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  Artist in residence 2008 - Russell Martin

Studio 1.1 is delighted to present its first artist in residence.

Russell Martin has spent the last 10 years making no objects, cluttering the world with no images, but engaging people and in some part changing their lives with dialogue. These dialogues are neither recorded nor is the content or outcome pre-determined. And he divulges no secrets. The dialogues he inaugurates have no form except temporally - a beginning, a middle and an end. That is all.

The questions that arise can be asked both before and after, within and without the bare parameters Martin sets forth, but when asked outside the time allotted for the 'work' itself we are made aware that we are already asking a different category of question, one that, far from calling it into doubt, very much validates the project and the problems of authorship and production it proposes.

The experience for instance of being on one of his 'Constitutionals', a series of hour-long walks, can be so extra-ordinary that any re-telling can only disappoint or bewilder. As much happens outside the walk as during it; as much in the anticipation and reflection upon the project as might be left unexplored within it. By being part of the work, assisting in its manifestation, but unable exactly to know it, we are folded into complicity.

Martin is dealing with definitions and context here and a project in which ego is apparently subsumed, the human encounter made paramount. And yet step back and the withholding can seem as controlled or controlling as in any traditionally authored work. The questioning and re-framing places us as squarely before the evanescent artwork as before any painted or sculpted form; asking as surely to examine where we stand. In ending what can seem the tyranny of the object, Martin’s iconoclasm puts a forensic and challenging self-consciousness at the very centre of contemporary art practice.

For the first time these disarming conversation pieces will be presented in a gallery space. What exactly happens during Russell Martin’s residency at Studio 1.1 is to a large extent up to you.

studio 1.1

Tuesday 2nd December 2008
Participants only.

Generally thought of as a venue for looking at and talking about the art object, the gallery has long interested Martin as, instead, a social space. During many gallery openings guests prefer to talk to one another rather than look at the exhibition; and the display of an artist's work has become an opportunity for networking and gossip, while gallery-going as a whole could be seen as shifting in the direction of mass entertainment, an enjoyable pastime instead of an exclusive activity for specialised sections of society.

As what could be called a practitioner of non-production, (having once been a sculptor, Martin now works with dialogue and social milieux as his medium), in this project the artist directly questions our expectations of the art-space and indeed of what constitutes 'art' itself. Responding to an invitation from the directors of studio1.1 to place his work in the artificial art-site, in 'Elephant' he is proposing the absolute equivalence of his practice - the creation of undocumented and unrepeatable work - and any more 'traditional' manifestation of the artistic enterprise.

Where does the creative act find form? How is it shaped and how perceived? Can a mute sculpture nevertheless speak for itself? A dialogue has a shape and we see it formed; but where on earth can we put it?

For one day the gallery will have installed just one physical work of art, and members of the public are encouraged to book a half-hour dialogue slot with Martin. The object may become the 'Elephant in the room' or a stimulating subject for discussion; the last conversation of the day will be between Martin and the artist who made the piece - this could either be an embarrassing recitation of the negative opinions of others, a re-evaluation of the artist’s thoughts about the work or an incoherent ramble about any unrelated topic. In any event, none of the dialogues will be recorded during the day. The exchanges happen on trust.

On a plinth in the gallery will be a sculpture (untitled 2008, plaster, chipboard, hardboard, wire mesh, wire, steel band and pigment) by John Wallbank; on a chair will be Russell Martin. The dialogue is yours, the subject/object entirely up for grabs. As with the blockbuster exhibition, a ticket will be given with a timed-entry - an assumption is made of the capacity of the viewer to comprehend or consume the work within strict temporal parameters. Tea and biscuits will be served.

‘Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
Reply, reply.
It is engender’d in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle, where it lies.
Let us all ring fancy’s knell;
I’ll begin it – Ding, dong, bell.
Ding, dong, bell.’

from ‘The Merchant of Venice’

As places will be limited, arrange your half-hour slot in 'Elephant' as soon as possible, by emailing

Scotch Corner
Wednesday 23 July 2008
Participants only.

A one-day Scottish accent training course for non-native English speakers.

For the third piece of his residency, Martin is organising and delivering a training course for non-native English speakers to learn a Scottish accent.  Originally from Glasgow in Scotland, Martin has devised this piece to mark his tenth anniversary in London.

