Foreword by Simone Stewart, Head of Programme at the Barn:
The Barn has over time been exploring how we might nurture the artists of the future and engage with scholars and thinkers on pertinent questions. One of the important questions underpinning this exhibition is: What can the arts contribute to thinking through environmental change and how we might adapt? Perhaps most importantly we are thinking through how to manage the whole organisation in such a way that ecological thinking becomes present in every aspect of its life, rethinking perhaps what we mean by the ‘work’ of art.
Tendency Towards, an emerging collective, founded in Aberdeen has a particular perspective to bring to these issues. They rely on digital communication to sustain conversation between Aberdeen, Glasgow and The Hague, and turn this apparent constraint into a creative tactic. Their reliance upon digital interaction to operate has pushed them to continually question how these tools affect their shared understanding of themselves and their surroundings. The Barn will continue to develop close ties between artists at the beginning of their careers and different communities of interest.
For this exhibition Tendency Towards developed a close working relationship with curator Margarita Žigutytė. The following essay by Margarita manifests this way of working and forms the core of this publication. It traces a poetic line through a number of networked conversations that have taken place over the past year. These conversations continually shift and flux according to the information shared within and across them, holding form one minute and subsequently spreading into many tangents the next. Margarita‘s essay presents a playful exploration of ‘lost messages’. These ghost messages closely connect with her own curatorial research and practice in Kaunas, Lithuania. It guides us into the exhibition, encouraging us to open up unexpected pathways that the complexity within digital culture makes possible. The exhibition Haunted by the Ghost of a Flower references the opening pages of Ali Smith’s novel Winter and seeks to ‘exorcise the ghosts of our digital present’. Virtual forms of communication evoke a powerful metaphor of inter-relationship and it is this metaphor that Tendency Towards bring to the Barn, providing insights into what it means to be in this place at this time. Working with this metaphor, the complex interwoven communities, networks and audiences who engage with the Barn, come into view. Tendency Toward’s point of entry into this complexity is the allotments and the spaces on site, the walled and wild gardens and the creative ecology that interplays between them. The exhibition intimates various forms of collaborative action that the Barn makes possible. It highlights the organisation’s singular history and role as a community-founded space that draws culture and the arts into imagining our present, past and future in fresh ways. This new commission for the Barn by Tendency Towards centres on their ongoing interest around defining the means and implications of working and living collectively. They value the individual within the collective.
The exhibition is also an expression of rethinking what we mean by the work of art. During the months before its opening, the Barn started to imagine and support a new collaborative learning Tendency Towards space with the artists of Tendency Towards collective based on a renewed approach to philosophy as practice (Philo) and as a way of life. This approach, led by Paolo Maccagno, proposes a different quality of experience suggested by movement and the Feldenkrais method. Feldenkrais is an approach to somatic movement, breathing and posture that brings us closer to fulfilling our human potential. In this exploratory preparation we focused on art and ecology in new forms of practice alongside the emergent gallery exhibition.
Margarita Žigutytė is a researcher and curator based in Kaunas. Recently, she got her MA degree at the Vilnius Academy of Arts and runs the gallery 101 established in Vytautas Magnus University. Most of her practices are focuse on communities and collaborative actions. At this moment, she is trying to understand how love and care are still relevant to survive on this planet. Two public events provide opportunities to discuss and develop this exhibition with the artists:
Tendency Towards in conversation with Anne Douglas
Thursday 20th February, 6.30pm
Bridgit by Charlotte Prodger and Dreamwalker by Andrea Zucchini
Saturday 4th April, 7.30pm - cancelled due to Covid-19 (to be rescheduled)
Haunted By The Ghost of a Flower