NOTES on a return

NOTES on a return

8 May 2009 to 5 September 2009

I was project consultant (exhibition, symposium, performances & book), selector, writer, symposium chair for NOTES on a return, an exhibition and symposium programme at the Laing Art Gallery (5/09 – 9/09) conceived and curated by Sophia Hao.

NOTES on a return used New Work Newcastle (which I initiated at the Laing in 1985, in collaboration with Projects UK – now Locus+) as a starting point. It was described then and now as ‘groundbreaking’. NWN commissioned new work by over 50 performance artists; some were emerging artists, some had international reputations. NWN took critical practice away from the cultural margins; it presented radical/subversive practice centre stage, challenging perceived stereotypes of what art was and its relationship to everyday life.


NOTES on a return began its reserche with a series of public talks by five artists who had made their performances at the Laing in the 1980s (Rose English, Nigel Rolfe, Bruce McLean, Anne Bean and Mona Hatoum). Curator Sophia Hao said: ‘following this [we presented] a sequence of archival and audio installations, in which, unlike a contemporary retrospective exhibition, the focus was on the production of contemporary notes. Instead of a museological display of officially filed documentation, this approach fore grounded the occluded voice of the artist.’ Finally, NOTES commissioned the work of five emerging artists, organised a symposium and produced a book (published by AEN). Contributors to the book and speakers at the conference included Guy Brett (international writer and curator), Pro. Ramsay Burt (De Montford University), Prof. Amelia Jones, (Grierson Chair in Visual Culture at McGill University in Montreal), Lois Keidan, (Director, Live Art Development Agency) and Andrea Tarsia, (Head of Exhibitions, Royal Academy of Arts).


NOTES on a return placed the afterlife of the live works (from the 80s) into a space of continual reconsideration and provided a contextual introduction to the role of memory in the production of archives … [channelling] it into a maze of adjustment and re-adjustment’, said Hao.