Andrew Sunley Smith - Migratory Projects
Carrier II , Drive Out Cinema, Furniture Drags & Micro Gestures 2006

View Exhibition Catalogue Sunley Smith Text - View Exhibition Catalogue Rear Cover

Reality 10.55 Odense, Brandts Kunsthallen, 18th Feb - 28th May 2006, Denmark
Curators: Maia Damianovic / Lene Burkard

Brandts Kunsthallen : What aspects of your projects do you consider to be relational?

Andrew Sunley Smith : I consider myself to be of the new co-efficient. People make the mistake of thinking that relational art is singularly about the social and the altruistic or the generous exchanges within, or encoded in, social networks. The relational is also directly located in objects and chosen contexts. Objects link exponentially to social fields in very articulate concrete usable ways.

Strategies and materials which I use in my projects are ones of a co-efficient nature. This means that I aim my projects to work on differing levels. Co-efficiency in a work of art is very much an important factor as the artwork must activate and succeed aesthetically, conceptually, and socially, if it is to be successful in communicating. The co-efficient is a proto-relational idea.

I'm very interested in pragmatics in works of art and the notion of the art work as a direct and unmediated form of expression and reflector of contemporary culture. Something usable and continuous. Elastic and flexible.
The three large works which I created for Reality 10.55 Odense are all interlinked, one cannot function without the other. My use of materials and forms; from cars, engines, film, furniture, locations, even lighting all engages many forms of association and draws on many fields of expertise in order to be realised. The variations in the forms I use attempt to bring worlds together.

Dymaxions: Extending forms
My work connects people to the present and is direct. The projects I have done in Odense all work on different levels. The vehicles I create, restore, modify and recycled become film units, lighting and sound sources. They are also designed as a fully functional mobile cinema units. In DK a small petrol generator powers all equipment from the passenger side of the car.

I have a thing for combustion engines being a great metaphor for Modernism; the engine is important creatively as it is industrially produced, it consumes, burns and exhausts.. and just keeps on going and going as it does so. Consuming, exhausting.

Migratory Projects
My vehicles link directly to do-it-yourself custom car culture and camping influences. My films are shot at night from the car, each item of furniture is dragged behind the car. As we watch the furniture scars, bruises, scrapes and gets demolished through the force of forward movement. This project highlights the experience of migration, common to many today. I want people to consider and feel what it is like to lose all that is familiar.
Through force or choice, migration and displacement is a pressing issue in many countries throughout the world. Through the process of moving, one is constantly interlinking ideas, forms and concepts between new places. Variations in languages and references. Migration is in essence a series of physical, conceptual, and economic relations which must continually assessed, re-applied and adapted in order to be translated successfully into a new and variable world. This is the task of the migrant. To survive and to communicate. Transposing systems over and into one another. Very similar to art.

More profoundly, in my migratory dragging works, I aim to connect different generations of people at various points in the film through the use of differing styles of furniture. My dragging works rely on empathy. They also create feelings of loss and anxiety, and are at times disturbingly humorous and anthropomorphic.

Quantify / Qualify
The very nature of the work liasing with the institutional mode of working, causes relational friction zones which demand a whole new way of approaching art, especially how we quantify and indeed qualify it. My aesthetic can be a little different to the norm, therefore one third of my job as a pragmatic relational artist is to educate and extend each institution I work with a little.

Artistic After-life
My works, especially the migratory vehicles, have an intentional 'after-life'. I am interested in creating a form of actively engaged, non-static art. Where possible, the objects are designed to be used in every day life before and after exhibition. The exhibition is not necessarily the last place for the work. Vehicles are maintained and licensed, road worthy, economically viable art works, and continue to support and produce other projects. In this way, their use and effects are maximised and fully extended.

It is my opinion that all truly successful works of relational art must operate in a co-efficient way. By this, I mean that the work, if successful, must be able to function not only conceptually, but formally, aesthetically and sociologically. A co-efficient work of art is never static. It remains continually elastic. This elasticity is an essential factor if a work of art is to remain functional and accessible over time.

Reality 10.55, Odense, Catalogue text. Andrew Sunley Smith in response to Brandts Kunsthallen, Odense, Denmark. February 2006