Revisiting WORKSITE: Aimée McCallum

Notes on my previous Q&A with artist and performer Aimée McCallum.

  • Aimée begins by defining “work” as “both […] the completed piece of art and the process of creating”, adding that “‘work’ has no defined media and is defined by the artist as being ‘work'”. Aimée also notes the importance of distinguishing between “work” and “play”, and argues that a lack of definition in this regard may lead to “burnout” or “a disconnect between the work and artist”.
  • Aimée then defines “site” as “a place a piece of ‘work’ is presented, exhibited, created, performed, influenced by, is informed by, started, finished, and more depending how the artist or viewer interprets the ‘work’ and ‘site’, separately and together”. For me this definition reinforces the thesis that art practice is a form of “collaboration” between artist and site.
  • Aimée goes on to describe how site “can be a physical space […] and a digital space” and adds that “due to the digital sites and the transportable media (e.g. a notebook, sketchbook, phone, iPad or laptop) the physical site can be anywhere”. This definition of site suggests a very mobile, flexible yet also constrained “post-studio” condition, in which the artist can work anywhere, though at the same time where the artist’s work is limited to that which can be achieved using only portable devices. In this sense, notebooks and sketchbooks would come under the same category as an iPad or laptop – all of which are “portable devices”, each with their own strengths while also being inherently limiting as a kind of stand-alone “site” for working.
  • Aimée goes on to describe how site “can simply allow the work to have a place to be” or alternatively that “the sites connotations can inform, inspire and change the concept of the work”. Each of these functions of the site might represent an instance of “collaboration” – one in which the site provides “space” for the artist/work, and another wherein the site takes on a more influential role.
  • Aimée describes how “sites influence the way I work through their own restrictions and through the circumstances in which I am in” – this links to both “enabling constraints” and the “collaboration with site” ideas I have explored above and elsewhere. The artist also describes her experimentation with “mobile installation sites” as a way of exploring fluidity and the breaking of boundaries within her work. This notion of the mobile installation site interests me, as it is perhaps an extension of the “portable device” idea mentioned above – one in which there are more potential ways of working, or even more specific ways of working, depending on the individual needs of the artist and the specifics of the environment in which they are installed.

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