Artist of the Month: November 2014, Aidan Moesby
Aidan Moesby in his studio. Photo courtesy of the artist.
In between curating shows and chopping wood our Artist of the Month, Aidan Moesby, found time to tell us about the ideas behind his work
Lesley Guy: Describe your work. Is there a particular piece that represents a turning point in your practice?
Aidan Moesby: That would have been a much easier question to answer a year ago – I would have said I am a visual artist who works site responsively, often with text. My practice has been evolving and developing significantly this year.
I have been looking into ways of breathing more life into the words I use. In February I worked with the writer Penny Newell on a piece, 'Diffuse Diffuse Diffuse', 2014, performed at FIELDWORK Scratch Night. I really enjoyed the collaborative aspect - it is something I want to continue with artists from different disciplines.
LG: How important are words to your work?
AM: Words are vital to my work, as my practice is founded on conversations and dialogue. I used to write much more – long-form poetry and fiction, but now I produce work which is much more distilled. I try to convey or imbue as much meaning as possible with fewer words or by choice of location.
I am becoming increasingly interested in relational aesthetics and semiotics as I develop my practice. What is important to me is the language, the material, the situation. I am particularly interested in the language of spaces: the built environment, or the natural, the library or train or beach, and how we negotiate not only the space but the codes too.
LG: You wrote a Rant for us not so long ago about the problems facing artists with disabilities. Do you think the art world has a problem talking about disability?
AM: How much space have you got? I know if I mention disability or mental health in relation to my own work, it is likely to be interrogated more rigorously than if I don’t mention it. There appears to be a schism between the mainstream and the ‘Other’ and this often leads to work by artists with disabilities being culturally and professionally devalued.
In April I received a commission from Creative Case North to explore issues of diversity and equality. Since then nothing has changed, nor since I wrote my original Rant. If there wasn’t a problem we wouldn’t need the Creative Case.
Most organisations rarely discuss the subject, but there are exceptions. I worked with Dundee Contemporary Arts three years ago on a residency based around disability and have continued to work with them on non-disability work. They build and adapt their projects to fit each artist, so when disabled artists say 'I could never do a residency' I mention DCA or The Tetley in Leeds.
These organisations prove it’s possible to make and show work in a contemporary art space regardless of disability. Yet these remain the exceptions that unfortunately prove the rule.
LG: You’ve worked at The Tetley a number of times..
AM: I was approached to be part of A New Reality when The Tetley opened. This was an amazing opportunity to realise a new body of work, to explore the archive and respond to the site now and in its former guise as the Brewery offices.
I had two research residencies and then a production residency with some open studios and curated events. I was exploring nostalgia, Luddism and the Slow Movement, so having extended periods of time to experiment in a studio within a gallery space was a real luxury. It allowed me to push my practice.
More recently I co-curated Layer, an exhibition that was part of the Love Art Leeds festival in October, which is part of the wider development work I’m doing with The Tetley.
Aidan Moesby chopping wood as part of his residency at The Tetley earlier this year. Photo courtesy of the artist.
LG: What have you got coming up?
AM: I've just started an MA in Curating at the University of Sunderland. It’s early days, but it has already made me reflect on my practice as an artist beyond making art.
I am working with DCA on a public art and well-being project in Dundee, which is part of a much wider Scottish initiative using arts and technology to manage wellbeing, through New Media Scotland and Project Ginsberg.
Longer term I am working with David Cousins, a consultant psychiatrist. We've just been awarded seed funding from Newcastle University to explore a new paradigm in public engagement with art and medical science.
There is also that cycle of things coming to an end and planning new things, applying for commissions and trying to put food on the table, as well as maintaining an artistic practice and studio. But then that’s the life of a freelancer and, apart from better pay, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Interview by Lesley Guy
Published November 2014
Related content on Axisweb