3 QUESTIONS : Kathryn Miller of VERB Projects Manchester

BaKKU-KCQAEmi9jWith the VERB Project takeover kicking off in minus three hours we thought we ought to ask creator Kathryn Miller what we can expect this weekend in our brand new feature, [insert drumroll], THREE QUESTIONS..


Q1: Kathryn, how did the VERB Project come about?

KM: There have been five projects this year all in different spaces around Greater Manchester including: Blank Space, 2022NQ, Piccadilly Place, Grumpy shop unit and now at Bankley House and Gallery.

I began developing The VERB Projects while studying an MA in contemporary fine art at Salford. Initially beginning as a one off site responsive project at Blank Space in January this year I used the space as a platform for investigation, presenting the results of those creative encounters: rather than using it as a traditional exhibition space.

Working in this way made me question how a site could be used and made me focus on researching the connections and the dialogues that can be found when creating and displaying in the same site as well as the ways this can, from a curatorial point of view, move the audience around the site discovering as they go.

Creating a series of events in different locations provided me with an opportunity to test, reflect on, and develop this approach. I have been really fortunate to work with a range of artists this year who have put time and effort into developing this with me and have been happy for me to investigate and research through them.

Q2: During Project events how does the work of the other artists within the space inform your own response, and vice versa?

KM: I think that one of the most important elements of this approach for the artists, as well as a show case for their work, is having time and a reason to respond within the same site together. The creative dialogues that spring up as a result of that, the sharing of ideas and approaches are so important. Sometimes it is only on reflection that you can see how much of a positive influence other people can have on you.

Within The VERB Project #5 I am beginning to explore both collaborating with a performance artist and experimenting with audio recordings to explore in a new way some of the defining concerns of my practice: the fractured ways we perceive and experience existence. Being exposed to these different approaches and by entering into a dialogue with the artists has inspired me to take my practice in different directions, which is very exciting!

In regards to how I have influenced and informed people I have probably done this more through ideas than medium: so asking artists to work within projects of this kind has led them to independently work in a site responsive manner.

QUESTION 3: This weekend’s project will explore real time archival of the work onsite and you have mentioned a desire to move away from online archives. Why is it important to you that the archive lives outside the virtual world?

The audio archive is doing two things. One is to reference how often gallery spaces display autonomous art work which references creative activities which have gone on elsewhere, in a studio for example. And the second is pointing to the fact that we are compelled to archive and preserve fleeting moments and experiences: but within the context of this art project what are the most apt methods? It seemed appropriate to highlight the creative dialogues the artists enter into, to give an audio impression of the project as a whole which will remain after the artwork has been destroyed.

The virtual world has a lot to offer artists including providing often an easy and free method of showcasing a portfolio, advertising events and reaching out to a wider audience. It was a conversation that I had with Claire Grauber on Twitter that led to this project at Bankley: so I have experienced how important a tool these kinds of platforms are first hand.

But using virtual archives has become expected, almost a given.  What I am questioning is should this and is this the only way The VERB Projects, which are about a fleeting and temporary engagement, can be archived. What are the alternatives? I think often there is something lost within a digital interpretation of the artwork and although representing art in this way can be useful, it is only that, a digital interpretation.

Although I am not looking to abandon digital archives I don’t think we should rely on them completely. One of the things that I find really interesting with this audio archive is that the audience can contribute through their own recordings. This area of investigation will be something I explore through projects next year and beyond I feel that the audio archive at Bankley is a starting point.


Join us for the public launch of VERB Project #5 tonight, Friday 29th November, 6-9pm. Followed by site responsive art on Saturday,12-6pm and the sound archive on Sunday 1st December, 12-6pm. 


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