Reading Scholars 2018, Final Event Video

This was the final event for the Reading Scholars 2017/18, held at the University of Reading over three days and two nights. Such as the second event in Tate Modern, I was once again asked to create a video to display the activities that the Scholars got up to over this residential. Although all the strands were at the University, including Business, Biology, Maths, English, Art, Chemistry and Languages, the video primarily captures the events of the Art and Design strand. Activities here, included cyanotypes, photograms, clay, sculpture, instructional artwork, letter press and InDesign work. Each of the Scholars were able to take what they had made with them as something to remember the Reading Scholars by, and something unique to add to their portfolio.
I enjoyed creating this video, and look forward to working with the next cohort of Reading Scholars on some new and exiting projects and events.

Reading Scholars 2018, Final Event

The fourth and final event with the Reading Scholars was a three day residential, where the students were able to stay in university halls and enjoy several other aspects of their time here that they may not have been able to experience without the residential element. Within the Art and Design strand, students were able to choose whether they wanted to partake in the Art or Typography activities.
Those who chose art were then split into two groups, where they completed an activity one day, and then swapped over for the second day, which gave the opportunity for more contact with the lecturers and mentors, and a larger chance to get hands on.
On the first day, we introduced them to instructional art, and produced several artworks that we very free, but still following instructions. There were a wide range of materials used throughout the day including clay, wire, small pieces of laser cut plastic and cardboard. Each of these were simple materials, however the instructions followed allowed for some interesting creations. I helped several student with possible ideas for the clay element, opening up new doors within their thought and design process. I also assisted some of the students to find other materials that were more challenging to work with. Lastly, as it was a particularly hot day, I ensured that they all had a sufficient amount of water at all times.

The second day was equally as interesting – the students were able to use our wet dark room to create their own photograms on light sensitive paper. They had bought some of their own transparent items, and used a whole table worth, to create unique and interesting designs. I was on hand if anyone had questions about the process or designs, as I have previous photogram experience. I was amazed at how many photograms were made, the detail within each, and the effect of the aperture and timing upon each of them.
There was a second part to day two, as the student were able to carry on with photograms in the dark room, experimenting with different light sources, movement and also photographs onto the photograms. The students weee also able to learn a new technique of cyanotypes. These are effectively outside photograms and use UV light. This is a unique opportunity to work with the special chemical that are prized and painted onto the paper. The process was very interesting and I helped each of the students to hold their print down while it was in the sun both while developing and drying. I was also able to stop the development of many of their pieces by washing them off, allowing the students to create more while they were drying. Again, as it was a hot day, I ensured the students had enough water, and were drinking regularly.

The final day of the residential was some information about applying to university, and taster sessions for other subjects that the students picked. This allowed them to see more of what the university has to offer.
Overrall, the residential element of Reading Scholars 2017/2018 was very enjoyable. I successfully aided students both from art and other strands with queries and situations. I found that some elements were difficult to deal with, namely because of the number of students that are on the residential. Although there were these difficulties, I believe that the residential and activities were a success.

Reading Scholars Event 2 Video

As part of the Tate Exchange, I was recording and documenting one of the days for the Reading Scholars Programme 2018, which gave over 20 Year 12’s the opportunity to experience a workshop at the Tate. The programme overall, gives a slice of university life and experience to those in several subjects, aiding them with decisions about higher education.
I was able to film many aspects of the day, including a manic clay workshop and iPad green-screen workshop, capturing the thoughts and ideas that came into life throughout the day – from wrapping people in pink shrink wrap, to using phones as strobe lights and creating clay monuments together while blindfolded. It was a full-packed day, with a final free entry into the Ilya and Emilia Kabakov exhibition.
Editing the video was interesting as I had no requests, only that it shows what we did on the day, with a bit of travel of the mentors to the Tate. I bought all of the clips together, merging them to create a seamless video highlighting the core aspects of Reading Scholars Art and Design strand participating in the Tate Exchange in Tate Modern, London.

