I had the opportunity to speak with the lovely Charlotte Young. Be sure to check out her site: http://todayimadenothing.wordpress.com/ .Here are the results. Enjoy.
Why did you decide to go for an MA?
When I graduated from in 2008, I vowed to never go back to art school. Never. Ever. It’s not that I didn’t have a good time during while I was there, but after leaving and taking stock of the experience, and trying to translate that experience to real life, I felt that I’d been highly manipulated into producing work that other people (teaching staff) wanted me to make, rather than work I wanted to make. For example, I do a lot of performance or performative-type work as part of my practice. Despite attempting to develop this at art school, anytime I did anything remotely performative, it was shut down. I had positive experiences as well, but they were somewhat overshadowed…
That’s all I’ll say about that.
Last year, I suddenly felt like I needed a kick up the arse, somehow. I was involved in several exhibitions and projects, in London and overseas, but I felt a bit stuck. I’m not sure if it was creative block or a broader kind of intellectual/existential thing or maybe I was just bored. I guess they’re similar.
I started speculatively looking at MFA programmes in London, but couldn’t really stomach the idea of doing art school again. Partly I felt like I’d ‘done’ that and it wasn’t an experience I wanted to repeat. I’m also very fortunate to be part of a network of people involved in the arts who are highly talented and supportive, and that I respect and trust, so I didn’t feel the need to do an MFA for that reason.
I realized I wanted to do something a slightly different or tangential, as I felt I would probably learn more, get more out of it. Then I remembered a friend of mine, and a very good performance artist, Daniel Oliver took an MA Theatre and Performance and raved about it. After talking with him about it, I applied and to my surprise was accepted onto the course. I thought it might actually be a better fit for me and I think it is. It’s brilliant, the teaching staff are amazing and I’m actually learning things, something I didn’t really experience at art school, unfortunately. Not that people shouldn’t go to art school. I’m sure it’s possible to have very positive experiences at art school. I only went to one art school.
I’m probably the art education equivalent of a fussy eater
I want to ask you about Shit TV. That was one of my favorite things I’ve seen that you’ve done. What was the inspiration for that? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F2rf_lJqI4)
Shit TV seems like ages and ages ago! I think we stopped making it in 2006/7. It was very much a student project. Myself and my co-star Fredrik Lindberg were at art school together and I think the idea came about thus: we were at a private view together and one of us, referring to an artwork said “Is it me or is this shit?” and the other said “Or is it really shit.” Something asinine like that. And then the rest unfurled pretty quickly. I’d grown up watching ‘magazine’ TV shows aimed at young teenagers, which often had a segment in which a presenter took to the street asking people their opinions of something or other, usually some kind of ‘issue’ like underage drinking or the vote (This was parodied very well in the 1908s British sitcom ‘The Young Ones’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo9_aBj1Z84).
I guess the idea was that there was a very specific TV programme like this that only dealt with art and only dealt with it in terms of badness. We were in a group exhibition in ABC No Rio gallery in NYC, and the curators’ description of Shit TV in the catalogue stated that we aimed to ‘decontextualise shittiness’ in culture. I thought that was really funny and put it much more succinctly that I could. Or can, clearly!
Have you seen that new American show Billy in the Street? It kinda reminds me of some of the things you mentioned.
I don’t know that show. I’ll have to look it up. Thanks for the tip.
Also, what do you think about the state of TV shows today compared to when you where growing up?
When I was growing up there were only 4 TV channels in the UK. Then Channel 5 came on air when I was 15. We never had satellite or cable, so my family household only had these channels until the recent advent of digital broadcasting. I remember going to a friend’s house to watch the first episode of South Park on cable television! Channel 5 was good when it first started as it showed footage from London’s Comedy Store, which I didn’t otherwise have access to. I grew up in the age of TV where programming would finish at a certain time of night and there would be nothing broadcast until the next day. It’s really hard to say whether TV now is better or worse than when I was a child, partly because there’s so much of it now, and I watch a lot less now. It’s really easy to say that there’s too much to choose from and most of it is crap. There was less to choose from in the 80s and 90s, but that’s not to say that most of it was not also crap.
