and numbered will be for sale soon, edition of 25, to raise funds to publish a poetry anthology, more details soon.

A perfume, Hot Mess Disco Saved My Life, Poet Disco, The Free Arc of Life, The Social Media of Too Long, ghost orchid, B1, 2014, this edition, signed and numbered will be for sale soon, edition of 25, to raise funds to publish a poetry anthology, more details soon.

Endless Yes, September 2014

Line 11

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A perfume, 2014

A perfume, 2014

"A glass house in display, in participation with the words "Canadian Rain" and therefore its own influencer begins by speaking and writing its own poetry and then erases itself," tiny text for a  new proposal, a film that invents a perfume, 2014

"A glass house in display, in participation with the words "Canadian Rain" and therefore its own influencer begins by speaking and writing its own poetry and then erases itself," tiny text for a new proposal, a film that invents a perfume, 2014