Step repeat

Young project space Rowing on repetitive art, sea punk and Post-Internet culture in London
Art | 12 October 2014

Chosil Kil ‘Niagara’, 2014, installation view, Rowing, London. Photography by Plastiques Photography. Courtesy Rowing Projects

This article is part of Young Art Week – Defining a generation

Welcome to HERO Young Art Week – our essential, multifaceted guide to the new wave of creatives working at the vanguard of contemporary art today. Across a dynamic week of digital content, we’re exploring what’s happening at the epicentre of this global community: from the ground up, the artists themselves and the key figures witnessing the evolution of the ideas, trends and movements defining this art generation.

Royal College of Art graduates Guillaume Breton and Tyler Woolcott were recommended to us in our interview with Kit Hammonds – a freelance London curator, writer and tutor in the RCA’s Curating Contemporary Art programme. Breton and Woolcott run Rowing, their own project space in Camden, where they are focussing on a broad range of works with the united aim of bringing singular, outside the box pieces to varied audiences. In advance of their forthcoming exhibition of works by Scottish artist Rachel MacLean, Guillaume shared his thoughts on sea-punk, Post-Internet art and the experience of kicking off a gallery within the London artscape. 

HERO: What was your experience like as a young, recent graduate launching your own project space?
Guillaume Breton: It is first very exciting to have your own space and the freedom to program what you believe is interesting and relevant. It is also an enormous amount of work and responsibility to put on a programme of exhibitions. You realise quite quickly that you are going to learn a lot of new skills and you must do it quickly because the pressure is on and constant.

What kind of artists do you show?
GB: We show different types of artists. However, we have been focusing on international artists who haven’t had too much visibility in London and who would highly benefit from having an exhibition in London. But if I can draw a line, we have been focusing on artists who have a practice linked to text, performances and video art.

Is there an element of trying to help other young artists out there break into a market that’s not necessarily so easy to tap into?
GB: I wouldn’t say we are trying to help emerging artists break into the market. We will work with an emerging artist who hasn’t broken into the market yet if we believe the work is interesting, strong and brings something to the existing contemporary art landscape. A good example would be the Scottish artist Rachel Maclean who we decided to present one of her videos at the video art fair Loop Barcelona before she reached a broader visibility.

Francesco Pedraglio ‘Frank!’, 2012, installation view, Rowing, London. Photography by Plastiques Photography. Courtesy Rowing Projects

How would you describe the young and emerging art scene in London?
GB: There are several very established art schools in London and therefore a large amount of emerging artists in London that makes London so vibrant, interesting and competitive.

Many of those artists will create collectives, artist run spaces and do a lot of projects, which is fascinating and very beneficial for the London art scene. However like any other art scenes most of those artists will stop making artworks after a few years and instead work in other creative industries.

We have the chance to travel and do some research abroad and it is interesting to notice how artists from the same city and area such as London, or to be more specific, South East London, have the tendency to copy and repeat each other. For instance the ‘sea punk’ and Post-Internet aesthetic became an informal group that spread widely and keeps spreading. But it is also something we notice abroad, that’s why we have movements in art history and that’s what makes the difference between good and great artists.

What are the main challenges of being a young curator today?
GB: A curator today needs to be ubiquitous, internationally visible and active on so many different platforms including media and social media. Meanwhile any curator needs time to research, reflect and remain objective about their time and the relation to art history.

Our job as curators and directors of Rowing is to select and work on a long-term basis with some artists and help them to develop their practice. So I believe we are quite close to the Latin root of the word curator ‘curare’ – taking care of.

If you could show one young or emerging artist next, who would you most like for it to be?
GB: It’s already happening next month and it is a solo exhibition by the Scottish artist Rachel Maclean!

‘Please, Sir…’ by Rachel Maclean runs from 7th November to 20th December at Rowing, 3 Leighton Place, London NW5 2QL. Find more about Rowing at their website

Stay tuned for more HERO Young Art Week content in the coming days and plug into our social media platforms for updates as they come.


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