Advanced RED Award

The Advanced RED Award is an extension of the University of Reading’s RED (Reading Employability and Development) Award, which I completed last year. The advanced scheme is more personalised, where you have to build your own goals around one of the available areas of development; Commercial Awareness, Communication and Presentations, Community Engagement, Digital and IT, Leadership and Networking.
At the beginning of the scheme, we were given a tick list of things you can do in each area, and I found that I had already completed many of these things, for example three different mentoring schemes, course representative, student voice member, as well as being employed by the university and getting involved in volunteering schemes. The area I lacked in the most was Digital and IT, which is a little surprising considering how much I use my phone and computer. But, I used them for personal use.
Through this scheme, I have tailored my LinkedIn profile, heading it in a more art-based direction, as well as altering the URL so it reads ‘charlotteabrahamartist’. I also had several meetings with careers mentors within the Universities’ Careers Department. These helped me to narrow what I wanted to do in the future a little more, and also allowed me to get advice on my LinkedIn profile.
The last part of my Advanced RED Award was to utilise Adobe more. When searching for graduate roles, or summer placements, a lot of companies and businesses wanted someone with experience in Photoshop, Ilustrator and InDesign, but there wasn’t a particular market for Premiere Pro. I then decided to create my own project around InDesign and Photoshop with videos and how-to’s, free courses and advice from the art department at university. I designed a complex and unique background for a laptop, and presented the design process on an InDesign interactive PDF, which also showcased my Premiere Pro experience.
https://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/sSiqWYPGRULaUP
I found the experience of the Advanced RED Award and my personal project to be challenging, however I enjoyed it because it stretched me to learn something that I thought I would never make time for. I also find the fact that I completed the scheme very positive, as I was only one of twenty five students in the entire university that has completed it so far. I am now using the skills that I learned in this experience to help some local businesses with flyer, business card and website designs. I also hope to complete another area of the Advanced RED Award in the up-and-coming years to boost my professional development.

Untitled [Summative Pole Performance]

Final full edited version of the performance, taken from two cameras in two corners of the room. No sound editing.

Final full edited  version of the performance, taken from two cameras in two corners of the room, edited to view both angles at the same time with a focus on the projections rather than my bodily movements.

Full, unedited videos from the two individual cameras, showing the whole performance.


Full, edited videos from the two individual cameras, showing the whole performance.


These screenshots are demonstrating the skill taken to perform on the pole, and shows the projections and shadows created during the performance. I enjoyed this performance, and felt confident with the way that it was presented.
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Artist Statement

Much of the work presented looks at the manipulation of space and the movement of those within it. The Start Project concentrated on the traditional architecture of Yemen, a country that many fled from with their lives. The Forgotten War video highlights the elements of movement, while crushing and destroying the space. Following on from this, I studied my own life, focusing on the manipulation of space and movement. Pole Fitness allowed this manipulation, whilst bringing forth the idea of reactions and sensations for the viewer. The use of multiple screen while displaying Pole GoPro Experiments was inspired by John Akomfrah’s, The Unfinished Conversation (Akomfrah, 2012).
A larger manipulation of space led me to the work of Matthew Barney (Barney, 1992), who performs by mark-making an entire room, and the making of my own pole in the studio, along with Untitled Collection. Untitled Collection showcased the manipulation of space better within a small room, with three separate cameras capturing my body throughout the space.
Feminism and returning the male gaze, raised by Laura Mulvey (Mulvey, 1999) and Jacques Lacan (Lacan and Sheridan, 1977), were a heavy influence from here, as pole is associated with eroticism, strippers and impurity. Valie Export (Export, 1968) and her somewhat crude displays of returning the gaze inspired me to become more daring with my own body, movement and space to communicate ideas more clearly. Performances were produced with accompanying projections and audio. Immersing yourself into the environment of Pole Performance allowed the artwork to say something beyond the walls and created an overpowering space, much like No Crying in the Barbershop, by Pepón Osorio (Osorio, 1994).
Sound and voice were key aspects of Pole Performance; however, it was drowned out by other elements. By stripping the work down to audio, something more personal and powerful was created. Invisible sculptures were created when using two, three and four different speakers in both Feminist Poems and This Is What We Did Exhibition. The manipulation of space, and the movement of sound was inspired by Paul Purgas (Purgas, 2017) and Evan Ifekoya (Ifekoya, 2015). The theme of feminism was further highlighted when displaying with other feminist and identity-themed artworks in the exhibition.
During the progression of Feminist Poems, there was a need for further manipulation of the physical space using light and the pole. Heather Cassils in Becoming an Image, (Cassils, 2012) uses the camera flash to create an intense environment. Using strobe and UV lights on the pole, the audience are only able to gain small pieces of information, recreating intimacy and a physically overpowering space.
A glimpse of the performance creates moments of statuesque provocation, while also highlighting equality and allowing the return of the male gaze.

Blog: www.charlotteabrahamart.wordpress.com

References
Akomfrah, J. (2012). The Unfinished Conversation. [Video] London: Tate Modern.
Barney, M. (1992). drawing restraint. [Performance and Video].
Cassils, H. (2012). Becoming an Image. [Performance].
Export, V. (1968). TAP and TOUCH Cinema. [Video (black and white, sound)] New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Ifekoya, E. (2015). Ebi Flo. [Video].
Lacan, J. and Sheridan, A. (1977). Écrits. 1st ed. London: Tavistock Publications Limited.
Mulvey, L. (1999). Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. In: L. Braudy and M. Cohen, ed., Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. [online] New York: Oxford UP, pp.833-844. Available at: http://www.composingdigitalmedia.org/f15_mca/mca_reads/mulvey.pdf [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].
Osorio, P. (1994). No Crying in the Barbershop. [Mixed media installation with barber’s chair, photographs, objects, and videos] Puerto Rico: Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico Collection.
Purgas, P. (2017). Boiler Room. [Sound] London: Art Night.

