Spiegel im Spiegel
An Account of the Nature & Function of Artist Practice in the Context of Collaborative & Community-Based Work
The motivation for this particular practice was rooted in the desire to investigate art in an unfamiliar and stimulating environment. This practice research was undertaken as a volunteer artist working with a resident called Hazel from supported housing. Hazel previously was engaged with visual art and drama. She was a prominent figure in the direction and influence of my study and it is important to note she has a profound learning disability and that I became aware of our verbal and non-verbal communication. The importance of this relates to the changing nature of the relationship, which initially focused on the disability, to that of working towards a project.
This study explores the nature of communication, practice and relationships specifically between artist and different communities, namely; day centres, supported housing and hospitals. The focus of study is contextualised within the broader framework of the origin of ‘arts’ function in society in relation to cultural history. The observational methods, which are qualitative, involve two case studies in an attempt to understand a complex social experience and happening.
The M Phil study undertook a multi-method approach. There were two case studies, the first titled Spiegel im Spiegel a study of the relationship between artist (myself) and Hazel. The second was a case study of artists under the organisation of Artlink.
Spiegel im Spiegel case study is an exploratory and descriptive case, examining the artistic practice in a new environment. The aim was to describe the creative process, communication and language between us. The latter is made practical by objectifying the process of communication through a book form entitled Spiegel im Spiegel.
The dialogue-vignettes are translated or interpreted from practice and descriptive observations made from a transcript of videotape, written notes and memory. The book, collates a part of the multi-method approach and process-based art practice.
The function of the bookwork acts as a self-teaching method and research method: through critical analysis of process and thinking; that provides a narrative over time; relates to discoveries and insights; as a tool for artist/researcher to explain the collaborative practice and case study (Gillham 2003) and integrates image and text as a way of presenting empirical evidence.