One thing many Londoners have in common is their immigration to the city and each betrays the trace of their origins each time they open their mouth – for Martin, the most noticeable but invisible proof if his ‘foreignness’ in London has always been his accent.  With the huge international population of London everyone has to occasionally alter the way they talk to be understood, and mimicking the accents of friends is an entertaining pastime.  In the face of the low success rate of a good Scottish accent, Martin’s course will enable English-speakers from countries where English is not spoken natively the chance to assimilate into London life by way of his own peculiar difference, and explore the city as a different kind of outsider than before.

The course takes place on Wednesday 23 July from 2-5pm and is followed by drinks. Studio 1.1 is seeking 5 non-native English speakers for this piece; participation is free and refreshments will be provided.

Self Portraits

Wednesday 5, 19 & 26 March 2008
Participants only.

The second work by Russell Martin for his 2008 Studio 1.1 artist in residence, Self Portraits, is a continued departure from Martin's usual methodologies of working with people within his personal and professional networks.

Three people entirely unknown to Martin will be selected by Studio 1.1 to come individually to the gallery in March on a day when the gallery is closed to the public. Each will spend as long as they choose in one-on-one dialogue with Martin talking only about themselves.  Martin's role will be to question, enquire, ponder and encourage the participants to reveal as much as they want to in a confidential and private context, with the content of the dialogue never divulged in any way.  Not even the names of the participants will be recorded. Each dialogue will continue until the participant chooses to stop - this could take an hour, six hours, a day. With an unlimited supply of refreshments and the potential for overnight accommodation in the gallery space, we're interested in hearing from people who have a lot to say for themselves. How far the conversation goes is up to you, and you can stop it at any time by walking out the door.

Researching into elements of trust and therapy as well as extending Martin's existing practice surrounding the potential manufacture of works of art without leaving behind any objects, Self Portraits is a unique experiment in fast-tracked friendship. Self Portraits is your chance to become a part of Martin's practice and a permanent albeit secret addition to the Studio 1.1 residency programme legacy.

If you are interested in being a part of this project, or in finding out more information, please contact Keran James at Studio1.1.

You will be asked to provide some information to verify your identity and enter a brief email exchange with Martin to answer any questions you may have. Please suggest which of the following dates would be most suitable:

Wednesday 5 March
Wednesday 19 March
Wednesday 26 March

Each Self Portrait will begin at 2pm and lasts as long as a piece of string...

The Artist’s Talk
Sunday 3 February 2008, at 4pm
Admission is free.

As an artist who has not made any material objects in over 10 years the traditional artists talk has always been something of a difficulty. In the place of a series of images and famous projects, people attending my talks just get me, not even talking particularly about the projects and works I have done, instead talking around them with philosophy and the basis in life the work underpins. The Artist’s Talk works to bring Martin’s practice into a similar aesthetic as that of artists working in more traditional media without the need for making material objects. It is ultimately thwarted, instead becoming a potential dialogue with an as-yet unidentified audience.

Russell Martin's biography

Russell Martin (b.1976) is a London-based visual artist and writer. Working with group dialogue as a medium, Russell creates one-off events that have not been recorded or exhibited, and has never presented his work within a gallery context to date. Much of his practice engages with the work of David Bohm, Lee Lozano, Suzi Gablik, Lygia Clark and R.D. Laing.

Early work and training in sculpture and performance at Glasgow School of Art led to an interest in how art is created and distributed, its manufacture, performance and markets, and in the possibility of a work of art that has no material basis. Martin believes that artists, curators and critics are generally too caught up in an object-obsessed conception of art, a desire to examine what art is rather than what art actually does. Art, for Martin, is a lived activity separate and independent from any objects which may be produced during its processes. His practice is an ongoing activity, generally involving only undocumented dialogue, which does not produce material objects.

Since February 2007 Russell has been creating an ongoing series of walking dialogues under the title Constitutional, bringing together people not previously known to each other to examine the possibilities of friendship.

Past projects include Speakeasy, a dialogue group with a fixed and closed membership, from 2003-2005 and radio shows Show Me The Monet and For Love and Money for Resonance 104.4FM and Frieze Art Fair in 2006.

Past projects include HÔTEL BELLVILLE, a Waterloo-based artist led space, which he co-founded in 2003-2004. Since 2005 Russell has co-directed and programmed Rational Rec, an interdisciplinary arts event held monthly at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club which opened its third season at London’s Southbank Centre in November 2007. In 2006 Russell completed an MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths and in 2007 he took part in Braziers International Artists Workshop in Oxfordshire, UK.

More information can be found at:

Artist in residence 2011 - Joshua Raffell

Artist in residence 2010 - Damian Griffiths

Artist in residence 2009 - Jordan McKenzie