Wednesday, 27 February 2013

'Arrow to the Heart' - Corinna Spencer & Andrea Hannon


Love, friendship and collaboration are all like improvisation in that it’s about saying yes. In improvisational comedy, the one rule is that what one person suggests needs to be agreed with and built upon by the other person. The alternative is that it never goes anywhere. As Andrea Hannon’s short story says ‘In the hands of a horrible assignment we are neither of us happy’.

From Corinna Spencer’s description of the collaborative process as ‘a real joy’ to the seemingly endless dialogue emitting back and forth between the words and images in the work it is clear that the rule of ‘yes’ has been adhered to in this case. Even the small scale of the work, compared to the three other collaborations in Co-Respondent, seems to suggest an intimacy, something held close to the heart. Spencer chose to paint her lead character from the back view. Symbolism-wise this could mean so many things, the idea of leaving springs to mind immediately. On the other hand, turning one’s back implies complete trust, and given the open nature of the work, this seems a more fitting interpretation

In creating her work from existing books, Andrea Hannon works with what is already there. Spencer does the same by painting from contemporary culture. It’s something that (dare I say it) seems to have something to do with womanhood. Carving out what is theirs in what they find around them. The end result undoubtedly belongs to the artists, the final words of the story are ‘He has simply disappeared’.

In describing the beginnings of the project, Spencer explained, ‘we talked about what we thought the text was about, what as individuals we could draw from it and where our feelings about the piece intersected’. 

That word intersected describes the sense of connection that is present in the work. Parade’s End was Spencer’s current obsession before beginning the project. It seems perfect that  Hannon’s short story was so well suited to Spencer’s preoccupation, and indeed it is perfect. It’s a comforting thought that a personal obsession is not a lonely thing at all, just an individual’s fragment of the collective consciousness.

That idea of intersection comes into play in the story of Parade’s End itself. An unhappily married man with Edwardian values and an idealistic suffragette meet accidentally, and of course, against all odds, it turns out that they love each other, better than that they are good for each other. A fitting story for a piece of art that depends on bringing the best out of one another.

Sarah Cleaver

16 February - 3 March 2013
Unit 25a Regent Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN

This is the fourth of four texts about Co-Respondent, a show about collaboration which foreshadows the upcoming issue of Garageland 15: Collaboration which will be launched on 19 April 2013. 

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