Fiction as first language

-1A short piece of mine has just gone up on the Huffington Post’s UK Arts Blog, focusing on Animate Projects and PEER’s Out of Site commissions, and my short story ‘Animate Me’ that was published to accompany the project. It is also an opportunity to briefly discuss the fact that for a while now I have been using fiction — mainly the short story — as a way to write about art.

Perhaps that sounds odd: writing fiction about art. Isn’t that (to quote Martin Mull) ‘like dancing about architecture’? Well, perhaps, but to be honest I have read more than enough bad and boring, jargon-laden reviews and catalogue essays in and around the art world. Besides, fiction is my first language, so why not use it to talk about art? For me a story allows both for a more subtle engagement with the artwork and the artist, and – most importantly – a more direct and familiar way to talk the reader.

I gave a reading and chaired a conversation with artists Savinder Bual, Karolina Glusiec and Margaret Salmon at PEER last Saturday. Discussion was wide-ranging but amongst other things we talked about some of the constraints and opportunities of showing film work in the street, ways of working spontaneously with film and animation, drawing and process, and how artists and artist film-makers manage to make work and make a living at the moment.

Out of Site runs until 8 March 2014, from 4-8pm (the films need to be seen in the hours of darkness, or dusk at the very least!). You can get a free copy of Joe Ewart’s beautifully designed pamphlet edition of ‘Animate Me’ from the gallery, download it here as a PDF or read the electronic version on Animate Projects website.


Fiction Is My First Language, So Why Not Use It to Talk About Art?