Frank Wasser

Artist Talk 15.11.17

Frank Wasser was born in Dublin in 1988.

He studied Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland and graduated with an MFA in 2012.

Wasser has exhibited and lectured internationally, recently at the Venice Biennale where he debuted his performative lecture ‘Tendencies in Contemporary Art: A history of fabricated history’ for the European Cultural Academy (August 2017).

Lately, Wasser has supported his own practice by working with artists such as Tino Sehgal and Dan Graham and working as a educator, art historian and researcher across multiple institutions, including Tate, London.

Wasser’s practice includes work with writing, performance, conversations and rumours.

Many of the visual attributes of the practice are deployed strategically to act as decoys that can unravel, scrutinise and dismiss established forms of representation.

Wasser is currently working on an exhibition that will take the form of a book (published by Ma Bibliotheque an imprint of Dr.Sharon Kivland). The book will take as it’s starting point Irelands failed relationship with Modernism through an interweaving of metafictional autobiographical fragments and collected contemporary fables. Wasser will next show work at hmm no. 11 at Somerset House, November 27th, curated and selected by Anne Tallentire and Chris Fite-Wassilak.

Wasser’s artist talk began like many others, with what seemed like a powerpoint presentation on his practice, a few biographical details, and how he was inspired. Early on in his hour-long presentation we became aware he was not in fact showing us a powerpoint but a video, which was odd but we just thought this was a way to automatically change the slides for him. Later on in the video, a bright blue image of Theresa May popped up for merely a split-second, accompanied by a cough played extremely loudly through the speakers. This surprised us quite a bit but Wasser ignored it and carried on so we thought nothing of it. This then happened a few more times, punctuating what was otherwise a very normal artist talk. Each time it happened it scared the life out of us and created an overwhelming sense of tension, as though it was building up to something. That something manifested during the last ten minutes of the artist talk when his powerpoint once again turned into footage of Theresa May, this time constant footage rather than just a split-second, accompanied again by her coughing. This carried on for about a minute, in which time we realised Wasser was now completely doubled over, arms dangling listlessly, where before he had been standing up normally. He remained in this zombie-like position as his video changed to footage of himself in various white rooms, in a blood-red filter, accompanied with emphatic, harsh, deafening white noise. The video continued for ten minutes and then finished, at which point Wasser returned to standing upright and thanked us for watching.

This work was a bizarre and quite terrifying thing to watch. To me it seemed as if him and the powerpoint were connected, and when the video, like a virus, took over everything, he too ceased to live. The work was inherently political because of Theresa May appearing. It was interesting that he should focus on her coughing – what does this say about what Wasser thinks of her? Maybe it discusses how we see politicians in general – the focus on her performance of a normal bodily function draws attention to her role as someone who is expected to be extremely composed all the time; perhaps the coughing is an attempt to humanise her. Despite this, the association of her with such a deliberately horrific film challenges this interpretation – surely the intent cannot be to praise her when she is presented in such a loud, gaudy manner.

I do not want to suggest that I did not enjoy this performance; on the contrary; I found it extremely creative. I love subversion of the norm, and his subversion of the archetypal artist talk was fascinating and thought-provoking. The aesthetic of his film, both visually and audibly, resonated with me because of its unstoppable sensory impact.

This has, later in the term, been a great source of inspiration for my film work; the sheer depth of the visuals and sound affected me greatly and gave me ideas to incorporate in my practice.


Cedar Lewisohn

Artist Talk 18.10.17

Cedar Lewisohn is an artist, writer and curator. He has worked on many museum projects for institutions such as Tate Britain, Tate Modern and The British Council. He is interested in various forms of exhibition platform, as well as experimental forms of writing. He is currently curator of a three year project called “Outside The Cube” for HangarBicocca foundation in Milan. He writes regularly about the cross over between art and gastronomy, and has recently edited a publication for the Taste International food festival.


It was fascinating to hear from an artist with such a varied practice; he is an artist, curator, and writer. It was also fascinating to hear from someone who is a curator of street art; we never tend to think of street art as curated because it is an art form where the artist responds to the available surroundings. Lewisohn has the potential to be on both sides of art criticism, i.e. the artist as well as the critic. He has found difficulties with working in multiple institutions; he has found that particularly in the UK, the art world is somewhat closed less open to multi-disciplinary work.

In art school, Lewisohn “wanted to be Jeff Koons” and had a profound interest in art magazines. These were very powerful before the internet; they were the main vehicle for putting one’s art out there.

For his degree show, he put an image of his mother with the caption “isn’t my mum the greatest?” in a magazine advert. Although he describes it as a “dumb statement”, he says this is an acknowledgement that black women were rarely seen in these magazines.

He began writing for “Flash Art” magazine, and began to want to write in a  different and subversive way. He started to put fiction into his articles; for example he wrote an article about an artist and said he had a fight with the artist during the interview.

A turning point in his career was being asked to write a catalogue text by Tate Liverpool, where he soon wrote a fictional interview with Puff Daddy (as he was known as then).

“if you write about 5 similar artists you’ve curated an exhibition already”

In 2005, he was living in Glasgow and got accepted into a course in curatorial training at the Tate Modern – another huge turning point in his career. There, he proposed a graffiti project in Turbine Hall.

