C O U N T E R P A T H
100 Paintings in 24 hours
Noon-28 April to noon-29 April 2014
Counterpath (C): Can you talk about your plans for the event at Counterpath? What will you be presenting?
Teresa Albor (TA): This performance is called “100 paintings in 24 hours”. The title pretty much describes the piece. For each performance I come up with a painting system with rules and a defined set of resources. At Counterpath, the process will involve selecting a black and white page from an old art encyclopedia or exhibition catalogue at random; applying a thick coating of ink/paint; and then etching with a plaster rake and/or a fork before the coating can dry completely. In a way, I’m referencing a process from childhood (colouring with crayons, covering that with a layer of black paint, and then etching into it). I’ll then hang the work, and afterwards, the work will be given away.
I am interested in what art is, how and where it is made, and where it is shown. This performance piece plays with many of the tensions of a prevailing conception within the “art world” that art is a repository of value, a commodity that can be sold, a means of revenue for the artist, i.e. his/her “livelihood.” The paradigm involves a “white cube” gallery in New York, LA or London where “precious” art made mysteriously in the studio of an artist is sold by dealers for prices only the elite can afford to pay. In this case, we are in an independent bookstore, the work is free, and it is produced openly, almost as if in a factory. Cultural production is depicted as an assembly line process. In summary: this is “task-oriented” performance art, about labor and art, and the methods and systems of quantity-production.
C: How did you become interested in durational performance?
TA: As part of my inquiry about the nature of art, I’ve thought long and hard about issues related to “object-based” art making. I’m very interested in the temporal, especially the confusions it causes in terms of appointing value to the work. Susan Sontag writes eloquently about this: “It’s not true that the ideal situation would be that every person be an artist… What would the world do with all those things? …The only sense in which everyone could be an artist is if art were understood exclusively as performance—or throwaway art. Art would be something people did, and if it resulted in an object you wouldn’t have to (perhaps, even be able to ) keep it; store it in a museum. …To repeat, it is an ecological problem.
C: Can you describe the process of developing 100 Paintings in 24 Hours?
TA: I came up with the project during a residency that afforded me sustained time in a small studio in the woods. One evening, after supper, I started making a series of small paintings using anything I could find (magazine pages, paint, a broken brush) and decided to see what would happen if I just kept going. Twenty-four hours later I’d used up all of my stuff and pretty much every inch of the studio was covered with a painting. I then invited the other artists in the residency program to come to an “opening” and choose any work they wanted to take away. I think I was initially inspired by the collaborative painting I had been doing with Tim Stone, an intellectually disabled artist who is very intuitive and in the moment, whereas I can be too analytical. But, as usual, my art was one step ahead of me, and through thinking and discussion with others, I realised I was responding to/addressing issues that have to do with value, the skewed distribution/market for “art” etc. This will be the fourth time I’ve performed this piece (the original performance; then again in an artist space called New Capital that was itself hosting a marathon/durational event involving many artists working side by side, overlapping etc for 25 days 24/7; and once at an alternative art fair.) Just before the Counterpath piece, I will be doing a related performance in Arkansas that involves making one very large piece over 24 hours (20’ x 8’) that can be broken down into 10 pieces, which will be distributed through a free raffle.
C: How do you see this project fitting in with other aspects of your work?
TA: There is an over-reaching theme to my work: this almost existential question about the role of the artist in society. But my projects can appear to be very different. In November 2013 I spent a month in a small village in Italy, effectively coercing the residents to collectively write a book which we then published and distributed for free on market day; after Counterpath I’m off to Chicago for a show at the Intuit museum, featuring my collaborative work with Tim Stone (mentioned above); and I also have a more conventional practice as a studio artist making (and selling) paintings/sculptures. That’s what I was immersed in for the three months before this performance—I kept a daily log of my studio practice on my website to make it more “public”. A museum curator (who I greatly respect) once told me during a studio visit that it might make sense to choose between my more performative approach and my studio practice. This fascinates me because it could be interpreted as the need to be a “brand” which has become part of the whole “white cube paradigm”, and because I don’t see why different “experiments” with playing the role of the artist in society can’t be seen as a coherent way of working. (Documentation of these and other projects can be found on my website: www.TeresaAlbor.com)
C: What other projects are you working on?
Teresa Albor: In the autumn, I’ll be performing 24 sculptures in 24 hours in Birmingham, UK. But I’m also excited about Rufus Stone. Although Rufus Stone sounds as if he/she is a person, in fact this is a collaboration between myself and another artist. Rufus Stone works with “non-artists” across the UK, helping them reimagine what art means in their lives. We equip them with options by introducing them to mediums such as performance, sound, and installation; facilitate, contextualize and frame their work; locate audiences and venues; and document the process. We ask them to take on the role of producers, to get past the notion of being participants. Through our contextualization, we “elevate” this work, so it can exist alongside “serious art” i.e. art that has been given a high value via the existing market. We have grave misgivings about current stereotypes and paradigms that define or describe “art”, and the process of making it and presenting it (but we have every intention of subverting these structures if it is in our interests). In a nutshell, we believe it is essential to find new ways of thinking about art, its peripheral characteristics, and the power of art to incrementally change the world. (www.rufus-stone.org)
C: Is there a lineage of artists/writers that you feel attached to?
I was very influenced by the writing of second wave feminists (Shulamith Firestone, etc.) when I was at University in the 1970s— I think these books, such as The Dialectic of Sex, basically set up my view of the world. I read a lot in a very disorganized way and always have a towering stack of books waiting to be read. I am a research-based artist, but, as I mentioned above, sometimes the research follows the work. This might mean a review of Marxian economics, Italian architecture, or the history of textile production depending on the project. I also read a lot about the life of artists. I’m currently reading Calvin Tomkins Off the Wall : A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (really a tale of white male privilege which has resulted in our museums being biased towards a certain type of work). Contemporary writing on art is critically important, E-flux is a very good journal in this regard. And I just finished reading “Locating the Producers: Durational Approaches to Public Art” edited by Paul O’Neill & Claire Doherty.
 Sontag, Susan, As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and notebooks 1967-1980”; edited by David Rieff, pg. 338. From a diary entry dated 7/28/72. She makes reference to the work/writing of John Cage.
Links to documentation of various performances in the series:
Three sculptures, three artists, three hours, London, 2015
100 Paintings in 24 Hours is included in Emergency Index Vol.2 available from Ugly Duckling Press
"In conversation", Westpoint, 2014