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Announcing: The Sheffield Pavilion 2009

Announcing: The Sheffield Pavilion 2009

As well as organising the Art Sheffield international biennial festivals in the city, Sheffield Contemporary Art Forum (SCAF) also organises projects which aim to promote the work of Sheffield based artists in international contexts. 

To date SCAF has organised The Sheffield Pavilion, an exhibition of commissioned artwork in book form which was launched and distributed at the Venice Biennale, Documenta and  Skulptur Projekte Munster festivals in 2007. This nexus of projects falling together offered a unique opportunity to symbiotically present the work of ten Sheffield-based artists and promote the contemporary art activity taking place in Sheffield in an international context.

The next such project - The Sheffield Pavilion 2009 undergoes a change in both form and context, moving from book to screening programme/DVD edition and from a launch at the Venice Biennale to one in Istanbul in September 2009 during the opening days of the 11th Istanbul Biennial.  The construct of the ‘Pavilion’ (a temporary structure used for leisure, entertainment or exhibition) has again been used to structure the project and the artists’ contributions. A nomadic pavilion is easy to pack up and move on to further seek its audience, it can respond to the migratory movements of the art world with equal levels of critique and complicity. 

As well as existing as an exhibited screening programme of specially commissioned and existing artists’ films, a limited edition DVD edition will be produced with accompanying essay by artist/curator Ian White and designed by renowned Sheffield-based design firm The Designers Republic. These will also be distributed at the launch and will be available by contacting SCAF.

Participating artists: 

Richard Bartle, Chloe Brown, Katie Davies, Hondartza Fraga, Steve Hawley, Esther Johnson, Tony Kemplen, Haroon Mirza, Paul Morrison, No Fixed Abode, Third Angel

The Sheffield Pavilion 07

The Sheffield Pavilion 07

The Sheffield Pavilion was a project designed to take advantage of the harmonic convergence of super exhibitions which occured when The Venice Biennale, Documenta XII, and Skulptur Projekte Münster 07 coincided in June 2007. This nexus of projects falling together (an event which only occurs once every 10 years) offered a unique opportunity to symbiotically present the work of ten Sheffield-based artists and promote contemporary art activity taking place in Sheffield in an international context.

The idea of a Sheffield Pavilion was inspired by the traditional format of the Venice Biennale, where different countries are represented by pavilions. The Sheffield Pavillon is a new variation on a small series of city or location-specific interpretations of the national pavilion construct; from the Manchester Pavilion’s art-free bar to the New Forest Pavilion’s more formal exhibition venue. These city/region specific pavilions perhaps aim to challenge the notion that art practice in non-metropolitan areas operates on a provincial or parochial level or conversely suggest that the international art world is simply another such parish. However The Sheffield Pavilion is a new format for a city’s involvement in events such as The Venice Biennale. A pavilion in book form is a structure curiously attentive to the roots of the word, in the Latin for butterfly, and in its subsequent usage to signify a tent or temporary structure used for leisure, entertainment or exhibition. The Sheffield pavilion is similarly airborne, nomadic, a moveable feast, an exhibition in book form or a paper based architecture for art.

The book was launched at Venice at Bar Margaret Duchamp, Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro, Venice, Italy on Friday 8 June and was distributed the following week in Kassel, concurrent with the Documenta XII festival. We also took the book to Munich, Germany, to be given out at Skulptur Projekte Münster 07.

The Sheffield Pavilion was designed by the city’s renowned The Designer’ Republic and the artists’ broader practice represented on a DVD presented alongside it. The publication provides a curatorial resource but also exists as a work in itself. The book is not intended as an audit of artistic practice in Sheffield, but the first of (hopefully) many different ways of presenting aspects of the Sheffield art scene to a wider audience. The hope is that the project will act as a portal to contemporary art in Sheffield, representing artists’ work, practice and methodology as a vital and vibrant part of the city and making Sheffield–based artists more visible to an international network. The Sheffield Pavilion will continue the city’s international visibility after Echo/City – an exhibition of works about Sheffield - was selected to represent Britain in last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

The selected artists presented new projects designed specifically for the book form. Tim Etchells has undertaken a creative exploration of the ‘track changes’ function in Microsoft Word, Penny McCarthy’s drawings include a facsimile of a letter from the NASA archive drafted should the crew of the first moon landing be lost in space, Matthew Harrison documents the production and progress of an unsolicited desk nameplate for Professor Colin Pillinger of the ill-fated UK Beagle 3 Mars probe, Farhad Ahrarnia presents a collage of extracts of articles and drawings by writer/journalist Maggie Lett for Tehran Journal in 1969, Neil Webb has produced a spectrographic and sound mapping of a microcosmic selection of Sheffield urban terrain, Maud Haya Baviera collects a series of illustrated short stories about a protagonist called Liberty, Katy Woods displaces and re-presents an intriguing collection of found images and text, Sarah Staton offers a photograph of a building in Sheffield whose collision of styles, age and function in one structure reflects the city as a whole, Meriel Herbert’s photographic images of bodily gestures respond to the physicality of the book and the intimate relationship between viewer/reader and writer/artist, and Host Artists Group presents a curated exploration of multiple artists’ responses to the notion of beauty.

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