Exhibition Studio Workshop Work from the Collections #7 –

The Sun Went in, the fire went out:  Landscapes in film, performance and text

1 February 2016

A group of MA Curating and Collections students recently had the opportunity to be involved in the installation of the current CHELSEA space exhibition The Sun went in, the fire went out.

The show focuses on the work of artists Carlyle Reedy, Marie Yates and Annabel Nicolson and documents their performances in the form of installation, archival material, film and text.

The students’ tasks included the research of literary material relating to the artists’ practice, inspirational sources and general curatorial assistance.

To find out more about the exhibition and how it came into existence, students from the course spoke to exhibitions curator Karen Di Franco about the featured artworks, her curatorial approach and the collaboration process between herself, the three artists and co-curator Elisa Kay.

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Detail of Carlyle Reedy’s Installation ‘The Path’, photo by Xinyan Wang

How is Carlyle Reedy’s work “The Path” connected to her film “Hands”?

KDF Carlyle Reedy’s work presents a series of complications for curators/researchers – as her practice is not comprised of works as ‘entities’ but rather a series of assemblages or ‘processes’ as the artist describes it. With this in mind ‘Hands’ is an interesting document of a particular moment – like ‘The Path’ it is elemental, and describes how the artist produces – it is almost an instructional video of how the artist creates environments such as ‘The Path’.

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Carlyle Reedy’s film “Hands”, photo by Sophie den Toom

“Hands” is the first artwork of the exhibition the visitor encounters. Was the decision to put the TV at the beginning of the exhibition space made for curatorial reasons or practical reasons?

KDF A combination of the two – the work needed to be in sight of the other installation and for us it worked better as something you could move towards.


Exhibition view, photo by Xinyan Wang

Did you take some inspiration from other exhibitions? Did they deal with the same/different topic?

 KDF This exhibition is more directly inspired by writing rather than any particular exhibition – there is more detail in the intro text in the publication. Overlay (by Lucy Lippard) is the most important curatorial influence from my point of view.

Exhibitions that I have found interesting in terms of the way that they have attempted to interweave narratives within the contexts of display are:

The Dark Monarch (Tate St. Ives, 2009)

Never the Same River (Possible Futures, Probable Pasts), (Camden Art Centre 2010)

Venice Biennale (2013)(The Encyclopedic Palace)

Other exhibitions that have provided inspiration for the display of archival material:

The Individual and the Organisation: Artist Placement Group 1966-79 (Raven Row 2012)

Reflections from Damaged Life. An exhibition on psychedelia (Raven Row 2013)


Image left: Marie Yates mixed performance and exhibition documentation of ‘the field/music/performance’, ‘The Field Workings’ and ‘Recent Field Workings’ all 1973, Display photo taken by Cara Newman Image Right: Annabel Nicolson mixed vitrine documentation. Display photo taken by Cara Newman 

Would you say the curator-artist interaction during this project was different from the interaction with other artists you’ve previously worked with? If so, how?

KDF Yes, as it was a collaboration between myself and Elisa and also due to the ongoing dialogue with the artists to develop the show.


Donald Smith, Elisa Kay, Carlyle Reedy and Karen Di Franco discussing Carlyle Reedy’s slide documentation. Photo by Ying Chen

What kind of difficulties or dilemmas did you encounter during the project? How did you solve those?

 KDF As we wanted to ensure a dialogue was maintained and due to various reasons (health or otherwise), decisions were often made quite late, so we had to revise schedules continuously.


Donald Smith and Carlyle Reedy discussing ‘The Path’. Photo by Sophie den Toom

Facing such an extensive body of work by all three of the artists, how did you select the works we now see in the final display? How/to which extent were the artists/the curators respectively involved in the particular exhibition making processes (work selection, type of display, positioning of the artist’s work in the exhibition space)?

 KDF We approached the artists with ideas of works we wanted to think through with them – and through this discussion we came to conclusions and made suggestions (as did they). We made installation plans based on some specifics (work scale and type for example), other decisions were made intuitively..


Exhibition schedules. Photo by Sophie den Toom

 In the accompanying publication, you explain, that in terms of the original exhibition concept, you “wanted to think about the site of withdrawal, or retreat, within [the artists’] practices as a potentially radical position”. What do you mean by that?

 KDF A lot of recent discourse about women artists or feminist practices has referred to ‘lost’ artists or ‘rediscovered’ artists – I wanted to think about how an artist consciously withdraws from the world (art world) and how this might be enacted through performance which is by definition temporal and fleeting.

Speaking about the reading room: What is the material on the board and why is it there?

 KDF The material is there as another connection to the gallery – as it is archival material we felt it fitted better in the reading room space. They are documents that complement Carlyle’s work upstairs


Reading room installation. Photos by Kinga Szlama 

Are the books the ones the artists use and study, or just books you have linked with the exhibition?

KDF Some are relevant or have been produced by the artists – again, this part of the display highlights other aspects of the featured artists’ practice – as writers, poets or editors. We have also brought material that connects to the exhibition – by other curators, authors etc.

 Are the objects in the cabinets there simply because they are too precious to have out and be handled?

 KDF Yes 


Elisa Kay, Marie Yates and Mike Iveson installing ‘The Field Working Papers’. Photo by Chong Liu

Why did you choose to display Marie Yates’ “Field Working Papers” unframed or without a pinboard? Was this decision made in collaboration with Marie or just by you and Elisa?

 KDF The artist wanted to display it this way – she has experimented with other methods for other iterations of this project.

The sun went in, the fire went out is currently on display at Chelsea Space and can be viewed until 4 March 2016. An accompanying film programme curated by Lucy Reynolds will be held at the ICA on March 4th, 6-8pm.

 Thank you to Karen di Franco for taking the time to answer our questions!

 The students of MA Curating and Collections:

 Cara Newman, Elizabeth Simmons, Nicola Benford, Phoebe Brown,

Kinga Szlama, Xinyan Wang,  Chong Liu, Chan Chan Liu, Ying Chen,

Sophie den Toom