Final Videos [Pole Performance Projections]

Because there were several elements that I did not enjoy within Pole Performance Videos, I decided to take action and change them. I wanted more dark spaces within the video, and better clarification of modern feminist marches and speeches. I also needed to add the black at the beginning of the end, to give myself time to enter and exit from the performance area. This was completed in the videos below, where I took the full audio that I were to use in the clip. I found that changing these elements allowed the clips to be more successful. When projecting them, I did notice that the UV clips were still very dark, however I enjoyed working in this slight illumination of the space – it continued the theme of having a glimpse of the performance, creating moments of statuesque provocation, while also highlighting equality and allowing the return of the male gaze.


I then layered these on top of each other, to highlight further the elements used within the two videos, and how they interact with each other. By using this technique, I was able to determine that there was an even spread of different types of clips, including UV pole, spoken poem, and both old and new feminist clips, throughout the videos. It also allowed me to determine when the dark spaces were, allowing me to be prepared during the performance.

I then lastly added the audio that was to be used across four separate speakers. I preferred this outcome to the earlier videos that I rushed through while editing. I did notice, however, that the audio did not go across four speakers when setting up for the performance, but rather two. I found that this was for the better as four speakers may have been too overwhelming, but the two sets of speakers across from the room from each other still allowed for the interaction of audio.

Pussyhat Project

“The Pussyhat Project is a social movement focused on raising awareness about women’s issues and advancing human rights by promoting dialogue and innovation through the arts, education and intellectual discourse. The Pussyhat is a symbol of support and solidarity for women’s right and political resistance.” (Pussyhat Project)
The Project brings itself into women’s marches, giving a physical, and very obvious symbol for something so powerful and important. This began as an accessible platform for participation as one of the co-creators was not able to attend a march last year due to recovery from a serious accident. It therefore gives “visibility to the invisible and voice to the voiceless. Its beauty is that anyone, anywhere can participate. There are so many reasons why someone may not be able to march: medical, financial, or scheduling to name a few… With this project, many women are able to create something to support the women’s movement”(Pussyhat Project), including knitting, marching or simply wearing a pink hat.
I wish to use some of the inspiration that the movement has given people to create, within my performance, to show that the feminist movement, and the fight for equality is still going strong, and that people have not given up in the 21st Century.

Final Performance Costume Design

After deciding on a performance for my final piece, I needed to choose a costume design. Within Pole GoPro Experiments and Untitled Collection, I used a normal pole kit – a crop top and shorts, as this is what I had at hand, and I did not think much of it. For the Pole Performance, I decided that I could not show off the branding that I had on these pieces of clothing, and so covered them with simple scraps of white cloth. Several comments of the performance included that about the cloth, and how it wasn’t tied in with the theme, unlike the presentation of everything else.
I also went plain with the more recent Silent Light Pole Videos [UV] and Silent Light Pole Videos [Strobe], however this was more out of necessity, especially with the use of the white clothing and UV light. Throughout the thought of a feminist performance, I created designs for a feminist performance costume which was based on the feminist clothing of 100 years ago. Although this was unique, it was somewhat predictable, and I wanted to do something that would shock the viewer, and make them slightly uncomfortable in the environment that I created.
Because of everything else that I want going on in the room, including that of projections and up to four speakers, I don’t want to overwhelm someone with an extravagant outfit. This is a juxtaposition to what you expect pole dancers to wear, and also the overwhelming elements within the room. I wanted to almost become invisible in the room, and decided that black would therefore be the most appropriate colour to wear. From here, I designed several plain designs, to determine what would work best with grip, and without looking like I am just about to strip. I wanted to highlight the feminist element through the choice of outfit, not degrade myself.
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From here, I decided that the crop top and shorts would work best – I would not be worried about anything of mine showing, it gave me enough grip on the pole to complete moves, and I would be able to add other elements to showcase the feminism element.

I initially looked back at Designing a Feminist Pole Mat, for inspiration on how I wanted to alter the plain black. My concern with the words, is that they would not necessarily be clear within the performance, and would become colourful blurs. Especially with the lighting, there is the concern that there would not be enough light to see them either.
I then went back to look at Valie Export with Action Pants, where Export walks around with a gun and the crotch cut out of her leather pants – many were shocked by the crotch of the pants, especially considering the time that this was done, and her gender. A part of me wanted to take this shocking approach and utilise the female genitalia, primarily because it was unpredictable, and would be unnerving for those viewing the performance.