At the end of curatorial training, in 2008, he held a street art exhibition at the Tate Modern, and decided it would be better to exhibit the work it on the outside of the building than inside. He faced opposition to this because people in the art world are seemingly opposed to street art; perhaps there is a prejudice there.



Caspar Heinemann

Caspar Heinemann is an artist, poet and twinky butch anarcho-communist mystic based in Berlin.

Their interests include critical occultism, gay biosemiotics, and countercultural mythology.

Recent events include readings at the Baltic Triennial, Serpentine Miracle Marathon, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht, and the ICA, London. They have recently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, David Roberts Art Foundation, London, and Outpost Gallery, Norwich.

Above is a clip of Heinemann’s poems entitled “Bodies Against Things.” I find them very confessional, personal and thought-provoking. The way they’re written is very clever – they are a stream of consciousness and seem to roll off the tongue for Heinemann as easily as thoughts come into their head. They use lists and enjambement to great effect. The delivery is also compelling. Speaking to a laptop in quite a deadpan voice is very simple and therefore relatable to the majority of people; enabling the viewer to understand Heinemann’s poetry better. These poems and their delivery have really influenced my writing – the lists and the stream-of-consciousness they employ resonate with me and I have incorporated these elements in my poetry (see Ode to Autocorrect and Cast-Iron.)

Again, in the above poetry reading, Heinemann’s poems are very loosely written, and they seemingly jump from subject to subject almost irregularly, creating the impression of multiple personalities. The delivery here is interesting in terms of the audience’s position – they cluster round Heinemann, rather than being separate from them, creating a sense of equality between artist and audience. This layout inspired how I would address the audience when I performed “Ode to Autocorrect.”

Caroline Achaintre

Artist talk 11.10.17

I studied Caroline Achaintre’s work over the summer of 2017, so was already vaguely familiar with her artistic practice and was very excited to learn she was coming to Reading University to give a talk about it.


“Tie Man”, 2012, ceramic/leather tie. One of my favourite works of Achaintre’s – I find it relatable and playful.

Born in Toulouse, France in 1969, Achaintre grew up in Germany where she studied Fine Art at Kunsthochschule in Halle/Saale (1996-98). She trained as a blacksmith before completing an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2003, and she has been living and working in London ever since.

Recent solo exhibitions include the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK in 2016; TATE Britain, London in 2015; Castello di Rivoli, Turin, IT from 2015-16 and FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Riems, FR in 2017. Her works were also part of the recent British Art Show (2015-17).



“Africana”, 2007, linoprint. One of Achaintre’s early works.

Achaintre says that her work is a way of expressing her inner angst, and cites german expressionism as one of her key influences. There is noticeably a continuous theme throughout all her work, meaning each of her shows can include her early and recent work next to each other. There is a real sense of timelessness in the work; the artist herself describes it as “ancient and modern at the same time”.


“Froche”, 2012, ceramic. Another favourite of mine – abstract yet instantly recognisable as a face. There is a clear sense of angst in this work.

Her early work was on paper and was generally quite small. Although these works continue to inform her practice, much of her work now is huge. It is also now generally 3 dimensional, textured, and includes a wider range of materials. Achaintre frequently experiments with textiles such as wool, leading to what she calls her “tufted” pieces. The wool she works with is purchased from England or Sweden and she enjoys working within its limitations, such as the limited number of colours it comes in. Her “tufted” works, which could be called sculptures, installations or images, marry the concepts of the ‘object’ and the ‘personality.’ Achaintre says they look like something you might find “in the bathroom”, yet also an animal or person – nature is unquestionably a key part of her work. Achaintre loves the idea of recognition and plays with the fact that we are predisposed to seeing human faces everywhere, even in inanimate objects. Her work has complex, unique and sometimes multiple personalities, and she even cites shamanism as an inspiration – she described some of her work as a depiction of  “human/animal hybrids.”



“Limbo” – 2015, ink on paper, 40x27cm – a much smaller scale than much of Achaintre’s work.

Achaintre is very interested in masks and masquerades, which lead to her use of ceramics and clays to create masks. Using clay, she says, enables her to emulate animal skin. Her masks are extremely varied, and do not appear human and often lack certain facial features and symmetry (it is her belief that “symmetry is boring”), but they certainly have personalities. They are very rich in texture and emotion. She is very inspired in anthropomorphism, which links back to her exploration of recognition and seeing human faces everywhere.

Mother George

“Mother George” – 2015, hand tufted wool, 280x185cm. This work has a complex personality despite being very abstract.

At the University of Hertfordshire, her “first and only” suspended piece, entitled ‘Birdsssss’ is displayed. It is a very effective exploration of gravity and space. In the artist’s words it “both rises up from the floor and hangs down from the ceiling”, creating a sense of balance, evoking the perfect balance that exists in nature, and in flight.


“Birdssss” – 2013, on display at the University of Hertfordshire

To display some of her smaller work in particular, Achaintre creates bespoke boxy furniture, which often manifests itself as interlocking white cubes or cuboids. She likened this to the game tetris.

Sack Bop & Serpentine

“Sack Bop” & “Serpentina”, 2015, ceramic/metal. Here we see the furniture Achaintre designs for her work in action.

Achaintre is a hugely inspiring artist, and her work is interesting to me partly because I see the influence of Arte Povera in it – one of my favourite art movements. On a more overt level I think her aesthetic is fantastic; the colours and textures she uses are extremely effective.