Intro

ARTISTS: Ruth Buchanan, Nina Canell, Phil Collins, Yael Davids, Kate Davis /Jimmy Robert, Ruth Ewan, Maud Haya Baviera, Susan Hiller, Rachel Koolen, Charlotte Morgan, Haroon Mirza, No Fixed Abode, Katerina Seda, Becky Shaw, Jo Spence, Hito Steyerl, Imogen Stidworthy, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Emily Wardill, Haegue Yang, Katarina Zdjelar

Art Sheffield 2010 – Life: A User’s Manual was a citywide contemporary art event showcasing artwork by locally, nationally and internationally based artists.

This was the fifth event, organised by Sheffield Contemporary Art Forum, to take place since 2001 and took the form of a single exhibition, spread across the city’s gallery spaces: Bloc, Millennium Gallery, S1 Artspace, Site Gallery, Yorkshire Artspace, Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery, and the public realm.

For Art Sheffield 2010, SCAF worked with Netherlands-based curators Frederique Bergholtz and Annie Fletcher, who collaborated with curators and artists in the city to select a dynamic and varied programme, featuring artwork that reflects the curatorial framework chosen for the event.

The title of Art Sheffield 2010 – Life: A User’s Manual, refers to Georges Perec’s 1978 novel in which he builds up a detailed picture of the inhabitants of a single apartment block by describing the spaces in which they live, the objects in their rooms, the photos and paintings on the walls. There was something to this concentration on detail and the relationship between the individual and the collective that seemed timely to explore when we feel as never before, especially with the current crisis, the effects of economic and social pressures on our everyday actions. Attempting to grapple with such global changes and not be overwhelmed by them, venturing to ask ‘where am I in this?’ is where art and the encounters it creates can be most powerful.

A key concern was to explore the notion of ‘affect’. Often used interchangeably with the experience of feeling or emotion, it is essentially an ability to affect others and in turn to be affected by them. Art Sheffield 2010 -┬áLife: A User’s Manual proposed that unspectacular acts of everyday ‘affect’ might be a way to chart a path through current circumstances. Affect, not understood in the romantic sense as the catharsis often promised by art, but as the potential for embodied interpersonal experience which may suggest the next possible step within the bigger picture.