I decided on the final design on the right, using small nipples and fake hair on top of the black crop top and shorts. These are discrete enough that they will not be in your face, but obvious enough that you will be able to see them in the performance. I also decided on this, rather than the larger boobs or the vagina model, because it would seem like it is my own, and that I am showing intimate parts of my body, and yet I am protecting myself against my body becoming an object. I would particularly find it interesting if I were to do this performance in front of men, as I believe these elements would make it more uncomfortable for them. This uncomfortable sensation is what I want to create, as it is something that feminism is trying to break down; I want those watching to feel the same uneasiness and uncomfortable-ness that both women, and men, have to go through on a daily basis.


I cut up an old pair of leggings and a vest top for the base of my costume. These fitted better than if I had made them by hand. I tried a couple of techniques for the Merkin; the first was to stick wool on top of the fabric, and then split it. With this technique, the wool fell off and the Merkin quickly came apart. I then sewed the wool through, to create a large continual loop, then cutting it and splitting it. This way, there was a lot more to stop the wool coming through the fabric, as there was another piece of fabric protecting it the other side.

The boobs were measured against life-size breasts, so that the areola did not seem comically oversized. The nipples were stuffed, so that they would stay poking out, making them slightly more noticeable from all angles.
Overall, I found the costume to be sturdy and successful, and something that I would happily perform in. The wool was not coming out and the felt used was secure on the top. I would also be able to grip to the pole, ensuring that I would be able to perform for the whole of the allocated time.


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Final Performance Set Up And Plan

For the summative assessment as part of second year, I took a look back at all my work and picked out the strongest elements. I quickly found that my work was based around three practices and concepts; performance, multi-layered video and sound.
Within Guitar Performance, I managed to introduce an uncomfortable and unsettling feeling for those who were in the room with me, as no only did I not care about my own singing and guitar playing, but I also made all of those in the audience, join in. I enjoyed manipulating this element, and want to bring this into my final piece. This is much like the work of Tino Sehgal, where the performers break the 4th wall. The controlling of uncomfortable sensations was also found in Untitled [Singing Film], as those who were in the video were then forced to watch themselves. Inspired by Matthew BarneyVanessa Beecroft and Sylvie Fleury, I utilised more space, which allowed the performances to become stronger, as I felt more comfortable with the movement. The use of this movement is particularly highlighted within Pole Performance, as I am able to encompass a whole room, creating a new environment within the space, inspired by Pepón Osorio. This is an element I want to continue, as the environment ultimately could make or break the piece.
Both at the beginning of the year, and as my work progressed, I found that I enjoyed working with complex pieces, especially those with multiple elements. This stems from The Summer Project, and the work of Wolfgang Tillmans. I very quickly transferred this to video, and layered several images in Moonlight Cord, where the message of Chinese Opera was easier to convey compared to earlier trials.The uniqueness of the videos is also something that I wish to continue, specifically the difference of the camera shot in Untitled [A Pole GoPro Film]Untitled [Pole] and Untitled [Mixed Pole], displayed in the style of John Akomfrah. The use of the GoPro gave a completely new perspective to the use of the pole, and again, were mixed with multiple elements. A new perspective was also seen in UV DSCN Merge Pole, and is a key element that I wish to take forward, perhaps both with light and camera angle.
I also considered the use of sound, as this is an element I subconsciously worked with throughout the Chinese Opera videos. I quickly found that editing sound in The Start Project: The Forgotten War and The Start Project: The Forgotten War [Little Yemen] was a strong element in my work, as it gave an interesting twist to what could have been plain spoken word. Although I found this to be a strong element of this video, the physical embodiment that was created in Feminist Poem [Extended] Audio and Feminist Poem 3 Audio, 4 Speakers through the use of 4 speakers, was something that I would rather play around with. At the same time, I do not want to overwhelm those in the environment that I create, so the element of sound is something I have to play around with.
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I decided to therefore take all of these elements forward to create a performance on the pole, in a blacked out room with two projectors and four speakers. This will make the room very warm very quickly, however I do not anticipate the performance to last longer than 5 minutes, which will ensure that I will be protected from exhaustion.
Due to the set up of the performance, and the use of the projectors on the two plain walls within the room, there is little room for other work. This does upset me that I am unable to display with other members of my year group, however it does also mean that I do not compromise anyone’s work, and visa versa. This is also the reason why I have chosen to do my performance earlier than the intended deadline, so that the room is available for the rest of the year group to use.

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