Art Licks, founded in 2010 by Holly Willats, is a London-based organisation that supports artist-led and under-represented galleries in the city, through print, tours, listings and online. Since 2013, the annual Weekend is an opportunity for many of these spaces to showcase their activity, often programming specific events and after-parties. In its third year, Doggerland surveyed some of the activity around Deptford, Peckham, Hackney and Hoxton, and met with the artists and coordinators. Here are some of the highlights, and after-thoughts:
‘Book-ish: A book fair of sorts’ is described by Drozd as a ‘mid-career survey’, showcasing over 40 artist’s publications who 38b have worked with over the past 5 years, using their flat to host exhibitions and events. It’s an impressive legacy, given the frequent disruption of domestic order, to live around the exhibitions, clear furniture and host the art crowds during events. There is a notable trend in this year’s lineup of participating project spaces using their own homes to host activity. I counted over 10 different residential sites, some specifically open for the Art Licks Weekend.
This move to the home is driven by the economic constraints and restricted access to in-development property, happening all over the UK but emphatically rampant in and around London. On the one hand, domestic galleries seem logical and sustainable, yet on the other, are another retreat from the strictures of neoliberal policy, as incremental deregulation of the market favours the property developers and landlords, stripping the voice and public profile of artist-led activity. As Ross Jardine poses In ‘Making Room: Domestic Spaces as Exhibition Spaces’, ‘there could be a question about how, and who, they (domestic galleries) interact with beyond their immediate networks’. Art Licks is potentially a useful pedestal to begin this discussion.
38b is an example of the more positive communal aspects of domestic exhibition space, created by modest support and pragmatism. Over the years, the projects have become ‘more interested in maintaining the domestic environment’, integrating with the furnishings of the flat rather than attempting to emulate the conditions of a white-wall gallery. The atmosphere is homely, welcoming, the flat is populated throughout with spider plants and succulents, record collections, and artwork. Powerful Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk is served, along with cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. The notion of sharing and purchasing the artist’s works in the show feels more conducive to this type of space.
The opening event on the Friday, a ‘coffee morning’ featured readings by Susannah Worth, Jonathan Hoskins, a spoken-word recording by James Wilkes and tarot reading from Rosalie Schweiker & Jo Waterhouse on the balcony. Green tea fortune cookies made by Worth were served and shared, to accompany her reading from ‘Digesting Recipes: The Art of Culinary Notation’, recently published by Zero Books. Hoskins, currently profiled in October’s issue of Art Monthly, read from a short text work produced last year titled ‘Before an Emergency’, delivered twice over, at great rapidity, awakening a renewed energy into the dense account of bureaucratic stiltedness.