Cornelia Parker: The artist's perspective

Published 2 June 2014

The artist introduces the Summer 2014 issue of Art Quarterly magazine, which she has guest-edited.

When director Stephen Deuchar invited me to edit this issue of Art Quarterly, he asked me to link the commissioned articles to people and projects I am involved with – please bear with the apparent narcissism!

This year I am curating a room for the Royal Academy’s ‘Summer Exhibition’, a chance to invite artists I have long admired. In 2011 I curated an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery of works from the Government Art Collection, salon hung as a spectrum. The RA room is an extension of that idea, except it is only using black-and-white works. As the summer show is usually a riot of colour, the aim is to create a different mood in this space, a kind of visual firebreak. Some artists have made new pieces especially with this theme in mind, others I have selected for their relevance – politically, psychologically or formally. For the room, David Batchelor, artist and writer of the acclaimed book Chromophobia about colour, has created a pair of ‘blob’ paintings. For Art Quarterly he muses on black and white – an extension to his other writing on colour (‘Notes on Black and White’).

Another artist making a new painting for my black-and-white room is Christian Marclay, creator of the 24-hour video piece The Clock, winner of the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. In our conversation (‘Face to Face’) we discuss his work, as well as our common preoccupations and current projects.

One of the people who I have worked most closely with over the past 25 years is Jonathan Watkins, brilliant curator of many international biennales. This year is the Ikon’s 50th anniversary, and Jonathan, as the director, writes about the art that was shown there during the Thatcherite decade of the 1980s (‘Breaking Through the Boundaries’). I am proud to be exhibiting as one of the ‘Ikon’s Icons’ (definitely feeling my age).

Also this year, I am the Foundling Museum’s Hogarth Fellow. The director, Caro Howell, has written an essay on their exhibition of four artists who have re-interpreted William Hogarth’s The Rake’s Progress (‘Road to Ruin’).

My husband, artist Jeff McMillan, is collaborating with curators Martin Myrone and Ruth Kenny on the exhibition of British folk art at Tate Britain. In his inspired article (‘Folklore of the Toby Jug’), Myrone unpicks its influence on contemporary artists and explores his personal fascination with leather toby jugs.

I am showing in this year’s Gwangju Biennale. In Jessica Morgan’s fascinating essay she reflects on the delicate political situation in South Korea and how it informed her selection of works for the Biennale (‘Power of the Flames’).

The Q interview is Phyllida Barlow. At 70 she is an extraordinary tour de force. It is truly inspiring the way she has transformed the enormous space of Tate Britain’s Duveen Gallery, dominating it with a frenzy of sculptural activity.

The experience of selecting for this issue has been nerve-wracking, and although I may have served as a link among these wonderful contributors, the opportunity to hear their combined voices is, I hope, enjoyable.

This column appears in the Summer 2014 issue of Art Quarterly. If you would like to subscribe to the magazine, please buy a National Art Pass.

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