Jo Melvin

Double exposure: ’pataphysics and the Rural in Barry Flanagan’s Sculptural Practice

Barry Flanagan, still from 'Sand girl', 1970, super 8mm, colour, 17 mins.
(The Estate of Barry Flanagan) .

Barry Flanagan, Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, 1969 (The Estate of Barry Flanagan). 
This lecture will consider implicit and explicit traces of the land, of landscape, ’pataphysics and folklore in Barry Flanagan’s work, drawing particular attention to his film making between 1968-71. From the outset, when as a student Flanagan claimed Alfred Jarry as his ‘anti-father figure’ whose presence remained constant throughout his life, he questioned expectations and value structures; literally through his experimentation to test the limits of the genre through material investigations in sand, cloth, happenings and performance, light and film to redefine sculpture’s conventions. The forms he created were allusive but abstract. They played games with minimalism and formalism. This continued in his film-making where his use of the medium extends the sculpture’s reach to include light and duration as vehicles for creating work. I will explore the significance of materiality in these films to show how he uses the processes of production to critique the conventions of drawing, modelling, casting, and carving. Only two out of ten films from this period are known to remain intact. They are a hole in the sea (1969) and Sand girl (1970). By referring to these and the diverse forms of documenting the other eight, my presentation will demonstrate possibilities for a tangential reconstruction of filmic affect combing archives, anecdotes, interviews with their ephemeral traces.

Jo Melvin is a curator and writer, Reader in Archives and Special Collections at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, London and during 2015-16 senior research fellow at the Henry Moore Institute Leeds. Recent projects include ‘Animal, Vegetable Mineral’ Waddington Custot Gallery, 2016, Feb-May 2016,  ‘Christine Kozlov: Information No Theory’ at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Dec 2015 -Feb 2016, ‘Five Issues of Studio International’ Raven Row, London, 2015, ‘Palindromes: Barry Flanagan and John Latham’ at Flat Time House, London 2015, and ‘The Xerox Book’ Paula Cooper Gallery New York, 2015. Recent catalogue essays include ‘Seth Siegelaub: Beyond Conceptualism’ at the Stedijk Museum, Amsterdam and ‘British Art and Conceptualism 1966-1979’ Tate Britain. She is currently working on a monograph on Noel Forster, The Seth Siegelaub Source Book, published by König late 2016 and working on the catalogue raisonné of the sculptor Barry Flanagan to be published by Modern Art Press in 2018.

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