Morgan Quaintance came in for this week’s artist talk completely unprepared, but this was on purpose. It was so then he doesn’t have an annoying set speech, which is what he found that other people would do when he was in university. The format in which he expresses himself best is normally writing and text, however he does enjoy talking to people. Through talking to people, however, Quainance sometimes finds that he has to make gross simplifications for complicated topics and ideas.
Quaintance grew up and is based in London. He describes himself as a curator, musician, writer and more recently an artist. In 2009, he left the band ‘Does It Offend You Yeah’ as they were banned from playing at Glastonbury. Quainance expressed that he did not like Glastonbury anyway but they were banned from coming back as their performance invited people on stage to smash things, and security got annoyed. He also left as he wanted to use his mind a bit more than he recently had been.
The Inspire scheme then became a part of Quaintance’s life, where he began with curation. Throughout this scheme, he had to work at an institution, IKON, however he felt stifled. No one would listen to him when he kept mentioning the use of the internet, and how they could go digital with several aspects. Quaintance then took it upon himself to create context from habit because simply no one else was doing it.
This led Quaintance into writing criticism, which he had previously done in the early 2000’s before the band. He found that he had a lot of hypocrisy and judgements in the course, and thus decided to go straight to the magazines instead of through the course. He started writing for the national platform Art Monthly, which allowed Quaintance to create his own context. He sometimes found that the piece wrote itself, especially when it was a good exhibition. The opposite was found when it was a bad exhibition and it would take a while to write the criticism, and it was a draining process.
After he left IKON, Quaintance did not want to work for another institution. Radio then led him on, and he featured in a weekly half-hour show. He didn’t feel like this half an hour was long enough and asked if he, himself, could make a radio show of a one-to-one intensive hour-long chat with another artist. Everything was voluntary through this and the research behind each show took around three to four days, which has now been reduced with practice with a collection of over 100 interviews. Through this work, Quaintance would often gain ideas for exhibitions.
Quaintance came back on the scene with an exhibition ‘Pre Owned: Looks Good Man’. This came about as he found that when you browse the internet, you can do so very quickly, just clicking on hyperlink after hyperlink and finding yourself on some random corner of the internet. From this, he would pull archives together in order to place them in a gallery. Quaintance just wanted to do something, even as a curator, and wanted to create the same sense of embodiment hat you get as you flick through the web.
As the next step for Quaintance, along with two others, they founded Dam Project as a curatorial project. Quaintance added as a side note that this gave it more of a professional sheen when applying to the arts council. The Dam Project is temporary events to help emerging artists rise of the scene. This included the project of Sunday School, arising from the Caribbean tradition of big parties on Sundays. The Dam Project held an exhibition on the last Sunday of every month, looking at 6 recent graduate artists and 6 different countries where the art scene may not be known. Each time an exhibition was ran, they would recorded a documentary about it, which makes the project easier in terms of developing the skills involved with film. When visiting these cities, they found that there were similar problems. Quaintance also found it annoying how they had a camera man everywhere they went, especially when they knew what they wanted to shoot. Quaintance is now his own cameraman, sound man and editing guy, and uses three cameras to capture things in different styles. This is also done for ease of filming on the go. He wanted to make it more speculative for himself.
I enjoyed learning about Quaintance’s practice and how he hasn’t particularly deviated from degree art, of switching between mediums. The transition between these, however is logical, and also keeps Quaintance’s art alive, rather than becoming repetitive, as he suggested. The work that he is currently making, films, are very interactive in the way he has made these and captures parts of countries that would not be captured in other films, which is an aspect that I enjoyed.