There are some things that are no longer on TV which I really miss, however. People my age would spend Saturday mornings watching these huge, ridiculous, fun live TV shows for kids that would be on for 2-3 hours. BBC One’s Going Live! was the first one I remember, which later got rebranded to Live and Kicking in the 90s, but was essentially the same show: interviews with pop stars, cartoons, silly games, live studio audience of kids, puppets, gunging adults, phone-in competitions, etc. I don’t know if this kind of programme has been absorbed by the children’s digital channels now, but in that time slot now on BBC One are just cookery programmes. All morning.
Another thing that seems to be practically gone for ever, thanks to MTV and similar music channels are live music programmes. In the UK only one remains, Later with Jools Holland and even that has clearly had it’s budget severely cut. When I was growing up there were (repeats) of The Old Grey Whistle Test, and there were programmes like The Tube, The Word, The White Room, TFI Friday - all had live music. There was also a show called Sound of the 60s/70s/80s which was a compilation of live music performances from those eras. We also had a weekly chart music shows called Top of the Pops, which was axed maybe 10 years ago now. When I was a kid, this was my access to the world, as it was before I was old enough to even know how to buy records. It was my music education. I also watched a lot of comedy when I was growing up and that’s something I still do. The BBC is very good at that, when it wants to be, but seems to take less risks with new material and talent these days. I have enormously fond memories of watching ‘Allo ‘Allo, Blackadder, Red Dwarf, Dad’s Army, The Young Ones and then later more satirical shows by Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris. Recently, I’ve found British shows like Rev, Limmy’s Show and Uncle really brilliant. And the incredibly well written and performed US sitcoms such as 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and SNL has always been great.
I think people watch too much television, myself included. I think it is a weird, dangerous thing to be encouraged to be so actively passive and sedentary. As well as all the cable, satellite and digital channels, we also have NetFlix, LoveFilm, etc. But, who doesn’t like a good TV show? Television has been somewhat de-cultured and is now eating itself. We’re now in an era where there are constant TV shows about TV shows - list programmes, Gogglebox, reality TV shows with celebrities who are largely famous for being on TV, Pop Idol, etc. Guy Debord must be spinning in his grave.
I read Chroma by Derek Jarman for the first time recently, and was struck particularly by this quote:
'The fire burnt out, the hearth was boarded up, the television arrived. The electronic media stole the narrative, leaving us with endless repetition talked at rather than talking.'
I’m not sure I’ve answered the question!
How did the writing for 3:AM come about?
Writing for 3:AM came in a kind of roundabout way. I’d been working for Book Works. I was their first intern – paid, I’d like to add. Book Works are one of the good guys. At the same time, the writer and artist Stewart Home was working with Book Works as a guest editor on a new series of books with the umbrella title Seminar. My memory’s a bit fuzzy, but I think it was shortly after my internship had ended that the launch of the first set of Seminar books took place. Stewart asked me to write a review of the launch for 3:AM and then I got to write a couple more articles off the back of that, which was good experience.
You mentioned Chroma by Derek Jarman earlier. What else have you read lately?
I’m currently reading The Intellectuals and the Masses by John Carey, a study of the disgust held by the literary elites of the last 19th and early 20th centuries at what/who they considered the lower classes. Prior to this, I’ve recently finished Words Can Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen, a biography of Pussy Riot, and Laura Oldfield Ford’s bleak, pyscho-geographical exploration of London’s recent past and recent future, Savage Messiah, which is fantastic.
What are you working on now and in the near future?
I’ve just returned from Latitude Festival, a multi-disciplinary arts festival that is held annually in Suffolk, England. Since February I have been co-producing an art and comedy cross-over show in London with the comedian Robin Ince called ‘Your Culture is Ailing, Your Art is Dead’, which, broadly, mocks the worst and celebrates the best of art and culture. The show line-ups (so far) have been a mix of performance artists, comedians, academics, poets and musicians and we were fortunate enough to have the show programmed as part Latitude this year. We put the show on every other month in London and the next one is coming up in August.
I’ll be continuing my MA studies in September. Prior to that, I have a couple of creative educational projects I’m working on. And hopefully I’ll get to make some art at some point too - I have some ideas for some short films and performances that I want to get made, some as collaborations.
What is Poetry?
jasperdawsonclough asked: mate, your tumblers the bees boswollox :) nice
Thanks man! Yours is pretty cool too!
Vipassana 10-day course review.
Here is a link to some cool Kurt Schwitters poems.