Living with Make: Art in the Archive 2011


Clare Gasson's The River 30th November 2011

As the recipient of The Women's Art Library/Make and Feminist Review research bursary 2011 Clare Gasson presented a performance and exhibition based on her exploration of the Women's Art Library archive. Her research focused on manifestos and activating the archive. The result was a sound piece titled The River in which the materials are vocalized.

'The River' was presented at the South London Gallery as a multi-layered text piece read/sung by eight musicians. The main text is made up of all the artists' names in The Women's Art Library from the early 1970s to the present. The refrains refer to the language of manifestos. The structure looks to Cage, Reich, Medieval poetry and composition. Recent performances by Clare Gasson at Arnolfini (2010) '…the traveller walking walking walking through …' and Guestroom (2007) 'Into the Melting' employed similar structures whereby text is layered and played with like fluid materials.

Gasson's research also resulted in a series of posters and sculptures which were exhibited at the Women's Art Library from December 2011 to April 2012. The posters employ the rough cut and paste feel of the original Women's Art Library newsletters. The sculptures entitled 'The Performers (2008 - ongoing)' – a series started in 2008, embody here the energy around performing manifestos – the passion that exudes from that point where a manifesto is the only way forward – to change the status quo.

For more info contact: Althea Greenan, e-mail:

Clare Gasson's practice springs from text – her own and those she finds on the walls of a city or on files in an archive. She works in a variety of ways: from working with the voice, performance, film, photography, sculpture, city walks to writing scripts and scores. Her core concerns are around layering of minimal textural structures and event. Gasson's work often looks to the 1960s and 70s to the works of David Antin, Allan Kaprow and to The Black Mountain College. She is interested in collective experience and imagination whereby the audience feel part of a 'gezellig' event – even if they are watching a film she has made – it becomes their memory - etched with their own meaning. The viewer has access to layers of narrative and meaning that are both intimate and universal.

"Clare Gasson is an artist who uses writing in her practice. Often she writes then narrates the dialogue or story, or instructs someone else to do so. Gasson's texts create a space that is densely cinematic where sound and image layer, building in intensity – both through its evocative, descriptive characteristics and through its formal stylistic aspects – to create a scene into which we find ourselves immersed." Bridget Crone – Plenty Projects.

Clare Gasson was born in Birmingham UK and currently lives and works in London. Her solo projects include: '… the traveller walking walking walking through …' Media Art Bath commission (2010); Clare Gasson, Gimpel Fils, London (2008); A Little Light Music, Parker's Box (with The Showroom), New York (2006).
Group shows include: Aggregate – curated by Kathleen Madden, Churner & Churner Gallery,
NYC (2011); Thinking Through Cinema – a co-curated project with Tramway and LUX at
Tramway, Glasgow (2011); Spectrum Shorts Rotterdam Film Festival 2011; Thinking Through
Cinema (Deep Red) – a LUX commission for Artissima Art Fair, Turin, Italy (2010); A Theatre
to Address, A Festival of Textual Form – Concrete, Material, Scripted, Performed, Arnolfini,
Bristol (2010); The Known Unknowns – Volatile Dispersal Festival of Art Writing, Whitechapel
Gallery, London (2009); The Object of the Attack David Roberts Foundation, London (2009); À
Corps et à Texts La Galerie, Centre d'art Contemporain, Noisy-le-Sec, France (2009).
With special thanks to The Elephant Trust, Goldsmiths and Feminist Review.